Dangerous Liaisons —92—


O MY FRIEND! YOUR letter has made my blood run cold for fright. Cecile … 0 God! is it possible? Cecile no longer loves me. Yes, I see this direful truth, through the veil in which your friendship covers it. You wished to prepare me for the receipt of this mortal blow; I thank you for your pains; but can one impose ongb love? It is ever in advance of all that interests it: it does not hear of its fate, it divines it. I have no more doubt of mine: speak to me without concealment, you may do so, and I beg this of you. Inform me of everything; what gave rise to your suspicions, what has confirmed them? The least details are precious. Endeavor above all to recall her words. One word in place of another can change a whole sentence; the same word often bears two meanings…. You may have been deceived: alas, I seek to beguile myself still! What did she say to you? Does she make me any reproach? At least, does she not defend herself for her faults? I might have foreseen this change, from the difficulties which she raises lately about everything. Love is not acquainted with so many obstacles.

What course ought I to adopt? What do you counsel me? If I attempted to see her! Is that utterly impossible? Absence is so cruel, so dismal … and she has rejected a means of seeing me! You do not tell me what it was; if there was in truth too much danger, she knows well that I am unwilling for her to run too much risk. But I also know your prudence; so to my misfortune I cannot but believe in it! What am I to do now? How write to her! If I let her see my suspicions, they will, perhaps, grieve her; and, if they are unjust, could I pardon myself for having distressed her? To hide them from her is to deceive her, and I know not how to dissimulate with her.

Oh, if she could only know what I suffer, my pain would move her! I know her sensibility; she has an excellent heart, and I have a thousand proofs of her love. Too much timidity, some embarrassment: she is so young! And her mother treats her with such severity! I will write to her; I will restrain myself; I will only beg her to leave herself entirely in your hands. Even if she should still refuse, she can at least not take offence at my prayer; and perhaps she will consent.

To you, my friend, to you I make a thousand excuses, both for her and for myself. I assure you that she feels the value of your efforts, that she is grateful for them. It is timidity, not distrust. Be indulgent; it is the finest quality in friendship. Yours is very precious to me, and I know not how to acknowledge all that you do for me. Adieu, I will write at once.

I feel all my fears return: who would have told me that it should ever cost me an effort to write to her! Alas, only yesterday it was my sweetest pleasure! Adieu, my friend, continue your cares for me, and pity me mightily.