فصل 05کتاب: صد سال تنهایی / فصل 5
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
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متن انگلیسی فصل
AURELIANO BUENDÍA and Remedios Moscote were married one Sunday in March before the altar Father Nicanor Reyna had set up in the parlor. It was the culmination of four weeks of shocks in the Moscote household because little Remedios had reached puberty before getting over the habits of childhood. In spite of the fact that her mother had taught her about the changes of adolescence, one February afternoon she burst shouting into the living room, where her sisters were chatting with Aureliano, and showed them her panties, smeared with a chocolate-colored paste. A month for the wedding was agreed upon. There was barely enough time to teach her how to wash herself, get dressed by herself, and understand the fundamental business of a home. They made her urinate over hot bricks in order to cure her of the habit of wetting her bed. It took a good deal of work to convince her of the inviolability of the marital secret, for Remedios was so confused and at the same time so amazed at the revelation that she wanted to talk to everybody about the details of the wedding night. It was a fatiguing effort, but on the date set for the ceremony the child was as adept in the ways of the world as any of her sisters. Don Apolinar Moscote escorted her by the arm down the street that was decorated with flowers and wreaths amidst the explosion of rockets and the music of several bands, and she waved with her hand and gave her thanks with a smile to those who wished her good luck from the windows. Aureliano, dressed in black, wearing the same patent leather boots with metal fasteners that he would have on a few years later as he faced the firing squad, had an intense paleness and a hard lump in his throat when he met the bride at the door of the house and led her to the altar. She behaved as naturally, with such discretion, that she did not lose her composure, not even when Aureliano dropped the ring as he tried to put it on her finger. In the midst of the. murmurs and confusion of the guests, she kept her arm with the fingerless lace glove held up and remained like that with her ring finger ready until the bridegroom managed to stop the ring with his foot before it rolled to the door, and came back blushing to the altar. Her mother and sisters suffered so much from the fear that the child would do something wrong during the ceremony that in the end they were the ones who committed the impertinence of picking her up to kiss her. From that day on the sense of responsibility, the natural grace, the calm control that Remedios would have in the face of adverse circumstances was revealed. It was she who, on her own initiative, put aside the largest piece that she had cut from the wedding cake and took it on a plate with a fork to José Arcadio Buendía. Tied to the trunk of the chestnut tree, huddled on a wooden stool underneath the palm shelter, the enormous old man, discolored by the sun and rain, made a vague smile of gratitude and at the piece of cake with his fingers, mumbling an unintelligible psalm. The only unhappy person in that noisy celebration, which lasted until dawn on Monday, was Rebeca Buendía. It was her own frustrated party. By an arrangement of Úrsula’s, her marriage was to be celebrated on the same day, but that Friday Pietro Crespi received a letter with the news of his mother’s imminent death. The wedding was postponed. Pietro Crespi left for the capital of the province an hour after receiving the letter, and on the road he missed his mother, who arrived punctually Saturday night and at Aureliano’s wedding sang the sad aria that she had prepared for the wedding of her son. Pietro Crespi returned on Sunday midnight to sweep up the ashes of the party, after having worn out five horses on the road in an attempt to be in time for his wedding. It was never discovered who wrote the letter. Tormented by Úrsula, Amaranta wept with indignation and swore her innocence in front of the altar, which the carpenters had not finished dismantling.
Father Nicanor Reyna—whom Don Apolinar Moscote had brought from the swamp to officiate at the wedding—was an old man hardened by the ingratitude of his ministry. His skin was sad, with the bones almost exposed, and he had a pronounced round stomach and the expression of an old angel, which came more from, simplicity than from goodness. He had planned to return to his pariah after the wedding, but he was appalled at the hardness of the inhabitants of Macondo, who were prospering in the midst of scandal, subject to the natural law, without baptizing their children or sanctifying their festivals. Thinking that no land needed the seed of God so much, he decided to stay on for another week to Christianize both circumcised and gentile, legalize concubinage, and give the sacraments to the dying. But no one paid any attention to him. They would answer him that they had been many years without a priest, arranging the business of their souls directly with God, and that they had lost the evil of original sin. Tired of preaching in the open, Father Nicanor decided to undertake the building of a church, the largest in the world, with life-size saints and stained-glass windows on the sides, so that people would come from Rome to honor God in the center of impiety. He went everywhere begging alms with a copper dish. They gave him a large amount, but he wanted more, because the church had to have a bell that would raise the drowned up to the surface of the water. He pleaded so much that he lost his voice. His bones began to fill with sounds. One Saturday, not even having collected the price of the doors, he fell into a desperate confusion. He improvised an altar in the square and on Sunday he went through the town with a small bell, as in the days of insomnia, calling people to an open-air mass. Many went out of curiosity. Others from nostalgia. Others so that God would not take the disdain for His intermediary as a personal insult. So that at eight in the morning half the town was in the square, where Father Nicanor chanted the gospels in a voice that had been lacerated by his pleading. At the end, when the congregation began to break up, he raised his arms signaling for attention.
