Dangerous Liaisons —158—


WELL, WELL, MARQUISE, HOW are you after the pleasures of last night? Are you not somewhat fatigued by them? Admit now, that Danceny is charming! He performs prodigies, this youth! You did not expect it of him, am I not right? Indeed, I will do myself justice; I richly deserved to be sacrificed to such a rival. Seriously, he is full of good qualities! But, above all, what love, what constancy, what delicacy! Ah, if you were ever to be loved by him as his Cécile is, you would have no rivals to fear: he proved that to you last night. Perhaps, by dint of coquetry, another woman may rob you of him for a moment; a young man can hardly refuse enticing provocations : but a single word from the beloved object suffices, as you see, to dispel this illusion; thus you have only to be that object in order to become perfectly happy.

You will surely make no mistake there; you have too sure a tact that you need ever fear that. However, the friendship which unites us, as sincere on my part as it is recognized on yours, made me desire for you the experience of last night. It is the work of my zeal; it has succeeded: but I pray you, no thanks; it is not worth the pains: nothing could have been easier.

In fact, what did it cost me? A slight sacrifice, and a little skill. I consented to share the favors of his mistress with the young man: but, after all, he has as much right to them as I; and I took such scant account of them! The letter which the young person wrote to him was, of course, dictated by me; but it was only to gain time, because we had a better use for it. The one I added to it, oh, that was nothing, next to nothing; a few friendly reflections to guide the new lover’s choice: but, upon my honor, they were not required; the truth must be told, he did not hesitate for an instant.

Moreover, in his candor, he is to go to you today, to tell you everything ; and assuredly the story will please you mightily! He will say to you: “Read my heart”; this he has told me: and you quite see that that repairs everything. I hope that, while reading what he would have, you will also perhaps read that such young lovers have their dangers; and again, that it is better to have me for a friend than an enemy.

Adieu, Marquise; until the next occasion.