Dangerous Liaisons —82—


AH, GOD, WHAT PAIN your letter gave me! I need well have felt such impatiencefd to receive it! I hoped to find in it consolation, and here am I more afflicted than I was ere I received it. I shed many tears when I read it: it is not that with which I reproach you; I have already wept many times because of you, without its being painful to me. But this time, it is not the same thing.

What is it that you wish to say, pray? that your love is grown a torment to you, that you cannot longer live thus, nor any more support your situation? Do you mean that you are going to cease to love me, because it is not so agreeable as it used to be? It seems to me that I am no happier than you are, quite the contrary; and yet I only love you the more for that. If M. de Valmont has not written to you, it is not my fault; I could not beg him to, because I have not been alone with him, and we have agreed that we would never speak before people: and that again is for your sake, so that he can the sooner do what you desire. I do not say that I do not desire it also, and you ought to be assured of this: but what would you have me do? If you believe it to be so easy, please find the means, I ask nothing better.

Do you think it is so very agreeable for me to be scolded every day by Mamma, who once never said anything to me? Quite the contrary. Now it is worse than if I were at the convent. I consoled myself for it, however, by reflecting that it was for you; there were even moments when I found I was quite content; but when I see that you are vexed too, without its being in the least my fault, I have more grief than I had for all that has hitherto happened to me.

Even merely to receive your letters is embarrassing, so that, if M. de Valmont were not so obliging and so clever as he is, I should not know what to do; and, as to writing to you, that is more difficult still. All the morning I dare not, because Mamma is close by me, and she may come, at any moment, into my room. Sometimes, I am able to, in the afternoon, under pretense of singing or playing on the harp; even then I have to interrupt myself after every line, to let them hear I am studying. Luckily my waiting maid sometimes grows sleepy in the evening, and I tell her that I can quite well get to bed by myself, so that she may go away and leave me the light. And then, I am obliged to get behind my curtain, so that no light can be seen; and then, to listen for the least sound, so that I can hide everything in my bed, if anyone comes. I wish you were there to see! You would soon see that one must indeed love anyone to do it. In short, it is quite true that I do all that I can, and I would it lay within my power to do more.

Certainly, I do not refuse to tell you that I love you, and that I shall always love you; I never told it you with a fuller heart, and you are vexed! Yet you had assured me, before I said it, that that was enough to make you happy. You cannot deny it; it is in your letters. Although I have them no longer, I remember them as well as when I used to read them every day. And you, because you are absent now, no longer think the same! But perhaps this absence will not always last? Ah, God, how unhappy I am! And it is indeed you who are the cause of it! …

With regard to your letters, I hope that you have kept those which Mamma took from me, and which she sent back to you; a time must come, someday, when I shall not be so restrained as at present, and you will give them all back to me. How happy I shall be when I am able to keep them for good, and no one can object! Now I return them to M. de Valmont, because there would be too much danger otherwise; in spite of that, I never give them to him without feeling a deal of pain.

Adieu, my dear friend. I love you with all my heart. I shall love you all my life. I hope that now you are no longer vexed,fe and, were I sure of it, I should not be so myself. Write to me, as soon as you are able, for I feel that till then I shall continue sad.