Dom Casmurro

by Machado de Assis

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VI - Uncle Cosme

Uncle Cosimo lived with my mother since she was widowed. Even then he was a widower, as cousin Justina; it was the house of the three widows.

Fortune often exchanges hands with nature. Formed into the serene func- tions of capitalism, Uncle Cosme did not enrich his father's diet. It had the escriptorio in the old street of Violas, near the jury, that was in the extinct Aljube. I was working on crime. José Dias did not miss Uncle Cosme's defenses. It was the one who dressed him and undressed his toga, with many lengths at the end. At home I referred to the debates. Uncle Cosimo, however modest he might be, smiled with persuasion.

He was fat and heavy, his breathing short, his eyes sleepy. One of my earliest memories was to ride every morning to the beast my mother gave him and to take him to the police station. The black man who had gone to fetch her from the stable, held the bridle while he lifted his foot and rested on the stirrup; to this followed a minute of rest or reflection. Then it gave an impulse, the first, the body threatening to rise, but it did not rise; second impulse, and such effect. At last, after a few moments, Uncle Cosme had swallowed all the physical and moral forces, gave the last outbreak of the earth, and this time it fell on the saddle. Rarely did the beast cease to show by a gesture that it had just received the world. Uncle Cosme accommodated the meat, and the beast trotted.

He also did not forget what he did to me one afternoon. Since I was born in the country (from whence I came with two years of age), and I did not know how to ride, I was afraid of the horse. Uncle Cosimo took me and scampered me on top of the beast. When I saw myself at the top (I was nine years old), alone and helpless, the floor below me, I cried desperately:

"Mama! Mother! "She came pallid and trembling, made sure that they were killing me, got out of bed, and told me, while her brother asked,

"Mama Gloria, why are a number of these afraid of a small beast?"

"You're not used to it."

-You should get used to it. Father, if he be a vicar in the field, he must mount his horse; and, even here, not being a priest, if you want to flourish like the other boys, and do not know, you have to complain about yourself, sister Gloria.

"Well, complain; I'm afraid.

-Fear! Why, fear!

The truth is that I only came to learn riding later, less by taste than by shame of saying that I did not know how to ride. "Now he's going to date devas," they said when I started the licenses. Uncle Cosme would not have said the same thing. Nelle was old custom and need. I was not dating anymore. They say that, as a boy, he was accosted by many ladies, as well as an exalted partisan; but the years took him the most of the political and sexual ardor, and the fat finished with the rest of public and specific ideas. Now he only obeyed the obligations of the officio and without love. In the hours of leisure he lived watching or playing. One time or another he would say pillows.


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