“Just a moment,” he said. “Now we shall witness an undeniable proof of the infinite power of God.”
The boy who had helped him with the mass brought him a cup of thick and steaming chocolate, which he drank without pausing to breathe. Then he wiped his lips with a handkerchief that he drew from his sleeve, extended his arms, and closed his eyes. Thereupon Father Nicanor rose six inches above the level of the ground. It was a convincing measure. He went among the houses for several days repeating the demonstration of levitation by means of chocolate while the acolyte collected so much money in a bag that in less than a month he began the construction of the church. No one doubted the divine origin of the demonstration except José Arcadio Buendía, who without changing expression watched the troop of people who gathered around the chestnut tree one morning to witness the revelation once more. He merely stretched on his stool a little and shrugged his shoulders when Father Nicanor began to rise up from the ground along with the chair he was sitting on.
“Hoc est simplicissimus,” José Arcadio Buendía said. “Homo iste statum quartum materiae invenit.”
Father Nicanor raised his hands and the four legs of the chair all landed on the ground at the same time. “Nego,” he said. “Factum hoc existentiam Dei probat sine dubio.”
Thus it was discovered that José Arcadio Buendía’s devilish jargon was Latin. Father Nicanor took advantage of the circumstance of his being the only person who had been able to communicate with him to try to inject the faith into his twisted mind. Every afternoon he would sit by the chestnut tree preaching in Latin, but José Arcadio Buendía insisted on rejecting rhetorical tricks and the transmutation of chocolate, and he demanded the daguerreotype of God as the only proof. Father Nicanor then brought him medals and pictures and even a reproduction of the Veronica, but José Arcadio Buendía rejected them as artistic objects without any scientific basis. He was so stubborn that Father Nicanor gave up his attempts at evangelization and continued visiting him out of humanitarian feelings. But then it was José Arcadio Buendía who took the lead and tried to break down the priest’s faith with rationalist tricks. On a certain occasion when Father Nicanor brought a checker set to the chestnut tree and invited him to a game, José Arcadio Buendía would not accept, because according to him he could never understand the sense of a contest in which the two adversaries have agreed upon the rules. Father Nicanor, who had never seen checkers played that way, could not play it again. Ever more startled at José Arcadio Buendía’s lucidity, he asked him how it was possible that they had him tied to a tree.
“Hoc est simplicissimus,” he replied. “Because I’m Crazy.”
From then on, concerned about his own faith, the priest did not come back to visit him and dedicated himself to hurrying along the building of the church. Rebeca felt her hopes being reborn. Her future was predicated on the completion of the work, for one Sunday when Father Nicanor was lunching at the house and the whole family sitting at the table spoke of the solemnity and splendor that religious ceremonies would acquire when the church was built, Amaranta said: “The luckiest one will be Rebeca.” And since Rebeca did not understand what she meant, she explained it to her with an innocent smile:
“You’re going to be the one who will inaugurate the church with your wedding.”
Rebeca tried to forestall any comments. The way the construction was going the church would not be built before another ten years. Father Nicanor did not agree: the growing generosity of the faithful permitted him to make more optimistic calculations. To the mute Indignation of Rebeca, who could not finish her lunch, Úrsula celebrated Amaranta’s idea and contributed a considerable sum for the work to move faster. Father Nicanor felt that with another contribution like that the church would be ready within three years. From then on Rebeca did not say another word to Amaranta, convinced that her initiative had not the innocence that she attempted to give it. “That was the least serious thing I could have done,” Amaranta answered her during the violent argument they had that night. “In that way I won’t have to kill you for three years.” Rebeca accepted the challenge.
