Letter 25

Viscount Valmont to the Marchioness de Merteuil

I now transmit to you the proceedings of yesterday: at eleven I went to Madame de Rosemonde’s, and under her auspices, was introduced to the fair pretended invalid, who was still in bed. Her eyes seemed very heavy; I hope she slept as badly as I did. I seized an opportunity, whilst Madame de Rosemonde was at a distance, to present my letter; it was refused, but I left it on the bed, and very politely approached my old aunt’s easy chair, who would be near her dear child, to whom it now became necessary to put up the letter to avoid scandal. She indiscreetly said, she believed she had a little fever. Madame de Rosemonde desired I would feel her pulse, praising, at the same time, my skill in physic: thus my enchantress experienced a double mortification, to be obliged to give me her arm, and to find her little artifice would be detected. I took her by the hand, which I squeezed in one of mine, whilst, with the other, I ran over her smooth delicate arm; the sly being would not answer a single one of my inquiries, which made me say, as I retired, “I could not feel even the slightest emotion.” I suspected her looks would be rather severe; in order to disappoint her, I did not look at her: a little after she said she was desirous to rise, and we left her alone. She appeared at dinner, which was rather gloomy, and informed us she would not go out to walk, which was telling me I should not have an opportunity of speaking to her. It then became necessary, and I felt this to be the fit place, to fetch a sigh and assume a melancholy look; she undoubtedly expected it, for it was the first time, that day, our eyes met. With all her discretion, she has her little artifices as well as others. I found an opportunity to ask her if she had decided my fate? I was not a little astonished to hear her reply, Yes, Sir, I have wrote to you. I was very anxious to see this letter; but whether it was design, awkwardness, or timidity, she did not deliver it until night, when she retired to her apartment. I send it you, as also the rough copy of mine; read and give your opinion; observe with what egregious falsity she protests she is not in love, when I am certain of the contrary; and she’ll complain, if I deceive her afterwards, and yet is not afraid to deceive me beforehand!⁠—My lovely friend, the most artful man is barely on a level with the most inexperienced woman. I must, however, give in to all this nonsense, and fatigue myself to death with despair, because Madam is pleased to play a severe character.⁠—How is it possible not to resolve to avenge such indignities⁠—but patience! Adieu, I have still a great deal to write.

Now I think on’t, send me back the inhuman woman’s letter; it is possible that hereafter she may expect to find a great value set upon such wretched stuff, and one must be regular.

I say nothing of little Volanges, she shall be our subject the first opportunity.