Dom Casmurro Chapter 62


This was an imprudent question to ask just as I was attempting to postpone our journey. It was tantamount to admitting that my principal or sole objection to the seminary was Capitu and the journey therefore unlikely. I realized this after I had spoken and wanted to correct myself but didn’t know how. However, he gave me no time.

‘She’s as cheerful as ever. A scatterbrain! That girl, if she doesn’t get some young buck in the neighbourhood to marry her …’

I turned as white as a sheet; at least I felt a cold shiver run through my body. It was the news that she was in high spirits while I was in tears every night that affected me, and my heart beat so violently I believe I can hear it even now. Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but this is how people talk, with a mixture of overstatement and understatement that eventually levels itself out. On the other hand, if we consider what is heard by the memory, not by the ears, then we arrive at the exact truth. My memory still hears the thumping of my heart at that moment. Don’t forget it was the emotion of a first love. I very nearly asked José Dias what he meant by Capitu’s cheerfulness: what it was she did, whether she spent her days laughing, singing and dancing, but I stopped myself in time. Then another thought came into my head …

Not another thought – a strange, cruel sensation: pure jealousy, my dearest reader. That is what gripped me when I repeated to myself José Dias’s words: some young buck in the neighbourhood. The idea of such a calamity had never entered my head. She was part of my life. I lived so bound up in her that the intrusion of a young buck was something that made no sense; it had never occurred to me that there were young bucks in the neighbourhood, of different ages and types, much given to strolling about of an afternoon. I remembered now that some of them used to look at Capitu, but so sure was I of her that it was as if they were looking at me, paying an ordinary tribute of admiration and envy. Now that destiny had separated us, the danger seemed not merely possible but certain. And Capitu’s cheerfulness confirmed my suspicions: if she was in such high spirits it could only mean that she was in love with someone else, following him in the road with her eyes, chatting to him from the window, at prayers. They would give each other flowers and …

And … what? You know what else they would give each other, and if you can’t work it out for yourself you needn’t bother reading the rest of the chapter or the book. You would grasp nothing more even if I spelled it out for you with every letter in the alphabet. But if you did understand, you will realize why, after giving a shudder, I felt like dashing out of the gate, rushing down the hill, running to Pádua’s house, grabbing hold of Capitu and demanding to know how many, how many, how many that young buck of the neighbourhood had given her. I did nothing. In those three or four minutes these dreams that I am relating followed no logical course like that of movement or thought. They were isolated, patched together, clumsily patched, with the design misshapen and twisted, all confused, a whirlwind that blinded and deafened me. When I gathered my wits José Dias was concluding a sentence, the beginning of which I had not heard, and the end itself was vague: ‘… the account she will give of herself.’ What account and whose?

I naturally assumed he was still talking about Capitu and wanted to ask him, but the wish, like so many others, died at birth. All I did was to ask him when I could go home to see my mother. ‘I miss my mother. Can I go and see her this week?’

‘You can go on Saturday.’

‘Saturday? Ah, yes. Yes. Ask my mother to send for me on Saturday. You mean this Saturday, don’t you? Make sure she sends for me.’