One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 6


   “I dare you to, bastard!??rsula shouted.
   Before Arcadio had time to read she let go with the first blow of the lash. “I dare you to, murderer!?she shouted. “And kill me too, son of an evil mother. That way I won’t have the eyes to weep for the shame of having raised a monster.?Whipping him without mercy, she chased him to the back of the courtyard, where Arcadio curled up like a snail in its shell. Don Apolinar Moscote was unconscious, tied to the post where previously they had had the scarecrow that had been cut to pieces by shots fired in fun. The boys in the squad scattered, fearful that ?rsula would go after them too. But she did not even look at them. She left Arcadio with his uniform torn, roaring with pain and rage, and she untied Don Apolinar Moscote and took him home. Before leaving the headquarters she released the prisoners from the stocks.
   From that time on she was the one who ruled in the town. She reestablished Sunday masses, suspended the use of red armbands, and abrogated the harebrained decrees. But in spite of her strength, she still wept over her unfortunate fate. She felt so much alone that she sought the useless company of her husband, who had been forgotten under the chestnut tree. “Look what we’ve come to,?she would tell him as the June rains threatened to knock the shelter down. “Look at the empty house, our children scattered all over the world, and the two of us alone again, the same as in the beginning.?Jos?Arcadio Buendía, sunk in an abyss of unawareness, was deaf to her lamentations. At the beginning of his madness he would announce his daily needs with urgent Latin phrases. In fleeting clear spells of lucidity, when Amaranta would bring him his meals he would tell her what bothered him most and would accept her sucking glasses and mustard plasters in a docile way. But at the time when ?rsula went to lament by his side he had lost all contact with reality. She would bathe him bit by bit as he sat on his stool while she gave him news of the family. “Aureliano went to war more than four months ago and we haven’t heard anything about him,?she would say, scrubbing his back with a soaped brush. “Jos?Arcadio came back a big man, taller than you, and all covered with needle-work, but he only brought shame to our house.?She thought she noticed, however, that her husband would grow sad with the bad news. Then she decided to lie to him. ‘Rou won’t believe what I’m going to tell you,?she said as she threw ashes over his excrement in order to pick it up with the shovel. “God willed that Jos?Arcadio and Rebeca should get married, and now they’re very happy.?She got to be so sincere in the deception that she ended up by consoling herself with her own lies. “Arcadio is a serious man now,?she said, “and very brave, and a fine-looking young man with his uniform and saber.?It was like speaking to a dead man, for Jos?Arcadio Buendía was already beyond the reach of any worry. But she insisted. He seemed so peaceful, so indifferent to everything that she decided to release him. He did not even move from his stool. He stayed there, exposed to the sun and the rain, as if the thongs were unnecessary, for a dominion superior to any visible bond kept him tied to the trunk of the chestnut tree. Toward August, when winter began to last forever, ?rsula was finally able to give him a piece of news that sounded like the truth.