One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez

AMARANTA ?RSULA returned with the angels of December, driven on a sailor’s breeze, leading her husband by a silk rope tied around his neck. She appeared without warning, wearing an ivory-colored dress, a string of pearls that reached almost to her knees, emerald and topaz rings, and with her straight hair in a smooth bun held behind her ears by swallow-tail brooches. The man whom she had married six months before was a thin, older Fleming with the look of a sailor about him. She had only to push open the door to the parlor to realize that her absence had been longer and more destructive than she had imagined.
   “Good Lord,?she shouted, more gay than alarmed, “it’s obvious that there’s no woman in this house!?
   The baggage would not fit on the porch. Besides Fernanda’s old trunk, which they had sent her off to school with, she had two upright trunks, four large suitcases, a bag for her parasols, eight hatboxes, a gigantic cage with half a hundred canaries, and her husband’s velocipede, broken down in a special case which allowed him to carry it like a cello. She did not even take a day of rest after the long trip. She put on some worn denim overalls that her husband had brought along with other automotive items and set about on a new restoration of the house. She scattered the red ants, who had already taken possession of the porch, brought the rose bushes back to life, uprooted the weeds, and planted ferns, oregano, and begonias again in the pots along the railing. She took charge of a crew of carpenters, locksmiths, and masons, who filled in the cracks in the floor, put doors and windows back on their hinges, repaired the furniture, and white-washed the walls inside and out, so that three months after her arrival one breathed once more the atmosphere of youth and festivity that had existed during the days of the pianola. No one in the house had ever been in a better mood at all hours and under any circumstances, nor had anyone ever been readier to sing and dance and toss all items and customs from the past into the trash. With a sweep of her broom she did away with the funeral mementos and piles of useless trash and articles of superstition that had been piling up in the corners, and the only thing she spared, out of gratitude to ?rsula, was the daguerreotype of Remedios in the parlor. “My, such luxury,?she would shout, dying with laughter. “A fourteen-year-old grandmother!?When one of the masons told her that the house was full of apparitions and that the only way to drive them out was to look for the treasures they had left buried, she replied amid loud laughter that she did not think it was right for men to be superstitious. She was so spontaneous, so emancipated, with such a free and modern spirit, that Aureliano did not know what to do with his body when he saw her arrive. “My, my!?she shouted happily with open arms. “Look at how my darling cannibal has grown!?Before he had a chance to react she had already put a record on the portable phonograph she had brought with her and was trying to teach him the latest dance steps. She made him change the dirty pants that he had inherited from Colonel Aureliano Buendía and gave him some youthful shirts and two-toned shoes, and she would push him into the street when he was spending too much time in Melquíades?room.

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