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#1988: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, September 19 [1923]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Sister Elsie1:

Both "sat" and "mine" are simply typographical errors, both wrong, of course. They got by Edith3 and me both, evidently. I ought to have read the book4 after the first printing for errors, but I really haven't been half-way well since it it came out, and I never dreamed it was going to sell so many thousand5 before I'd have a chance at it again.

I pondered about the telephone6—you see there are no dates given, only the story covers a considerable period of time. I meant the last part to be about 1900, but it might be 1903 or 1904, and I'm sure there were [illegible] telephones as early as that. The time element in that story was hard to manage—it has to account for about 15 years before it the story actually begins, and about 15 years after it actually ends. The episodes in the story extend over about ten years, actually, but you must be made to feel the changes of about 30 years. So you see one can't be too difinite.

I don't believe anything I have ever written has given you more pleasure than your letters have given me this summer, dear sister.

Have you seen the full-page ad in the Atlantic7? And the nice editorials8 in the Bee9 and World-Herald10? Judge Vinnolar Vinsonhaler11 writes me that if Mother12 doesn't want to unveil13 that portrait14 Mary Virginia15 can do it for her. He is a nice kind man, it's that vulgar16 Shotwell woman17, friend of Nell McNeny's18! who makes all the trouble.

Bakst19 has had some quite lovely photographs20 made of me and him in his studio. Would you like one? They're quite expensive, but if you'd like one I'll make you a present. I think I ought to get one for Carrie21, she'd treasure it so.

I took a chance on pneumonia yesterday, and went up on Mt. Revard, after being kept away from it for three days by rain. It was chilly up there, but how magnificent! There had been a new fall of snow on Mt. Blanc, and with the purple clouds driving over it, it was simply overwhelming.

Bobbie, the Paris22 papers have had such stunning articles about me lately. On my way down to Aix I bought two papers to ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ read on the train, and they both had such nice articles about me. I sent them to my publisher23. This is a secret: the editor24 of Figaro25 came to see me before I left and told me that I very nearly got the Legion of Honor for Claude26—all the committee who had read it were eager to give it to me, but the majority can't read a long English book. It's to be translated27 [illegible], and brought out by one of the best French publishers, and this publisher says I'll be given the Legion of Honor on it eventually, he thinks. All this writing in French papers has been by people I've never heard of! Whenever a frenchman reads that book something seems to happen inside him—he becomes my press agent. I wish I could send you some of the articles, but I only see them by chance, as I did those on the train. If I could just get really well again, I'd have so much fun out of all this.

No, I never used Margie's28 knife for an ice-pick! I broke it cutting the bones of father's29 soup meat, so there! I'm glad Sambo's30 alligator died. The Mathenys31 are getting to be too silly!

I've just heard from Isabelle32 that her nice Italian cook gave birth to a dead girl baby, after a terrible delivery—the doctors thought she would die. I'm so sorry. Bagina33 and her husband had bought it's clothes, and bed, and cloak and everything, and were looking forward to it with such happiness. I send you a letter of Isabelle's about Goitto34 and things.

No, I never saw the interview35 about Hochstein36 at all! It was published in the N.Y. Herald37 while I was in Red Cloud38 at Christmas39 and I never the entire edition was sold out. Now where do you suppose the Hastings40 paper41 got it? Even Isabelle never got a copy.

Goodnight dear sister. Remember, we are going to have a trip in the Alps.

Lovingly Willa