Dangerous Liaisons —43—


WHY SEEK, MONSIEUR, To diminish my gratitude? Why be willing to give me but a half obedience, and make, as it were, a bargain of an honorable action? Is it not sufficient for you then that I feel the cost of it? You not only ask much, but you ask things which are impossible. If, in truth, my friends have spoken to me of you, they have only done it in my interest: even if they have been deceived, their intention was nonetheless good; and you propose to me to reward this mark of attachment on their part by delivering you their secret! I have already done wrong in speaking to you of it, and you make me very conscious of that at this moment. What would have been no more than candor with another becomes a blunder with you, and would lead me to an ignominy did I yield to you. I appeal to yourself, to your honor; did you think me capable of such a proceeding ? Ought you to have suggested it to me? No, without a doubt; and I am sure that, on further reflection, you will not repeat this request.

That which you make as to writing to me is scarcely easier to grant; and, if you care to be just, it is not me whom you will blame. I do not wish to offend you; but, with the reputation which you have acquired, and which, by your own confession, is at least in part deserved, what woman could own to be in correspondence with you? and what virtuous woman may determine to do something which she feels she will be obliged to conceal?

Again, if I were assured that your letters would be of a kind of which I need never have to complain, so that I could always justify myself in my own eyes for having received them! Perhaps then the desire of proving to you that it is reason and not hate which sways me would induce me to waive those powerful considerations, and to do much more than I ought, in allowing you sometimes to write to me. If indeed you desire to do so as much as you say, you will voluntarily submit to the one condition which could make me consent; and if you have any gratitude for what I am now doing for you, you will not defer your departure.

Permit me to remark to you on this subject that you received a letter this morning, and that you have not taken advantage of it to announce your going to Madame de Rosemonde, as you had promised me. I hope that at present nothing need prevent you keeping your word. I count, above all, on your not waiting for the interview which you ask of me, and to which I absolutely decline to lend myself ; and I hope that, instead of the order which you pretend is necessary to you, you will content yourself with the prayer which I renew to you. Adieu, Monsieur.