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station. The fireman hid behind the boiler and the engineer

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Is George Sand recalling here any hidden and painful memories? Casimir had, at bottom, a certain brutality, which, later on, was very evident. The question is whether he had shown proofs of it at a time when it would have been wiser to have refrained.

station. The fireman hid behind the boiler and the engineer

However that may be, the fundamental disagreement of their natures was not long in making itself felt between the husband and wife. He was matter-of-fact, and she was romantic; he only believed in facts, and she in ideas; he was of the earth, earthy, whilst she aspired to the impossible. They had nothing to say to each other, and when two people have nothing to say, and love does not fill up the silences, what torture the daily _tete-a-tete_ must be. Before they had been married two years, they were bored to death. They blamed Nohant, but the fault was in themselves. Nohant seemed unbearable to them, simply because they were there alone with each other. They went to Plessis, perhaps in the hope that the remembrance of the days of their engagement might have some effect on them. It was there, in 1824, that the famous scene of the blow took place. They were playing at a regular children's game in the park, and throwing sand at each other. Casimir lost his patience and struck his wife. It was certainly impolite, but Aurore did not appear to have been very indignant with her husband at the time. Her grievances were quite of another kind, less tangible and much more deeply felt.

station. The fireman hid behind the boiler and the engineer

From Plessis they went to Ormesson. We do not know what took place there, but evidently something which made a deep impression morally, something very serious. A few years later, referring to this stay at Ormesson, George Sand wrote to one of her friends: "You pass by a wall and come to a house. . . . If you are allowed to enter you will find a delightful English garden, at the bottom of which is a spring of water hidden under a kind of grotto. It is all very stiff and uninteresting, but it is very lonely. I spent several months there, and it was there that I lost my health, my confidence in the future, my gaiety and my happiness. It was there that I felt, and very deeply too, my first approach of trouble. . . ."[3]

station. The fireman hid behind the boiler and the engineer

[3] Extract from the unpublished letters of George Sand to Dr. Emile Regnault.

They left Ormesson for Paris, and Paris for Nohant, and after that, by way of trying to shake off the dulness that was oppressing them, they had recourse to the classical mode of diversion--a voyage.

They set off on the 5th of July, 1825, for that famous expedition to the Pyrenees, which was to be so important a landmark in Aurore Dudevant's history. On crossing the Pyrenees, the scenery, so new to her--or rather the memory of which had been lying dormant in her mind since her childhood--filled her with wild enthusiasm. This intense emotion contributed to develop within her that sense of the picturesque which, later on, was to add so considerably to her talent as a writer. She had hitherto been living in the country of plains, the Ile-de-France and Berry. The contrast made her realize all the beauties of nature, and, on her return, she probably understood her own familiar scenery, and enjoyed it all the more. She had hitherto appreciated it vaguely. Lamartine learnt to love the severe scenery of Milly better on returning to it after the softness of Italy.

The Pyrenees served, too, for Baronne Dudevant as the setting for an episode which was unique in her sentimental life.

In the _Histoire de ma vie_ there is an enigmatical page in which George Sand has intentionally measured and velled every expression. She speaks of her moral solitude, which, at that time, was profound and absolute, and she adds: "It would have been mortal to a tender mind and to a girl in the flower of her youth, if it had not been filled with a dream which had taken the importance of a great passion, not in my life, as I had sacrificed my life to duty, but in my thoughts. I was in continual correspondence with an absent person to whom I told all my thoughts, all my dreams, who knew all my humble virtues, and who heard all my platonic enthusiasm. This person was excellent in reality, but I attributed to him more than all the perfections possible to human nature. I only saw this man for a few days, and sometimes only for a few hours, in the course of a year. He was as romantic, in his intercourse with me, as I was. Consequently he did not cause me any scruples, either of religion or of conscience. This man was the stay and consolation of my exile, as regards the world of reality." It was this dream, as intense as any passion, that we must study here. We must make the acquaintance of this excellent and romantic man.

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