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#1960: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, August 11 [1923]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dearest Sister1:

Yesterday I had my first sitting with Leon Bakst3. He pronounces his named just like the past tense of the Eng English verb "to box"; that is just as if it were spelled Boxed, Boxed. But if you prefer to give the one and only vowel in his named name a middle-West sound, why then you can pronounce his name so that it rhymes with WAXED, as in "the floor was waxed". You must instruct father4 and mother5 and the two Virginias6 how to call his name, as it will be much mixed up with mine for awhile.

His studio has three enormous rooms, and they are full of beautiful things7 from all over Europe8 and Asia9. To sit there for two hours in the afternoon is like going to church—a church where all the religions of mankind come together in one great religion. He is just one of the simple people I have always loved—like Annie Sadelik10 and Joe Pavelik Sr.11 and all the friends of my child childhood. He is reading "One of Ours"12 with the help of a dictionary, but he speaks little English. Please return See! A horse named Red Cloud has been winning some races in Paris2!⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ He speaks to me in French and I reply in English. He began by telling me Russian fairy tales, and is going to tell me stories every sitting, he says. He is doing only my head and shoulders13, and thank Heaven did not want me to "dress up". He selected a green georgette waist I happened to have, with a little gold in it, loose and plain, like a Russian smock or a middy-blouse.

Not since the days when old Mr. Ducker14 used to talk to me in the store and spit tobacco juice all round me, have I had such an experience as this, or been so much the pupil sitting at the feet of the teacher. I think the hourhours will fly by in those great quiet rooms. rooms. You wouldn't believe the neatness and order of them—never a pen crooked on his many desks, all that marble and bronze and porcelain dis dusted every day. You can touch a hundred objects, even the portfolios of drawings, and never have a particle of dis dust left on your fingers.

Now goodbye, I'll write you when Bakst and I are further along.

Lovingly Willa