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#2174: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, November 28, 1940

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My dear Brother1:

How long it is that I have wanted to write you. All kinds of pleasant things have been happening, but they happen much too fast. One of the pleasantest was a luncheon that I finally managed to arrange at Sherry's4, with your Margaret5 and Virginia6, and Mary Virginia7 . After a long and very conversational luncheon we went to see the colored moving pictures, which Edith8 took of the twins at Grand Manan9, thrown on a Kodak screen. Not one of the three nieces had seen these before. The pictures really are beautiful and do justice to the splendid cliffs and the blue sea.

Two weeks before this I had shifted round a lot of dates to get a free space, and telegraphed Margaret asking her to lunch with me two days following receipt of the telegram. She has no telephone and it is difficult to reach her on short notice. I, just at this time, can't make any engagements otherwise than on short notice. When she sent me the enclosed note, turning me down for a bridge party, I felt a little hurt. But the moment I met her in the restaurant, I was so delighted to see her dear little face again that I forgot all about my astonishment at being turned down. Of course, the child could hardly have had any idea of how many calls there are on me just now from the printing office, from the business office, the editorial office and from newspaper offices. Anyhow, I expect it is good for me to be turned down occasionally.

I only hope the three girls enjoyed those 3 1/2 hours at Sherry's as much as I did. I was delighted to see West Virginia again, and felt immediately that there was a very interesting personality behind her blue eyes. Mary Virginia told me when I first came home from Canada that Virginia decidedly had "poise"—a thing which Mary Virginia admires very much. To "poise", I would add, ease and relaxation. They are delightful qualities to find in young people and not at all common in the young people of today. In time, those three qualities become "distinction". Dear little Margaret was just as sweet and appealing as ever, in a very becoming poke hat and black veil, just the kind of hat I used to find in grandmother Boak's10 chests, in Virginia. It was just quite the right shape for Margaret, and she looked very cunning.

I have never even had time to thank you for your dear letter from Grass Valley11. I put it (the letter) in my "Lost Lady"12, even though I had never heard of Grass Valley when I wrote the book. I thought she came from San Francisco13, and it was not until Douglass14 told me, in California15, that I knew Mrs Garber's16 grandmother was a Spanish woman. I am glad I did not know it, for I wasn't a very practised writer when I did that book and I might have been tempted, as poor Hergesheimer17 always was, to sue the charm of the "exotic". But I was able, just by being truthful, to do her "from life", as the painters say, and still give her that quality which several French reviewers caught and in describing the character said that "the portrait had a reminder of Spanish women."

Now I must stop, my dear boy, for just at present my right hand is in a sling and I am behind in everything. Perhaps I wrote you that I autographed the édition de luxe (500 copies) in three days, and it sprained the big tendon in my thumb, which has gradually grown worse. If I have to have it strapped to a splint, I shall go to the French Hospital18 and let the nuns take care of me, for without a right thumb one is utterly helpless. However, I am not going until after Yeudhi's19 concert20, on December 2nd, even if I have to sit in the box with my hand in a white scarf. Good-bye, my dear boy. I do love your three daughters, and Margaret has a particular charm for me. I can't tell you just why, but one never can tell the why of particular affinities, you know.

Lovingly Willie
Mr. R. C. Cather,1 First Savings Bank of Colusa, Colusa,3 California. NEW YORK N.Y. STA.Y2 NOV 30 2 PM about Va & M