Dangerous Liaisons —54—


OH YES, IT is certainly with Danceny that there is something to discover! If he told you so, he was boasting. I know nobody so stupid in an affair of love, and I reproach myself more and more with the kindness we have shown him. Do you know that yesterday I thought I was compromised through him? And it would have been a pure loss! Oh, I will have my revenge, I promise you.

When I arrived yesterday to fetch Madame de Volanges, she no longer wanted to go out; she felt indisposed; I had need of all my eloquence to persuade her, and I foresaw that Danceny might arrive before our departure, which would have been all the more awkward, as Madame de Volanges had told him the day before that she would not be at home. Her daughter and I were on thorns. At last we went out; and the little one pressed my hand so affectionately as she bade me adieu that, in spite of her intended rupture, with which she believed herself, in all good faith, still to be occupied, I prophesied wonders in the course of the evening.

I was not at the end of my anxieties. We had hardly been half an hour at Madame de —’s, when Madame de Volanges felt really unwell, and naturally she wanted to return home: as for me, I was the less inclined for it in that I was afraid, supposing we were to surprise the young people (as the chances were we should), that my efforts to make the mother go abroad might seem highly suspicious. I adopted the course of frightening her upon her health, which luckily is not difficult; and I kept her for an hour and a half, without consenting to drive her home, by feigning fear at the consequences of the dangerous motion of the carriage. We did not return until the hour that had been fixed. From the shamefaced air which I remarked on our arrival, I confess I hoped that at least my trouble had not been wasted.

The desire I had for further information made me stay with Madame de Volanges, who went to bed at once: and after having supped at her bedside, we left her at an early hour, under the pretext that she had need of repose, and passed into her daughter’s apartment. The latter had done, on her side, all that I had expected of her; vanished scruples, fresh vows of eternal love, etc., etc.: in a word, she had performed properly. But the fool, Danceny, had not by one point passed the line where he had been before. Oh! one can safely quarrel with such a one: reconciliations are not dangerous.

The child assures me, however, that he wanted more, but that she knew how to defend herself. I would wager that she brags, or that she excuses him; indeed I made almost certain of it. The fantasy seized me to find out how much one might rely on the defense of which she was capable; and I, a mere woman, bit by bit, excited her to the point … In short, you may believe me, no one was ever more susceptible to a surprise of the senses. She is really lovable, this dear child! She deserves a different lover; she shall have at least a firm friend, for I am becoming really fond of her. I have promised her that I will form her, and I think I shall keep my word. I have often felt a need of having a woman in my confidence, and I should prefer her to another; but I can do nothing so long as she is not—what she needs to be; and that is one reason the more for bearing a grudge against Danceny.

Adieu, Vicomte; do not come to me tomorrow, unless it be in the forenoon. I have yielded to the entreaties of the Chevalier, for an evening at the petite maison.