Wednesday, May 20th., Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.
Since we came here I have been determined to recommence, modestly, my career as a book collector. I got addresses, bought L'Intermediaire and got catalogues; which gave me a keen pleasure. And at last I have begun to receive catalogues from second-hand booksellers in Paris. I ordered three cheap books on Sunday to make a commencement. After tea today I sought out all the books I have acquired during the year, and ranged them apart. At the end of the year I shall visually know what I have done in the way of book getting.
I then had to decide what I should read, of heavy stuff, and I settled on Lewes's "History of Philosophy".
Last weekend I meant to plan out my average day as I mean to live it here; but I did not do so. For I am now 'settled down' definitely, and must arrange my life. One of my notions is to study French more methodically; my knowledge of it does not improve fast enough; not even as fast as my accent - and that is not saying much.
For some weeks I have been occupied with the proofs of 3 books: "Helen with the High Hand" (The Miser's Niece), "How to live on 24 hours a day", and "Buried Alive". On Monday I finished the last of these damnable nuisances. Also on Monday I began to construct Part III - Paris - of "The Old Wives Tale", and got on pretty well, in spite of a headache.
Today I wrote a complete short story, "The Tight Hand", 2,300 words. A good idea, rather spoilt; funny, really humorous, but not enough construction to it, and the effect rather anticipated. But I couldn't do it again. With me, the rough has to go with the smooth. I know I have been right in always refusing to do anything twice over, or to alter anything, once done.
Marguerite was in Paris. I had finished at 3 p.m. Madame B. came. Speaking of her cat she said: "I give him everything except liberty. I can't give him that because I haven't got it."