Letter 27

Cecilia Volanges to the Marchioness de Merteuil

How shall I thank you, dear Madam, for your goodness: you judged well that it would be easier for me to write than speak; what I have to tell you is not an easy matter; but you are my friend! Yes, you are my very good friend! And I’ll endeavour not to be afraid; and then I have so much occasion for your advice!⁠—I am in great grief; I think everyone guesses my thoughts, especially when he is present; I redden up as soon as anyone looks at me. Yesterday, when you saw me crying, it was because I wanted to speak to you, and I don’t know what hindered me; when you asked me what ailed me, the tears came into my eyes in spite of me. I could not have spoke a word. If it had not been for you, Mamma would have taken notice of it; and then what would have become of me? This is the way I spend my time for these four days: that day, Madam, I will out with it, on that day Chevalier Danceny wrote to me; I assure you, when I received his letter, I did not know what it was; but to tell the truth, I read it with great pleasure. I would have suffered anything all my lifetime, rather than he should not have wrote it to me; however, I know very well I must not tell him so; and I can even assure you, that I told him I was very angry; but he says it gets the better of him, and I believe him; for I had resolved not to answer him, and yet I could not avoid it. I wrote him but once, it was partly even to tell him not to write to me any more; yet he is continually writing; and as I don’t answer him, I see plainly he is very melancholy, and that afflicts me greatly: so that I do not know what to do, nor what will become of me: I am much to be pitied!

I beg, Madam, you’ll tell me, would there be any great harm in writing an answer to him now and then, only until he can prevail on himself to write me no more, and to be as we used to be before? For myself, if it continues this way, I don’t know what I shall do. I assure you, on reading his last letter, I could not forbear crying all the time; and I am very certain, that if I do not answer him again, it will make us both very uneasy.

I will enclose you his letter, or a copy of it, and you’ll see he does not ask any harm. However, if you think it is not proper, I promise you I will not give way to my inclination; but I believe you’ll think as I do, that there’s no harm in it.

And now that I am upon it, give me leave to put you a question: I have been often told it was very wrong to be in love with anybody, but why so? What makes me ask you, is this; the Chevalier Danceny insists there’s no harm at all in it, and that almost everybody is; if that’s the case, I don’t know why I should be the only one should be hindered; or is it that it is only wrong for young ladies? For I heard Mamma herself say, that Madam de D⁠⸺ loved M. M⁠⸺, and she did not speak as if it was so bad a thing; and yet I am sure she would be very angry with me, if she had the least suspicion of my affection for M. Danceny. She behaves to me always as if I was a child, and never tells me anything at all. I thought, when she took me from the convent, I was to be married; but now I think not. It is not that I care much about it, I assure you; but you who are so intimate with her, you, perhaps, know something about it; and if you do, I hope you will tell me.

This is a very long letter, Madam; but since you was so good to give me leave to write to you, I made use of it to tell you everything, and I depend on your friendship.