One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 15


   “Come, Renata,?she said to her.
   Meme took her hand and let herself be led. The last time that Fernanda saw her, trying to keep up with the novice, the iron grating of the cloister had just closed behind her. She was still thinking about Mauricio Babilonia, his smell of grease, and his halo of butterflies, and she would keep on thinking about him for all the days of her life until the remote autumn morning when she died of old age, with her name changed and her head shaved and without ever having spoken a word, in a gloomy hospital in Cracow.
   Fernanda returned to Macondo on a train protected by armed police. During the trip she noticed the tension of the passengers, the military preparations in the towns along the line, and an atmosphere rarified by the certainty that something serious was going to happen, but she had no information until she reached Macondo and they told her that Jos?Arcadio Segundo was inciting the workers of the banana company to strike. “That’s all we need,?Fernanda said to herself. “An anarchist in the family.?The strike broke out two weeks later and it did not have the dramatic consequences that had been feared. The workers demanded that they not be obliged to cut and load bananas on Sundays, and the position seemed so just that even Father Antonio Isabel interceded in its favor because he found it in accordance with the laws of God. That victory, along with other actions that were initiated during the following months, drew the colorless Jos?Arcadio Segundo out of his anonymity, for people had been accustomed to say that he was only good for filling up the town with French whores. With the same impulsive decision with which he had auctioned off his fighting cocks in order to organize a harebrained boat business, he gave up his position as foreman in the banana company and took the side of the workers. Quite soon he was pointed out as the agent of an international conspiracy against public order. One night, during the course of a week darkened by somber rumors, he miraculously escaped four revolver shots taken at him by an unknown party as he was leaving a secret meeting. The atmosphere of the following months was so tense that even ?rsula perceived it in her dark corner, and she had the impression that once more she was living through the dangerous times when her son Aureliano carried the homeopathic pills of subversion in his pocket. She tried to speak to Jos?Arcadio Segundo, to let him know about that precedent, but Aureliano Segundo told her that since the night of the attempt on his life no one knew his whereabouts.