Letter 128

The Presidente de Tourvel to Madame de Rosemonde

I did not receive, until yesterday, Madam, your dilatory answer⁠—it would instantly have put an end to my existence if I had any left; but M. de Valmont is now in possession of it: you see I do not conceal anything from you; if you no longer think me worthy your friendship, I dread the loss of it less than to impose on you; to tell you all in all, I was placed by M. de Valmont, between his death and happiness⁠—I chose the latter⁠—I neither boast nor accuse myself; I relate the fact plainly as it is.

You will readily perceive, after this, what kind of impression your letter, and the truths it contains, must have made on me. Do not, however, imagine, it could give birth to any repining, or ever make me alter my sentiments or conduct; not that I am exempt from some torturing moments; but when my heart is rent, and I dread not being any longer able to bear my torments, I say to myself, Valmont is happy; and at this idea my miseries vanish; all is converted into joy.

It is to your nephew, then, I have devoted myself; it is for his sake I am undone; he is now the centre of my thoughts, sentiments, and actions. Whilst my life can contribute to his happiness, I shall cherish it; I shall think it fortunate; if he should hereafter think otherwise, he shall never hear from me either complaint or reproach. I have already ventured to fix my eyes on this fatal period, and my resolution is taken.

You will now perceive how little I am affected with the dread you seem to entertain, that M. de Valmont, will one day or other defame me⁠—Before that happens, he must lose the affection he has for me; that once lost, of what signification will vain reproaches be which I shall never hear? He alone will judge me, as I will have lived for him, and him only; and my memory will repose in him; and if he will be obliged to acknowledge I loved him, I shall be justified sufficiently.

Now, Madam, you read my heart⁠—I preferred the misfortune of being deprived of your esteem by my candour, to that of making myself unworthy of it by the baseness of a lie. I thought I owed this entire confidence to your former goodness; the addition of a word would, perhaps, give room to suspect I should be vain enough yet to depend on it; far from it: I will do myself justice, by giving up all pretensions to it.

I am with great respect, Madam, your most humble and most obedient servant.