One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 9


   Colonel Gerineldo Márquez had a telegraphic call from Colonel Aureliano Buendía that afternoon. It was a routine conversation which was not going to bring about any break in the stagnant war. At the end, Colonel Gerineldo Márquez looked at the desolate streets, the crystal water on the almond trees, and he found himself lost in solitude.
   “Aureliano,?he said sadly on the key, “it’s raining in Macondo.?
   There was a long silence on the line. Suddenly the apparatus jumped with the pitiless letters from Colonel Aureliano Buendía.
   “Don’t be a jackass, Gerineldo,?the signals said. “It’s natural for it to be raining in August.?
   They had not seen each other for such a long time that Colonel Gerineldo Márquez was upset by the aggressiveness of the reaction. Two months later, however, when Colonel Aureliano Buendía returned to Macondo, his upset was changed to stupefaction. Even ?rsula was surprised at how much he had changed. He came with no noise, no escort, wrapped in a cloak in spite of the heat, and with three mistresses, whom he installed in the same house, where he spent most of his time lying in a hammock. He scarcely read the telegraphic dispatches that reported routine operations. On one occasion Colonel Gerineldo Márquez asked him for instructions for the evacuation of a spot on the border where there was a danger that the conflict would become an international affair.
   “Don’t bother me with trifles,?he ordered him. “Consult Divine Providence.?
   It was perhaps the most critical moment of the war. The Liberal landowners, who had supported the revolution in the beginning, had made secret alliances with the Conservative landowners in order to stop the revision of property titles. The politicians who supplied funds for the war from exile had Publicly repudiated the drastic aims of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, but even that withdrawal of authorization did not seem to bother him. He had not returned to reading his poetry, which filled more than five volumes and lay forgotten at the bottom of his trunk. At night or at siesta time he would call one of his women to his hammock and obtain a rudimentary satisfaction from her, and then he would sleep like a stone that was not concerned by the slightest indication of worry. Only he knew at that time that his confused heart was condemned to uncertainty forever. At first, intoxicated by the glory of his return, by his remarkable victories, he had peeped into the abyss of greatness. He took pleasure in keeping by his right hand the Duke of Marlborough, his great teacher in the art of war, whose attire of skins and tiger claws aroused the respect of adults and the awe of children. It was then that he decided that no human being, not even ?rsula, could come closer to him than ten feet. In the center of the chalk circle that his aides would draw wherever he stopped, and which only he could enter, he would decide with brief orders that had no appeal the fate of the world. The first time that he was in Manaure after the shooting of General Moncada, he hastened to fulfill his victim’s last wish and the widow took the glasses, the medal, the watch, and the ring, but she would not let him in the door.