Letter 92

Chevalier Danceny to the Viscount de Valmont

Your letter, my dear friend, has overwhelmed me with sorrow. Heavens! Is it possible Cecilia no longer loves her Danceny! Yes, I plainly see it through the veil your friendship has thrown over it. You wished to prepare me for this mortal stab; I thank you for your care: but a lover it not thus to be deceived; he anticipates his concerns; he is not to learn his fate, he presages it. I have no longer any doubt of mine. I entreat you to inform me, without evasion, from whence your suspicions arise, and what confirms them; the most minute trifles are important. Recollect particularly her expressions. A word may alter a phrase, or bear a double meaning. You may have mistaken her.

Alas, I endeavour still to flatter myself. What did she say? Has she anything to reproach me with? Does she not attempt to excuse herself? I might have foreseen this alteration by all the difficulties she has lately started. Love admits no obstacles.

What am I to do? What would you advise me to? Is it then impossible to see her? Absence is such a dreadful, such a fatal⁠—and she refuses the means you proposed to see me! You don’t, however, tell me what it was; if it really was dangerous, she is convinced I would not have her run a great risk: however, I am satisfied of your prudence, and pay no regard to any other consideration.

What will now become of me? How shall I write to her? If I hint my suspicions, she will probably be grieved; and should they be ill grounded, how shall I ever forgive myself for having given her cause for affliction? If I conceal them, it is deceiving her, and I cannot dissemble it.

Oh! could she but know what I suffer, my distress would move her, for she is tender, has a most excellent heart, and I have a thousand proofs of her affection. Too much timidity, some distress, she is young, and her mother treats her so severely. I will write to her; yet I will contain myself, and will only beg of her to leave the management of everything to you. If she should even still refuse, she cannot at least be angry with me, and perhaps she may consent.

I beg ten thousand pardons, my dear friend, both for her and myself. Give me leave to assure you, she is very sensible of the trouble you have had, and is exceedingly grateful. It is not distrust, it is merely timidity. Have a little compassion for her weakness, the highest attribute of friendship. Yours to me is inestimable, and I am really at a loss how to express my gratitude. Adieu! I am just going to write to her.

All my fears return on me. I could not have believed yesterday, when it would have been my greatest happiness, that I should now experience so much distress in writing to her.

Adieu, my dear friend! continue your friendship, and compassionate me.