I have tried in vain this month to go again to see ma Normandie, that is to say, my great, dear heart’s friend. My children have threatened me with death if I leave them so soon. Just at present friends are coming. You are the only one who does not talk of coming on. Yet, that would be so fine! Next month I shall move heaven and earth to find you wherever you are, and meanwhile I love you tremendously. And you. Your work? your mother’s health? I am worried at not having news of you.
I was as much ashamed as touched, last evening, when I received your “very nice” letter. I am a wretch not to have answered the first one. How did that happen? For I am usually prompt.
My work does not go very well. I hope that I shall finish my second part in February. But in order to have it all finished in two years, I must not budge from my arm-chair till then. That is why I am not going to Nohant. A week of recreation means three months of revery for me. I should do nothing but think of you, of yours in Berry, of all that I saw. My unfortunate spirit would navigate in strange waters. I have so little resistance.
I do not hide the pleasure that your little word about Salammbo gives me. That old book needs to be relieved from a few inversions, there are too many repetitions of ALORS, Mais and et. The labor is too evident.
As for the one I am doing, I am afraid that the idea is defective, an irremediable fault; will such weak characters be interesting? Great effects are reached only through simple means, through positive passions. But I don’t see simplicity anywhere in the modern world.
A sad world! How deplorable and how lamentably grotesque are affairs in Italy! All these orders, counter-orders of counter-orders of the counter-orders! The earth is a very inferior planet, decidedly.
You did not tell me if you were satisfied with the revivals at the Odeon. When shall you go south? And where shall you go in the south?
A week from today, that is to say, from the 7th to the 10th of November, I shall be in Paris, because I have to go sauntering in Auteuil in order to discover certain little nooks. What would be nice would be for us to come back to Croisset together. You know very well that I am very angry at you for your two last trips in Normandy.
Then, I shall see you soon? No joking? I embrace you as I love you, dear master, that is to say, very tenderly.
Here is a bit that I send to your dear son, a lover of this sort of fluff:
“One evening, expected by Hortense,
Having his eyes fixed on the clock,
And feeling his heart beat with eager throbs,
Young Alfred dried up with impatience.”
(Memoires de l’Academie de Saint-Quentin.)