Dom Casmurro Chapter 81


Having given an account of what I later discovered, I can now pass on to a word spoken by my mother. Now you will be able to understand why it was, that first Saturday when I arrived home and learned that Capitu was at the Rua dos lnvalidos with Senhorita Gurgel, that she said, ‘Why don’t you go there to see her? Didn’t you tell me that Sancha’s father invited you to come at any time?’

‘Yes, he did.’

‘Well then? But only if you want. Capitu should have come back today to finish some work we were doing, but I expect her friend asked her to spend the night there.’

‘They might stay there billing and cooing,’ put in Cousin Justina.

I didn’t kill her because I didn’t have handy either steel or cord, pistol or dagger, but the look I threw at her, if it could have killed, would have made up for their lack. One of Providence’s errors is to have given man only his arms and his teeth as weapons of attack and his legs as a means of flight or defence. For the first his eyes ought to be sufficient. One glance from them would halt or fell an enemy or rival and would execute prompt vengeance, with the additional advantage that, to circumvent justice, those same lethal eyes could become tender and hasten to weep for the victim. Cousin Justina escaped from mine, but I did not escape from the effect of her insinuation, and at eleven o’clock on Sunday I ran to the Rua dos Invalidos.

Sancha’s father received me looking dishevelled and miserable. His daughter was ill, down with a fever she had caught the day before and which was getting worse. He was devoted to the girl, and imagining her to be on her deathbed he declared he would kill himself, too. Here we have a chapter as gloomy as a cemetery – deaths, suicides and murders. I longed for a ray of clear light and blue sky, and it was Capitu who brought it to the door of the room to tell Sancha’s father that his daughter wanted to see him.

‘Is she worse?’ asked Gurgel in alarm.

‘No, senhor, she just wants to speak to you.’

‘Stay here a moment,’ he said, turning to me. ‘This is Sancha’s nurse. She won’t have any other. I’ll be back soon.’

Capitu looked tired and worried, but as soon as she saw me she was transformed and became the same lively, cheerful girl as ever, though considerably surprised. She could hardly believe it was me. She said she was anxious to talk to me, and we did in fact converse for several minutes but in such low, muttered voices that not even the walls could hear us, and they have ears. In any case if they had heard anything they wouldn’t have understood it any more than the furniture, which looked as miserable as its owner.