Dom Casmurro Chapter 23


‘I must speak to you tomorrow, without fail. You say where and let me know.’

I think my manner of speaking surprised José Dias. The tone was not so commanding as I had feared, but the words themselves were, and the fact that I did not ask questions, beg or hesitate as a child would normally do, and as was my usual manner, must have told him that here was a new person and a new situation. It was in the corridor on our way to tea. José Dias, having just been reading to my mother and Cousin Justina, had his head full of Walter Scott. He loved to dramatize his reading. In his mouth the castles and parks were vaster, the lakes had more water and the ‘roof of heaven’ was adorned with several thousand more sparkling stars. In the dialogues he modified the tone of his voice, which he pitched slightly lower or higher according to the sex of the speakers, and discreetly conveyed tenderness or anger.

As we parted on the veranda, he said, ‘Tomorrow, in the street. I have some shopping to do, so you can come with me. I’ll ask your mother. Do we have a lesson tomorrow?’

‘That was today.’

‘That’s right. I won’t ask what it’s about. I assume it is something important and all above board.’ ‘Yes, senhor.’ ‘Till tomorrow.’

Everything went off perfectly. There was just one alteration. My mother thought the weather too hot and would not allow me to go on foot, so we caught the bus outside the gate.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ said José Dias. ‘We can get off at the Promenade.’