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#2073: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, July 8 [1916]

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My Dear Boy1:

I got your letter just as Miss Lewis5 and I were leaving Denver6 for Taos2. I would have preferred Lander3, but Edith wanted very much to return here, where we had a delightful week last summer. Probably we shall be here for about two weeks now. I hope I can stop go up to Lander7 on our return trip. Eventually I shall get to Red Cloud8. I hope I can get Mother9 to go to Denver for two weeks, as Elsie10 writes that she is not at all well. I am impatient to see the little West Virginia11. Perhaps I shall stay at home until the late fall. The last winter has been a sort of Woterloo Waterloo12 for me: my best and oldest friends dying13 or marrying14 all winter long. I got nothing done the whole winter long and spring long but two short stories. You probably saw the Century one15—bad enough!—the other16, sold to McClure's17, is much better. I have a new idea18 for a novel19 which I'd like to talk over with you—not very new, none of my ideas ever are. I don't seem to have acquired a single new idea since Sandy Point20. The trouble about this story is that the central figure must be a man, and that is where all women writers fall down. I get a great many bouquets about my men, but if they are good it is because I'm careful to have a woman for the central figure and to commit myself only through her. I give as much THE BROWN PALACE HOTEL
of the men as she sees and has to do with—and I can do that much with absolute authority. But I hate to try more than that. And yet, in this new-old idea, the chief figure must be a boy and man. I'd like to talk it over with you. You might help me a good deal. I wish you'd kept a diary on your Yellowstone trip of long ago—It's a little that kind of story.

Pardon this spidery scrawl: Five Jewish travelling men waiting for the one ink bottle in this adobe hotel21. It's kept by a Mexican woman22 and a parrot that speaks french—property of her late husband23, who was a Frenchman. Taos is a beautiful place, you know, forty dreadful miles across canyons from the railroad; all Mexicans, no whites. wonderful Indian pueblo near the Spanish town. I like the Mexican woman and her cool clean hotel and her grand manner. I wish you could do some of these things with me. But life is so awfully one-sided; if you keep free you're too damned free, and if you tie up—why, there you are.

Isabelle24 has married a very brilliant and perfectly poisonous Jew25. Not one of her old Pittsburgh26 friends27 can endure him. Nice situation for me. I think I shall travel rather light after this.

Goodnight, my boy. I want awfully to see you and Meta28.

Lovingly Willie
Mr. Roscoe Cather1 Lander3 Wyoming TAOS N. MEX2 JUL 10 1916 3 AM THE BROWN PALACE HOTEL DENVER