Dear Friend:

It was really a great pleasure to hear from you this morning. The girls and I talk of you and Mrs. Conn quite often and we do not forget your great goodness to us. My book, BLACK ELK SPEAKS, which is the result of last spring's visit on the Pine Ridge Reservation, will appear February 18, and the girls and I will send you and Mrs. Conn a copy when I return from a week's lecture trip which begins tomorrow.

You ask about my position on the Post-Dispatch. I procured a leave of absence from August 1 to January 1, but in the meanwhile conditions have become so discouraging in the newspaper field that it was necessary to postpone resumption of the column. This was a very good thing for me, as I certainly needed a rest from that particular type of work which drove me mercilessly. I am doing my own work now and there is every reason to believe that it will pay me even better than the Post-Dispatch would at the least calculation.

Just now I am in a peculiar mixup with publishers. As you know, the Macmillan Company is my regular publisher and has all my work. When William Morrow and Company of New York offered me a proposition to write the Black Elk book and gave me a very substantial advance in cash, I accepted the offer, being under no contract obligation to Macmillans. Last summer when I was finishing the Black Elk book, Macmillans heard, by some indirect means, that I was working on a book. They wrote me with apparent anxiety, asking when they could expect the book for publication. I replied, after I had received three letters of the sort, pointing out some reasons for slight dissatisfaction with the Macmillan Company and stating that the book had been sold about nine months before to Morrow. Then I received a long letter from Macmillans expressing great regret and ending as follows: "I hope, therefore, that your departure from the ranks of Macmillan is only temporary and that with your next work you will want to come back to us. I do not quite understand from your letter whether you are still free to negotiate with us or not on the Black Elk book. If you are, we should like to know what terms you will accept for its publication by us, and do please continue to think of us as your publishers, for there is a very real concern here about your work and a very real desire to be associated with you."

I gave Morrows an opportunity to let Macmillans have the book, but they rejected my suggestion in a forceful manner; so that was that.

Morrows are pushing the Black Elk book most energetically and the outlook is very good indeed. You can see that I am in something of a quandry. You will see, of course, that this situation gives me the upper hand in contracting with Macmillans for any future work.

I have not been wise in making contracts, since I have thought of the work itself more than the income from it. There are ways of tying a publisher up to more effective publicity campaigns than Macmillans have ever given me. My stuff, as the Vice President told me on my last visit to New York, is the sort they want because, as he said, "It sells year in and year out moderately but steadily and will not die." You see they are so large a firm that a five or six per centpercent income on their investment satisfies them, whereas a smaller publisher like William Morrow & Company must be extremely energetic in order to survive. On the other hand, Macmillans will be doing business as long as any publisher on earth, and it is a fact that in their hands my work has made steady progress in a way that is remarkable.

I do not want to return to a steady job of literary criticism. I want to finish the Cycle which is my major reason for living, beyond the needs of my family, and I am now working on THE SONG OF THE MESSIAH.

My relations with the Post-Dispatch were the finest possible, and I am assured by the whole staff up there and by Joseph Pulitzer himself that the column is missed by Post-Dispatch readers and that there is in the office a genuine regret that it could not be continued now.

Yes, of course I heard of Mrs. House's death. It was a staggering blow for Doctor, but he has reserves of philosophical good sense that are sustaining him, as I judge from his letters.

It is probable that we may make another trip up to the Pine Ridge Reservation this spring, and I hope we may be able to see you and Mrs. Conn at that time. It is by no means an expression of conventional sentiment when I say that you have warm places in our hearts.

I am glad to hear that Arduth has gone to New York City to do what she wants to do. Will you please send her our kindest wishes when you write to her next and also our very best wishes for her progress?

What you say about the depression has real meaning. You and I are not exactly the same age, but we are of the same world which appears to be dead, and we know something about need that it might be well for our younger generation to know. It seems a pity that so many excellent people should be punished by way of getting this lesson across.

With every good thought for Mrs. Conn and yourself,
Your friend,

Jno. G. Neihardt
John G. Neihardt
Dr. U. S. Conn St. Normal School Wayne, Nebraska