One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 17


   “Lord save us!?she exclaimed, as if she could see everything. “So much trouble teaching you good manners and you end up living like a pig.?
   Jos?Arcadio Segundo was still reading over the parchments. The only thing visible in the intricate tangle of hair was the teeth striped with green dime and his motionless eyes. When he recognized his great-grandmother’s voice he turned his head toward the door, tried to smile, and without knowing it repeated an old phrase of ?rsula’s.
   “What did you expect??he murmured. “Time passes.?
   “That’s how it goes,??rsula said, “but not so much.?
   When she said it she realized that she was giving the same reply that Colonel Aureliano Buendía had given in his death cell, and once again she shuddered with the evidence that time was not passing, as she had just admitted, but that it was turning in a circle. But even then she did not give resignation a chance. She scolded Jos?Arcadio Segundo as if he were a child and insisted that he take a bath and shave and lend a hand in fixing up the house. The simple idea of abandoning the room that had given him peace terrified Jos?Arcadio Segundo. He shouted that there was no human power capable of making him go out because he did not want to see the train with two hundred cars loaded with dead people which left Macondo every day at dusk on its way to the sea. “They were all of those who were at the station,?he shouted. “Three thousand four hundred eight.?Only then did ?rsula realize that he was in a world of shadows more impenetrable than hers, as unreachable and solitary as that of his great-grandfather. She left him in the room, but she succeeded in getting them to leave the padlock off, clean it every day, throw the chamberpots away except for one, and to keep Jos?Arcadio Segundo as clean and presentable as his great-grandfather had been during his long captivity under the chestnut tree. At first Fernanda interpreted that bustle as an attack of senile madness and it was difficult for her to suppress her exasperation. But about that time Jos?Arcadio told her that he planned to come to Macondo from Rome before taking his final vows, and the good news filled her with such enthusiasm that from morning to night she would be seen watering the flowers four times a day so that her son would not have a bad impression of the house. It was that same incentive which induced her to speed up her correspondence with the invisible doctors and to replace the pots of ferns and oregano and the begonias on the porch even before ?rsula found out that they had been destroyed by Aureliano Segundo’s exterminating fury. Later on she sold the silver service and bought ceramic dishes, pewter bowls and soup spoons, and alpaca tablecloths, and with them brought poverty to the cupboards that had been accustomed to India Company chinaware and Bohemian crystal. ?rsula always tried to go a step beyond. “Open the windows and the doors,?she shouted. “Cook some meat and fish, buy the largest turtles around, let strangers come and spread their mats in the corners and urinate in the rose bushes and sit down to eat as many times as they want and belch and rant and muddy everything with their boots, and let them do whatever they want to us, because that’s the only way to drive off rain.?But it was a vain illusion. She was too old then and living on borrowed time to repeat the miracle of the little candy animals, and none of her descendants had inherited her strength. The house stayed closed on Fernanda’s orders.