When Pietro Crespi found out about the new postponement, he went through a crisis of disappointment, but Rebeca gave him a final proof of her loyalty. “We’ll elope whenever you say,” she told him. Pietro Crespi, however, was not a man of adventure. He lacked the impulsive character of his fiancée and he considered respect for one’s given word as a wealth that should not be squandered. Then Rebeca turned to more audacious methods. A mysterious wind blew out the lamps in the parlor and Úrsula surprised the lovers kissing in the dark. Pietro Crespi gave her some confused explanations about the poor quality of modern pitch lamps and he even helped her install a more secure system of illumination for the room. But the fuel failed again or the wicks became clogged and Úrsula found Rebeca sitting on her fiancé’s lap. This time she would accept no explanation. She turned the responsibility of the bakery over to the Indian woman and sat in a rocking chair to watch over the young people during the visits, ready to win out over maneuvers that had already been old when she was a girl. “Poor Mama,” Rebeca would say with mock indignation, seeing Úrsula yawn during the boredom of the visits. “When she dies she’ll go off to her reward in that rocking chair.” After three months of supervised love, fatigued by the slow progress of the construction, which he went to inspect every day, Pietro Crespi decided to give Father Nicanor the money he needed to finish the church. Amaranta did not grow impatient. As she conversed with her girl friends every afternoon when they came to embroider on the porch, she tried to think of new subterfuges. A mistake in calculation spoiled the one she considered the most effective: removing the mothballs that Rebeca had put in her wedding dress before she put it away in the bedroom dresser. She did it when two months were left for the completion of the church. But Rebeca was so impatient with the approach of the wedding that she wanted to get the dress ready earlier than Amaranta had foreseen. When she opened the dresser and unfolded first the papers and then the protective cloth, she found the fabric of the dress and the stitches of the veil and even the crown of orange blossoms perforated by moths. Although she was sure that she had put a handful of mothballs in the wrappings, the disaster seemed so natural that she did not dare blame Amaranta. There was less than a month until the wedding, but Amparo Moscote promised to sew a new dress within a week. Amaranta felt faint that rainy noontime when Amparo came to the house wrapped in the froth of needlework for Rebeca to have the final fitting of the dress. She lost her voice and a thread of cold sweat ran down the path of her spine. For long months she had trembled with fright waiting for that hour, because if she had not been able to conceive the ultimate obstacle to Rebeca’s wedding, she was sure that at the last moment, when all the resources of her imagination had failed, she would have the courage to poison her. That afternoon, while Rebeca was suffocating with heat inside the armor of thread that Amparo Moscote was putting about her body with thousands of pins and infinite patience, Amaranta made several mistakes in her crocheting and pricked her finger with the needle, but she decided with frightful coldness that the date would be the last Friday before the wedding and the method would be a dose of laudanum in her coffee.
A greater obstacle, as impassable as it was unforeseen, obliged a new and indefinite postponement. One week before the date set for the wedding, little Remedios woke up in the middle of the night soaked in a hot broth which had exploded in her insides with a kind of tearing belch, and she died three days later, poisoned by her own blood, with a pair of twins crossed in her stomach. Amarante suffered a crisis of conscience. She had begged God with such fervor for something fearful to happen so that she would not have to poison Rebeca that she felt guilty of Remedios’ death. That was not the obstacle that she had begged for so much. Remedios had brought a breath of merriment to the house. She had settled down with her husband in a room near the workshop, which she decorated with the dolls and toys of her recent childhood, and her merry vitality overflowed the four walls of the bedroom and went like a whirlwind of good health along the porch with the begonias: She would start singing at dawn. She was the only person who dared intervene in the arguments between Rebeca and Amaranta. She plunged into the fatiguing chore of taking care of José Arcadio Buendía. She would bring him his food, she would help him with his daily necessities, wash him with soap and a scrubbing brush, keep his hair and beard free of lice and nits, keep the palm shelter in good condition and reinforce it with waterproof canvas in stormy weather. In her last months she had succeeded in communicating with him in phrases of rudimentary Latin. When the son of Aureliano and Pilar Ternera was born and brought to the house and baptized in an intimate ceremony with the name Aureliano José, Remedios decided that he would be considered their oldest child. Her maternal instinct surprised Úrsula. Aureliano, for his part, found in her the justification that he needed to live. He worked all day in his workshop and Remedios would bring him a cup of black coffee in the middle of the morning. They would both visit the Moscotes every night. Aureliano would play endless games of dominoes with his fatherin-law while Remedios chatted with her sisters or talked to her mother about more important things. The link with the Buendías consolidated Don Apolinar Moscote’s authority in the town. On frequent trips to the capital of the province he succeeded in getting the government to build a school so that Arcadio, who had inherited the educational enthusiasm of his grandfather, could take charge of it. Through persuasion he managed to get the majority of houses painted blue in time for the date of national independence. At the urging of Father Nicanor, he arranged for the transfer of Catarino’s store to a back street and he closed down several scandalous establishments that prospered in the center of town. Once he returned with six policemen armed with rifles to whom he entrusted the maintenance of order, and no one remembered the original agreement not to have armed men in the town. Aureliano enjoyed his father-in-law’s efficiency. “You’re going to get as fat as he is,” his friends would say to him. But his sedentary life, which accentuated his cheekbones and concentrated the sparkle of his eyes, did not increase his weight or alter the parsimony of his character, but, on the contrary, it hardened on his lips the straight line of solitary meditation and implacable decision. So deep was the affection that he and his wife had succeeded in arousing in both their families that when Remedios announced that she was going to have a child. even Rebeca and Amaranta declared a truce in order to knit items in blue wool if it was to be a boy and in pink wool in case it was a girl. She was the last person Arcadio thought about a few years later when he faced the firing squad.
