Dangerous Liaisons —61—


MY DEAR SOPHIE, PITY your Cécile, your poor Cécile; she is very unhappy ! Mamma knows all. I cannot conceive how she has come to suspect anything; and yet, she has discovered everything. Yesterday evening, Mamma seemed indeed to be in a bad humor, but I did not pay much attention to it. I even, while waiting till her rubberdd was finished, talked quite gaily to Madame de Merteuil, who had supped here, and we spoke much of Danceny. I do not believe, however, that we were overheard. She went away and I retired to my room.

I was undressing when Mamma entered, and sent away my maid; she asked me for the key of my desk. The tone in which she made this request caused me to tremble so that I could hardly stand. I made a pretense of being unable to find it; but at last I had to obey her. The first drawer which she opened was precisely that which contained the letters of the Chevalier Danceny. I was so confused that, when she asked me what it was, I did not know what to reply to her, except that it was nothing; but when I saw her begin to read the first which presented itself, I had barely time to sink into an armchair when I felt so ill that I swooned away. As soon as I came to myself again, my mother, who had called my maid, withdrew, telling me to go to bed. She carried off all Danceny’s letters. I tremble every time I reflect that I must appear before her again. I did naught but weep all the night through.

I write to you at dawn, in the hope that Josephine will come. If I can speak with her alone, I shall ask her to take a short note I am going to write to Madame de Merteuil; if not, I will put it in your letter, and will you kindly send it, as if from yourself. It is only from her that I shall get any consolation. At least, we can speak of him, for I have no hope to see him again. I am very wretched! Perhaps she will be kind enough to take charge of a letter for Danceny. I dare not trust Joséphine for such a purpose, and still less my maid; for it is perhaps she who told my mother that I had letters in my desk.

I will not write to you at any greater length, because I wish to have time to write to Madame de Merteuil and also to Danceny, to have my letter all ready, if she will take charge of it. After that I shall lie down again, so that they will find me in bed when they come into my room. I shall say that I am ill, so that I need not have to visit Mamma. It will not be a great falsehood: for indeed I suffer more than if I had the fever. My eyes burn from excessive weeping; and I have a weight on my chest which hinders me from breathing. When I think that I shall not see Danceny again, I wish that I were dead.

Adieu, my dear Sophie, I can say no more to you; my tears choke me.