Dangerous Liaisons —114—


MY DEAR FRIEND, I yield to the impulse of my grave anxiety; and without knowing whether you will be able to reply to me, I cannot refrain from questioning you. The condition of M. de Valmont, which you tell me is not dangerous, does not leave me as much confidence as you appear to have. It not rarely happens that melancholy and disgust with the world are the symptoms and precursors of some grave illness; the sufferings of the body, like those of the mind, make us desirous of solitude; and often we reproach with ill humor him who should merely be pitied for his pain.

It seems to me that he ought at least to consult someone. How is it that you, who are ill yourself, have not a doctor by your side? My own, whom I have seen this morning, and whom, I do not conceal from you, I have indirectly consulted, is of opinion that, in persons naturally active, this sort of sudden apathy should never be neglected; and, as he said besides, sicknesses that are not taken in time no longer yield to treatment. Why let one who is so dear to you incur this risk?

What enhances my anxiety is that I have received no news of him for four days. My God! Are you not deceiving me as to his condition? Why should he have suddenly ceased to write? If it were only the effect of my obstinacy in returning his letters to him, I think he would have adopted this course sooner. In short, although I do not believe in presentiments, I have been, for some days past, in a state of gloom which alarms me. Ah, perhaps I am on the eve of the greatest of misfortunes!

You would not believe, and I am ashamed to tell you, how pained I am not to receive those same letters which, however, I should still refuse to read. I was at least sure that he was thinking of me, and I saw something which came from him! I did not open those letters, but I wept when I looked at them: my tears were sweeter and more easy, and they alone partially dissipated the customary depression in which I live since my return. I conjure you, my indulgent friend, write to me yourself as soon as you are able, and, in the meanwhile, have your news and his sent to me daily.

I perceive that I have hardly said a word as to yourself, but you know my sentiments, my unlimited attachment, my tender gratitude for your sensitive friendship; you will pardon my trouble, my mortal sufferings, the terrible torture of having to dread calamities of which I am, perhaps, the cause. Great Heaven! this agonizing idea pursues me and rends my heart: this misfortune was lacking me, and I feel that I was born to experience all.

Adieu, my dear friend: love me, pity me. Shall I have a letter from you today?