Úrsula ordered a mourning period of closed doors and windows, with no one entering or leaving except on matters of utmost necessity. She prohibited any talking aloud for a year and she put Remedios’ daguerreotype in the place where her body had been laid out, with a black ribbon around it and an oil lamp that was always kept lighted. Future generations, who never let the lamp go out, would be puzzled at that girl in a pleated skirt, white boots, and with an organdy band around her head, and they were never able to connect her with the standard image of a great-grandmother. Amaranta took charge of Aureliano José. She adopted him as a son who would share her solitude and relieve her from the involutary laudanum that her mad beseeching had thrown into Remedios’ coffee. Pietro Crespi would tiptoe in at dusk, with a black ribbon on his hat, and he would pay a silent visit to Rebeca, who seemed to be bleeding to death inside the black dress with sleeves down to her wrists. Just the idea of thinking about a new date for the wedding would have been so irreverent that the engagement turned into an eternal relationship, a fatigued love that no one worried about again, as if the lovers, who in other days had sabotaged the lamps in order to kiss, had been abandoned to the free will of death. Having lost her bearings, completely demoralized, Rebeca began eating earth again.
Suddenly—when the mourning had gone on so long that the needlepoint sessions began again—someone pushed open the street door at two in the afternoon in the mortal silence of the heat and the braces in the foundation shook with such force that Amaranta and her friends sewing on the porch, Rebeca sucking her finger in her bedroom, Úrsula in the kitchen, Aureliano in the workshop, and even José Arcadio Buendía under the solitary chestnut tree had the impression that an earthquake was breaking up the house. A huge man had arrived. His square shoulders barely fitted through the doorways. He was wearing a medal of Our Lady of Help around his bison neck, his arms and chest were completely covered with cryptic tattooing, and on his right wrist was the tight copper bracelet of the niños-en-cruz amulet. His skin was tanned by the salt of the open air, his hair was short and straight like the mane of a mule, his jaws were of iron, and he wore a sad smile. He had a belt on that was twice as thick as the cinch of a horse, boots with leggings and spurs and iron on the heels, and his presence gave the quaking impression of a seismic tremor. He went through the parlor and the living room, carrying some half-worn saddlebags in his hand, and he appeared like a thunderclap on the porch with the begonias where Amaranta and her friends were paralyzed, their needles in the air. “Hello,” he said to them in a tired voice, threw the saddlebags on a worktable, and went by on his way to the back of the house. “Hello,” he said to the startled Rebecca, who saw him pass by the door of her bedroom. “Hello,” he said to Aureliano, who was at his silversmith’s bench with all five senses alert. He did not linger with anyone. He went directly to the kitchen and there he stopped for the first time at the end of a trip that had begun of the other side of the world. “Hello,” he said. Úrsula stood for a fraction of a second with her mouth open, looked into his eyes, gave a cry, and flung her arms around his neck, shouting and weeping with joy. It was José Arcadio. He was returning as poor as when he had left, to such an extreme that Úrsula had to give him two pesos to pay for the rental of his horse. He spoke a Spanish that was larded with sailor slang. They asked where he had been and he answered: “Out there.” He hung his hammock in the room they assigned him and slept for three days. When he woke up, after eating sixteen raw eggs, he went directly to Catarino’s store, where his monumental size provoked a panic of curiosity among the women. He called for music and cane liquor for everyone, to be put on his bill. He would Indianwrestle with five men at the same time. “It can’t be done,” they said, convinced that they would not be able to move his arm. “He has niños-en-cruz.” Catarino, who did not believe in magical tricks of strength, bet him twelve pesos that he could not move the counter. José Arcadio pulled it out of its place, lifted it over his head, and put it in the street. It took eleven men to put it back. In the heat of the party he exhibited his unusual masculinity on the bar, completely covered with tattoos of words in several languages intertwined in blue and red. To the women who were besieging him and coveting him he put the question as to who would pay the most. The one who had the most money offered him twenty pesos. Then he proposed raffling himself off among them at ten pesos a chance. It was a fantastic price because the most sought-after woman earned eight pesos a night, but they all accepted. They wrote their names on fourteen pieces of paper which they put into a hat and each woman took one out. When there were only two pieces left to draw, it was established to whom they belonged.
“Five pesos more from each one,” José Arcadio proposed, “and I’ll share myself with both.
