Dom Casmurro Chapter 140


Left on my own the natural thing to have done would have been to pick up the coffee and drink it. But no, my friend; I had lost my taste for death. Death was one solution, but I had just found another, all the better for not being final and leaving the door open for reparation if need be. I did not say pardon, I said reparation, in other words justice. For whatever reason I rejected the idea of death and waited for Capitu’s return. She took longer than usual, and I began to fear she had gone to my mother’s house, but she hadn’t.

‘I have confided all my sorrows to God,’ said Capitu, on her return from church. ‘Deep inside me I feel that our separation is the only answer. Do as you think best.’

Her eyes, as she said this, were hesitant, as if expecting a refusal or a plea for delay. She was counting on my weakness or possible uncertainty regarding the paternity of the child, but she failed completely. Was there now within me a different man, one who was only revealed after the impact of new, powerful emotions? If so it was a shadowy figure. I replied that I would think about it, and we would do whatever I decided was best. To be frank with you, my mind was already made up.

In the meantime I recalled the words of the late Senhor Gurgel that day in his house when he showed me the portrait of his wife, with its likeness to Capitu. You must remember them; if not you should reread the chapter – I won’t put the number here because I don’t remember it, but it’s not too far back. They amount simply to his saying that there are resemblances that are inexplicable. From that day on, whenever the boy came to my study I noticed a growing similarity to the features of the other, or perhaps it was that I was looking for it. At the same time I remembered strange occurrences long ago, words, meetings, incidents, that in my blindness I did not find suspicious and to which my customary jealousy failed to alert me. Times when I found them together, a secret told to make me laugh, a careless word of hers, all these recollections came flooding back so forcefully as to leave me stupefied. How was it that I did not strangle them one day when I glanced back from watching two swallows perched together on the telephone wires? In the house my two other swallows were floating in the air, gazing into each other’s eyes, but cautiously enough to break off and disarm me with cheerful, friendly conversation. I told them of the two love-birds outside, and they found it amusing; for his part, Escobar said that better than having the swallows on the telephone wires would be to have them on the table, cooked. ‘I’ve never eaten their nests,’ he said, ‘but they should be good if it was the Chinese who first discovered them.’ And we talked about the Chinese and the references to them in the classics, until Capitu said she was bored and went to attend to something else. Now I remember everything, which at the time seemed to me nothing.