Dangerous Liaisons —47—


TODAY AGAIN I SHALL not see you, my lovely friend, and here are my reasons, which I beg you to receive with indulgence.

Yesterday, instead of returning here directly, I stopped with the Comtesse de —, whose château lay almost upon my road, and of whom I asked a dinner. I did not reach Paris until about seven o’clock, and I alighted at the Opera, where I hoped to find you.

The Opera over, I went to see my fair friends of the green room; I found there my whilomci Émilie, surrounded by a numerous court, women as well as men, to whom she was offering a supper that very evening at P—. I had no sooner entered this assemblage than I was invited to the supper by acclamation. I was likewise invited by a little fat and stumpy person, who stammered his invitation to me in the French of Holland, and whom I recognized as the true hero of the fête.cj I accepted.

I learned upon my way that the house whither we were going was the price agreed upon for Émilie’s favors toward this grotesque figure, and that this supper was a veritable wedding breakfast. The little man could not contain himself for joy, in expectation of the pleasure which awaited him; he seemed to me so satisfied with the prospect that he gave me a longing to disturb it; which was, effectually, what I did.

The only difficulty I found was that of persuading Emilie, who was rendered somewhat scrupulous by the burgomaster’sck wealth. She agreed, however, after raising some objections, to the plan which I suggested of filling this little beer barrel with wine, and so putting him hors de combatcl for the rest of the night.

The sublime idea which we had formed of a Dutch toperscm caused us to employ all available means. We succeeded so well that, at dessert, he was already without the strength to lift his glass: but the helpful Émilie and myself vied with one another in filling him up. Finally, he fell beneath the table, in so drunken a state, that it ought to last for at least a week. We then decided to send him back to Paris; and, as he had not kept his carriage, I had him carried into mine, and remained in his stead. I thereupon received the congratulations of the company, which soon afterward retired, and left me in possession of the field. This gaiety, and perhaps my long rustication,cn made Émilie seem so desirable to me that I promised to stay with her until the Dutchman’s resurrection.

This complaisanceco on my part is the price of that which she has just shown me, that of serving me for a desk upon which to write to my fair puritan, to whom I found it amusing to send a letter written in the bed, and almost in the arms, of a wench,cp a letter interrupted even to complete an infidelity, in which I send her an exact account of my position and my conduct. Émilie, who has read the epistle, laughed like a mad girl over it, and I hope that you will laugh as well.

As my letter must needs bear the Paris postmark, I send it to you; I leave it open. Will you please read it, seal it up, and commit it to the post. Above all, be careful not to employ your own seal, nor even any amorous device; a simple head.cq Adieu, my lovely friend.

P.S. I open my letter; I have persuaded Emilie to go to the Italiens. 19 … I shall take advantage of that moment to come and see you. I shall be with you by six o‘clock at the latest; and if it be agreeable to you, we will go together, about seven o’clock, to Madame de Volanges. Propriety commands that I do not postpone the invitation with which I am charged for her from Madame de Rosemonde; moreover, I shall be delighted to see the little Volanges.

Adieu, most fair lady. I shall be as pleased to embrace you, as the Chevalier will be jealous.

AT P … , 3OTH AUGUST, 17–.