One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez

THE MARRIAGE was on the point of breaking up after two months because Aureliano Segundo, in an attempt to placate Petra Cotes, had a picture taken of her dressed as the Queen of Madagascar. When Fernanda found out about it she repacked her bridal trunks and left Macondo without saying good-bye. Aureliano Segundo caught up with her on the swamp road. After much pleading and promises of reform he succeeded in getting her to come home and he abandoned his concubine.
   Petra Cotes, aware of her strength, showed no signs of worry. She had made a man of him. While he was still a child she had drawn him out of Melquíades?room, his head full of fantastic ideas and lacking any contact with reality, and she had given him a place in the world. Nature had made him reserved and withdrawn. with tendencies toward solitary meditation, and she had molded an opposite character in him, one that was vital, expansive, open, and she had injected him with a joy for living and a pleasure in spending and celebrating until she had converted him inside and out, into the man she had dreamed of for herself ever since adolescence. Then he married, as all sons marry sooner or later. He did not dare tell her the news. He assumed an attitude that was quite childish under the circumstances, feigning anger and imaginary resentment so that Petra Cotes would be the one who would bring about the break. One day, when Aureliano Segundo reproached her unjustly, she eluded the trap and put things in their proper place.
   “What it all means,?she said, “is that you want to marry the queen.?
   Aureliano Segundo, ashamed, pretended an attack of rage, said that he was misunderstood and abused, and did not visit her again. Petra Cotes, without losing her poise of a wild beast in repose for a single instant, heard the music and the fireworks from the wedding, the wild bustle of the celebration as if all of it were nothing but some new piece of mischief on the part of Aureliano Segundo. Those who pitied her fate were calmed with a smile. “Don’t worry,?she told them. “Queens run errands for me.?To a neighbor woman who brought her a set of candles so that she could light up the picture of her lost lover with them, she said with an enigmatic security:

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