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#2000: Willa Cather to Earl Brewster and Achsah Barlow Brewster, February 21 [1923]

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NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET3 Dear Earl4 and Achsah5:

How often I've wanted to answer your dear letters about "One of Ours"6. But I went home7 to my parents8' Golden Wedding9, and life caught me up and carried me furiously away. I understood exactly what you meant about Howard Pyle10. This book has been a new experience for me. The people who don't like it detest it, most of the critics find it maudlin sentimentality and rage about it in print. But the ex-service men like it and actually buy it. It has sold over forty thousand now and is still selling. I've had to take on a secretary11 to answer the hundreds of letters I get about it. The truth is, this sort of success does not mean much but bother and fatigue to me—I'm glad I never had it before.

I am so glad the Hambourgs12 chose the "Blue Nigger"13 and that I shall soon see him again. The photograph you so kindly sent me has just come and is a great pleasure, but it makes me long for the splendid color of that painting. We14 have had the greatest happiness from the picture we brought home with us, and do you know, I have come to like the "Three Scallops"15 best of all of them!

I will sail for France16 about the first of April. Oh how lovely it will be if I can meet you in Paris17! That seems almost too good to happen in this jerky world. I beg you both to write often to Edith while I am gone. I must tell you a secret that is a little difficult to tell: Edith does not like the Hambourgs at all—never has. They irritate her, rub her the wrong way; Isabelle even more than Jan. I think it's been hard for her to feel that they were seeing you this winter when she was not. We are like that about the people people we love best sometimes, we have a NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET kind of loving jealousy about them. It has always been difficult about the Hambourgs, because they are old and dear friends of mine, and yet they do darken the scene for Edith whenever they appear—put rancours in the vessel of her peace, as Macbeth18 said. I think the way that likes and dislikes interweave is the most disheartening thing about life anyway. It's nothing Edith can help; their personalities simply hurt her. She feels feels that their attitude toward her is rather patronizing, but there I feel sure she is mistaken.

I hope Edith can see a great deal of you if you are in America19 this summer. Your being here will make up to her for my absence. As you know, she does not care for a great many people, and for them she cares very much. This has been a hard winter for her—her family20 has made such heavy demands upon her and she has not been very well. Before a great while I am going to get her away from all these hard and wearing things.

If you come to America this summer you will have an exhibition here this in the fall, will you not? There would be time to give one here2 in the early fall, before you return to Paris. We thought the notices of your exhibit in Paris this spring fall were splendid.

I do hope you have got Edith's box by now—she took such pleasure in arranging it. She sent a beautiful one to me in Red Cloud, too. Dear friends, there are so many things I wish to say to you - - about painting, about writing, about ourselves and this queer business of living. I can only recall some lovely hours we spent together in the twilight at Naples21 and hope that they will come again. This has been a hard winter for everyone I know in this part of the world. The Golden Wedding and my Christmas at home was the one thing worth while for me. But since then a thousand stupid interruptions have kept me from work—and when my work is interrupted nothing compensates compensates.

We both send you our dearest love and wish you happy working-days with all the deep satisfactions they bring. I wish Edith and I could be with you next year. I believe we could all help each-other.

With love and happy memories Willa Cather