This quotation and those that follow are borrowed from the unpublished correspondence with Emile Regnault.
"When I first knew him I was disillusioned about everything, and I no longer believed in those things which make us happy. He has warmed my frozen heart and restored the life that was dying within me." She then recalls their first meeting. It was in the country, at Coudray, near Nohant. She fell in love with her dear Sandeau, thanks to his youthfulness, his timidity and his awkwardness. He was just twenty, in 1831. On approaching the bench where she was awaiting him, "he concealed himself in a neighbouring avenue-- and I could see his hat and stick on the bench," she writes. "Everything, even to the little red ribbon threaded in the lining of his grey hat, thrilled me with joy. . . ."
It is difficult to say why, but everything connected with this young Jules seems absurd. Later on we get the following statement: "Until the day when I told him that I loved him, I had never acknowledged as much to myself. I felt that I did, but I would not own it even to my own heart. Jules therefore learnt it at the same time as I did myself."
People at La Chatre took the young man for her lover. The idea of finding him again in Paris was probably one of her reasons for wishing to establish herself there. Then came her life, as she describes it herself, "in the little room looking on to the quay. I can see Jules now in a shabby, dirty-looking artist's frock-coat, with his cravat underneath him and his shirt open at the throat, stretched out over three chairs, stamping with his feet or breaking the tongs in the heat of the discussion. The Gaulois used to sit in a corner weaving great plots, and you would be seated on a table.
All this must certainly have been charming. The room was too small, though, and George Sand commissioned Emile Regnault to find her a flat, the essential condition of which should be some way of egress for Jules at any hour.
A little flat was discovered on the Quay St. Michel. There were three rooms, one of which could be reserved. "This shall be the dark room," wrote George Sand, "the mysterious room, the ghost's retreat, the monster's den, the cage of the performing animal, the hiding-place for the treasure, the vampire's cave, or whatever you like to call it. . . ."
In plainer language, it was Jules' room; and then follows some touching eloquence about the dear boy she worshipped who loved her so dearly.
This is the beginning of things, but later on the tone of the correspondence changes. The letters become less frequent, and are also not so gay. George Sand speaks much less of Jules in them and much more of little Solange, whom she intended to bring back to Paris with her. She is beginning to weary of Jules and to esteem him at his true value. He is lazy, and has fits of depression and all the capriciousness of a spoilt child. She has had enough of him, and then, too, it is very evident from the letters that there has been some division among the lively friends who had sworn to be comrades for life. There are explanations and justifications. George Sand discovers that there are certain inconveniences connected with intimacies in which there is such disproportion of age and of social position. Finally there are the following desperate letters, written in fits of irritation: "My dear friend, go to Jules and look after him. He is broken-hearted, and you can do nothing for him in that respect. It is no use trying. I do not ask you to come to me yet, as I do not need anything. I would rather be alone to-day. Then, too, there is nothing left for me in life. It will be horrible for him for a long time, but he is so young. The day will come, perhaps, when he will not be sorry to have lived. . . .