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#1850: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, August 30 [1933]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My Dear Sister1;

You have certainly had a busy and constructive summer, and I am so glad you take pleasure in what you have accomplished. The new garage must be a comfort. Be sure that the fence is strong. It was nice of you to consult me about the little house3, but whenever I am in Red Cloud4 again, it will be only to see old friends, not to try to work.

I am so sorry you have had to be there through these Auld calamities5. You must just let them, one and all, struggle with their own destinies. In so far as I can see, each one of them as made his own kettle of hot water. Why didn't Jess6 save the money she wheedled from Bess7 for this emergency? Some day, I suppose, we will have to help her, but if she is good and poor for awhile she may learn that most people have to work for their money, even to pay such disagreeable things as dentists' bills. Of course it is much more up to Tom8 and Charles9 and Virginia10 to go to work and support their mother than it is for for you and Douglass11 and me to support her. Let them think it over; it will occur to them in time.

As to the note given to Bess, by all means consult Howard Foe12. Was there a witness? Why don't you take Howard for your attorney and put your business affairs in his hands for attention?

If Tom is that s


If Tom is that sort of boy, the sooner we know it the better. Jim13 would never have thought of doing such a thing, even when he was most down and out. I scolded you in my mind for letting this disturb your sleep, -a and and then I promptly stayed awakee nearly all night.! One never realizes how much just plain honoerableness means, until its opposite crops up close to one.

What have you done about your own loans, and what about MrS Mrs. Dammerell's14 money in the State Bank?

You said Bess needs a new coat this winter. Please pick out a good warm one for her in Lincoln15 and send the bill to me.

Since you ask me, I think light gray with white porches and trim much better for the house than all white,- about as it is now.

Would you like to have the back lots put into alfalfa again? The crop is worth something, isn't it? Grass would be pretty, but unless you fence it the boys will make a ball park of it.

Of course if Bess needs money for running expenses, you'll let me know. Can't we persuade Will Auld16 to pay her some cash interest on the amount he relieved her of? Or was this a loan without interest? What people! I'm glad Father17 never knew about it.

Tonight is the anniversary of Mother's18 death19. The older I grow, the more I understand her. The last winter I was at home I came to believe that she had at last grown to under- stand herself; she said several quiet things that made me thin think so. She gave me, before she went with Douglass to California20, a small package of old photographs which she asked me to keep. I had never opened them when you asked about the lost "sweet sixteen" picture21. Last winter when I took an apartment and got all the suitcases of papers out of the Bank, I found that package and went through it, hoping the picture you wanted was there, but it was not. I really think Jess must have taken it. I was disappointed not to find it for Douglass. She has probably hidden it, and forgotten where!

I shall be here2 until September 15th, perhaps until the first of October. For the first time in a year I am trying to work seriously, as I used to, and not let everybody interrupt me.

Lovingly, and thanking you for your long friendly letters, Willie WHALE COVE