Dangerous Liaisons —27—


LORD! HOW GOOD YOU are, Madame! how well you understood that it would be easier to me to write to you than to speak! What I have to tell you, too, is very difficult; but is it not true that you are my friend? Oh yes, my very dear friend! I am going to try not to be afraid; and then, I have so much need of you, of your counsels! I am so very grieved, it seems to me that everybody guesses my thoughts; and, especially when he is there, I blush as soon as anyone looks at me. Yesterday, when you saw me crying, it was because I wished to speak to you, and then, I do not know what prevented me; and, when you asked me what was the matter, my tears flowed in spite of myself. I could not have said a single word. But for you, Mamma would have noticed it; and what would have become of me then? That is how I pass my life, especially since four days ago!

It was on that day, Madame, yes, I am going to tell you, it was on that day that M. le Chevalier Danceny wrote to me: oh, I assure you that when I found his letter, I did not know at all what it was: but, not to tell a falsehood, I cannot tell you that I did not take a great deal of pleasure in reading it; you see, I would sooner have sorrow all my life than that he should not have written it. But I knew well that I ought not to tell him that, and I can even assure you that I told him I was vexed at it: but he said that it was stronger than himself, and I quite believe it; for I had resolved not to answer him, and yet I could not help myself. Oh, I have only written to him once, and even that was partly to tell him not to write to me again: but, in spite of that, he goes on writing to me; and, as I do not answer him, I see quite well that he is sad, and that pains me more still: so much that I no longer know what to do, nor what will happen, and I am much to be pitied.

Tell me, I beg you, Madame, would it be very wrong to reply to him from time to time? Only until he has been able to resolve not to write to me any more himself, and to stay as we were before: for, as for me, if this continues, I do not know what will happen to me. See, in reading his last letter, I cried as though I should never have done; and I am very sure that if I do not answer him again, it will cause us a great deal of pain.

I am going to send you his letter as well, or rather a copy, and you will decide; you will quite see there is no harm in what he asks. However, if you think that it must not be, I promise you to restrain myself; but I believe that you will think like me, and that there is no harm there.

While I am about it, Madame, permit me to ask you one more question. They have always told me that it was wrong to love anyone; but why is that? What makes me ask you is that M. le Chevalier Danceny maintains that it is not wrong at all, and that almost everybody loves; if that is so, I do not see why I should be the only one to refrain from it; or is it then that it is only wrong for young ladies? For I have heard Mamma herself say that Madame D— was in love with Monsieur M—, and she did not speak of it as a thing which was so very wrong; and yet I am sure she would be angry with me, if she were only to suspect my liking for M. Danceny. She treats me always like a child, does Mamma; and she tells me nothing at all. I believed, when she took me from the convent, that it was to marry me; but at present it seems no: it is not that I care about it, I assure you; but you who are so friendly with her know, perhaps, how it stands; and, if you know, I hope you will tell me. This is a very long letter, Madame; but, since you have allowed me to write to you, I have profited by it to tell you all, and I count on your friendship.

I have the honor to be, etc.