Dom Casmurro Chapter 65


Saturday came, other Saturdays, too, and I ended up adapting to my new life. I divided my time between the house and the seminary. The priests liked me, my fellow students, too, and Escobar more than either the priests or the students. After five weeks I was on the point of telling my new friend of my troubles and my hopes, but Capitu restrained me.

‘Escobar is my best friend, Capitu.’

‘But he’s not my friend.’

‘He may come to be. He’s already said he wants to come here to meet my mother.’

‘It makes no difference. You have no right to tell a secret that is not just yours but mine as well, and I won’t allow you to tell anyone anything.’

What she said was true, so I obeyed her and said nothing more. Another time I took heed of her advice was on the first Saturday I went to her house, when, after talking for a few minutes, she advised me to leave.

‘Don’t stay any longer today. Go home, and I’ll come round in a little while. It is only natural that Dona Glória should want you with her most of the time – all of it if possible.’

In all this Capitu showed such good sense that I might well omit citing a third example, but what are examples for if not to be cited? And this one is so good that to omit it would be a crime.

It was my third or fourth visit home. After I had replied to the thousand questions my mother asked concerning how I was treated, my studies, my friends, the discipline, whether I felt ill, whether I slept well and everything else that a mother’s tenderness can invent to exhaust the patience of a son, she turned to José Dias and said, ‘Senhor José Dias, do you still have doubts about them making him into a good priest?’

‘My dearest senhora …’

‘And you, Capitu,’ interrupted my mother, turning to Pádua’s daughter, who was in the room with her, ‘don’t you think our Bentinho will make a good priest?’

‘Yes, I think so,’ replied Capitu with great conviction.

I didn’t like that conviction. I told her so the following morning in the yard, reminding her of what she had said the day before and for the first time taxing her with the cheerfulness she had displayed ever since I had gone to the seminary, while I was miserable and homesick. Looking very serious, Capitu asked me how I thought she ought to behave since they were all suspicious of us. She also passed miserable nights, and the days she spent at home were as miserable as mine – I could ask her father and mother. Her mother had gone so far as to hint that she should give up thinking of me.

‘With Dona Glória and Dona Justina I naturally try to appear happy so that it won’t seem that José Dias’s accusation is true. If it did seem true they would try to separate us more and perhaps end up by not letting me come round. For me it is good enough that we have sworn to get married.’

That’s how it was: we had to dissimulate in order to quell any suspicions, while at the same time enjoying all our former liberty and tranquilly planning our future together. But let me complete the example by recounting what I heard one day at lunch. Uncle Cosme was saying that he would like to see how I gave my blessing to the congregation at mass, when my mother mentioned that, some days earlier, talking about girls who get married young, Capitu had said to her, ‘Well, I insist on being married by Father Bentinho. I hope he will be ordained.’ Uncle Cosme burst out laughing. José Dias never changed countenance, and only Cousin Justina wrinkled her brow and gave me a quizzical look. Having gazed round at them all I could not face Cousin Justina’s stare and gave my attention to my food. But I ate badly. I was so delighted with Capitu’s dissimulation that I could think of nothing else, and after lunch I ran to discuss the conversation and praise her for her cunning. She gave a smile of pleasure.

‘You’re right, Capitu,’ I concluded. ‘We’ll fool all of them.’

‘We will, won’t we?’ was all she said.