One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 20


   In the lethargy of her pregnancy, Amaranta ?rsula tried to set up a business in necklaces made out of the backbones of fish. But except for Mercedes, who bought a dozen, she could not find any customers. Aureliano was aware for the first time that his gift for languages, his encyclopedic knowledge, his rare faculty for remembering the details of remote deeds and places without having been there, were as useless as the box of genuine jewelry that his wife owned, which must have been worth as much as all the money that the last inhabitants of Macondo could have put together. They survived miraculously. Although Amaranta ?rsula did not lose her good humor or her genius for erotic mischief, she acquired the habit of sitting on the porch after lunch in a kind of wakeful and thoughtful siesta. Aureliano would accompany her. Sometimes they would remain there in silence until nightfall, opposite each other, looking into each other’s eyes, loving each other as much as in their scandalous days. The uncertainty of the future made them turn their hearts toward the past. They saw themselves in the lost paradise of the deluge, splashing in the puddles in the courtyard, killing lizards to hang on ?rsula, pretending that they were going to bury her alive, and those memories revealed to them the truth that they had been happy together ever since they had had memory. Going deeper into the past, Amaranta ?rsula remembered the afternoon on which she had gone into the silver shop and her mother told her that little Aureliano was nobody’s child because he had been found floating in a basket. Although the version seemed unlikely to them, they did not have any information enabling them to replace it with the true one. All that they were sure of after examining an the possibilities was that Fernanda was not Aureliano’s mother. Amaranta ?rsula was inclined to believe that he was the son of Petra Cotes, of whom she remembered only tales of infamy, and that supposition produced a twinge of horror in her heart.