One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 5


   “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, ?rsula 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 ?rsula 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 ?rsula 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 ?rsula 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.