Dangerous Liaisons —55—


You WERE RIGHT, MY dear Sophie; your prophesies succeeded better than your advice. Danceny, as you had predicted, has been stronger than my confessor, than you, than myself; and here we are returned precisely to our old position. Ah! I do not repent it; and if you scold me, it will be only because you do not know the pleasure of loving Danceny. It is very easy to say what one ought to do, nothing prevents you; but if you had any experience of how we suffer from the pain of somebody we love, of the way in which his pleasure becomes our own, of how difficult it is to say no, when what we wish to say is yes, you would be astonished at nothing: I myself, who have felt it, felt it most keenly, do not yet understand it. Do you suppose, for instance, that I could see Danceny weep, without weeping myself? I assure you that that would be utterly impossible to me; and, when he is happy, I am as happy as he. You may say what you like: what one says does not change things from what they are, and I am very certain that it is like that.

I should like to see you in my place…. No, it is not that I wish to say, for certainly I should not like to change places with anyone: but I wish that you too loved somebody; not only because then you would understand me better and scold me less; but also because you would be happier, or, I should rather say, you would only then begin to know happiness.

Our amusements, our merriment—all that, you see, is only child’s play: nothing is left, when once it is over. But love, ah, love! … a word, a look, only to know he is there—that is happiness ! When I see Danceny, I ask for nothing more; when I cannot see him, I ask only for him. I do not know how this is; but it would seem as though everything which I like resembles him. When he is not with me, I dream of him; and when I can dream of him utterly, without distraction, when I am quite alone, for instance, I am still happy; I close my eyes, and suddenly I think I see him; I remember his conversation, and think I hear him speak; it causes me to sigh; and then I feel a fire, an agitation … I cannot keep in one place. It is like a torment, and this torment gives me an unutterable pleasure.

I even think that when once one has been in love, the effect of it is shed even over friendship. That which I bear for you has not changed, however; it is always as it was at the convent: but what I tell you of I feel for Madame de Merteuil. It seems as though I love her more as I do Danceny than as yourself; and sometimes I wish that she were he. This is so, perhaps, because it is not a children’s friendship like our own, or else because I see them so often together, which makes me deceive myself. Be that as it may, the truth is that, between the two of them, they make me very happy; and, after all, I do not think there is much harm in what I do. I would only ask to stay as I am; and it is only the idea of marriage which distresses me: for if M. de Gercourt is such a man as I am told, and I have no doubt of it, I do not know what will become of me. Adieu, my Sophie; I love you always most tenderly.