Dom Casmurro

by Machado de Assis

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XLIII - Are You Afraid?

Suddenly, ceasing his reflection, he looked at my hangover eyes, and asked me if I was afraid.


"Yes, I ask if you're afraid."

-Fear of what?

"Long to catch, to be arrested, to fight, to walk, to work ...

I did not understand. If she has simply told me, "Let's go!" It could be that I obeyed or not; in any case, I would understand. But that question, so vague and loose, I could not see what it was.

-But I do not understand. To catch?


"Whose?" Who gives me a blow?

Capitú made a gesture of impatience. The hangover eyes did not move and seemed to grow. Without knowing me, and not wanting to interrogate her again, I went in to wonder where I would be beaten, and why, and also why I would be arrested, and who would arrest me. God damn it! I imagined the aljube, a dark and infected house. I also saw the presiganga, the barracks of the Barbonos and the House of Correction. All these beautiful social institutions involved me in their mysteriousness, without the hungover eyes of Capitú ceasing to grow for me, to the point that they made them forget everything. Capitú's mistake was not to let them grow infinitely, but to diminish to the normal dimensions, and to give them the usual movement. Capitú returned to what he was, told me that he was joking, he did not need to afflict me, and, with a gesture full of grace, he hit me in the house smiling, and said:


-I? But...

"It's nothing, Bentinho. For who is to beat or to arrest you? Sorry I'm half crazy today; I want to play, and ...

"No, Capitú; You're not kidding; on this occasion, none of us feel like playing.

"You're right, it was just crazy; see you later.

-How farther?

"I'm getting headache again; I'm going to put a lemon slice in the springs.

He did as he was told, and he tied the handkerchief to his forehead again. Then he accompanied me to the yard to say goodbye to me; but we still sat there for a few minutes, sitting on the edge of the well. Ventava, the sky was covered. Capitú spoke again of our separation, as of a definite and definite fact, however much I, fearing it, should now seek reasons for animal. Capitú, when he did not speak, scratched the floor with a piece of taquara, noses and profiles. Ever since he had come to draw, it was one of his amusements; everything used paper and pencil. As I remembered our names opened by her on the wall, I wanted to do the same on the floor, and I asked her for the taquara. He did not listen to me or did not listen to me.


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