“Cease, cows,?Aureliano Segundo shouted at the height

“He won’t ever come into this house again,?Fernanda said, “as long as he carries the rash of the foreigners.?

Such was the narrowness imposed in the house that Aureliano Segundo felt more comfortable at Petra Cotes’s. First, with the pretext of taking the burden off his wife, he transferred his parties. Then, with the pretext that the animals were losing their fertility, he transferred his barns and stables. Finally, with the pretext that it was cooler in his concubine’s house, he transferred the small office in which he handled his business. When Fernanda realized that she was a widow whose husband had still not died, it was already too late for things to return to their former state. Aureliano Segundo barely ate at home and the only appearances he put in, such as to sleep with his wife, were not enough to convince anyone. One night, out of carelessness, morning found him in Petra Cotes’s bed. Fernanda, contrary to expectations, did not reproach him in the least or give the slightest sigh of resentment, but on the same day she sent two trunks with his clothing to the house of his concubine. She sent them in broad daylight and with instructions that they be carried through the middle of the street so that everyone could see them, thinking that her straying husband would be unable to bear the shame and would return to the fold with his head hung low. But that heroic gesture was just one more proof of how poorly Fernanda knew not only the character of her husband but the character of a community that had nothing to do with that of her parents, for everyone who saw the trunks pass by said that it was the natural culmination of a story whose intimacies were known to everyone, and Aureliano Segundo celebrated the freedom he had received with a party that lasted for three days. To the greater disadvantage of his wife, as she was entering into a sad maturity with her somber long dresses, her old-fashioned medals, and her out-of-place pride, the concubine seemed to be bursting with a second youth, clothed in gaudy dresses of natural silk and with her eyes tiger-striped with a glow of vindication. Aureliano Segundo gave himself over to her again with the fury of adolescence, as before, when Petra Cotes had not loved him for himself but because she had him mixed up with his twin brother and as she slept with both of them at the same time she thought that God had given her the good fortune of having a man who could make love like two. The restored passion was so pressing that on more than one occasion they would look each other in the eyes as they were getting ready to eat and without saying anything they would cover their plates and go into the bedroom dying of hunger and of love. Inspired by the things he had seen on his furtive visits to the French matrons, Aureliano Segundo bought Petra Cotes a bed with an archiepiscopal canopy, put velvet curtains on the windows, and covered the ceiling and the walls of the bedroom with large rock-crystal mirrors. At the same time he was more of a carouser and spendthrift than ever. On the train, which arrived every day at eleven o’clock, he would receive cases and more cases of champagne and brandy. On the way back from the station he would drag the improvised cumbiamba along in full view of all the people on the way, natives or outsiders, acquaintances or people yet to be known, without distinctions of any kind. Even the slippery Mr. Brown, who talked only in a strange tongue, let himself be seduced by the tempting signs that Aureliano Segundo made him and several times he got dead drunk in Petra Cotes’s house and he even made the fierce German shepherd dogs that went everywhere with him dance to some Texas songs that he himself mumbled in one way or another to the accompaniment of the accordion.

:“of the party. “Cease, because life is short.? He never looked better, nor had he been loved more, nor had the breeding of his animals been wilder. There was a slaughtering of so many cows, pigs, and chickens for the endless parties that the ground in the courtyard turned black and muddy with so much blood. It was an eternal execution ground of bones and innards, a mud pit of leftovers, and they had to keep exploding dynamite bombs all the time so that the buzzards would not pluck out the guests?eyes. Aureliano Segundo grew fat, purple-colored, turtle-shaped, because of an appetite comparable only to that of Jos?Arcadio when he came back from traveling around the world. The prestige of his outlandish voracity, of his immense capacity as a spendthrift, of his unprecedented hospitality went beyond the borders of the swamp and attracted the best-qualified gluttons from all along the coast. Fabulous eaters arrived from everywhere to take part in the irrational tourneys of capacity and resistance that were organized in the house of Petra Cotes. Aureliano Segundo was the unconquered eater until the luckless Saturday when Camila Sagastume ?

