One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 5


   “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 Jos?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,?Jos?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 Jos?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 Jos?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 Jos?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 Jos?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, Jos?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 Jos?Arcadio Buendía’s lucidity, he asked him how it was possible that they had him tied to a tree.