Letter 142

Viscount de Valmont to the Marchioness de Merteuil

I don’t know, my charming friend, whether I have read or understood badly your letter, the little tale you relate, and the epistolary model it contains⁠—But this I must say, the last is an original, and seems very proper to take effect; therefore I only copied it, and sent it without farther ceremony to the celestial Presidente. I did not lose a moment, for the tender epistle was dispatched yesterday evening⁠—I chose to act so; for first, I had promised to write to her; and, moreover, I thought a whole night not too much for her to collect herself, and ruminate on this grand event, were you even to reproach me a second time with the expression.

I expected to have sent you back this morning my well-beloved’s answer; it is now near twelve, and it is not yet come⁠—I shall wait until five; and if I receive no news by that time, I shall in person seek it, for everything must be done according to form, and the difficulty is only in this first step.

Now you may believe I am impatient to know the end of your story of that man of your acquaintance, who was so violently suspected of not knowing how to sacrifice a woman upon occasion⁠—Did he not amend, and did not his generous friend forgive him?

I am no less anxious to receive your ultimatum as you call it so politically; but I am curious, above all, to know if you can perceive any impression of love in this last proceeding? Ah! doubtless there is, and a good deal! But for whom? Still I make no pretensions; I expect everything from your goodness.

Adieu, charmer! I shall not close my letter until two, in hope of adding the wished-for answer.

Two o’clock in the afternoon.

Nothing yet⁠—the time slips away; I can’t spare a moment⁠—but surely now you will not refuse the tenderest kisses of love.