Dom Casmurro Chapter 113


Speaking of this, it is natural that you should ask me whether, despite our having had a child and the passage of the years, I was not as jealous of her as before. Yes, sir, I was. So much so that her slightest gesture, a casual word, any provocation whatever, tormented me; frequently mere indifference was enough. I was jealous of everything and everyone. A neighbour, a partner in the waltz, any man young or old, filled me with terror or mistrust. What is certain is that Capitu liked to be seen, and the best means to do that (a lady once told me) is to go out and see, too; and you can’t see without revealing yourself.

I think the lady who told me that was fond of me, and naturally it was because I didn’t return her affections that she gave me the explanation she did, with her appealing eyes. I have been the focus of other eyes, too, not many, and I shall say no more about them. At that time, no matter how many pretty women I came across, none would receive a fraction of the love I felt for Capitu. My own mother wanted no more than half. Capitu was everything, more than everything to me: she was never out of my thoughts, at work or elsewhere. We went to the theatre together; I only remember going twice without her – once to a benefit for an actor and once to the first night of an opera, which she couldn’t go to because she was unwell but insisted that I attend. It was too late to give our box to Escobar, so I went but came home after the first act. I found Escobar at the front door.

‘I came to see you,’ he said.

I explained that I had gone to the theatre but had returned, being anxious about Capitu, who was unwell.

‘What’s wrong with her?’ asked Escobar.

‘She complained of pains in her head and stomach.’

‘In that case I’ll be off. I came about that matter of the embargoes.’

It was a case of third-party embargoes. An incident of some importance had arisen, and since he had dined in town he didn’t want to go home without telling me about it, but now it would keep till later …

‘No, we’ll talk of it now. Come in, she might be better. If she’s worse you can leave.’

Capitu was better, even feeling quite well. She confessed that it had only been a trifling headache, which she had exaggerated in order to convince me to go out and enjoy myself. She did not sound cheerful, which made me suspect she was lying so as not to worry me, but she swore it was the absolute truth.

Escobar smiled and said, ‘My sister-in-law is no more poorly than you or I. Now, what about those embargoes?’