Dangerous Liaisons —146—


AT LAST I AM leaving, my young friend; and tomorrow evening I shall be back again in Paris. In the midst of all the confusion which a change of residence involves, I shall receive no one. However, if you have some very pressing confidence to make me, I am quite willing to except you from the general rule: but you will be the sole exception; I beg you, therefore, to keep the secret of my arrival. Valmont even will not be informed of it.

Had anyone told me, a short time ago, that soon you would have my exclusive confidence, I should not have believed it. But yours has attracted mine. I am tempted to believe that you have brought some skill to this end, perhaps even some seduction. That would be very wrong, to say the least! For the rest, it would not be dangerous now; you have really other and better occupations! When the heroine is on the scene, there is little notice taken of the confidant.

Indeed, you have not even found time to acquaint me of your new successes. When your Cécile was absent, the days were not long enough to hear your tender complaints. You would have made them to the echoes, if I had not been there to hear them. Since then, when she was ill, you honored me again with the recital of your anxieties; you wanted someone to whom to tell them. But now that she whom you love is in Paris, that she is recovered, and, above all, that you sometimes see her, she is all-sufficing, and your friends see no more of you.

I do not blame you; it is the fault of your twenty years. From Alcibiades 4 down to yourself, do we not know that young people are unacquainted with friendship, save in their sorrows? Happiness sometimes makes them indiscreet, but never confiding. I am ready to say with Socrates: I love my friends to come to me when they are unhappy.jf But, in his quality of a philosopher, he could dispense with them when they did not come. In that I show less wisdom than he, and I felt your silence with all a woman’s weakness.

Do not, however, think me exacting: I am far from being that! The same sentiment which makes me notice these privations enables me to support them with courage, when they are the proof, or the cause, of my friends’ happiness. I do not count on you, therefore, for tomorrow evening, save insofar as love may leave you free and disengaged, and I forbid you to make the least sacrifice for me.

Adieu, Chevalier; it will be a real festival to see you again: will you come?