Your last letter but one was very sad. You also, heroic being, you feel worn out! What then will become of us!
I have just reread the conversations between Goethe and Eckermann. There was a man, that Goethe! But then he had everything on his side, that man.
Our letters are always crossing, and I have now the feeling that if I write to you in the evening I shall receive a letter from you the next morning; we could say to each other:
“You appeared to me in my sleep, looking a little sad.”
What preoccupies me most about poor Jules’ (de Goncourt) death, is the survivor. I am sure that the dead are well off, that perhaps they are resting before living again, and that in all cases they fall back into the crucible so as to reappear with what good they previously had and more besides. Barbes only suffered all his life. There he is now, sleeping deeply. Soon he will awaken; but we, poor beasts of survivors, we see them no longer. A little while before he died, Duveyrier, who seemed to have recovered, said to me: “Which one of us will go first?” We were exactly the same age. He complained that those who went first could not let those who were left know that they were happy, and that they remembered their friends. I said, who knows? Then we promised each other that the first one to die should appear to the survivor, and should at least try to speak to him.
He did not come, I have waited for him, he has said nothing to me. He had one of the tenderest hearts, and a sincere good will. He was not able to; it was not permitted, or perhaps, it was I; I did not hear or understand.
It is, I say, this poor Edmond who is on my mind. That life lived together, quite ended. I cannot think why the bond was broken, unless he too believes that one does not really die.
I would indeed like to go to see you; apparently you have cool weather in Croisset since you want to sleep on A warm beach. Come here, you will not have a beach, but 36 degrees in the shade and a stream cold as ice, is not to be despised. I go there to dabble in it every day after my work; for I must work, Buloz advances me too much money. Here I am doing my business, as Aurore says, and not being able to budge till autumn. I was too lazy after my fatigues as sick-nurse. Little Buloz recently came to stir me up again. Now here I am hard at it.
Since you are to be in Paris in August, you must come to spend several days with us. You did laugh here anyhow; we will try to distract you and to shake you up a bit. You will see the little girls grown and prettier; the little one is beginning to talk. Aurore chatters and argues. She calls Plauchut, old Bachelor. And a propos, accept the best regards of that fine and splendid boy along with all the affectionate greetings of the family.