One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 6


   “Would you believe it that good luck is still pouring down on us??she told him. “Amaranta and the pianola Italian are going to get married.?
   Amaranta and Pietro Crespi had, in fact, deepened their friendship, protected by ?rsula, who this time did not think it necessary to watch over the visits. It was a twilight engagement. The Italian would arrive at dusk, with a gardenia in his buttonhole, and he would translate Petrarch’s sonnets for Amaranta. They would sit on the porch, suffocated by the oregano and the roses, he reading and she sewing lace cuffs, indifferent to the shocks and bad news of the war, until the mosquitoes made them take refuge in the parlor. Amaranta’s sensibility, her discreet but enveloping tenderness had been wearing an invisible web about her fianc? which he had to push aside materially with his pale and ringless fingers in order to leave the house at eight o’clock. They had put together a delightful album with the postcards that Pietro Crespi received from Italy. They were pictures of lovers in lonely parks, with vignettes of hearts pierced with arrows and golden ribbons held by doves. “I’ve been to this park in Florence,?Pietro Crespi would say, going through the cards. “A person can put out his hand and the birds will come to feed.?Sometimes, over a watercolor of Venice, nostalgia would transform the smell of mud and putrefying shellfish of the canals into the warm aroma of flowers. Amaranta would sigh, laugh, and dream of a second homeland of handsome men and beautiful women who spoke a childlike language with ancient cities of whose past grandeur only the cats among the rubble remained. After crossing the ocean in search of it, after having confused passion with the vehement stroking of Rebeca, Pietro Crespi had found love. Happiness was accompanied by prosperity. His warehouse at that time occupied almost a whole block and it was a hothouse of fantasy, with reproductions of the bell tower of Florence that told time with a concert of carillons, and music boxes from Sorrento and compacts from China that sang five-note melodies when they were opened, and all the musical instruments imaginable and all the mechanical toys that could be conceived. Bruno Crespi, his younger brother, was in charge of the store because Pietro Crespi barely had enough time to take care of the music school. Thanks to him the Street of the Turks, with its dazzling display of knickknacks, became a melodic oasis where one could forget Arcadio’s arbitrary acts and the distant nightmare of the war. When ?rsula ordered the revival of Sunday mass, Pietro Crespi donated a German harmonium to the church, organized a children’s chorus, and prepared a Gregorian repertory that added a note of splendor to Father Nicanor’s quiet rite. No one doubted that he would make Amaranta a fortunate mate. Not pushing their feelings, letting themselves be borne along by the natural flow of their hearth they reached a point where all that was left to do was set a wedding date. They did not encounter any obstacles. ?rsula accused herself inwardly of having twisted Rebecca’s destiny with repeated postponements and she was not about to add more remorse. The rigor of the mourning for Remedios had been relegated to the background by the mortifications of the war, Aureliano’s absence, Arcadio’s brutality, and the expulsion of Jos?Arcadio and Rebeca. With the imminence of the wedding, Pietro Crespi had hinted that Aureliano Jos? in whom he had stirred up a love that was almost filial, would be considered their oldest child. Everything made Amaranta think that she was heading toward a smooth happiness. But unlike Rebeca, she did not reveal the slightest anxiety. With the same patience with which she dyed tablecloths, sewed lace masterpieces, and embroidered needlepoint peacocks, she waited for Pietro Crespi to be unable to bear the urges of his heart and more. Her day came with the ill-fated October rains. Pietro Crespi took the sewing basket from her lap and he told her, “We’ll get married next month.?Amaranta did not tremble at the contact with his icy hands. She withdrew hers like a timid little animal and went back to her work.