Dom Casmurro Chapter 73


Fate is not only a dramatist; he is also his own stage manager. That is, he directs the entrance on stage of his characters, gives them letters and other objects and provides the effects required by the dialogue – a thunderstorm, the sound of a coach or a shot. When I was a boy they performed a drama, I don’t know in which theatre, which ended at the Last Judgement. The leading character was Ashaverus who, in the final scene, concluded a monologue with these words: ‘I hear the trumpet of the archangel!’ No trumpet was heard. The embarrassed Ashaverus repeated the line in a louder voice to alert the stage manager but still nothing. Then he moved backstage, ostensibly as part of the action but in reality to whisper into the wings, ‘The cornet! The cornet! The cornet!’ The audience overheard his words and burst out laughing, and when the trumpet really did sound, and Ashaverus roared for the third time that it was the archangel’s, a wag in the stalls corrected him. ‘No, senhor, that’s the archangel’s cornet.’

This explains my attitude under Capitu’s window when a horseman rode by – a dandy as we called them then. He rode a beautiful bay horse, sitting firmly in the saddle, the reins in his left hand, his right hand at his belt, wearing shining boots, with a trim figure and erect posture. His face was not unfamiliar. Some others had already passed, and more were to come, all of them on their way to visit their lady-loves. It was the custom of the time to conduct one’s love affairs on horseback.

The dandy on the bay horse, however, did not pass by like the others; he was the trumpet of the Last Judgement, and he sounded on time. Fate willed it so, for he is his own stage manager. Not content with riding on his way, the horseman turned his head towards us, towards Capitu; he looked at her, and she looked at him. The horse trotted on, but the man’s head continued to look back. That was the second pang of jealousy I felt. Strictly speaking, it was normal to admire a fine figure, but that fellow had the habit of passing by in the afternoon; he lived in the former Campo da Aclamação, and later … and later. See if you could think calmly with a heart tormented like mine was. I said nothing to Capitu but hurried from the street into the corridor, and when I came to my senses I was in the living-room.