Letter 135

The Presidente de Tourvel to Madame de Rosemonde

I am now endeavouring to write to you, and know not whether I shall be able. Gracious God!⁠—excessive happiness prevented my continuing my last letter; now despair overwhelms me, and leaves me only strength sufficient to tell my sorrows, and deprives me of the power of expressing them.⁠—Valmont⁠—Valmont no longer loves me! He never loved me! Love does not depart thus. He deceived me, he betrayed me, he insults me! I suffer every kind of misfortune and humiliation; and all proceed from him.

Do not think it a mere suspicion. I was far from having any. I have not even the consolation of a doubt: I saw it. What can he say in his justification?⁠—But what matters it to him? He will not attempt it even.⁠—Unhappy wretch! What avail thy reproaches and thy tears? He is not concerned about thee.

It is, then, too true, he has made me a sacrifice; he has even exposed me⁠—and to whom?⁠—To a vile creature.⁠—But what do I say? Ah! I have no right to despise her. She has not broke through any ties; she is not so culpable as I am. Oh! what grief can equal that which is followed by remorse! I feel my torments increase. Adieu, my dear friend! though I am unworthy your compassion, still you will have some left for me, if you can form an idea of my sufferings.

I have just read over my letter, and perceive it gives you no information. I will endeavour to muster up resolution to relate this cruel event. It was yesterday, I was to sup abroad for the first time since my return. Valmont came to me at five; he never appeared so endearing: he did not seem pleased with my intention of going abroad; I immediately resolved to stay at home. In two hours after, his air and tone changed visibly on a sudden. I don’t know anything escaped me to displease him; however, he pretended to recollect business that obliged him to leave me, and went away; not without expressing a tender concern, which I then thought very sincere.

Being left alone, I resolved to fulfil my first engagement, as I was at liberty. I finished my toilet, and got in my carriage. Unfortunately my coachman drove by the opera, and my carriage was stopped in the crowd coming up. I perceived at a little distance before mine, and the range next to me, Valmont’s carriage: my heart instantly palpitated, but not with fear; and my only wish was, that my carriage should get forward: instead of which, his was obliged to back close to mine. I immediately looked out; but what was my astonishment to see beside him a well-known courtesan! I drew back, as you may believe; I had seen enough to wound my heart: but what you will scarcely credit is, this same girl, being probably in his confidence, did not turn her eyes from me, and with repeated peals of laughter stared me out of countenance.

Notwithstanding my abject state, I suffered myself to be carried to the house where I was to sup. I found it impossible to stay there long; every instant I was ready to faint, and could not refrain from tears.

At my return I wrote to M. de Valmont, and sent my letter immediately; he was not at home. Being determined at all events to be relieved from this miserable state, or have it confirmed forever, I sent the servant back, with orders to wait: before twelve he came home, telling me the coachman was returned, and had informed him, his master would not be home for the night. This morning I thought it would be better to request he would give up my letters, and beg of him never to see me more. I have given orders accordingly, but certainly they were useless. It is now near twelve; he has not yet appeared, nor have I received a line from him.

Now, my dear friend, I have nothing farther to add. You are informed of everything, and you know my heart. My only hope is, I shall not long trouble your tender friendship.