Dom Casmurro Chapter 12


I came to a halt on the veranda. I felt bewildered, dizzy; my legs were groggy and my heart seemed to be trying to escape through my mouth. I did not dare go down to the garden and cross over to the next-door yard. I began to walk up and down, stopping to collect my thoughts, then walking and stopping again. Confused voices kept repeating what José Dias had said. ‘Always together.’


‘If they start flirting seriously …’

The tiles that I trod and retrod, the yellowing pillars that I passed by to left and right, all are stamped with the marks of the crisis I underwent, the sensation of some new joy that took possession of me, then departed, that both excited me and soothed me with some mysterious balsam. At times I found myself smiling with self-satisfaction in denial of the horror of my sin. And the jumbled voices repeated insistently, ‘Secretly …’

‘Always together …’

‘If they start flirting seriously …’

A palm tree, seeing me perplexed and divining the cause, murmured from up on high that there was nothing wrong in boys of fifteen hiding in corners with girls of fourteen; on the contrary, it was a normal occupation, and corners served no other purpose. It was an old palm tree, and I believed in old palm trees even more than in old books. Birds, butterflies, a cricket that was rehearsing for summer, all living things of the air were of the same opinion.

What did it signify, then, that I should love Capitu and Capitu should love me? True enough I was forever tied to her skirts, but I could think of nothing between us that could be described as secret. Before she went to school it was all just childish pranks. When she left school it took some time to re-establish our former intimacy, but it returned little by little and in the last year had been complete. Nevertheless, the subject of our conversations remained the same. Capitu would call me handsome, a fine lad, a beau, or she would take hold of my hands to count the fingers. And I began to remember these and other gestures and words and the pleasure I felt when she ran her fingers through my hair, saying she thought it was beautiful. Then I, without doing the same to hers, would say that hers was much more beautiful than mine, whereupon Capitu would shake her head in a dire expression of sadness and disbelief, all the more surprising since her hair really was magnificent, and I would reply calling her crazy. When she asked me whether I had dreamed about her the night before, and I answered no, she declared that she had dreamed of me – extraordinary adventures in which we flew up in the air to the Corcovado or danced on the moon or in which angels came to ask us our names so that they could be given to other angels that had just been born.

In these dreams we were always together. Those that I had about her were not like that but merely reproduced our everyday life, often being no more than a simple repetition of the events of the day, a phrase or a gesture. I recounted mine, too. One day Capitu commented on the difference, saying that hers were much more beautiful than mine. After a moment’s hesitation I replied that they were like the person who dreamed them … She blushed as red as a beetroot.

To be honest, only now did I understand the emotion that these and other tête-à-têtes stirred in me. It was a novel and delightful emotion whose origin, unsought and unsuspected, remained unknown. The periods of silence in recent days, which had signified nothing to me, I now felt revealed something, just as did the hints, the anxious questions, the vague replies, the precautions, the pleasure in recalling childhood days. I also realized that it was a recent phenomenon to wake up thinking of Capitu, to remember her voice and tremble when I heard her footsteps. If her name was mentioned at home I paid more attention than I had before and experienced more joy or pain according to whether she was praised or criticized than I had done before, when we were just playmates. I even thought about her during mass that month, not all the time, of course, but of no one else but her.

All this was now made clear through the mouth of José Dias, who had denounced me to myself and whom I forgave everything, the evil he had spoken, the evil he had done and whatever might arise from one or the other. At that moment I valued Eternal Truth no more than I did him or Eternal Goodness or all the other Eternal Virtues. I loved Capitu! Capitu loved me! My legs strode back and forth and halted, trembling, confident of bestriding the whole world. This first pulsing of the blood, this revelation of my own self, was something never to be forgotten, nor did I ever experience any comparable sensation. Naturally because it happened to me. Naturally because it was the first time.