discovery of the Jews of Amsterdam. They placed a gypsy woman at one endof the village and set up the telescope at the entrance to the tent. For theprice of five reales, people could look into the telescope and see the gypsywoman an arm’s length away. “Science has eliminated distance,” Melquíadesproclaimed. “In a short time, man will be able to see what is happening in anyplace in the world without leaving his own house.” A burning noonday sun brought out a startling demonstration with thegigantic magnifying glass: they put a pile of dry hay in the middle of thestreet and set it on fire by concentrating the sun’s rays. José Arcadio Buendía,who had still not been consoled for the failure of big magnets, conceived theidea of using that invention as a weapon of war. Again Melquíades tried todissuade him, but he finally accepted the two magnetized ingots and threecolonial coins in exchange for the magnifying glass. Úrsula wept inconsternation. That money was from a chest of gold coins that her father had puttogether over an entire life of privation and that she had buried underneathher bed in hopes of a proper occasion to make use of it. José Arcadio Buendíamade no attempt to console her, completely absorbed in his tacticalexperiments with the abnegation of a scientist and even at the risk of his ownlife. In an attempt to show the effects of the glass on enemy troops, heexposed himself to the concentration of the sun’s rays and suffered burnswhich turned into sores that took a long time to heal. Over the protests of his wife, who was alarmed at such a dangerousinvention, at one point he was ready to set the house on fire. He would spendhours on end in his room, calculating the strategic possibilities of his novelweapon until he succeeded in putting together a manual of startlinginstructional clarity and an irresistible power of conviction. He sent it to the government, accompanied by numerous descriptionsof his experiments and several pages of explanatory sketches; by amessenger who crossed the mountains, got lost in measureless swamps,forded stormy rivers, and was on the point of perishing under the lash ofdespair, plague, and wild beasts until he found a route that joined the oneused by the mules that carried the mail. In spite of the fact that a trip to thecapital was little less than impossible at that time, José Arcadio Buendíapromised to undertake it as soon as the government ordered him to so thathe could put on some practical demonstrations of his invention for themilitary authorities and could train them himself in the complicated art ofsolar war. For several years he waited for an answer. Finally, tired of waiting, hebemoaned to Melquíades the failure of his project and the gypsy then gavehim a convincing proof of his honesty: he gave him back the doubloons inexchange for the magnifying glass, and he left him in addition somePortuguese maps and several instruments of navigation. In his ownhandwriting he set down a concise synthesis of the studies by Monk Hermannwhich he left José Arcadio so that he would be able to make use of theastrolabe, the compass, and the sextant.