Dom Casmurro Chapter 85


These were the confused thoughts with which I stepped into the china shop. It was dark in the shop, and even more so inside the house now that the windows to the yard had been shut. In a corner of the dining-room I saw the mother crying, while at the door of the bedroom two frightened children, their fingers in their mouths, were gazing inside. The body was lying on the bed; the bed itself…

Let us rest our pen and go to the window to refresh our memory. The scene was a hideous one on account of both the death and the body, which was repulsive … Here, indeed, is something different. Everything I see outside throbs with life: the goat grazing beside a cart; the hen pecking the ground in the street; the train of the Central Railway passing by panting, whistling and puffing; the palm tree thrusting itself into the sky; and finally the church tower, though it has neither muscles nor leaves. That boy out there in the lane flying a paper kite is neither dead nor dying, yet his name might also be Manduca.

The fact is that the Manduca here was older than the one outside, just a little older. He was eighteen or nineteen, though you might have taken him for anything from fifteen to twenty-two since his face gave no indication of his age but, rather, concealed it, such were the ravages of … Come on, speak out. He’s dead, his relatives are dead, and if any happen to be still alive such frankness is unlikely to cause sorrow or pain. The truth can be told: Manduca suffered from a cruel disease, none other than leprosy. Alive he was ugly; dead he seemed to me hideous. When I saw the poor body of my neighbour stretched out on the bed I was terrified and turned my eyes away. I don’t know what hidden force compelled me to take another look, albeit a fleeting one. I gave way and looked, then looked again until I backed away and left the room.

‘He suffered terribly,’ said his father, with a sigh.

‘Poor Manduca!’ sobbed his mother.

I was anxious to leave, so I told them I was expected at home and said goodbye. The father asked if I would do him the honour of attending the funeral, to which I replied truthfully that I didn’t know and would do what my mother thought best. I left quickly, passed through the shop and hastened into the street.