One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 10


   “What’s happening,?she sighed, “is that the world is slowly coming to an end and those things don’t come here any more.?
   When he finished the book, in which many of the stories had no endings because there were pages missing, Aureliano Segundo set about deciphering the manuscripts. It was impossible. The letters looked like clothes hung out to dry on a line and they looked more like musical notation than writing. One hot noontime, while he was poring over the, manuscripts, he sensed that he was not alone in the room. Against the light from the window, sitting with his hands on his knees, was Melquíades. He was under forty years of age. He was wearing the same old-fashioned vest and the hat that looked like a raven’s wings, and across his pale temples there flowed the grease from his hair that had been melted by the heat, just as Aureliano and Jos?Arcadio had seen him when they were children. Aureliano Segundo recognized him at once, because that hereditary memory had been transmitted from generation to generation and had come to him through the memory of his grandfather.
   “Hello,?Aureliano Segundo said.
   “Hello, young man,?said Melquíades.
   From then on, for several years, they saw each other almost every afternoon. Melquíades talked to him about the world, tried to infuse him with his old wisdom, but he refused to translate the manuscripts. “No one must know their meaning until he has reached one hundred years of age,?he explained. Aureliano kept those meetings secret forever. On one occasion he felt that his private world had fallen apart because ?rsula came in when Melquíades was in the room. But she did not see him.
   “Who were you talking to??she asked him.
   “Nobody,?Aureliano Segundo said.
   “That’s what your great-grandfather did,??rsula, said. “He used to talk to himself too.?