Dangerous Liaisons —135—


I AM ENDEAVORING TO write to you, without yet knowing if I shall be able. Ah God! When I think of my last letter, which my excessive happiness prevented me from continuing! It is the thought of my despair which overwhelms me now, which leaves me only strength enough to feel my sorrows, and deprives me of the power of expressing them.

Valmont—Valmont no longer loves me, he has never loved me. Love does not vanish thus. He deceives me, betrays me, outrages me. All misfortunes and humiliations that can be heaped together I experience, and it is from him that they come!

Do not suppose that this is a mere suspicion: I was so far from having any! I have not even the consolation of a doubt: I have seen him: what could he say to justify himself? … But what matters it to him! He will not even make the attempt…. Unhappy wretch! What will thy reproaches and tears avail with him? He is far from thinking of thee!

’Tis true, then, that he has sacrificed me, exposed me even … and to whom? … A low creature…. But what am I saying? Ah, I have even lost the right to despise her! She has been false to fewer duties, she is not so guilty as I. Oh, how bitter is the sorrow which is founded upon remorse! I feel my torments redouble.

Adieu, my dear friend; however unworthy I may have made myself of your pity, you will still feel it for me, if you can form any idea of what I suffer.

I have just read over my letter, and I perceive it can tell you nothing; I will try, then, to master up courage to relate the cruel incident. It was yesterday; for the first time since my return I was going to sup abroad. Valmont came to see me at five o’clock; never had he seemed so fond. He gave me to understand that my project of going out vexed him, and you may judge that I soon formed that of remaining with him. However, two hours later, and suddenly, his air and tone underwent a sensible change. I know not whether I had let fall something which may have displeased him; be that as it may, shortly afterward he pretended to recollect some business which compelled him to leave me, and went away: not without displaying a very lively regret, which seemed affectionate, and which I then believed to be sincere.

Being left alone, I judged it more proper not to excuse myself from my first engagement since I was at liberty to fulfill it. I completed my toilette and entered my carriage. Unfortunately, my coachman took me by way of the Opera, and I was involved in the crowd of people leaving; four yards in front of me, and in the rank next to my own, I perceived Valmont’s carriage. My heart instantly palpitated, but it was not from fear; and my only idea was the desire that my carriage should go forward. Instead of that, it was his own which was forced to retreat, and came alongside of mine. I instantly advanced; what was my astonishment to find a courtesan at his side, one well known as such! I withdrew, as you may well believe, and I had already seen quite enough to wound my heart; but you would hardly believe that this same woman, apparently informed by an odious confidence, never quitted the window of the carriage, nor ceased to stare at me, with peals of scandalous laughter.

In the condition of prostration to which I was reduced, I let myself, nevertheless, be driven to the house where I was to sup; but it was impossible for me to remain; I felt each instant on the point of swooning away, and, above all, I could not restrain my tears.

On my return, I wrote to M. de Valmont, and sent him my letter immediately; he was not at home. Wishing, at any price, to issue from this state of death, or to confirm it forever, I sent again with orders to wait for him; but before midnight my servant returned, telling me that the coachman, who was back, had told him that his master would not be home that night. I thought this morning that I had nothing else to do than ask him for the return of my letters, and beg him to visit me no more. I have, indeed, given orders to this effect, but doubtless they were superfluous. It is nearly noon; he has not yet presented himself, and I have not received a word from him.

Now, my dear friend, I have nothing further to add: you are informed of everything, and you know my heart. My sole hope is that I may not long afflict your tender friendship.