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#1622: Willa Cather to Miss Masterson, March 15, 1943

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Miss Masterson1:

What a delightful letter you wrote me! My secretary3 has just asked me why it was such a delightful letter; the only answer to that is that there was a delightful person behind the letter. If you had to read such hundreds of letters as I have to read every year - letters from people entirely unknown to me, you would acquire a fortune teller’s mystic skill in reading personality. When I get a real human letter like yours, it is just as if a charming person came into the room and sat down and began to talk to me.

I seem fated to send people on journeys. Not long ago I had a letter from a Boston4 schoolteacher who was started for Quebec5 by a sentence in “Shadows on the Rock”6. As for the number of people who have gone a-journeying in New Mexico7 on the trail of the Archbishop8- - well, the managers of the Harvey House system9 have repeatedly invited me to come and stay at the Bishop’ Lodge10 indefinitely, as their guest.! The great disadvantage about writing of the places you love is that you lose your beloved places forever - that is, if you are a quiet person who doesn’t like publicity. I have not been back to Virginia11 since Sapphira12 was published, nor to Quebec since “Shadows on the Rock” was published, nor to New Mexico since the Archbishop was written,except on the train. I have been through New Mexico many times on the train, for that is the country I love best.

Isn’t the part of Virginia beyond Timber Ridge and the Capon River lovely? Such simple, honest, earnest people live there. It would have been the same forever if motor cars had never been invented. ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩I was actually present when they were tearing to pieces13 the Double S road14 leading from the village of Gore15 up to the top of Timber Ridge. It was the most beautiful piece of country road that I have ever found anywhere in the world. I never found anything in the Swiss or Italian Alps so beautiful as that road once was.

I am sorry you saw that desolate ruin which forty years ago was such a beautiful place16, with its six great willow trees, beautiful lawn, and the full running creek with its rustic bridge. It was turned into a tenement house long since, and five years ago17 the very sight of it made me shiver. Of course, it still lives in my mind18, just as that March day when Nancy19 came back still lives in my mind. Even her dress is described in more detail than I could ever remember about any dress I saw last week. She was just exactly like that, and old Till20 was just like that. I was between five and six years old when the return happened, and it was the most exciting event in my life up to that time. I had heard so much about Nancy, and my mother21 often sang me to sleep with that old song.22 Mrs. Blake23 was my grandmother24, and she really took Nancy across the Potomac. Well, those were old times, but they were beautiful.

I am so glad you are a Scotch woman. I have always loved the Scotch, in Canada25 as well as abroad.

Very cordially yours, Willa Cather