Dom Casmurro Chapter 22


I could get nothing more from Cousin Justina, and by the end I repented of having tried. I should have followed Capitu’s advice. Then, as I was wanting to go in, she held me back for a few minutes, talking of the heat, the forthcoming feast of the Conception, my old play altars and finally of Capitu. She did not run her down; on the contrary she implied that she would turn out to be a very pretty girl. I, who already considered her extraordinarily beautiful, would have retorted that she was the loveliest creature in the world had not caution made me more discreet. However, as Cousin Justina seemed intent on praising her manners, her serious disposition, her habits, her work in the house, her love for my mother, all this encouraged me to praise her, too. When it wasn’t with words it was with the gestures of approval that I gave to her assertions and, above all, with the happiness that must have lit up my face. I did not realize that by so doing I confirmed José Dias’s accusation, which she had heard that afternoon in the living-room, that is if she didn’t already have her own suspicions. This idea came to me in bed. It was only then that I remembered that, as I was speaking, Cousin Justina’s eyes seemed to be touching me, hearing me, smelling me, caressing me, doing the work of all the senses. It couldn’t be jealousy; between a brat of my age and a woman in her forties there was no place for jealousy. It is true that after a while her praise of Capitu was interrupted and she allowed herself some criticism, telling me that she was mischievous and wouldn’t look you in the face, but even so I don’t think it was jealousy. I think it was more … yes … that’s what it was. I think that Cousin Justina found in her contemplation of the feelings of others a vague reawakening of feelings she herself had once known. One can fall in love through the medium of a narrator’s lips.