Dom Casmurro Chapter 78


To continue: at that time I felt a desperate need to tell someone about Capitu and myself. I did not tell everything, only a part, and it was to Escobar that I spoke. When I returned to the seminary on the Wednesday I found him upset; he told me that he was intending to go and see me if I had spent a further day at home. He was curious to know what had been the matter with me and asked if I was now completely well.


He listened to me, gazing at me intently. Three days later he told me that people were saying I was absent-minded, and it would be a good thing not to appear so as far as I could. He, too, had reasons to be absent-minded, but he tried to keep himself attentive.

‘Do I really look … ?’

‘Yes, at times you look as if you don’t hear a thing, gazing into space. Don’t make it so obvious, Santiago.’

‘I have my reasons …’

‘I believe you. No one is absent-minded for nothing.’

‘Escobar …’ I hesitated. He waited. ‘Escobar, you’re my friend – I’m your friend, too. Here in the seminary you’re the one I feel closest to, and outside, apart from the family, I haven’t really got a friend.’

‘If I tell you the same thing,’ he answered with a smile, ‘it won’t sound so good; it will seem as if I am just repeating your words. But it’s true – here I have made friends with no one. You are the first, and I think they have noticed it, but that doesn’t worry me.’

Touched by his words, I said hastily, ‘Escobar, can you keep a secret?’

‘If you have to ask it’s because you’re not sure, and in that case …’

‘I’m sorry, it was just a manner of speaking. I know you can be trusted, and I’ll pretend I’m confessing to a priest.’

‘If it’s absolution you’re looking for, consider yourself absolved.’

‘Escobar, I can’t be a priest. I’m here, and my family believe and expect … But I can’t be a priest.’

‘Neither can I, Santiago.’

‘Neither can you?’

‘One secret for another. I, too, have no intention of completing the course. What I want is to go into business, but don’t say a word, absolutely nothing, keep it a secret between us. It isn’t that I’m not religious. I am religious, but my ambition is to go into business.’

‘Is that all?’

‘What else could there be?’

I took a couple of turns and then began to whisper my confession but in so timid and low a voice that I barely heard it myself, though I know that I stumbled out the words ‘a person’. A person … ? He understood right away. A person must be a girl. And you mustn’t imagine that he was shocked to learn that I was in love; he found it quite natural and gazed at me intently once more. Then I briefly explained as much as I could, taking my time over it so as to have the pleasure of dwelling on the events. Escobar listened with interest and at the end of our conversation declared that my secret was as if buried in a cemetery. He advised me not to become a priest. I could not bring to the Church a heart that was dedicated to earth, not heaven. I would be a bad priest; I wouldn’t even be a priest. On the other hand, God loved those who were honest, and if I could only serve Him outside the Church that was where I should stay. You have no idea how happy that confession made me. It brought me new happiness. The lad who listened to me and gave me his approval completely changed my view of the world. I felt that his world was immense and beautiful, life a marvellous adventure and I myself nothing less than one of the blessed of heaven. And note that I didn’t tell him everything, even leaving out the best details. I said nothing about the hairdressing incident, for example, and other things, too, I omitted, though I told him a great deal.

Needless to say, we returned to the subject many times. I was loud in my praise of Capitu’s virtues, which gave ample material for the admiration of a young seminarist: her simplicity, her modesty, her industry and her religious habits. I did not mention her outward graces, nor did he enquire about them; I merely insinuated that I should like him to meet her.

‘It won’t be possible just now,’ I said, the first week after returning from home. ‘Capitu has gone to spend a few days with a friend in the Rua dos Invalidos. When she comes back you must go; you can go before, you can go any time. Why didn’t you come yesterday and have dinner with me?’

‘You didn’t invite me.’

‘Do you need an invitation? At home they were all delighted with you.’

‘I liked them, too, but if I had to state a preference I must say that I find your mother an adorable lady.’

‘She is, isn’t she?’ I agreed warmly.