Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Authors: Gabriel García Márquez, Gregory Rabassa
the festivities.My brother Luis Enrique, who played the guitar like a professional at that time, improvised a song with matrimonial double meanings in honor of the newlyweds. Until then it hadn’t rained. On the contrary, the moon was high in the sky and the air was clear, and at the bottom of the precipice you could see the trickle of light from the Saint Elmo’s fire in the cemetery. On the other sideyou could make out the groves of blue banana trees in the moonlight, the sad swamps, and the phosphorescent line of the Caribbean on the horizon. Santiago Nasar pointed to an intermittent light at sea and told us that it was the soul in torment of a slave ship that had sunk with a cargo of blacks from Senegal across from the main harbor mouth at Cartagena de Indias. It wasn’t possible to think thathis conscience was bothering him, although at that time he didn’t know that the ephemeral married life of Angela Vicario had come to an end two hours before. Bayardo San Román had taken her to her parents’ house on foot so that the noise of the motorwouldn’t betray his misfortune in advance, and he was back there alone and with the lights out in the widower Xius’s happy farmhouse.
    When we wentdown the hill my brother invited us to have some breakfast of fried fish at one of the lunch stands in the market, but Santiago Nasar was against it because he wanted to get an hour’s sleep before the bishop arrived. He went along the riverbank with Cristo Bedoya, passing the poor people’s eating places that were beginning to light up by the old harbor, and before turning the corner he waved good-bye.It was the last time we saw him.
    Cristo Bedoya, whom he had agreed to meet later on at the docks, took leave of him at the back door of his house. The dogs barked at him as usual when they heard him come in, but he calmed them down in the half-light with the tinkling of his keys. Victoria Guzmán was keeping watch over the coffeepot on the stove when he passed by the kitchen on his way insidethe house.
    “Whitey,” she called to him, “coffee will be ready soon.”
    Santiago Nasar told her that he’d have some later, and he asked her to tell Divina Flor to wake him up at five-thirty and bring him a clean change of clothes, just like the ones he had on. An instant after he’d gone to bed, Victoria Guzmán got the message from ClotildeArmenta sent via the milk beggar. At five-thirty she followedhis orders to wake him, but she didn’t send Divina Flor and went up to the bedroom herself with the suit of pure linen, because she never missed a chance to keep her daughter away from the claws of the seigneur.
    María Alejandrina Cervantes had left the door of the house unbarred. I took leave of my brother, crossed the veranda where the mulatto girls’ cats were sleeping curled up among the tulips,and opened the bedroom door without knocking. The lights were out, but as soon as I went in I caught the smell of a warm woman and I saw the eyes of an insomniac leopard in the darkness, and then I didn’t know anything else about myself until the bells began to ring.
    On his way to our house, my brother went in to buy some cigarettes at Clotilde Armenta’s store. He’d drunk so much that his memoriesof that encounter were always quite confused, but he never forgot the fatal drink that Pedro Vicario offered him. “It was liquid fire,” he told me. Pablo Vicario, who had fallen asleep, awoke with a start when he heard him come in, and he showed him the knife.
    “We’re going to kill Santiago Nasar,” he told him.
    My brother doesn’t remember it. “But even if I did remember, I wouldn’t have believedit,” he told me many times. “Who the fuck would ever think that thetwins would kill anyone, much less with a pig knife!” Then they asked him where Santiago Nasar was, because they’d seen the two of them together, and my brother didn’t remember his own answer either. But Clotilde Armenta and the Vicario brothers were so

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