appeared, a totemic female known all through the land by the good name of “The Elephant.?The duel lasted until dawn on Tuesday. During the first twenty-four hours, having dispatched a dinner of veal, with cassava, yams, and fried bananas, and a case and a half of champagne in addition, Aureliano Segundo was sure of victory. He seemed more enthusiastic, more vital than his imperturbable adversary, who possessed a style that was obviously more professional, but at the same time less emotional for the large crowd that filled the house. While Aureliano Segundo ate with great bites, overcome by the anxiety of victory, The Elephant was slicing her meat with the art of a surgeon and eating it unhurriedly and even with a certain pleasure. She was gigantic and sturdy, but over her colossal form a tenderness of femininity prevailed and she had a face that was so beautiful, hands so fine and well cared for, and such an irresistible personal charm that when Aureliano Segundo saw her enter the house he commented in a low voice that he would have preferred to have the tourney in bed and not at the table. Later on, when he saw her consume a side of veal without breaking a single rule of good table manners, he commented seriously that that delicate, fascinating, and insatiable proboscidian was in a certain way the ideal woman. He was not mistaken. The reputation of a bone crusher that had preceded The Elephant had no basis. She was not a beef cruncher or a bearded lady from a Greek circus, as had been said, but the director of a school of voice. She had learned to eat when she was already the respectable mother of a family, looking for a way for her children to eat better and not by means of any artificial stimulation of their appetites but through the absolute tranquility of their spirits. Her theory, demonstrated in practice, was based on the principle that a person who had all matters of conscience in perfect shape should be able to eat until overcome by fatigue. And it was for moral ( 文章阅读网: )

reasons and sporting interest that she left her school and her home to compete with a man whose fame as a great, unprincipled eater had spread throughout the country. From the first moment she saw him she saw that Aureliano Segundo would lose not his stomach but his character. At the end of the first night, while The Elephant was boldly going on, Aureliano Segundo was wearing himself out with a great deal of talking and laughing. They slept four hours. On awakening each one had the juice of forty oranges, eight quarts of coffee, and thirty raw eggs. On the second morning, after many hours without sleep and having put away two pigs, a bunch of bananas, and four cases of champagne, The Elephant suspected that Aureliano Segundo had unknowingly discovered the same method as hers, but by the absurd route of total irresponsibility. He was, therefore, more dangerous than she had thought. Nevertheless, when Petra Cotes brought two roast turkeys to the table, Aureliano Segundo was a step away from being stuffed.

“If you can’t, don’t eat any more,?The Elephant said to him. “Let’s call it a tie.?She said it from her heart, understanding that she could not eat another mouthful either, out of remorse for bringing on the death of her adversary. But Aureliano

Segundo interpreted it as another challenge and he filled

himself with turkey beyond his incredible capacity. He lost consciousness. He fell face down into the plate filled with bones, frothing at the mouth like a dog, and drowning in moans of agony. He felt, in the midst of the darkness, that they were throwing him from the top of a tower into a bottomless pit and in a last flash of consciousness he realized that at the end of that endless fall death was waiting for him. “Take me to Fernanda,?he managed to say. His friends left him at the house thinking that they had helped him fulfill his promise to his wife not to die in his concubine’s bed. Petra Cotes had shined his patent leather boots that he wanted to wear in his coffin, and she was already looking for someone to take them when they came to

tell her that Aureliano Segundo was out of danger. He did recover, indeed, in less than a week, and two weeks later he was celebrating the fact of his survival with unprecedented festivities. He continued living at Petra Cotes’s but he would visit Fernanda every day and sometimes he would stay to eat with the family, as if fate had reversed the situation and had made him the husband of his concubine and the lover of his wife. It was a rest for Fernanda. During the boredom of her abandonment her only distractions were the clavichord lessons at siesta time and the letters from her children. In the detailed messages that she sent them every two weeks there was not a single line of truth. She hid her troubles from them. She hid from them the sadness of a house which, in spite of the light on the begonias, in spite of the heaviness at two in the afternoon, in spite of the frequent waves of festivals that came in from the street was more and more like the colonial mansion of her parents. Fernanda would wander alone among the three living ghosts and the dead ghost of Jos?Arcadio Buendía, who at times would come to sit down with an inquisitive attention in the half-light of the parlor while she was playing the clavichord. Colonel Aureliano Buendía was a shadow. Since the last time that he had gone out into the street to ( 文章阅读网: )

propose a war without any future to Colonel Gerineldo Márquez, he left the workshop only to urinate under the chestnut tree. He did not receive any visits except that of the barber every three weeks, He fed on anything that ?rsula brought him once a day, and even though he kept on making little gold fishes with the same passion as before, he stopped selling them when he found out that people were buying them not as pieces of jewelry but as historic relics. He made a bonfire in the courtyard of the dolls of Remedios which had decorated, their bedroom since their wedding. The watchful ?rsula realized what her son was doing but she could not stop him.

“You have a heart of stone,?she told him. “It’s not a question of a heart,?he said. “The room’s getting full of moths.? Amaranta was weaving her shroud. Fernanda did not understand why she would write occasional letters to Meme and even send her gifts and on the other hand did not even want to hear about Jos?Arcadio.

“They’ll die without

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