One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 19


   Looking for something to fill his idle hours with, Gaston became accustomed to spending the morning in Melquíades?room with the shy Aureliano. He took pleasure in recalling with him the most hidden corners of his country, which Aureliano knew as if he had spent much time there. When Gaston asked him what he had done to obtain knowledge that was not in the encyclopedia, he received the same answer as Jos?Arcadio: “Everything Is known.?In addition to Sanskrit he had learned English and French and a little Latin and Greek. Since he went out every afternoon at that time and Amaranta ?rsula had set aside a weekly sum for him for his personal expenses, his room looked like a branch of the wise Catalonian’s bookstore. He read avidly until late at night, although from the manner in which he referred to his reading, Gaston thought that he did not buy the books in order to learn but to verify the truth of his knowledge, and that none of them interested him more than the parchments, to which he dedicated most of his time in the morning. Both Gaston and his wife would have liked to incorporate him into the family life, but Aureliano was a hermetic man with a cloud of mystery that time was making denser. It was such an unfathomable condition that Gaston failed in his efforts to become intimate with him and had to seek other pastimes for his idle hours. It was around that time that he conceived the idea of establishing an airmail service.
   It was not a new project. Actually, he had it fairly well advanced when he met Amaranta ?rsula, except that it was not for Macondo, but for the Belgian Congo, where his family had investments in palm oil. The marriage and the decision to spend a few months in Macondo to please his wife had obliged him to postpone it. But when he saw that Amaranta ?rsula was determined to organize a commission for public improvement and even laughed at him when he hinted at the possibility of returning, he understood that things were going to take a long time and he reestablished contact with his forgotten partners in Brussels, thinking that it was just as well to be a pioneer in the Caribbean as in Africa. While his steps were progressing he prepared a landing field in the old enchanted region which at that time looked like a plain of crushed flintstone, and he studied the wind direction, the geography of the coastal region, and the best routes for aerial navigation, without knowing that his diligence, so similar to that of Mr. Herbert, was filling the town with the dangerous suspicion that his plan was not to set up routes but to plant banana trees. Enthusiastic over the idea that, after all, might justify his permanent establishment in Macondo, he took several trips to the capital of the province, met with authorities, obtained licenses, and drew up contracts for exclusive rights. In the meantime he maintained a correspondence with his partners in Brussels which resembled that of Fernanda with the invisible doctors, and he finally convinced them to ship the first airplane under the care of an expert mechanic, who would assemble it in the nearest port and fly it to Macondo. One year after his first meditations and meteorological calculations, trusting in the repeated promises of his correspondents, he had acquired the habit of strolling through the streets, looking at the sky, hanging onto the sound of the breeze in hopes that the airplane would appear.