Dangerous Liaisons —117—


Do YOU THINK THEN, my dear friend, that I had any need of scolding to make me sad, when I know that you grieve? And do you doubt that I suffer as much as you, at all your sorrows? I even share those which I cause you knowingly; and I have one more than you when I see that you do not do me justice. Oh! that is not right! Indeed, I see what vexes you; it is that, the last two times you asked to come here, I did not answer you: but was the answer such an easy one to give? Do you suppose I do not know that what you want is very wicked? And yet, if I have already so much difficulty in refusing you at a distance, pray, what would it be if you were here? And then, because I had wished to console you for a moment, I should be sorry all my life.

See, I have nothing to conceal from you; here are my reasons, judge for yourself. I should, perhaps, have done what you wish, had it not been for what I have told you, the news that this M. de Gercourt, who is the cause of all our grief, will not arrive yet awhile; and as Mamma, for some time past, has shown me much more kindness; as I, on my side, caress her as much as I can, who knows what I may not be able to obtain from her? And if we could be happy without my having anything to reproach myself with, would not that be much better? If I am to believe what I have been often told, men no longer love their wives so much, if they have loved them overmuch before they were wives. That fear restrains me even more than the rest. My friend, are you not sure of my heart, and will there not be always time?

Listen; I promise you that, though I cannot avoid the misfortune of marrying M. de Gercourt, whom I hate so much already before I know him, nothing shall any longer prevent me from being yours as much as I am able, and even before everything. As I do not care to be loved except by you, and you must see quite well that, if I do wrong, it is not my fault, the rest will be just the same to me; provided that you promise to love me always as much as you do now. But until then, my friend, let me continue as I am; and ask me no more for a thing which I have good reasons for declining to do, and which it yet vexes me to refuse you.

I should be very glad, too, if M. de Valmont were not so urgent for you; it only serves to make me grieve still more. Oh, you have a very good friend in him, I assure you! He does everything that you would do yourself. But adieu, my dear love; it was very late when I began to write to you, and I have spent part of the night over it. I am going to bed now, and to make up for the lost time. I embrace you, but do not scold me any more.