One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 2

   Jos?Arcadio Buendía did not succeed in deciphering the dream of houses with mirror walls until the day he discovered ice. Then he thought he understood its deep meaning. He thought that in the near future they would be able to manufacture blocks of ice on a large scale from such a common material as water and with them build the new houses of the village. Macondo would no longer be a burning place, where the hinges and door knockers twisted with the heat, but would be changed into a wintry city. If he did not persevere in his attempts to build an ice factory, it was because at that time he was absolutely enthusiastic over the education of his sons, especially that of Aureliano, who from the first had revealed a strange intuition for alchemy. The laboratory had been dusted off. Reviewing Melquíades?notes, serene now, without the exaltation of novelty, in prolonged and patient sessions they tried to separate ?rsula’s gold from the debris that was stuck to the bottom of the pot. Young Jos?Arcadio scarcely took part in the process. While his father was involved body and soul with his water pipe, the willful first-born, who had always been too big for his age, had become a monumental adolescent. His voice had changed. An incipient fuzz appeared on his upper lip. One night, as ?rsula went into the room where he was undressing to go to bed, she felt a mingled sense of shame and pity: he was the first man that she had seen naked after her husband, and he was so well-equipped for life that he seemed abnormal. ?rsula, pregnant for the third time, relived her newlywed terror.
   Around that time a merry, foul-mouthed, provocative woman came to the house to help with the chorea, and she knew how to read the future in cards. ?rsula spoke to her about her son. She thought that his disproportionate size was something as unnatural as her cousin’s tail of a pig. The woman let out an expansive laugh that resounded through the house like a spray of broken glass. “Just the opposite,?she said. “He’ll be very lucky.?In order to confirm her prediction she brought her cards to the house a few days later and locked herself up with Jos?Arcadio in a granary off the kitchen. She calmly placed her cards on an old carpenter’s bench. saying anything that came into her head, while the boy waited beside her, more bored than intrigued. Suddenly she reached out her hand and touched him. “Lordy!?she said, sincerely startled, and that was all she could say. Jos?Arcadio felt his bones filling up with foam, a languid fear, and a terrible desire to weep. The woman made no insinuations. But Jos?Arcadio kept looking for her all night long, for the smell of smoke that she had under her armpits and that had got caught under his skin. He wanted to be with her all the time, he wanted her to be his mother, for them never to leave the granary, and for her to say “Lordy!?to him. One day he could not stand it any more and. he went looking for her at her house: He made a formal visit, sitting uncomprehendingly in the living room without saying a word. At that moment he had no desire for her. He found her different, entirely foreign to the image that her smell brought on, as if she were someone else. He drank his coffee and left the house in depression. That night, during the frightful time of lying awake, he desired her again with a brutal anxiety, but he did not want her that time as she had been in the granary but as she had been that afternoon.