Dangerous Liaisons —65—


O MY CÉCILE! WHAT is to become of us? What God will save us from the misfortunes which threaten us? Let love, at least, give us the courage to support them! How can I paint for you my astonishment, my despair, at the sight of my letters, at the reading of Madame de Volanges’ missive? Who can have betrayed us? On whom do your suspicions fall? Could you have committed any imprudence? What are you doing now? What have they said to you? I would know everything, and I am ignorant of all. Perhaps, you yourself are no better informed than I.

I send you your Mamma’s note and a copy of my reply. I hope that you will approve of what I have said. I need also your approval of all the measures I have taken since this fatal event; they are all with the object of having news of you, of giving you mine; and, who knows? perhaps of seeing you again, and more freely than ever.

Imagine, my Cécile, the pleasure of finding ourselves together again, of being able to seal anew our vows of eternal love, and of seeing in our eyes, of feeling in our souls, that this vow will not be falsified! What pain will not so sweet a moment make us forget! Ah, well, I have hope of seeing it arrive, and I owe it to these same measures which I beg you to approve. What am I saying? I owe it to the consoling care of the most tender of friends; and my sole request is that you will permit this friend to become also your own.

Perhaps, I ought not to have given your confidence away without your consent; but I had misfortune and necessity for my excuse. It is love which has guided me; it is that which claims your indulgence, which begs you to pardon a confidence that was necessary, and without which we should, perhaps, have been separated forever. di You know the friend of whom I speak: he is the friend of the woman whom you love best. It is the Vicomte de Valmont.

My plan in addressing him was, at first, to beg him to induce Madame de Merteuil to take charge of a letter for you. He did not think this method could succeed, but, in default of the mistress, he answered for the maid, who was under obligations to him. It is she who will give you this letter; and you can give her your reply.

This assistance will hardly be of use to us, if, as M. de Valmont believes, you leave immediately for the country. But then it will be he himself who will serve us. The lady to whom you are going is his kinswoman. He will take advantage of this pretext to repair thither at the same time that you do; and it will be through him that our mutual correspondence will pass. He assures me, even, that if you let yourself be guided by him, he will procure us the means of meeting, without your running the risk of being in any way compromised.

Now, my Cécile, if you love me, if you pity my misery, if, as I hope, you share my regret, will you refuse your confidence to a man who will become our guardian angel? Without him, I should be reduced to the despair of being unable even to alleviate the grief I have caused you. It will finish, I hope: but promise me, my tender friend, not to abandon yourself overmuch to it, not to let it break you down. The idea of your grief is insupportable torture to me. I would give my life to make you happy! You know that well. May the certainty that you are adored carry some consolation to your soul! Mine has need of your assurance that you pardon love for the ills it has made you suffer.

Adieu, my Cécile, adieu, my tender love!