One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 8


   A few months after the return of Aureliano Jos?an exuberant woman perfumed with jasmine appeared at the house with a boy of five. She stated that he was the son of Colonel Aureliano Buendía and that she had brought him to ?rsula to be baptized. No one doubted the origins of that nameless child: he looked exactly like the colonel at the time he was taken to see ice for the first time. The woman said that he had been born with his eyes open, looking at people with the judgment of an adult, and that she was frightened by his way of staring at things without blinking. “He’s identical,??rsula said. “The only thing missing is for him to make chairs rock by simply looking at them.?They christened him Aureliano and with his mother’s last name, since the law did not permit a person to bear his father’s name until he had recognized him. General Moncada was the godfather. Although Amaranta insisted that he be left so that she could take over his upbringing, his mother was against it. ?rsula at that time did not know about the custom of sending virgins to the bedrooms of soldiers in the same way that hens are turned loose with fine roosters, but in the course of that year she found out: nine more sons of Colonel Aureliano Buendía were brought to the house to be baptized. The oldest, a strange dark boy with green eyes, who was not at all like his father’s family, was over ten years old. They brought children of all ages, all colors, but all males and all with a look of solitude that left no doubt as to the relationship. Only two stood out in the group. One, large for his age, made smithereens out of the flowerpots and china because his hands seemed to have the property of breaking everything they touched. The other was a blond boy with the same light eyes as his mother, whose hair had been left to grow long and curly like that of a woman. He entered the house with a great deal of familiarity, as if he had been raised there, and he went directly to a chest in ?rsula’s bedroom and demanded, “I want the mechanical ballerina.??rsula was startled. She opened the chest, searched among the ancient and dusty articles left from the days of Melquíades, and wrapped in a pair of stockings she found the mechanical ballerina that Pietro Crespi had brought to the house once and that everyone had forgotten about. In less than twelve years they baptized with the name Aureliano and the last name of the mother all the sons that the colonel had implanted up and down his theater of war: seventeen. At first ?rsula would fill their pockets with money and Amaranta tried to have them stay. But they finally limited themselves to giving them presents and serving as godmothers. “We’ve done our duty by baptizing them,??rsula would say, jotting down in a ledger the name and address of the mother and the place and date of birth of the child. “Aureliano needs well-kept accounts so that he can decide things when he comes back.?During lunch, commenting with General Moncada about that disconcerting proliferation, she expressed the desire for Colonel Aureliano Buendía to come back someday and gather all of his sons together in the house.