Dangerous Liaisons —67—


I DID NOT MEAN to answer you again, Monsieur, and, perhaps, the embarrassment I feel at the present moment is itself an effectual proof that I ought not. However, I would not leave you any cause of complaint against me; I wish to convince you that I have done for you everything I could.

I permitted you to write to me, you say? I agree; but when you remind me of that permission, do you think I forget on what conditions it was given? If I had been as faithful to them as you have proved the reverse, would you have received a single reply from me? This is, however, the third; and when you do all that in you lies to compel me to break off this correspondence, it is I who am busy with the means of continuing it. There is one, but only one; and if you refuse to take it, it will prove to me, whatever you may say, how little value you set upon it.

Forsake, then, a language to which I may not and will not listen; renounce a sentiment which offends and alarms me, and to which you would perhaps be less attached, if you reflected that it is the obstacle which- separates us. Is this sentiment the only one, then, that you can understand? And must love have this one fault the more in my eyes, that it excludes friendship? Would you yourself be so wrong as not to wish for your friend her in whom you have desired more tender sentiments? I would not believe it: that humiliating idea would revolt me, would divide me from you without hope of return.

In offering you my friendship, Monsieur, I give you all that is mine to give, all of which I can dispose. What can you desire more? To give way to this sentiment, so gentle, so suited to my heart, I only await your assent and the word which I ask of you, that this friendship will suffice for your happiness. I will forget all that I may have been told; I will trust in you to be at the pains of justifying my choice.

You see my frankness; it should prove to you my confidence; it will rest with you only, if it is to be further augmented: but I warn you that the first word of love destroys it forever, and restores to me all my fears; above all, that it will become the signal for my eternal silence with regard to you.

If, as you say, you have turned away from your errors, will you not rather be the object of a virtuous woman’s friendship than of a guilty woman’s remorse? Adieu, Monsieur; you feel that, after having spoken thus, I can say nothing more until you have replied to me.