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#1962: Willa Cather to Mary Virginia Boak Cather and Elsie Cather, May 27 [1924]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Mother3 and Elsie4;

I was getting ready to start home two weeks ago, when a very flattering letter came from the University of Michigan, asking me to be present there on June 16th to receive a Doctor's degree. I saw it would cut my time schedule all up, so I rushed about among friends to ask advice about declining it. Mr. Knopf5 and all my literary friends thought I really could not afford to do so. Even Robert Frost6, the most unworldly of men, said he didn't see how I could do so without offending a lot of people. Though Ann Arbor7 seems to be in "the West", it is only an hour from Detroit8, just one night from New York2. But it is two days and one night from Red Cloud9.

I am through my work10 for the present, and want to start home, I 'mrestless and sick of the city. But it does seem crazy to take the long journey home, stay for a week or ten days, then come almost back to New York to Ann Arbor, then go all the way back to Red Cloud again!

It seems much wiser to wait here and stop at Ann Arbor on the way home, arriving in Red Cloud on the 19th of June. This will make my visit with you run late into July. As you know I can't stand the heat very well. If it is very hot, I suppose I'll have to cut and run. I will have to come back to New York the last week of July, and pack for Grand Manan11, that cool island, where my friends have a little cottage for me to write in, and where I will stay through August and September. An awful lot of travelling to get in awful lot of travelling to get in six weeks of work, isn't it?

It's this confounded degree that spoils my summer. If I could have got home by the 20th of May, as I was all ready to do, everything would be simple, and I would not have to stay on in Nebraska12 into the hot weather. Degrees are no good to me, I don't see why I have to take them. When will we be strongminded enough to treat compliments as carelessly as we do insults, and live our lives as we want to, letting nothing interfere?

If you have any suggestions to offer, Elsie, if either mother or father13 are not well, please send me a night letter telegram, and I'll throw this degree business over. If either of my parents were not well, that would be a legitimate excuse. But that's the one thing on earth I'm afraid to lie about; I'm afraid I might somehow bring a sickness on them by telling even a conventional fib. Any advice or counsel from you will be so welcome!

Lovingly Willie Why do you not write home with what you think best to Willa I am not so very well, but I can easily write. perhaps it is best for her to come later after you get here