“Hello, cannibal,” she said to him. “Back in your cave again?” She was irresistible, with a dress she had designed and one of the long shad-vertebra necklaces that she herself had made. She had stopped using the leash, convinced of her husband’s faithfulness, and for the first time since her return she seemed to have a moment of ease. Aureliano did not need to see her to know that she had arrived. She put her elbows on the table, so close and so helpless that Aureliano heard the deep sound of her bones, and she became interested in the parchments. Trying to overcome his disturbance, he grasped at the voice that he was losing, the life that was leaving him, the memory that was turning into a petrified polyp, and he spoke to her about the priestly destiny of Sanskrit, the scientific possibility of seeing the future showing through in time as one sees what is written on the back of a sheet of paper through the light, the necessity of deciphering the predictions so that they would not defeat themselves, and the Centuries of Nostradamus and the destruction of Cantabria predicted by Saint Milanus. Suddenly, without interrupting the chat, moved by an impulse that had been sleeping in him since his origins, Aureliano put his hand on hers, thinking that that final decision would put an end to his doubts. She grabbed his index finger with the affectionate innocence with which she had done so in childhood, however, and she held it while he kept on answering questions. They remained like that, linked by icy index fingers that did not transmit anything in any way until she awoke from her momentary dream and slapped her forehead with her hand. “The ants!” she exclaimed.