Dangerous Liaisons —80—


CÉCILE, MY DEAR CÉCILE, when will the time come for us to meet again? How shall I learn to live afar from you? Who will give me the courage and the strength? Never, never shall I be able to supporter this fatal absence. Each day adds to my unhappiness: and there is no term to look forward to!

Valmont, who had promised me help and consolation, Valmont neglects and, perhaps, forgets me! He is near the object of his love; he forgets what one feels when one is parted from it. When forwarding your last letter to me, he did not write to me. It is he, however, who should tell me when, and by what means, I shall be able to see you. Has he nothing then to tell me? You yourself do not speak of it to me; could it be that you do not participate in my desire? Ah, Cecile, Cecile, I am very unhappy! I love you more than ever: but this love which makes the charm of my life becomes its torture.

No, I can no longer live thus; I must see you, I must, were it only for a moment. When I rise, I say to myself: I shall not see her. I lie down saying: I have not seen her…. The long, long days contain no moment of happiness. All is privation, regret, despair; and all these ills come to me from the source whence I expected every pleasure! Add to these mortal pains my anxiety about yours, and you will have an idea of my situation. I think of you uninterruptedly, and never without dismay. If I see you afflicted, unhappy, I suffer for all your sorrows; if I see you calm and consoled, my own are redoubled. Everywhere I find unhappiness.

Ah, how different it was from this, when you dwelt in the same places as I did! All was pleasure then. The certainty of seeing you embellished even the moments of absence; the time which had to be passed away from you brought you nearer to me as it glided away. The use I made of it was never unknown to you. If I fulfilled my duties, they rendered me more worthy of you; if I cultivated any talent, I hoped the more to please you. Even when the distractions of the world carried me far away from you, I was not parted from you. At the playhouse I sought to divine what would have pleased you; a concert reminded me of your talents and our sweet occupations. In company, on my walks, I seized upon the slightest resemblance. I compared you with all; everywhere you had the advantage. Every moment of the day was marked by fresh homage, and every evening I brought the tribute of it to your feet.

Nowadays, what remains to me? Dolorous regrets, eternal privations, and a faint hope that Valmont’s silence may be broken, that yours shall be changed to inquietude. Ten leagues 14 alone divide us, and that distance, so easy to traverse, becomes to me alone an insurmountable obstacle! And when I implore my friend, my mistress, to help me to overcome it, both remain cold and unmoved! Far from aiding me, they do not even reply.

What has become then of the active friendship of Valmont? What, above all, has become of your tender sentiments, which made you so ingenious in discovering the means of our daily meetings? Sometimes, I remember, without ceasing to desire them, I found myself compelled to forego them for considerations, duties; what did you not say to me then? With how many pretexts did you not combat my reasons? And let me remind you, my Cécile, my reasons always gave way to your wishes. I do not make a merit of it; it has not even that of sacrifice. What you desired to obtain I was burning to bestow. But now I ask in my turn; and what is the request? To see you for a moment, to renew to you and to receive a vow of eternal love. Does that no longer make your happiness as it makes mine? I thrust aside that despairing idea, which would set the crown upon my ills. You love me, you will always love me, I believe it, I am sure of it, I will never doubt it: but my situation is frightful, and I cannot endure it much longer. Adieu, Cécile.