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#2764: Willa Cather to Charles E. Cather, June 14, 1944

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My very dear Boy1:

I am sending you a copy of “Death Comes for the Archbishop”3 which was made for the Armed Forces4. I know you will read carefully the instructions in the front of the book, and will not let the little volume lie around where any one who is not a soldier can get hold ot it. The Government Board who controls the distribution of these little books (made just the size to fit into a soldier’s hip pocket), is so strict that they would not give a copy to any writer whose book they used. They were compelled, however, by contract, to give a copy to the publisher of each book. Mr. Knopf5 sent me his copy, and I am sending it to you.

If you will turn to page 156, you will see why, perhaps, Senator Chavez6 had a friendly feeling for me somewhere in his memory. Some ten years ago the Senator’s old father7 wrote me a trembly sort of letter (written with lead pencil), and told me how amazed he was to find the story of his grandfather8 in my book; that every detail in my account was accurate and he could not understand how that came about, as his grandfather was a silent mand and did not reminisce “outside the family”. Senator Chavez himself never wrote me — it is to his credit that he did not. He must have had intelligence enough to know that the story of Manuel Chavez was written from pure personal enthusiasm on my part, and not to flatter or please any of the Chavez family. When I wrote that chapter I did not know that there was a Chavez left alive. How I got the material for that sketch of Manuel is a long story. Some time I will tell it to you. I just stumbled upon it — it was a lucky chance. But everything that turned up was a lucky chance when I was writing the Archbishop. I think the Senator must have been pleased with the sketch of his great-grandfather and without intruding, after ten or twelve years, he showed it in a very nice way9. It makes me very happy that you got what you wanted so much, and the way in which you got it was creditable both to you and to me. It will always be a link between us.

I shall not see you again, as Miss Lewis10 and I start for Northeast Harbor11, Maine, within a few days and every moment is engaged. Mr. Knopf has claimed the only free luncheon hour I had. The reservations for the North are so heavy that if I should not get away now, I would not be able to get anything until the end of July. But summers are short, and West Point12 is very near New York City2. I look forward to many happy meetings in the winter to come.

Lovingly, Your Aunt Willie