Dom Casmurro Chapter 100


In my bedroom, as I unpacked my trunk and took out my diploma, I fell to thinking about happiness and fame. I thought about my marriage and a brilliant career while José Dias helped me, silent and active. Then an invisible fairy came and whispered softly in my ear: ‘You will be happy, Bentinho. You will be happy.’

‘And why shouldn’t you be happy?’ asked José Dias, straightening up and looking at me.

‘Did you hear it?’ I asked, straightening up too in my astonishment.

‘Hear what?’

‘A voice that said I shall be happy.’

‘That’s a good one. You yourself just said it …’

Even now I could swear it was the voice of a fairy. Since fairies have been expelled from stories and poetry they have naturally retreated to people’s hearts and speak to us from within. This one, for instance, has spoken to me many times clearly and distinctly. It must be related to the witches in Scotland: ‘Thou shalt be king, Macbeth!’ ‘You will be happy, Bentinho.’ After all, it is the same prediction, in the same universal and eternal manner.

When I recovered from my surprise I heard the rest of what José Dias was saying. ‘You will be happy, Bentinho, as you deserve, just as you deserved that diploma over there, which was not gained by anyone’s favour. The distinctions you won in every subject are proof of that, and I’ve already told you how the lecturers, in private, spoke of you in the most glowing terms. But happiness is not just fame, it is something else as well. Ah! You didn’t take old José Dias into your confidence. Poor old José Dias is pushed aside into a corner, a piece of chewed string, not worth anything at all. Now it’s all the youngsters, the Escobars … I don’t deny that he is a fine young man, hard-working and an exemplary husband. But old folks can love, too …’

‘What’s the matter?’

‘What could be the matter? Who is there who doesn’t know all about it? Being such close neighbours it could only end up like this, which is really a blessing from heaven since she is an angel, the most blessed of angels … Forgive the exaggeration, Bentinho, it was just a way of emphasizing the girl’s perfections. I used to think otherwise, but I mistook the ways of a child for expressions of character, not realizing that the mischievous girl with the thoughtful eyes was the capricious blossom of a sweet, wholesome fruit. Why didn’t you tell me what everyone else knows and what is common knowledge here at home and generally approved?’

‘Does my mother really approve?’

‘What do you think? We’ve talked about it, and she did me the honour of seeking my opinion. Ask her what it was I said in the clearest and most positive terms – ask her. I told her that she couldn’t wish for a better daughter-in-law – discreet, industrious, a friend of the family … And, as a housewife, it goes without saying. After her mother’s death she took charge of everything. Now that he is retired Pádua has nothing to do but receive his pension and give it to his daughter. She’s the one who pays the bills, sees to the accounts, takes care of everything – food, clothing, light. You saw her last year. And as for her beauty, you are the best judge of that …’

‘But did my mother really consult you about our marriage?’

‘Not in so many words. She was kind enough to ask me whether I thought Capitu would make a good wife. It was I who in my reply used the expression daughter-in-law. Dona Glória made no comment and even seemed to find it amusing.’

‘In all her letters my mother used to mention Capitu.’

‘As you know, they get on very well together, and that’s the reason her cousin gets moodier every day. Perhaps now she’ll decide to get married.’

‘Cousin Justina?’

‘Didn’t you know? Of course it’s only gossip, but Dr João da Costa’s wife died some months ago, and they say – I can’t be sure, it was the Protonotary told me – they say that the two of them are half inclined to end each other’s widowhood by getting married. I suppose it will all come to nothing, but you never know. She always used to say that the doctor was a bag of bones. If so, then she’s a cemetery,’ he added, with a laugh. Then, more seriously, he said, ‘I was only joking.’

I did not hear the rest. I only heard the voice of my fairy inside, which repeated, this time without words, You will be happy, Bentinho! And Capitu’s voice told me the same thing, in different terms, as did Escobar’s, both serving to confirm what José Dias had said of his own impression. Finally, some weeks later, when I went to ask for her permission to marry, my mother, as well as her consent, gave me the identical prophecy in her very own words: ‘You will be happy, my son.’