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#1692: Willa Cather to Carrie Miner Sherwood, January 20, 1945

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Carrie1:

My tardy reply can give you very little idea of my pleasure in having the lovely tulip patterned tea cloth and napkins. I have been slow in thanking you because for the last ten days I have not been at all well. I got a case of food poisoning - result of dining habitually at hotels.! We have an excellent and very competent maid for just four hours each day. She keeps the apartment3 very clean, gets someus an excellent lunch, never disturbs me at my work, negotiates with all the people who come to the back door - delivery boys, laundry men, etc. But, of course, dinner is a problem, at the end of the day. I usually make my own tea in the kitchen: so you see a new tea cloth, with a gay, cheerful pattern, is a very real personal comfort to me. We have a nice kitchen, as Irene4 could tell you. It is large with very high ceilings, (only a very high stepladder enables us to reach the best dinner service on the top shelves of the china closets.) So, altogether, it is a cheerful place to have tea at four o’clock. Miss Lewis5 doesn’t get home from her office until about six. She rests for an hour, and then we wander forth to search for dinner. It isn’t an ideal way to live, but a very good maid for four hours a day is better than an indifferent one for eight hours.!!

My friends were very good to me at Christmas time this year, and one of the kindnesses I value most was a letter from Irene, which I shall keep near me for the rest of my life. It was about a book6 of mine, and it convinced me that the book really means something to her, and is dear to her in the way that many books by my favorite writers are to me. Yes, I shall always keep that letter. I broke down and cried when I first read it. It meant that much to me.

I miss Mary Virginia7 very much, indeed. She was near at hand for so ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩long that no one can ever quite take her place. But I love having Helen Louise8 here, though she lives in New Jersey9 and on the worst and slowest railroad in the world.! Her brother Charles10 is a plebe at West Point11 now. I really think him a very charming boy. I have introduced him to a number of situations which must have been quite novel to him, and he has always done the right thing easily and gracefully. I think he has a good deal of personal charm, and a nice nature underneath his nice manners. It is a great pleasure, isn’t it, to see the third generation facing live so hopefully and getting out of it the thrill that we used to get ourselves? It gave me great pleasure when Helen Louise and Mary Virginia were both in New York2. I liked to go out with them because they were so nice to each other.

Lovingly yours Willie