One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 10


   For almost two months he shared the woman with his brother. He would watch him, mix up his plans, and when he was sure that Jos?Arcadio Segundo was not going to visit their common mistress that night, he would go and sleep with her. One morning he found that he was sick. Two days later he found his brother clinging to a beam in the bathroom, soaked in sweat and with tears pouring down, and then he understood. His brother confessed to him that the woman had sent him away because he had given her what she called a low-life sickness. He also told him how Pilar Ternera had tried to cure him. Aureliano Segundo submitted secretly to the burning baths of permanganate and to diuretic waters, and both were cured separately after three months of secret suffering. Jos?Arcadio Segundo did not see the woman again. Aureliano Segundo obtained her pardon and stayed with her until his death.
   Her name was Petra Cotes. She had arrived in Macondo in the middle of the war with a chalice husband who lived off raffles, and when the man died she kept up the business. She was a clean young mulatto woman with yellow almond-shaped eyes that gave her face the ferocity of a panther, but she had a generous heart and a magnificent vocation for love. When ?rsula realized that Jos?Arcadio Segundo was a cockfight man and that Aureliano Segundo played the accordion at his concubine’s noisy parties, she thought she would go mad with the combination. It was as if the defects of the family and none of the virtues had been concentrated in both. Then she decided that no one again would be called Aureliano or Jos?Arcadio. Yet when Aureliano Segundo had his first son she did not dare go against his will.
   “All right,??rsula said, “but on one condition: I will bring him up.?
   Although she was already a hundred years old and on the point of going blind from cataracts, she still had her physical dynamism, her integrity of character, and her mental balance intact. No one would be better able than she to shape the virtuous man who would restore the prestige of the family, a man who would never have heard talk of war, fighting cocks, bad women, or wild undertakings, four calamities that, according to what ?rsula thought, had determined the downfall. of their line. “This one will be a priest,?she promised solemnly. “And if God gives me life he’ll be Pope someday.?They all laughed when they heard her, not only in the bedroom but all through the house, where Aureliano Segundo’s rowdy friends were gathered. The war, relegated to the attic of bad memories, was momentarily recalled with the popping of champagne bottles.