Dangerous Liaisons —116—


MADAME DE MERTEUIL LEFT this morning for the country; thus, my charming Cécile, I am now deprived of the sole pleasure which remained to me during your absence, that of talking of you to your friend and mine. For some time past, she has allowed me to give her that title; and I have profited by it with all the more eagerness because it seemed to bring me nearer to you. Lord! how amiable this woman is! And with what a flattering charm she knows how to endow friendship! It seems as though that sweet sentiment is embellished and fortified in her by all that she denies to love. If you knew how she loves you, how it pleases her to hear me speak of you! … ’Tis that, no doubt, which draws me so much toward her. What happiness it were, to be able to live entirely for you both, to pass uninterruptedly from the delights of love to the sweets of friendship, to consecrate all my existence to it, to be in some measure the point of union of your mutual attachment, and to feel always that, in occupying myself with the happiness of the one, I was working equally for that of the other. Love, love dearly, my charming friend, this adorable woman. Give greater value still to the attachment I have for her by participating in it. Since I have tasted the charm of friendship, I am desirous that you should experience it in your turn. From pleasures which I do not share with you I seem only to obtain a half enjoyment. Yes, my Cécile, I would fain surround your heart with all the softest sentiments, so that its every vibration might give you a sensation of happiness; and I should still feel that I could never repay you more than a part of the felicity which I should derive from you.

Why must it be that these charming projects are only a chimera of my imagination, and that reality offers me, on the contrary, only indefinite and dolorous privations? The hope which you had held out to me of seeing you in the country I see well that I must renounce. I have no other consolation than that of persuading myself that you do really find it impossible. And you refrain from telling me this, from grieving over it with me! Twice already have my complaints on this subject been left without a reply. Ah! Cécile, Cécile, I do believe that you love me with all the faculties of your soul; but your soul is not ardent like my own. Why does it not lie with me to overthrow the obstacles? Why is it not my interests that have to be considered instead of yours? I should know how to prove to you that nothing is impossible to love.

You tell me nothing, either, of the duration of this cruel absence: here, at least, I should perhaps see you. Your charming eyes would reanimate my drooping soul; their touching expression would reassure my heart, which has sometimes need of it. Forgive me, my Cécile; this fear is not a suspicion. I believe in your love, in your constancy. Ah, I should be too unhappy, if I were to doubt it. But so many obstacles! And always renewed! I am sad, my friend, very sad. It seems as though the departure of Madame de Merteuil had renewed in me the sentiment of all my woes.

Adieu, my Cécile; adieu, my beloved. Remember that your lover is grieving, and that you alone can restore him to happiness.