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#1653: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, December 31, 1943

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Elsie1:

I can't really write a letter (my right hand being in Dr. Ober3's brace again), and I can't explain why I didn't write to you before I got into the brace. Just let me name a few items which are responsible for my conduct:

  • Three nieces4 whose husbands5 were suddently jerked into the war,; said nieces temporarily in New York2 looking for some place to live, or waiting for some place to go; one of said nieces with a darling six-months old baby6 - she herself being but twenty-three and very inexperienced.
  • When we7 returned from a summer at Northeast Harbor8 we had no maid - even our cleaning woman was very ill. We got a cleaning man and set to work for one month, going out for all our meals except breakfast.
  • While we were in the midst of getting settled the Government "commandeered"9 five of my books10, to be set and printed just the size to fit into a soldier's pocket. I was unwilling to go through the bother (I was tired and not very well), but Mr. Knopf11 and Mr. Greenslet12 both said there was no decent way out. Very soon a lot of letters began coming in from enlisted men - the kind that really had to be answered.
  • Having deprived myself for three years of the pleasure of any Christmas correspondence, I tried this year to send out a great many cards and notes to people who had kept faithfully remembering me and to whom I had made no reply for many Christmases. The result is that I am back in Ober's brace for the present.

Oh, Elsie, I did think of you a lot in that first terrible cold snap.! I think the country is an awfully risky place to live for a lone woman - unless she ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ is one of Miss Jewett13's lone women! Now that this present cold weather has come on, I feel sure you are either in town or staying with one of your sisters14, or one of your friends. I feel the cold as I never did before, simply because I am eighteen pounds underweight15. With the awful food situation, and the watered milk that is delivered to us, I don't see how I am going to be normal. Please forgive my shortcomings and just let me know where you are, and how you are. That would be a great comfort. I don't ask you to write a letter, for I don't deserve it. Let me repeat to you the cable from George16 and Florence Arliss17 which simply says, "HAPPY NEW YEAR ANYHOW!"

Affectionately Willa Cather