Literature · Portuguese Literature

O Mandarim

Excerpt from Chapter 1
by Eça de Queiroz

I rested on Sundays: I would then settle in the dining room’s couch, with a smoking pipe clinched between my teeth. I would gaze admiring Dona Augusta who, on Holly-days, used to clean out Lieutenant Couceiro’s dandruff with the use of egg white. This hour was always delightful, especially on Summer:  through the half-closed windows drifted in the noon’s warmth along with the distant chiming of the bells of Conceição Nova, the local church, and the cooing of the turtle doves on the veranda while the monotonous buzzing of the flies hovered over/above the old cambric cloth, Madam Marques’ former nuptial veil, which now covered the plate of pointed cherries on the sideboard; little by little, the Lieutenant, wrapped in a sheet like an idol in his cloak, would fall asleep under the gentle friction of Dona Augusta’s loving hands; and while perking up her plump white little finger, she would furrow the Lieutenant’s glossy thinning hair with the fine-toothed lice comb…


Source: O Mandarim by Eça de Queiroz