Letter 29

Cecilia Volanges to Sophia Carnay

It is certain, Sophy, that I told you, one might in some cases write to an admirer; and I assure you, I am very angry with myself for having followed your advice, which has been the cause of so much uneasiness to the Chevalier Danceny and me; and what proves I was right, is, that Madame de Merteuil, who is a woman that ought to know those things perfectly, has at length come to think as I do. I owned everything to her: at first she thought as you did; but when I had explained everything to her, she was sensible it was a different case: she requires only that I should show her all my letters, and those of Chevalier Danceny, to be certain I should say nothing but what I ought; so now I am pretty easy. Lord! how I do love Madame de Merteuil; she is a good woman, and a very respectable one; so that her advice may be safely followed. Oh! how I shall write to M. Danceny, and how well satisfied he’ll be; he will be more so than he thinks; for, till now, I only mentioned friendship to him, and he wanted me always to call it love. I believe it was pretty much the same; but I was afraid⁠—that was the fact. I told Madame de Merteuil of it; she told me I was in the right; and that an avowal of love ought only to be made when one could no longer help it: now I’m sure I cannot help it much longer; after all, it is all one, and it will please him most.

Madame de Merteuil told me also, that she would lend me some books, which treat that subject very fully, and would teach me how to conduct myself, and also to write better than I do: for she tells me all my faults, and that is a proof she loves me; she charged me only to say nothing to Mamma of those books, because it would look as if she had neglected my education, and that might displease her. I will engage I shall say nothing of it.

It is, however, very extraordinary, that a woman, who is but a very distant relation, should take more care of me than my mother! I am very happy to be acquainted with her.

She has asked my Mamma leave to take me to the opera, to her own box, the day after tomorrow; she told me we should be by ourselves, and would chat all the while, without danger of being overheard.⁠—I like that a great deal better than the opera. My marriage will be, in part, the subject of our conversation, I hope; for she told me it was very certain I was to be married; but we had not an opportunity to say any more. Is it not very strange Mamma says nothing at all to me about it.

Adieu, my dear Sophy; I am going to write to Chevalier Danceny. I am quite happy.