The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Machado de Assis

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Authors: Machado de Assis
Let’s be simple, as simple as the life I led in Tijuca during the first weeks after my mother’s death.
    On the seventh day, when the funeral mass was over, I gathered together a shotgun, some books, clothing, cigars, a houseboy—the Prudêncio of Chapter XI —and went off to establish myself in an old house weowned. My father made an effort to make me change my mind, but I couldn’t and didn’t want to obey him. Sabina wanted me to go live with her for a while—two weeks at least. My brother-in-law was on the point of carrying me off forcibly. He was a good lad, that Cotrim. He’d gone from profligacy to circumspection. Now he was a food merchant, toiling from morning till night with perseverance. In the evening, sitting by the window and twirling his sideburns, that was all he had on his mind. He loved his wife and the son they had at that time who died a few years later. People said he was tightfisted.
    I had given up everything. I was in a state of shock. I think it was around that time that hypochondria began to bloom in me, that yellow, solitary, morbid flower with an intoxicating and subtle odor. “’Tis good to be sad and say nothing!” When those words of Shakespeare’s caught my attention I must confess that I felt an echo in myself, a delightful echo. I remember that I felt an echo in myself, a delightful echo. I remember that I was sitting under a tamarind tree with the poet’s book in my hands and my spirit was even more downcast than the character’s,—or crestfallen, as we say of sad hens. I clutched my taciturn grief to my breast with a singular sensation, something that could be called the sensuality of boredom. The sensuality of boredom: memorize that expression, reader, keep it, examine it, and if you can’t get to understand it you may conclude that you’re ignorant of one of the most subtle sensations of this world and that time.
    Sometimes I would go hunting, at other times sleep, and at others read—I read a lot—other times, well, I did nothing. I let myself ramble from idea to idea, from imagination to imagination, like a vagrant or hungry butterfly. The hours dripped away, one by one, the sun set, the shadows of night veiled the mountain and the city. No one came to visit me. I had expressly asked to be left alone. One day, two days, three days, a whole week spent like that without saying a word was enough for me to shake off Tijuca and rejoin the bustle. Indeed, at the end of a week I’d had more than enough of solitude. My grief had abated. My spirits were no longer satisfied with only shotgun and books or with the view of the woods and the sky. Youth was reacting, it was necessary to live. I packed away the problem of life and death, the poet’s hypochondriacs, the shirts, the meditations, the neckties in a trunk and I was about to close it when the black boy Prudêncio told me that the day before a person of my acquaintance had moved into a purple house a couple of hundred steps away from ours.
    “Does Little Mastér remember Dona Eusehia maybe?”
    “I remember … Is it she?”
    “She and her daughter. They got in yesterday morning.”
    The episode from 1814 came to me immediately and I felt annoyed. But I called my attention to the fact that: events proved me right. Actually, it had been impossible to prevent the intimate relations between Vilaça and the sergeant-major’s sister. Even before I sailed there was already a mysterious wagging of tongues about the birth of a girl. My Uncle João wrote me later that Vilaça, when he died, had left a good legacy to Dona Eusébia, something that caused a lot of talk in the neighborhood. Uncle João himself, greedy when it came to scandal, didn’t talk about anything else in the letter—several pages long, by the by. Events had proved me right. Even though they had, however, 1814 was a long way back and with it Vilaça’s mischief and the kiss in the shrubbery. Finally, no close relations existed between her and

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