Dear Mari Sandoz:

It was a real pleasure to be with you again in New York — even for so short a while. I've thought of you often since I returned home. You may not have known that I've been a fan of yours for a long while. I still am, and I'm all for that series of novels you've planned. It will be a great work. Much of it is already written, I believe. More and more power to you!

You'll remember I spoke of my friendship with T. H. Tibbles, and I told you that he and I sat up alone with his dead wife, Bright Eyes (Instha Theamba), the night before her body was buried. That was a weird and wonderful night!

You remarked that it did not seem like Indians for the relatives (three sisters and a brother) to stay away at such a time. You were quite right; but her relatives, the Ed. Farleys, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, Frank La Flesche etc., were really not "Indians". They were definitely included in the white aristocra cy ​ of our community. They had no Indian ways at all. As a matter of fact, they were quarter-bloods at most and all were educated. Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first "Indian" woman to become an M. D. Mrs. Ed Farley (Rosalie) was like a white woman, and not even very dark. Frank La Flesche was mostly in Washington, D. C. I knew all the La Flesches well. They too were my friends. The Farley boys (nephews of Bright Eyes) and I were pals. Mary and I were good friends. So were Frank and I, but he was seldom in Bancroft.

Tibbles and Bright Eyes were living on her farm four miles north of Bancroft when she died. I have reason to believe I was the only friend Tibbles had in Bancroft. No one spoke well of him. I, being a radical in those years, really respected the old man, and he knew it. At any rate, when he was alone with his dead wife, whom he really loved, he sent for me to sit up with him. The old man talked all night, when he wasn't crying. Now and then we went into the bed room where the body lay, removed the wet cloth from the face, and remarked how beautiful she was.

Mary Farley, niece of Bright Eyes, and last of the La Flesche clan, died two years ago in Bancroft. I happened to visit the town after an absence of years and years, and the first thing I heard was "Well, Mary has left us". I knew which Mary it was. She was a fine woman.

I didn't want you to doubt my story. I'm really regarded as quite reliable when I yarn. Dr. Aly, of Oregon University, who is working on my biography, says I always tell my stories the same way!! I do, because there's only one way to tell them.

My good friend, Dr. Slade Kendrick of Cornell University, tells me you have been most kind and helpful, and because I love him I am grateful to you. Many thanks.


John Neihardt
John G. Neihardt