Dom Casmurro Chapter 26


The glimmering of an idea seemed to flicker over José Dias’s face – an idea which brought him considerable pleasure. I was watching him closely. At first he said nothing but turned and gazed out over the bay. Then, when I insisted, he said, ‘It’s too late. But to prove to you that I’m not unwilling I’ll speak to your mother. I don’t promise you I’ll succeed, but I’ll make the attempt; I’ll do my best. Do you really not want to be a priest? The law is a fine career, my boy … You could go to São Paulo, to Pernambuco or even further away. There are fine universities everywhere. Study law if you feel that is your vocation. I’ll speak to Dona Glória, but don’t rely just on me. Speak to your uncle as well.’

‘I will.’

‘And make your petition to God – to God and the Holy Virgin,’ he concluded, pointing up to the sky.

The sky was half clouded over. Close to the beach, huge black birds were circling in the air, fluttering or hovering, then swooping down to skim the water with their feet, only to rise up and swoop down again. But neither the dark clouds nor the fantastic dance of the birds distracted my attention from my companion. After replying affirmatively, I added, ‘God will do what you want him to.’

‘Do not blaspheme. Everything is in God’s hands; to Him belong the earth and the sky, the past, the present and the future. Pray to Him for your happiness, which is the sole object of my own prayers. The law is a fine thing, and that is not to belittle theology, which is the best of all, just as the ecclesiastical life is the most blessed. Why shouldn’t you go abroad to study law? The best thing would be to go right away to some university and travel at the same time as you study. We can go together, see foreign lands and hear English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and even Swedish. Dona Glória probably won’t be able to go with you, but, even if she does, she won’t want to deal with business matters, documents, matriculations, arrange accommodation and travel all over the place with you.’

‘That’s agreed then – you’ll ask my mother not to send me to the seminary?’

‘Oh yes, I’ll ask her; but to ask is not necessarily to obtain. My dear boy, if my power to serve you were equivalent to my wish to do so, we should be there, we should already be aboard. Ah, you can’t imagine what Europe is like. Oh, Europe … !’ Raising one leg he gave a pirouette. It was one of his ambitions to return to Europe, and he had spoken of it many times without succeeding in tempting either my mother or Uncle Cosme, no matter how much he praised its climate and its beauties. He had not considered the possibility of going there with me and remaining for the entirety of my studies.

‘We’re already aboard, Bentinho. We’re already aboard!’