Dom Casmurro

by Machado de Assis

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CXLII - A Saint

It should be understood that if in the journeys I made to Europe, Jose Dias was not with me, it was not that he lacked his will; Uncle Cosme was almost unfit, and my mother, who got old quickly. He was also old, though he was stiff. He was going to take his leave of me on board, and the words he said to me, the gestures of the handkerchief, the very eyes he wiped were so touching me. The last time was not the board.

- Come on ...

-I can not.

-Is afraid?

-No; I can not. Now, farewell, Bentinho, I do not know if he will see me any more; I believe that I am going to the other Europe, the eternal ...

It was not soon; My mother boarded first. Search in the cemetery of St. John the Baptist an unnamed grave, with this unique indication: A saint. It's there. I made this inscription with some difficulty. The sculptor found it exquisite; the administrator of the cemetery consulted the vicar of parochia; this one pondered to me that the saints are in the altar and in the sky.

"But, pardon, I said, I do not want to say that there is a canon in that grave. My idea is to give with such a word an earthly definition of all the virtues that the deceased possessed in life. So much so, that modesty being one of them, I wish to preserve it postuma, not by writing the name.

-Yet, the name, affiliation, dates ...

"Who cares about dates, filiation, or names, after I'm done?"

"You mean she was a holy lady, did not you?"

"Right. The protonotario Cabral, if he were alive, would confirm what I say here.

I do not answer the truth, I hesitate only in the formula. Did you know the protonotary?

-I met. He was a model priest.

"Good canonist, good Latinist, pious and charitable," continued the vicar.

"And I had some society gifts," I said; there at home I always heard that he was an insigne partner to backgammon ...

-He had very good data! sighed the vicar slowly. A master die!

"So, you think ...?"

"Since there is no other sense, nor could you do it, yes, sir, admit it-"

José Dias attended these proceedings, with great melancholy. In the end, when we left, he said ill of the priest, he called him meticulous. I only felt sorry for not having met my mother, neither he nor the other men in the cemetery.

"They did not know her; if they knew her, they would have the most holy carved.


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