Dom Casmurro Chapter 52


Here I will recount old Pádua’s farewells. Early in the morning he came to our house, and my mother told him to go to speak to me in my room.

‘May I?’ he enquired, putting his head round the door.

I went to shake his hands, and he tenderly embraced me.

‘May you be happy,’ he said. ‘You’ll be greatly missed, for sure, by me and my family. We all have a high regard for you, as you deserve. If anyone says anything to the contrary, don’t you believe it. It’s just malicious gossip. I, too, was the victim of intrigue when I got married, but it accomplished nothing. God is great and uncovers the truth. If one day you should lose your mother and your uncle – something, I hope, by the light of heaven, never comes to pass, for they are good people, excellent people, and I am grateful for the kindnesses they have shown me … No, I am not like some others, hangers-on, outsiders who sow dissension in families, vulgar flatterers; no, I am not like that. I don’t live by sponging off others, living in another man’s house … Still, they are the lucky ones!’

Why is he going on like this? I wondered. Perhaps he knows that José Dias speaks ill of him.

‘But, as I was saying, if one day you should lose your family, you can count on us. It is nothing by comparison, but our affection is immense, believe me. Whether you’re a priest or not, our house is at your disposal. All I ask is that you do not forget me. Do not forget old Pádua …’ He sighed and went on, ‘Do not forget old Pádua, and, if you have some small trifle that you could leave me as a keepsake, such as an old Latin notebook – anything really – a waistcoat button, something that’s no longer of use to you … Something to remember you by.’

I gave a start. I had a long and glossy lock of my hair wrapped in paper, one I had cut the night before. My intention had been to take it to Capitu when I left; but I decided to give it to her father. The daughter would know to take it and keep it safe. I picked up the packet and handed it to him. ‘Here, take this.’

‘A lock of your hair!’ exclaimed Pádua, opening and closing the wrapping. ‘Oh, thank you! Thank you from me and my family. I’ll give it to the old lady to keep safe – or perhaps to the youngster. She’s more careful than her mother. How lovely it is! How could you bear to cut it off? Give me an embrace! Another! And one more! So, farewell.’

His eyes were genuinely moist with tears. His face wore a disillusioned look, like a man who has saved up all his hopes and put them on one lottery ticket and sees the accursed number draw a blank – and it was such a sweet number, too.