Dom Casmurro

by Machado de Assis

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XXXIX - The Vocation

Father Cabral was in that first hour of honors where the minimum congratulations are worth for odes. Time comes when the dignified receive the praises as a usual tribute, dead face, without thanks. The bustle of the first hour is better; this state of the soul that sees in the inclination of the bush, touched of the wind, a parabem of the universal flora, brings sensations more intimate and thin than any other. Cabral heard Captain's words with infinite pleasure.

"Thanks, Capitú, thank you very much; I think you like it too. Is Papa good? And Mom? You do not ask yourself; This guy is really the guy who sells health. And how are we going to pray?

To all questions, Capitú was responding promptly and well. She wore a better dress and her shoes came out. She was not familiar with the custom, paused at the door of the room for a moment before kissing my mother's hand and her father's hand. As he was given twice a day in five minutes, the protonotary title, Jose Dias, to spare himself from the crowd, gave a short speech in honor "to the paternal and august heart of Pius IX."

"You're a great prose," said Uncle Cosimo, when he finished.

Jose Dias smiled without embarrassment. Father Cabral confirmed the praises of the addressee, without his superlatives; to which he added that Cardinal Mastai had evidently been carved for tiára since the beginning of time. And, winking at me, he concluded:

"Vocation is everything. The ecclesiastical state is perfectly perfect, so long as the priest is already destined for the cradle. There is no vocation, I speak of a sincere and real vocation, a young man could very well study the human letters, which are also useful and honored.

Padre Cabral retorquia:

—A vocação é muito, mas o poder de Deus é soberano. Um homem póde não ter gosto á egreja e até perseguil-a, e um dia a voz de Deus lhe fala, e elle sae apostolo; veja S. Paulo.

—Não contesto, mas o que eu digo é outra cousa. O que eu digo é que se póde muito bem servir a Deus sem ser padre, cá fóra; póde-se ou não se póde?


—Pois então! exclamou José Dias triumphalmente, olhando em volta de si. Sem vocação é que não ha bom padre, e em qualquer profissão liberal se serve a Deus, como todos devemos.

—Perfeitamente, mas vocação não é só do berço que se traz.

—Homem, é a melhor.

—Um moço sem gosto nenhum á vida ecclesiastica póde acabar por ser muito bom padre; tudo é que Deus o determine. Não me quero dar por modelo, mas aqui estou eu que nasci com a vocação da medicina; meu padrinho, que era coadjutor de Santa Rita, teimou com meu pae para que me mettesse no seminario; meu pae cedeu. Pois, senhor, tomei tal gosto aos estudos e á companhia dos padres, que acabei ordenando-me. Mas, supponha que não acontecia assim, e que eu não mudava de vocação, o que é que acontecia? Tinha estudado no seminario algumas materias que é bom saber, e são sempre melhor ensinadas naquellas casas.

Prima Justina said:

-As? So you could go to the seminary and not get a priest?

Father Cabral answered that yes, he could, and, turning to me, spoke of my vocation, which was manifest; my toys were always church, and I loved the divine offices. The proof did not prove; all the creations of my time were devout. Cabral added that the rector of St. Joseph, to whom he had lately told my mother's promise, had my birth by miracle; he was of the same opinion. Capitú, sewn to my mother's skirts, did not attend to the anxious eyes that I sent her; did not seem to hear the conversation about the seminary and its consequences, and, incidentally, decorated the principal, as I learned later. Twice I went to the window, hoping she would go too, and we would be alone, until the world was over, if it was over, but Capitú did not appear to me. He did not leave my mother, but to leave. They were marauders, he said goodbye.

"Come with her, Bentinho," said my mother.

"No need, no, Don Gloria," she said, laughing, "I know the way." Goodbye, Mr. Protonotary ...

"Goodbye, Capitú."

Having taken a step to cross the room, it is clear that my duty, my taste, all the impulses of the age and of the time, were to cross it all, to follow the short corridor, to go down to the chacara, to enter the yard , give him a third kiss, and bid me farewell. I did not mind the refusal, which I took care of, and I went down the corridor; but Capitú, who was hurrying, stopped and motioned for me to return. I did not obey; I came to her.

"Do not come, do not; We'll talk tomorrow.

"But I wanted to tell you ..."




He spoke softly; He took my hand and put his finger in the mouth. A black woman, who came from the inside to light the lantern in the corridor, saw us in that attitude, almost in the dark, laughed sympathetically and murmured in a tone that we heard something that I did not understand well or ill. Capitú told me that the slave had mistrusted, and perhaps she would tell the others. Again he told me to stay, and he withdrew; I let myself stand, nailed, clinging to the ground.


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