Dom Casmurro Chapter 38


When Pádua came into the living-room Capitu was standing with her back to me, leaning over her sewing as if to gather it up, and asking in a loud voice, ‘But, Bentinho, what is an apostolic protonotary?’

‘Hello there!’ cried her father.

‘My goodness, what a fright you gave me!’

Her performance was the same as before, and if I describe them both here after an interval of forty years, it is to show that Capitu could control herself not only in the presence of her mother but that her father inspired no greater fear. In a situation that left me tongue-tied, she could converse with the most disarming innocence. I am convinced that her heart beat neither faster nor slower. She claimed she had had a fright and assumed a slightly shocked expression; but I, who knew the truth, saw that it was a sham and could only feel envious. I went up to her father, who shook me by the hand and wanted to know why his daughter was talking about an apostolic protonotary. Capitu repeated what I had told her, saying that she thought he should go and congratulate the priest in his own house; she would do so in mine. So saying, she gathered up her sewing things and ran into the corridor, crying out in a childish manner, ‘Mamma, let’s have dinner. Papa’s home!’