Dom Casmurro Chapter 19


When I returned home it was already night. I hurried back though not so quickly that I couldn’t give some thought to the way in which I was going to speak to Jose Dias. I drew up my request in my head, choosing both the words and my tone of voice, which would be halfway between off-hand and friendly. I repeated them to myself in the garden before entering the house, then out loud to see if they sounded right and were in accordance with Capitu’s recommendations. ‘I must speak to you tomorrow without fail. You say where, and let me know.’ I pronounced them slowly and more slowly still the words without fail, as if to underline them. I repeated them once more and decided they were too off-hand, almost brusque and frankly not suitable for a boy addressing a mature man. I came to a halt, trying to think of others.

Finally I told myself that those words would do, the important thing being to speak them in a tone that would give no offence. This was proved when, on repeating them again, they sounded almost pleading. I needed to find the happy medium between being too firm and too condescending. Capitu is right, I thought. It’s my house, and he’s no more than a hanger-on. He knows his way about, so he might just as well work for me and upset my mother’s plan.