Dangerous Liaisons —97—


OH, MY GOD, MADAME, I am in such distress! I am so unhappy! Who will console me in my trouble? Who will advise me in the embarrassment in which I am? That M. de Valmont … and Danceny! No, the idea of Danceny fills me with despair…. How can I tell you? How can I relate it? I do not know what to do. However, my heart is full…. I must speak to someone, and you are the only one whom I can, whom I dare confide in. You have shown me so much kindness! But do not have any for me now, I am not worthy of it: what shall I say? I do not wish it. Everybody here has shown an interest in me today … they have all increased my grief. I felt so much that I did not deserve it! Oh, scold me on the contrary; scold me well, for I am very guilty: but afterward save me; if you have not the goodness to advise me, I shall die of grief.

Listen then … my hand trembles, as you see, I can hardly write, I can feel my face is all on fire…. Oh, it is indeed the blush of shame. Ah well, I will endure it; it will be the first punishment for my fault. Yes, I will tell you all.

You must know then, that M. de Valmont, who has hitherto always handed me M. Danceny’s letters, suddenly found it was too difficult; he wanted to have a key to my chamber. I can truly assure you that I did not want this: but he went so far as to write to Danceny, and Danceny also wished it; and as for me, it gives me so much pain to refuse him anything, especially since my absence, which makes him so unhappy, that I ended by consenting. I never foresaw the misfortune which it would lead to.

Yesterday, M. de Valmont made use of this key to come into my room when I was asleep; I was so little prepared for this, that he frightened me very much when he awoke me: but as he spoke to me at once, I recognized his voice, and did not cry out; and then the idea came to me at first that he had come, perhaps, to bring me a letter from Danceny. It was very far from that. A moment afterward, he tried to kiss me; and while I defended myself, as was natural, he contrived to do what I would not have suffered for the whole world… but he would have a kiss first. It had to be done, for what was there to do? All the more, as I had tried to call out; but, in addition to my not being able, he was careful to tell me that, if anyone came, he would know how to put all the blame on me; and, indeed, it was very easy, because of the key. Then he still refused to retire. He wanted a second one; and this one, I do not know how it was, but it quite confused me; and afterward, it was even worse than before. Oh! indeed this is dreadful. In short, after… you will surely excuse me from telling the rest: but I am as unhappy as anyone can be.

What I reproach myself with the most, and of which I must nevertheless speak to you, is that I am afraid I did not resist as much as I might have. I do not know how it happened. I certainly do not love M. de Valmont, quite the contrary; and there were moments when it was just as though I loved him…. You can imagine that did not prevent me from always saying no to him: but I felt sure that I did not act as I spoke, and that was in spite of myself; and then again, I was mightily confused! If it is always as difficult as that to resist, one ought to be well accustomed to it! It is true that M. de Valmont has a way of saying things to which one does not know how to answer. At last, would you believe it, when he went away, it was as though I was sorry; and I was weak enough to consent to his returning this evening: that distresses me more even than all the rest.

Oh! in spite of it, I promise you truly that I will prevent him from coming. He had hardly gone away, before I felt how very wrong I had been in promising him. I wept too all the rest of the time. It is about Danceny, especially, that I am so grieved! Every time I thought of him, my tears flowed so fast that I was suffocated, and I did nothing but think of him … and now again, you see the result; here is my paper all soaked. No, I shall never be consoled, were it only because of him…. At last I was worn out, and yet I was not able to sleep one minute. And this morning, on rising, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I was frightened, so much had I changed.

Mamma perceived it as soon as she saw me, and asked me what was the matter. As for me, I started crying at once. I thought she was about to scold me, and, perhaps, that would have hurt me less: but on the contrary she spoke gently to me! Little did I deserve it. She told me not to grieve like that! She did not know the cause of my grief. I should make myself ill! There are moments when I should like to be dead. I could not contain myself. I threw myself sobbing into her arms, and said to her, “Oh, Mamma, your daughter is very miserable!” Mamma could not keep herself from crying a little; and all this only increased my grief. Luckily she did not ask me why I was so unhappy, for I should not have known what to tell her.

I implore you, Madame, write to me as soon as you can, and tell me what I ought to do: for I have not the courage to think of anything, and I can only grieve. Will you be so kind as to send your letter through M. de Valmont; but, if you write to him at the same time, do not, I beg you, tell him that I have said anything.

I have the honor to be, Madame, always with great affection, your most humble and obedient servant…

I dare not sign this letter.