Dom Casmurro Chapter 84


In the porch and in the street I was still wondering whether he actually suspected anything, but I decided that he didn’t and began to walk home. I felt so pleased with my visit, with Capitu’s happiness and Gurgel’s praises, that at first I did not hear a voice calling me.

‘Senhor Bentinho! Senhor Bentinho!’

Only when the voice grew louder and its owner appeared at the door did I stop and realize what it was and where I was. I was already in the Rua de Matacavalos. The house was a small, wretched china shop, with its doors half closed, and the person calling me was a poor, grey-haired, shabbily dressed old man.

‘Senhor Bentinho,’ he said tearfully, ‘did you know that my son, Manduca, is dead?’


‘He died half an hour ago. We’re burying him tomorrow. I sent a message to your mother just now, and she was kind enough to send some flowers to put on the coffin. My poor son! We knew he was dying, and it’s a good thing he’s gone, poor fellow, but in spite of everything you still feel it. What a life he had! Only the other day he spoke about you, wanting to know if you had gone to the seminary … Would you like to see him? Come on in. Come and see him.’

It is not easy to admit this, but it is better to sin on the side of too much than too little. I wanted to say no, that I didn’t want to see Manduca, and made as if to walk away. It wasn’t fear. On any other occasion my curiosity would easily have convinced me to go inside, but now it was not so inviting. To look at a corpse after meeting one’s lover … Certain things do not go well together. The news alone was enough to upset me. My golden thoughts lost their hard brightness and were reduced to ugly, dark ashes; my mind was in a whirl. I think I managed to stammer that I was in a hurry, but probably my words were confused and indistinguishable, because he moved aside from where he was leaning against the doorpost and motioned me in. Incapable of moving one way or the other I let my body do what it would, and my body ended up going inside.

I don’t blame the man; for him the most important thing at that moment was his son. But don’t blame me either; for me the most important thing was Capitu. The trouble was that both things came together on the same afternoon, and the death of the one poked its nose into the life of the other. That was the problem. If I had gone by before or after, or if Manduca had waited a few more hours to die, no discordant note would have interrupted the melodies that played in my soul. Why did he have to die exactly half an hour previously? For a death, any time is suitable; you can die equally well at six o’clock in the afternoon as at seven.