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Dr. Urbino hears the bells of the Cathedral ringing for High Mass. He looks at his watch and realizes he will miss Pentecost Mass. Dr. Urbino looks at the parlor of his friendís house. It is his photography studio, set up with a huge camera on wheels and a backdrop of deep blue. The walls of the room are full of pictures of children in all their costumes, first communion outfits, and birthday clothes. Over the years as he had paused in his chess games with Jeremiah, he had looked at the pictures and shuddered at the thought that these children would be the leaders of the city "where not even the ashes of his glory would remain."
He notices a half-finished game of chess on the table. He studies it despite the fact that heís in a hurry. It was the previous nightís game. Jeremiah uses the white pieces and it is clear he would have been defeated in three moves. Urbino thinks to himself that if there had been a crime, this chessboard would be a good clue because he only knows one man who is capable of devising such a masterful trap. He realizes he must find out why Jeremiah had not finished this game, when always before, he finished all his chess games.
That morning as Dr. Urbino was making his rounds, the night watchman had found a note saying "Come in without knocking and inform the police." The inspector and intern arrived shortly and searched the house for evidence. They found a note addressed to the doctor. Urbino opened the window and looked at eleven pages of paper written front and back. When he had read the first paragraph, he knew he would miss the Pentecost Mass. He had read the note with great urgency and when he finished, he came back into the present time as if from a great distance. He felt despondent. His fingers trembled uncontrollably. He told the inspector and intern the note only contained his friendís final instructions.
He had told them to loosen a plank on the floor where they found an account book. In it they found the combination to the strongbox. They found enough money for the funeral expenses. Dr. Urbino says it is the third time he has missed Sunday Mass since he was a child. He stays around to finish the last details. However, he canít wait to share the contents of the letter with his wife. He promises the others that he will notify the Caribbean refugees in the city of Jeremiahís death. Jeremiah had acted as though he were the most respectable of them all, the most radical and the most active, even after he became severely disillusioned. He will also tell Jeremiahís chess partners and others who might want to come to the funeral. Before he had read the letter, he had wanted to be the first of the mourners. Now, heís not sure. He tells the others that he will be at the country house of Dr. Lacides Olivella, his favorite disciple, who is celebrating his silver anniversary that day.
After taking his morning medicine, he spends an hour in his study preparing for his lecture. He teaches Monday through Saturday and does so until the day before his death. After studying, he does fifteen minutes of respiratory exercise in the bathroom in front of the open window "always breathing toward the side where the roosters were crowing, which was where the air was new." Then he bathes and waxes his mustache and dresses in white linen. He is eighty-one years old and he still keeps the same festive spirit he had when he returned from Paris after the great cholera epidemic. He has breakfast and then uses an infusion of wormwood blossoms for his stomach and a head of garlic to prevent heart failure. After class, he usually has some kind of appointment that relates to civic or religious duties. He has lunch at home and then has a ten-minute nap on the veranda listening to the street sounds. After his nap, he reads new books for an hour, especially novels and history books. He next gives lessons in French and singing to his parrot. He drinks a glass of lemonade and goes to call on his patients. He refuses to see patients in his office. He sees them in their homes.