Dom Casmurro Chapter 116


I sounded out José Dias about my mother’s changed attitude, and he was astonished. There was nothing the matter; there couldn’t be. He heard nothing but praise for the ‘beautiful and virtuous Capitu’.

‘Now, whenever I hear her I join in, though to begin with I felt most embarrassed. For someone who at first opposed the marriage, like I did, it wasn’t easy to admit that it was a veritable blessing from heaven. That that mischievous girl from Matacavalos would turn into such a fine lady! Before we really got to know each other it was her father who caused the difficulty, but it all turned out well in the end. But, believe me, when your mother starts praising her daughter-in-law …’

‘So my mother …’

‘Of course.’

‘Then why hasn’t she been to see us for such a long time?’

‘I think it’s her rheumatism playing her up. It’s been very cold this year. Imagine how she must feel, she who used to bustle about all day long and now has to sit quietly beside her brother, who has his own troubles …

I felt like pointing out that that might explain her not visiting us but not her coldness when we came to Matacavalos but decided that his intimacy did not extend so far. José Dias asked to see our ‘little prophet’ (as he called Ezequiel) and played with him as usual. This time he spoke in the biblical manner (I learned later that he had been glancing through the Book of Ezekiel), asking him, ‘What’s that, son of man? Where are your toys, son of man? Would you like a sweet, son of man?’

‘What’s all this “son of man”?’ asked Capitu in annoyance.

‘It’s a way of speaking in the Bible.’

‘Well, I don’t like it,’ she replied tetchily.

‘You’re right, Capitu,’ replied José Dias. ‘You’d never believe how many coarse, indecent expressions there are in the Bible. I spoke like that just for a change … And how are you, my little angel? My angel, show me how I walk.’

‘No,’ put in Capitu. ‘I’m trying to get him out of that habit of imitating others.’

‘But he does it so well. When he imitates my movements I seem to see myself as I was when a child. The other day he imitated Dona Glória so well that she gave him a kiss for it. Come on, show me how I walk.’

‘No, Ezequiel,’ I said. ‘Your mother doesn’t like it.’

I, too, didn’t like that habit of his. Some of his gestures were becoming mannerisms, like Escobar’s way of moving his hands and feet, and just lately he had picked up the latter’s habit of looking back when he spoke or dropping his head when he laughed. Capitu scolded him for it. But he was a mischievous little devil, and no sooner had we begun to speak of something else than he jumped into the middle of the room, saying to José Dias, ‘This is how you walk.’

We could not help laughing and I more than anyone. The first to be cross and tell him off was Capitu. ‘I want no more of that, do you hear?’