One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 10


   The decisive difference was revealed in the midst of the war, when Jos?Arcadio Segundo asked Colonel Gerineldo Márquez to let him see an execution. Against ?rsula’s better judgment his wishes were satisfied. Aureliano Segundo, on the other hand, shuddered at the mere idea of witnessing an execution. He preferred to stay home. At the age of twelve he asked ?rsula what was in the locked room. “Papers,?she answered. “Melquíades?books and the strange things that he wrote in his last years.?Instead of calming him, the answer increased his curiosity. He demanded so much, promised with such insistence that he would not mistreat the things, that ?rsula, gave him the keys. No one had gone into the room again since they had taken Melquíades?body out and had put on the door a padlock whose parts had become fused together with rust. But when Aureliano Segundo opened the windows a familiar light entered that seemed accustomed to lighting the room every day and there was not the slightest trace of dust or cobwebs, with everything swept and clean, better swept and cleaner than on the day of the burial, and the ink had not dried up in the inkwell nor had oxidation diminished the shine of the metals nor had the embers gone out under the water pipe where Jos?Arcadio Buendía had vaporized mercury. On the shelves were the books bound in a cardboard-like material, pale, like tanned human skin, and the manuscripts were intact. In spite of the room’s having been shut up for many years, the air seemed fresher than in the rest of the house. Everything was so recent that several weeks later, when ?rsula went into the room with a pail of water and a brush to wash the floor, there was nothing for her to do. Aureliano Segundo was deep in the reading of a book. Although it had no cover and the title did not appear anywhere, the boy enjoyed the story of a woman who sat at a table and ate nothing but kernels of rice, which she picked up with a pin, and the story of the fisherman who borrowed a weight for his net from a neighbor and when he gave him a fish in payment later it had a diamond in its stomach, and the one about the lamp that fulfilled wishes and about flying carpets. Surprised, he asked ?rsula if all that was true and she answered him that it was, that many years ago the gypsies had brought magic lamps and flying mats to Macondo.