Dom Casmurro Chapter 70


I concluded my prayers, crossed myself, closed my missal and walked towards the door. There were not many people, but the church itself was not large, so I was held up and could not get out right away. There were men and women, old and young, silks and cottons, and most likely pretty eyes and ugly ones, but I saw neither one nor the other. I was moving towards the door with the crowd, listening to greetings and whispers. In the churchyard, where it was brighter, I stopped and looked round. I saw a girl and a man who came out of the church and paused. The girl looked at me and spoke to the man, who glanced at me while listening to the girl.

I managed to catch these words:

‘But what do you want me to do?’

‘I want to know how she is, Papa. Ask him.’

It was Sancha, Capitu’s schoolfriend, who wanted news of my mother. Her father approached me, and I told him that she was better. Then we left; he pointed out his house, and as I was going in the same direction we walked together. Gurgel was a man of forty or so with the beginnings of a paunch. He was most attentive and on arriving at his front door insisted that I stay for lunch.

‘Thank you, but my mother is expecting me.’

‘We can send a servant to say you are staying here for lunch and will be home later.’

‘I’ll come another day.’

Sancha, who was facing her father, listened and waited. She wasn’t bad-looking; the only feature they had in common was a blunt nose, but there are traits which, while they lessen the attractions of one, enhance those of another. She was simply dressed. Gurgel was a widower, and his daughter was his whole life. As I declined his offer of lunch he suggested that I rest there for a few minutes. I couldn’t very well refuse, so I went in. He wanted to know how old I was, asked about my studies and my faith and gave me some advice in the event of my becoming a priest. He also gave me the number of his store in the Rua da Quitanda. Finally, when I took my leave, he came to the top of the steps. His daughter sent her best wishes to Capitu and my mother. In the street I glanced up. The father was at the window vigorously waving me goodbye.