But I did not want to talk to you of that, you roar about it enough as it is! one ought to be distracted; for if one thinks too much about it, one becomes separated from one’s own limbs and lets oneself undergo amputation with too much stoicism.
You don’t tell me in what state you found your charming nest at Croisset. The Prussians occupied it; did they ruin it, dirty it, rob it? Your books, your bibelots, did you find them all? Did they respect your name, your workshop? If you can work again there, peace will come to your spirit. As for me, I am waiting till mine gets well, and I know that I shall have to help myself to my own cure by a certain faith often shaken, but of which I make a duty.
Tell me whether the tulip tree froze this winter, and if the poppies are pretty.
I often take the journey in spirit; I see again your garden and its surroundings. How far away that is! How many things have happened since! One hardly knows whether one is a hundred years old or not!
My little girls bring me back to the notion of time; they are growing, they are amusing and affectionate; it is through them and the two beings who gave them to me that I feel myself still of the world; it is through you too, dear friend, whose kind and loving heart I always feel to be good and alive. How I should like to see you! But I have no longer a way of going and coming.
We embrace you, all of us, and we love you.
I am answering at once your questions that concern me personally. No! the Prussians did not loot my house. They hooked some little things of no importance, a dressing case, a bandbox, some pipes; but on the whole they did no harm. As for my study, it was respected. I had buried a large box full of letters and hidden my voluminous notes on Saint-Antoine. I found all that intact.
The worst of the invasion for me is that it has aged my poor, dear, old mother by ten years! What a change! She can no longer walk alone, and is distressingly weak! How sad it is to see those whom one loves deteriorate little by little!
In order to think no longer on the public miseries or on my own, I have plunged again with fury into Saint-Antoine, and if nothing disturbs me and I continue at this pace, I shall have finished it next winter. I am very eager to read to you the sixty pages which are done. When we can circulate about again on the railroad, do come to see me for a little while. Your old troubadour has waited for you for such a long time! Your letter of this morning has saddened me. What a proud fellow you are and what immense courage you have!