Undset’s letter of 17 March 1946: Very often I think of you and wonder, how are you now? Meeting you was one of the happiest things that happened to me in America, and I cherish the memory of those evenings with you and Miss Lewis so much. When my books returned from that church basement out in the country, where kind friends had hidden my library, and I unpacked your books, it was quite a different thing to handle them (I have not been able to put them up yet, as the German females who lived here during the occupation had used my bookshelves for firewood, and it takes time and a lot of money to get new ones, material being wanted in the first place to rebuild our burn-out towns and places), thinking of you as a friend I know now. Your picture, which Alfred Knopf sent me from you years ago I also unearthed from the attic, where my “roomers” had put away pele-mele all the things they did not want, which was not much. It is a little broken and soiled, but all the more dear to me.
Cather’s letter of May 18, 1941: Thanks Undset for the deep pleasure of the lilies of the valley she had sent. How interesting that the Norwegian name for the flower is so like the English, whereas the German name bears little resemblance to the flower itself. Undset’s letter of the previous day had made her very happy. How wonderful that they, who had known one another so long, finally knew one another in person, and discovered how many loves, beliefs, and pleasures they shared.
Cather’s own desire to live had dropped considerably since Undset’s visit; at Hitler’s agreement with the Vichy government she had completely lost heart. Though no one knew the agreement’s terms, it made everything taste bitter; she wanted to escape from herself, because any such agreement and terms must be evil. She was sick at heart at this German victory.
She hoped Undset would come for another quiet evening with her and Miss Lewis, as it was good to escape crowds and arguments; she was very glad that Undset found it restful and sympathetic there. Signed, she explains, with her [wobbly] left hand: With all the old admiration, and with my love which is both old and new, yours, . . .