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#2168: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, May 16, 1940

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My dear Roscoe1:

Just a word about a delicate matter. When Willard Crowell5 sent me a statement of profit and loss6 for income tax purposes, the taxes, etc., etc., of the farms he looks after far exceeded any income therefrom. His letter is now in the possession of Mr Knopf's7 secretary8 – the kind man who makes out my income tax statement s and keeps all the data relating to it on file. I hate to bother him to get the letter out for me, but I think my deficit was somewhere between $500 and $600. Mr. Crowell said that after the chicken house on the miserable Henderson farm had blown to pieces, he and his son had taken took the lumber home to build a chicken house on his own place, and that he would take the shattered chicken house as payment for his services in looking after the land ! (All the various farms) Of course, I thought that absurd, so I sent him a check for $40. He cashed the check but did not acknowledge it until he mentions it in the letter I am enclosing. I am afraid he thought that $40 was a poor return for his trouble. I don't know just why I decided on that amount, but I have so many letters to write and dictate that I am sometimes very tired at the end of a session and am apt to make mistakes in judgment. Just help me out – you are accustomed to making such decisions – and tell me whether that was not a fair amount? I certainly do not want to be stingy with the man. Just drop me a line. What a curse those farms in Nebraska9 have been to me. It would have been better for me if I had let them all go for taxes. The inroads they have made on my time and working power have far outmeasured the value of the farms, even if I could have sold the farms at prices they used to bring in normal times.

I was so glad to get your little greeting a few days ago. I have just come out of the French Hospital10, where I spent a quiet week trying to get over the strain of all the things that have interfered with my work. I had promised to hand the manuscript11 to Alfred Knopf on the 15th of May, and there is still a month's hard work to be done on the manuscript. Goodness knows, the conditions for working are not good. Miss Lewis12 has been very ill for three weeks.

Good luck to you, brother.

Hastily, Willie
FROM CATHER 570 PARK AVE3., NEW YORK CITY2 Mr. R. C. Cather,1 First Savings Bank of Colusa, Colusa,4 California. NEW YORK N.Y. STA. Y2 MAY 17 1 PM Personal