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On the day he is eventually killed, Santiago Nasar wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to wait for the boat which is bringing the bishop. The night before, he had dreamt about trees. He woke up with a headache. Some people remember that the weather was cloudy that morning, others that it was fine, but all recall that Santiago was in a very good mood. The narrator, lying in the lap of Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, was wakened by the clamor of alarm bells.

Santiago is wearing a shirt and pants of white linen exactly like the ones he had worn to the wedding the day before. Santiago goes to the house of his mother, Placida Linero, to get an aspirin for his headache.

Santiago is slim and pale, with Arab eyes and curly hair. He is the only child of a marriage of convenience. He inherited his sixth sense from his mother. From his father, Ibrahim Nasar, he learned his love of firearms, horses, and falconry, as well as the qualities of valor and prudence. He and his father spoke Arabic with each other. After his father died, Santiago abandoned his studies at the end of secondary school in order to take over the family ranch.

Victoria Guzman is sure that it did not rain on the day of Santiago's death. She recalls that she had been in the kitchen, quartering rabbits for lunch, when Santiago came in. Divina Flor, her daughter, had served Santiago a mug of coffee with a shot of cane liquor, as she did every Monday. When she came again to take the mug away, he grabbed her arm and said, "The time has come for you to be tamed." Victoria Guzman says that she will never be tamed while she is alive. She was seduced by Ibrahim Nasar, Santiago's father, when she was an adolescent. Both women had heard that Santiago was going to be killed, but neither was certain whether or not the rumor was true.

The whole house is awakened by the bellow of the bishop's steamboat. Divina Flor leads Santiago to the front door. Even though the front door is usually closed and barred, Santiago always uses that door when he is dressed up. Divina remembers that when he went out the door, the boat stopped tooting and the cocks began to crow. There is an envelope under the door warning Santiago that someone is waiting for him to kill him, but it isn't found until long after Santiago's death.

As everyone makes their way toward the bishop's boat, the two men who are waiting to kill Santiago, Pedro Vicario and Pablo Vicario are waiting at the local milk shop, the only place that is open at that hour. They are still wearing their dark wedding suits, and holding knives wrapped in newspaper.