To C.C. Ballou from Bertha – March 9, 1913
[Note: Bertha is 23 and an art student in New York]
I received your letter and the check Wednesday. It was quite a surprise to me as I didn’t know a mail was coming through and I usually keep track of the mail pretty well. I was very sorry indeed to learn of Mrs. Maxwell’s death for I know that you must feel it very greatly and I know that you did care a great deal for her. She must have been a very lovely old lady and will be missed a great deal but what a wonderful thing it is that she could have kept her keen interest in everything and her enjoyment of life right up to the very last in spite of many years.
I judge that I must have written mamma something along the general uselessness of being an artist. I don’t know why I feel that way at times because realizing that that is not nearly all I gain in New York and that I am learning many other things and having opportunities I will never have anywhere else, I still do think painting of great importance in a way. It is a mode of expression and education and gaining a living. As this includes almost everything that people strive for in this word it ought to be worth working for and it is not to be expected every individual will be the most successful in this line any more than that every grocer will end a millionaire. I’ve never felt any more wonderful sensation than that of drawing and knowing that I could do it well. The feeling of having produced something. I imagine it is something the same when an engineer finishes a bridge and an architect designs a building. Someday I hope to realize the same exultation in paint. I am not a genius at all but thus far I have always made steady progress and I hope in the end to do something worthwhile.
I don’t really think I want to stay here another year though I surely appreciate a father who is willing to do so much for me. The work would be good for me, no doubt, but I hate to be so far from you and mamma. Perhaps I might stay on a month a ______ longer for summer school if you approve. However I really think I’d be glad to have you and mamma give your opinion. It’s a privilege to decide things for one’s self, I know, but it’s rather a hard one at times. There are always things on both sides of the question. If you were in this country I think I would be very glad to study at the League another year – but after all the goal is always very far off and another year would find me still a student as perhaps I had better for my work as well as other things, stop now and try what I can do at home.
This afternoon a few of the art students were going to take some factory girls up to the museum but the factory girls didn’t materialize so after sitting around in hat and gloves for an hour, I came upstairs and undressed. It must now be nearly time for my Sunday afternoon lecture as I must put them on again. Our Sunday talks are not very interesting as a rule but I rather liked the woman who is going to speak this afternoon and as it’s a fine day, I’m afraid she will not have much of an audience.
Both my roommates are out this afternoon which makes this a fine opportunity for me to write. I gave your regard to Mrs. _____ and Miss Newman. Both send very best regards to you. Mamma wrote that you were going away for about a month so I suppose you are on _____. I suppose you will have another uncomfortable time but hope it is over by now. Servants seem quite reasonable at Batangas, more so, I should judge, than at Ms. Kinley, though I’ve forgotten how much we paid there.
I had an off little experience this afternoon after the meeting. A lady called to see Evelyn Hope, my roommate, and as she was out, I went up and introduced myself and kept her the three-quarters of an hour that elapsed before Evelyn Hope turned up. Then she only stayed a few more minutes and very kindly included me in an invitation to dinner sometime soon, which we accepted. As I was saying goodbye to Miss Newman, it dawned on me for the first time that this Mrs. Porter was the wife of O. Henry, the author. I was particularly interested to meet her as I have enjoyed some of his stories very much and I will be very glad to know her better.
Well, now I must close as I have just remembered that I must telephone Nell Babbitt tonight.
Love to all.