Dangerous Liaisons —46—


WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO you then, my adored Cécile? What can have caused in you so sudden and cruel an alteration? What has become of your vows of never changing? It was only yesterday that you repeated them with so much pleasure! Who can have made you forget them today? It is useless for me to examine myself; I cannot find the cause of it in me; and it is terrible that I should have to seek it in you. Ah! doubtless you are neither light nor deceitful; and even in this moment of despair, no insulting suspicion shall defile my soul. Yet, by what fatality comes it that you are no longer the same? No, cruel one, you are no longer the same! The tender Cecile, the Cecile whom I adore, and whose vows I have received, would not have avoided my gaze, would not have resisted the happy chance which placed me beside her; or, if any reason which I cannot understand had forced her to treat me with such severity, she would, at least, have condescended to inform me of it.

Ah, you do not know, you will never know, my Cécile, all that you have made me suffer today, all that I suffer still at this moment. Do you suppose then that I can live, if I am no longer loved by you? Nonetheless, when I asked you for a word, one single word to dispel my fears, instead of answering me you pretended to be afraid of being overheard; and that difficulty which did not then exist, you immediately brought about yourself by the place which you chose in the circle. When, compelled to leave you, I asked you at what hour I could see you again tomorrow, you pretended that you could not say, and Madame de Volanges had to be my informant. Thus the moment, ever desired so fondly, which is to bring me into your presence, tomorrow, will only excite in me anxiety; and the pleasure of seeing you, hitherto so dear to my heart, will give place to the fear of being intrusive.

I feel it already, this dread irks me, and I dare not speak to you of my love. That I love you, which I loved so well to repeat when I could hear it in my turn; that soft phrase which sufficed for my felicity, offers me, if you are changed, no more than the image of an eternal despair. I cannot believe, however, that that talisman of love has lost all its power, and I am fain to employ it once more.ch Yes, my Cécile, I love you. Repeat after me then this expression of my happiness. Remember that you have accustomed me to the hearing of it, and that to deprive me of it is to condemn me to a torture which, like my love, can only end with my life.