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After they finish rebuilding from the earthquake, the Trueba family stays on at Tres Marias. As Esteban's health improves, Clara continues to pull away from him. As soon as she can hire people to take over the household chores, she does, and she returns to her teaching, to her diaries, and to her predictions. She begins locking her bedroom door, and she stops letting Esteban into her bed. When he asks her why, she explains that they no longer get along, and so it does not make sense for them to continue making love. Despite the mounting tensions between them, Esteban is still desperately in love with Clara. He tries every method he can think of to win her back, but nothing works.
Count Jean de Satigny has recently arrived in the neighborhood. Carrying with him all of the airs of the European Court, he ingratiates himself with Esteban, trying to convince him to undertake a chinchilla farm with him, while pursuing Blanca's hand in marriage. Blanca refuses him point blank, but the count calmly persists. Summer arrives and Jaime and Nicolas come to Tres Marias. Jaime's boyhood acquaintance with Pedro Tercero turns into a deep adult friendship based on their shared interest in social justice. Nicolas for his part is astoundingly intelligent, but he is primarily interested in cultivating his mothers' psychic gifts and seducing girls.
Later that summer, old Pedro Garcia dies. He is found by his grandson, Esteban Garcia. No one except the child himself remembers that he is the illegitimate grandson of Esteban Trueba. Pancha before she died told Esteban Garcia of his heritage. Esteban Garcia hates his grandfather and wishes desperately that there were some way in which he could kill Esteban Trueba and inherit Tres Marias. Esteban Trueba arranges an elaborate funeral for Pedro Garcia, partly out of respect for the old man, and partly to put on a show for the upcoming elections. Pedro Tercero Garcia manages to slip into Tres Marias amidst all of the festivities, disguised as a priest. Not long after, Blanca begins to show signs of being pregnant, which everyone mistakes for her calming down and becoming more feminine with age. Jean de Satigny is the only person who may understand. He also is the only person besides Clara who has been aware of her nighttime meetings with Pedro Tercero, although he did not know who she was meeting. The Count continues to pursue Blanca. Blanca and he actually get along well, and theyseem to develop a friendship. About this time, Esteban Trueba's business sense gets the better of the chinchilla farm project, causing Jean de Satigny to step up his efforts at winning Blanca's hand. Although Jean de Satigny does not mind Blanca's having a lover, he realizes that he may be able to use that knowledge to make her marry him. He follows Blanca one night to her meeting with Pedro Tercero. When he sees them together, he realizes that their love is much more than a summer fling and decides to tell Esteban Trueba. The news infuriates Esteban Trueba. He beats Blanca severely to no avail and promises to kill Pedro Tercero. When he tells Clara what has happened, she points out to him that Pedro Tercero did nothing more than Esteban himself has done, with the difference that Pedro Tercero and Blanca love each other. At this, Esteban hits Clara so hard that she loses several teeth. He immediately apologizes, but Clara never speaks to him again for as long as they live.
Two days later, Clara and Blanca return to the city. Pedro Segundo Garcia also leaves Tres Marias. Esteban Trueba is deeply distraught, but turns all of his disappointment and anger toward Pedro Tercero. He tries to find him, but no one in the area will provide any real help, despite the generous rewards Esteban promises. Then one day Esteban Garcia comes forward and offers to show him where Pedro Tercero is, in return for the reward. Esteban Garcia leads Esteban Trueba to Pedro Tercero, but in his desire to inflict on Pedro Tercero a slow and painful death, Esteban Trueba misses killing him and only manages to chop off three of his fingers. In that moment however he also realizes the he is glad not to have killed a man. Still, when Esteban Garcia asks for his reward, Esteban Trueba gives the boy only a slap and calls him a traitor.
Although his chapter includes a great deal of action, it is all quite self-explanatory. Many of the themes already introduces continue to develop, but the chapter's main function is to advance the plot.
Count Jean de Satigny could easily be a hollow character. He does in fact serve a fairly simple function: to denounce Blanca and then later to cover over her pregnancy. However, Jean de Satigny's character oozes with significant detail. As a Frenchman, he represents stereotypes of European decadence. His mysterious appearance in South America and subsequent attachment to the Truebas' show how South American aristocracy overvalues European class, and how impoverished Europeans abuse the situation for their own financial gain. These details continue to accumulate in subsequent chapters.
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