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#2187: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, October 31, 1941 and November 3 [1941]

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My dear Roscoe1:

As you are the oldest male member of Father's5 family, I regard you as head of the family. I am awfully perplexed about Elsie's6 behaviour.

As I told you, Elsie sent me all the unpaid bills for Mollie's7 funeral expenses, asking me what to do about these bills and whether she should write to you. This was in the second week of May. Although I was pretty miserable at the time, I wrote you her at once, telling her not to bother you and that I was very glad to pay the bills, since she had been able to give Mollie personal comfort and help which I could not do. I wrote Sidney Florance8 in Red Cloud9 to send her a cashier's check for $255.76, which covered the actual funeral expenses. On that same day I sent to Elsie my check on the Chase Bank for $111.04, the amount of Dr. Lewis'10 final bill. There was a smaller bill in the bunch, I think for something like $70, but this I returned to Elsie unpaid. In her letter she stated she wished to bear part of the expense, and I thought she might think I was trying to act officiously if I paid all the bills.

When I returned to New York2 in September, I found that my check on the Chase Bank for $111.04 had never been returned to the bank. I waited until the September bank statement came in, but the check to Elsie was not among the other cancelled checks.

I at once wrote her very politely and begged her to cash the check at once is she had not already done so, and to let me know -2-whether she had cashed the cashier's check from Floreance. She may, you know, simply have destroyed the latter in a fit of annoyance. Now here it is the end of October, and I haven't received any answer to this request or any word from Elsie whatsoever. I cannot understand what her grievance is. These bills relating to Mollie's expenses were sent to me long after Elsie had written me about her move to Lincoln11. I thought that the hatchet was buried12, and that a new era had begun. But since I sent the checks on May 19th, I have not had a word of any kind from her. If you could suggest any way in which I could find out where I stand, I would be grateful. Perhaps you could ask Elsie for information about how Mollie's last expenses were paid, and she would give you information which she will not give me. I think it is pretty horrid of two sisters to quarrel about doing their last kindness for an old friend like Mollie. I certainly sent the money with good will and good intention.

Well, now let's talk about something more cheerful. I wrote Meta13 that I had not been very well14, but I am determined to get much better. I am sending Meta a book15 which is not very well written, but it contains a good deal of rather interesting California16 history, and I am assured by the Knopfs17 that it is fairly accurate. We have a new bond of union, you and I. My general doctor18 has allowed me to follow your Johnny Walker prescription - because I have very little appetite these days. so So every night, at a quarter to seven, I drink a Johnny Walker (Black Label)19 highball, and you may be sure that when I indulge in this pleasant relaxation I always think of just two people – you and Meta.

Lovingly Willie W. S. C.

The above letter was dictated Oct. 31st This morning November 3rd, I get this letter from Elsie. How can anyone bear such carelessness and neglect very patiently? Edith20 often says that Douglass21 and I spoiled Elsie. We both gave her a great deal of money and took time to give her good advice—which she never followed. Tomorrow I shall send her a very pretty afternoon dress. That is the easiest way to answer such a letter.

You don't have to comment on this unpleasant correspondence, my dear boy. But Elsie gets worked up until she is sometimes downright untruthful. I want you to know how matters really stand, because I want your good opinion — more than I want that of anyone else in this world.

Lovingly Willie

P.S. I wish I hadn't let Elsie's queer behavior cut in so on my sleep. One does waken up and think of one's sins. In this case I couldn't see what I had done amiss.

FROM CATHER 570 PARK AVE.,3 NEW YORK CITY2 Mr. R. C. Cather1, First Savings Bank of Colusa, Colusa4, California. NEW YORK, N.Y.2 NOV 3 1941 3 PM Personal