He made his living that way. He had been around the world sixty-five times, enlisted in a crew of sailors without a country. The women who went to bed with him that night in Catarino’s store brought him naked into the dance salon so that people could see that there was not a square inch of his body that was not tattooed, front and back, and from his neck to his toes. He did not succeed in becoming incorporated into the family. He slept all day and spent the night in the red-light district, making bets on his strength. On the rare occasions when Úrsula got him to sit down at the table, he gave signs of radiant good humor, especially when he told about his adventures in remote countries. He had been shipwrecked and spent two weeks adrift in the Sea of Japan, feeding on the body of a comrade who had succumbed to sunstroke and whose extremely salty flesh as it cooked in the sun had a sweet and granular taste. Under a bright noonday sun in the Gulf of Bengal his ship had killed a sea dragon, in the stomach of which they found the helmet, the buckles, and the weapons of a Crusader. In the Caribbean he had seen the ghost of the pirate ship of Victor Hugues, with its sails torn by the winds of death, the masts chewed by sea worms, and still looking for the course to Guadeloupe. Úrsula would weep at the table as if she were reading the letters that had never arrived and in which José Arcadio told about his deeds and misadventures. “And there was so much of a home here for you, my son,” she would sob, “and so much food thrown to the hogs!” But underneath it an she could not conceive that the boy the gypsies took away was the same lout who would eat half a suckling pig for lunch and whose flatulence withered the flowers. Something similar took place with the rest of the family. Amaranta could not conceal the repugnance that she felt at the table because of his bestial belching. Arcadio, who never knew the secret of their relationship, scarcely answered the questions that he asked with the obvious idea of gaining his affection. Aureliano tried to relive the times when they slept in the same room, tried to revive the complicity of childhood, but José Arcadio had forgotten about it, because life at sea had saturated his memory with too many things to remember. Only Rebeca succumbed to the first impact. The day that she saw him pass by her bedroom she thought that Pietro Crespi was a sugary dandy next to that protomale whose volcanic breathing could be heard all over the house. She tried to get near him under any pretext. On a certain occasion José Arcadio looked at her body with shameless attention and said to her “You’re a woman, little sister.” Rebeca lost control of herself. She went back to eating earth and the whitewash on the walls with the avidity of previous days, and she sucked her finger with so much anxiety that she developed a callus on her thumb. She vomited up a green liquid with dead leeches in it. She spent nights awake shaking with fever, fighting against delirium, waiting until the house shook with the return of José Arcadio at dawn. One afternoon, when everyone was having a siesta, she could no longer resist and went to his bedroom. She found him in his shorts, lying in the hammock that he had hung from the beams with a ship’s hawser. She was so impressed by his enormous motley nakedness that she felt an impulse to retreat. “Excuse me,” she said, “I didn’t know you were here.” But she lowered her voice so as not to wake anyone up. “Come here,” he said. Rebeca obeyed. She stopped beside the hammock in an icy sweat, feeling knots forming in her intestines, while José Arcadio stroked her ankles with the tips of his fingers, then her calves, then her thighs, murmuring: “Oh, little sister, little sister.” She had to make a supernatural effort not to die when a startlingly regulated cyclonic power lifted her up by the waist and despoiled her of her intimacy with three clashes of its claws and quartered her like a little bird. She managed to thank God for having been born before she lost herself in the inconceivable pleasure of that unbearable pain, splashing in the steaming marsh of the hammock which absorbed the explosion of blood like a blotter.
Three days later they were married during the five-o’clock mass. José Arcadio had gone to Pietro Crespi’s store the day before. He found him giving a zither lesson and did not draw him aside to speak to him. “I’m going to marry Rebeca,” he told him. Pietro Crespi turned pale, gave the zither to one of his pupils, and dismissed the class. When they were alone in the room that was crowded with musical instruments and mechanical toys, Pietro Crespi said:
“She’s your sister.”
“I don’t care,” José Arcadio replied.
Pietro Crespi mopped his brow with the handkerchief that was soaked in lavender.
“It’s against nature,” he explained, “and besides, it’s against the law.”
José Arcadio grew impatient, not so much at the argument as over Pietro Crespi’s paleness.
“Fuck nature two times over,” he said. “And I’ve come to tell you not to bother going to ask Rebeca anything.”
But his brutal deportment broke down when he saw Pietro Crespi’s eyes grow moist.
“Now,” he said to him in a different tone, “if you really like the family, there’s Amaranta for you.”
