One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 16


   “Swimming.?
   Petra Cotes was perhaps the only native who had an Arab heart. She had seen the final destruction of her stables, her barns dragged off by the storm. but she had managed to keep her house standing. During the second year she had sent pressing messages to Aureliano Segundo and he had answered that he did not know when he would go back to her house, but that in any case he would bring along a box of gold coins to pave the bedroom floor with. At that time she had dug deep into her heart, searching for the strength that would allow her to survive the misfortune, and she had discovered a reflective and just rage with which she had sworn to restore the fortune squandered by her lover and then wiped out by the deluge. It was such an unbreakable decision that Aureliano Segundo went back to her house eight months after the last message and found her green disheveled, with sunken eyelids and skin spangled with mange, but she was writing out numbers on small pieces of paper to make a raffle. Aureliano Segundo was astonished, and he was so dirty and so solemn that Petra Cotes almost believed that the one who had come to see her was not the lover of all her life but his twin brother.
   “You’re crazy,?he told her. “Unless you plan to raffle off bones.?
   Then she told him to look in the bedroom and Aureliano Segundo saw the mule. Its skin was clinging to its bones like that of its mistress, but it was just as alive and resolute as she. Petra Cotes had fed it with her wrath, and when there was no more hay or corn or roots, she had given it shelter in her own bedroom and fed it on the percale sheets, the Persian rugs, the plush bedspreads, the velvet drapes, and the canopy embroidered with gold thread and silk tassels on the episcopal bed.