Father Nicanor revealed in his Sunday sermon that José Arcadio and Rebeca were not brother and sister. Úrsula never forgave what she considered an inconceivable lack of respect and when they came back from church she forbade the newlyweds to set foot in the house again. For her it was as if they were dead. So they rented a house across from the cemetery and established themselves there with no other furniture but José Arcadio’s hammock. On their wedding night a scorpion that had got into her slipper bit Rebeca on the foot. Her tongue went to sleep, but that did not stop them from spending a scandalous honeymoon. The neighbors were startled by the cries that woke up the whole district as many as eight times in a single night and three times during siesta, and they prayed that such wild passion would not disturb the peace of the dead.
Aureliano was the only one who was concerned about them. He bought them some furniture and gave them some money until José Arcadio recovered his sense of reality and began to work the no-man’s-land that bordered the courtyard of the house. Amaranta, on the other hand, never did overcome her rancor against Rebeca, even though life offered her a satisfaction of which she had not dreamed: at the initiative of Úrsula, who did not know how to repair the shame, Pietro Crespi continued having lunch at the house on Tuesdays, rising above his defeat with a serene dignity. He still wore the black ribbon on his hat as a sign of respect for the family, and he took pleasure in showing his affection for Úrsula by bringing her exotic gifts: Portuguese sardines, Turkish rose marmalade, and on one occasion a lovely Manila shawl. Amaranta looked after him with a loving diligence. She anticipated his wants, pulled out the threads on the cuffs of his shirt, and embroidered a dozen handkerchiefs with his initials for his birthday. On Tuesdays, after lunch, while she would embroider on the porch, he would keep her happy company. For Pietro Crespi, that woman whom he always had considered and treated as a child was a revelation. Although her temperament lacked grace, she had a rare sensibility for appreciating the things of the world and had a secret tenderness. One Tuesday, when no one doubted that sooner or later it had to happen, Pietro Crespi asked her to marry him. She did not stop her work. She waited for the hot blush to leave her ears and gave her voice a serene stress of maturity.
“Of course, Crespi,” she said. “But when we know each other better. It’s never good to be hasty in things.”
Úrsula was confused. In spite of the esteem she had for Pietro Crespi, she could not tell whether his decision was good or bad from the moral point of view after his prolonged and famous engagement to Rebeca. But she finally accepted it as an unqualified fact because no one shared her doubts. Aureliano, who was the man of the house, confused her further with his enigmatic and final opinion:
“These are not times to go around thinking about weddings.”
That opinion, which Úrsula understood only some months later, was the only sincere one that Aureliano could express at that moment, not only with respect to marriage, but to anything that was not war. He himself, facing a firing squad, would not understand too well the concatenation of the series of subtle but irrevocable accidents that brought him to that point. The death of Remedios had not produced the despair that he had feared. It was, rather, a dull feeling of rage that grades ally dissolved in a solitary and passive frustration similar to the one he had felt during the time he was resigned to living without a woman. He plunged into his work again, but he kept up the custom of playing dominoes with his father-in-law. In a house bound up in mourning, the nightly conversations consolidated the friendship between the two men. “Get married again. Aurelito,” his fatherin-law would tell him. “I have six daughters for you to choose from.” On one occasion on the eve of the elections, Don Apolinar Moscote returned from one of his frequent trips worried about the political situation in the country. The Liberals were determined to go to war. Since Aureliano at that time had very confused notions about the difference between Conservatives and Liberals, his father-in-law gave him some schematic lessons. The Liberals, he said, were Freemasons, bad people, wanting to hang priests, to institute civil marriage and divorce, to recognize the rights of illegitimate children as equal to those of legitimate ones, and to cut the country up into a federal system that would take power away from the supreme authority. The Conservatives, on the other hand, who had received their power directly from God, proposed the establishment of public order and family morality. They were the defenders of the faith of Christ, of the principle of authority, and were not prepared to permit the country to be broken down into autonomous entities. Because of his humanitarian feelings Aureliano sympathized with the Liberal attitude with respect to the rights of natural children, but in any case, he could not understand how people arrived at the extreme of waging war over things that could not be touched with the hand. It seemed an exaggeration to him that for the elections his father-in-law had them send six soldiers armed with rifles under the command of a sergeant to a town with no political passions. They not only arrived, but they went from house to house confiscating hunting weapons, machetes, and even kitchen knives before they distributed among males over twenty-one the blue ballots with the names of the Conservative candidates and the red ballots with the names of the Liberal candidates. On the eve of the elections Don Apolinar Moscote himself read a decree that prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages and the gathering together of more than three people who were not of the same family. The elections took place without incident. At eight o’clock on Sunday morning a wooden ballot box was set up in the square, which was watched over by the six soldiers. The voting was absolutely free, as Aureliano himself was able to attest since he spent almost the entire day with his father-in-law seeing that no one voted more than once. At four in the afternoon a roll of drums in the square announced the closing of the polls and Don Apolinar Moscote sealed the ballot box with a label crossed by his signature. That night, while he played dominoes with Aureliano, he ordered the sergeant to break the seal in order to count the votes. There were almost as many red ballots as blue, but the sergeant left only ten red ones and made up the difference with blue ones. Then they sealed the box again with a new label and the first thing on the following day it was taken to the capital of the province. “The Liberals will go to war,” Aureliano said. Don Apolinar concentrated on his domino pieces. “If you’re saying that because of the switch in ballots, they won’t,” he said. “We left a few red ones in so there won’t be any complaints.” Aureliano understood the disadvantages of being in the opposition. “If I were a Liberal,” he said, “I’d go to war because of those ballots.” His father-in-law looked at him over his glasses.
“Come now, Aurelito,” he said, “if you were a Liberal, even though you’re my son-in-law, you wouldn’t have seen the switching of the ballots.”
What really caused indignation in the town was. not the results of the elections but the fact that the soldiers had not returned the weapons. A group of women spoke with Aureliano so that he could obtain the return of their kitchen knives from his father-in-law. Don Apolinar Moscote explained to him, in strictest confidence, that the soldiers had taken the weapons off as proof that the Liberals were preparing for war. The cynicism of the remark alarmed him. He said nothing, but on a certain night when Gerineldo Márquez and Magnífico Visbal were speaking with some other friends about the incident of the knives, they asked him if he was a Liberal or a Conservative. Aureliano did not hesitate.
“If I have to be something I’ll be a Liberal,” he said, “because the Conservatives are tricky.”
On the following day, at the urging of his friends, he went to see Dr. Alirio Noguera to be treated for a supposed pain in his liver. He did not even understand the meaning of the subterfuge. Dr. Alirio Noguera had arrived in Macondo a few years before with a medicine chest of tasteless pills and a medical motto that convinced no one: One nail draws another. In reality he was a charlatan. Behind his innocent façade of a doctor without prestige there was hidden a terrorist who with his short legged boots covered the scars that five years in the stocks had left on his legs. Taken prisoner during the first federalist adventure, he managed to escape to Curaçao disguised in the garment he detested most in this world: a cassock. At the end of a prolonged exile, stirred up by the exciting news that exiles from all over the Caribbean brought to Curaçao, he set out in a smuggler’s schooner and appeared in Riohacha with the bottles of pills that were nothing but refined sugar and a diploma from the University of Leipzig that he had forged himself. He wept with disappointment. The federalist fervor, which the exiles had pictured as a powder keg about to explode, had dissolved into a vague electoral illusion. Embittered by failure, yearning for a safe place where he could await old age, the false homeopath took refuge in Macondo. In the narrow bottle-crowded room that he rented on one side of the square, he lived several years off the hopelessly ill who, after having tried everything, consoled themselves with sugar pills. His instincts of an agitator remained dormant as long as Don Apolinar Moscote was a figurehead. He passed the time remembering and fighting against asthma. The approach of the elections was the thread that led him once more to the skein of subversion. He made contact with the young people in the town, who lacked political knowledge, and he embarked on a stealthy campaign of instigation. The numerous red ballots that appeared is the box and that were attributed by Don Apolinar Moscote to the curiosity that came from youth were part of his plan: he made his disciples vote in order to show them that elections were a farce. “The only effective thing,” he would say, “is violence.” The majority of Aureliano’s friends were enthusiastic over the idea of liquidating the Conservative establishment, but no one had dared include him in the plans, not only because of his ties with the magistrate, but because of his solitary and elusive character. It was known, furthermore, that he had voted blue at his father-in-law’s direction. So it was a simple matter of chance that he revealed his political sentiments, and it was purely a matter of curiosity, a caprice, that brought him to visit the doctor for the treatment of a pain that he did not have. In the den that smelled of camphorated cobwebs he found himself facing a kind of dusty iguana whose lungs whistled when he breathed. Before asking him any questions the doctor took him to the window and examined the inside of his lower eyelid. “It’s not there,” Aureliano said, following what they told him. He pushed the tips of his fingers into his liver and added: “Here’s where I have the pain that won’t let me sleep.” Then Dr. Noguera closed the window with the pretext that there was too much sun, and explained to him in simple terms that it was a patriotic duty to assassinate Conservatives. For several days Aureliano carried a small bottle of pills in his shirt pocket. He would take it out every two hours, put three pills in the palm of his hand, and pop them into his mouth for them to be slowly dissolved on his tongue. Don Apolinar Moscote made fun of his faith in homeopathy, but those who were in on the plot recognized another one of their people in him. Almost all of the sons of the founders were implicated, although none of them knew concretely what action they were plotting. Nevertheless, the day the doctor revealed the secret to Aureliano, the latter elicited the whole plan of the conspiracy. Although he was convinced at that time of the urgency of liquidating the Conservative regime, the plot horrified him. Dr. Noguera had a mystique of personal assassination. His system was reduced to coordinating a series of individual actions which in one master stroke covering the whole nation would liquidate the functionaries of the regime along with their respective families, especially the children, in order to exterminate Conservatism at its roots. Don Apolinar Moscote, his wife, and his six daughters, needless to say, were on the list.
“You’re no Liberal or anything else,” Aureliano told him without getting excited. “You’re nothing but a butcher.”
“In that case,” the doctor replied with equal calm, “give me back the bottle. You don’t need it any more.”
Only six months later did Aureliano learn that the doctor had given up on him as a man of action because he was a sentimental person with no future, with a passive character, and a definite solitary vocation. They tried to keep him surrounded, fearing that he would betray the conspiracy. Aureliano calmed them down: he would not say a word, but on the night they went to murder the Moscote family they would find him guarding the door. He showed such a convincing decision that the plan was postponed for an indefinite date. It was during those days that Úrsula asked his opinion about the marriage between Pietro Crespi and Amaranta, and he answered that these were not times to be thinking about such a thing. For a week he had been carrying an old-fashioned pistol under his shirt. He kept his eyes on his friends. In the afternoon he would go have coffee with José Arcadio and Rebeca, who had begun to put their house in order, and from seven o’clock on he would play dominoes with his father-in-law. At lunchtime he was chatting with Arcadio, who was already a huge adolescent, and he found him more and more excited over the imminence of war. In school, where Arcadio had pupils older than himself mixed in with children who were barely beginning to talk, the Liberal fever had caught on. There was talk of shooting Father Nicanor, of turning the church into a school, of instituting free love. Aureliano tried to calm down his drive. He recommended discretion and prudence to him. Deaf to his calm reasoning, to his sense of reality, Arcadio reproached him in public for his weakness of character. Aureliano waited. Finally, in the beginning of December, Úrsula burst into the workshop all upset.
“War’s broken out!”
War, in fact, had broken out three months before. Martial law was in effect in the whole country. The only one who knew it immediately was Don Apolinar Moscote, but he did not give the news even to his wife while the army platoon that was to occupy the town by surprise was on its way. They entered noiselessly before dawn, with two pieces of light artillery drawn by mules, and they set up their headquarters in the school. A 6 P.M. curfew was established. A more drastic search than the previous one was undertaken, house by house, and this time they even took farm implements. They dragged out Dr. Noguera, tied him to a tree in the square, and shot him without any due process of law. Father Nicanor tried to impress the military authorities with the miracle of levitation and had his head split open by the butt of a soldier’s rifle. The Liberal exaltation had been extinguished into a silent terror. Aureliano, pale, mysterious, continued playing dominoes with his father-in-law. He understood that in spite of his present title of civil and military leader of the town, Don Apolinar Moscote was once more a figurehead. The decisions were made by the army captain, who each morning collected an extraordinary levy for the defense of public order. Four soldiers under his command snatched a woman who had been bitten by a mad dog from her family and killed her with their rifle butts. One
Sunday, two weeks after the occupation, Aureliano entered Gerineldo Márquez’s house and with his usual terseness asked for a mug of coffee without sugar. When the two of them were alone in the kitchen, Aureliano gave his voice an authority that had never been heard before. “Get the boys ready,” he said.
“We’re going to war.” Gerineldo Márquez did not believe him.
“With what weapons?” he asked.
“With theirs,” Aureliano replied.
Tuesday at midnight in a mad operation, twenty-one men under the age of thirty commanded by Aureliano Buendía, armed with table knives and sharpened tools, took the garrison by surprise, seized the weapons, and in the courtyard executed the captain and the four soldiers who had killed the woman.
That same night, while the sound of the firing squad could be heard, Arcadio was named civil and military leader of the town. The married rebels barely had time to take leave of their wives, whom they left to their our devices. They left at dawn, cheered by the people who had been liberated from the terror, to join the forces of the revolutionary general Victorio Medina, who, according to the latest reports, was on his way to Manaure. Before leaving, Aureliano brought Don Apolinar Moscote out of a closet. “Rest easy, father-in-law,” he told him. “The new government guarantees on its word of honor your personal safety and that of your family.” Don Apolinar Moscote had trouble identifying that conspirator in high boots and with a rifle slung over his shoulder with the person he had played dominoes with until nine in the evening.
“This is madness, Aurelito,” he exclaimed.
“Not madness,” Aureliano said. “War. And don’t call me Aurelito any more. Now I’m Colonel Aureliano Buendía.”
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