en-fr  The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock (1906)
Le calife, Cupidon et l'Horloge (1906).

O. Henry (William Sidney Porter, 1862-1910).

Le PRINCE MICHAEL DE VALLELUNA ÉTAIT ASSIS DANS LE PARC sur le banc qu'il préférait . Dans la fraîcheur de la nuit, il se sentait plein de vie. Les autres sièges n'étaient pas occupés. Le temps frais envoie la plupart des gens chez eux.

La lune se levait sur les maisons du côté est du parc. Les enfants riaient et jouaient. Une musique arrivait doucement de l'une des rues les plus proches. Autour du petit parc, les taxis passaient. Les trains qui parcouraient le haut de la rue filait devant. Ces taxis et trains, avec leurs vacarmes sauvages, avaient l'air d'animaux à l'extérieur du parc. Mais ils ne pouvaient pas entrer. Le parc était sûr et silencieux. Et au-dessus des arbres était la large face ronde et brillante d'une horloge lumineuse dans un grand immeuble ancien.

Les chaussures du prince Michael étaient anciennes et cassées. Aucun cordonnier ne pourrait les rénover une fois encore. Ses vêtements étaient très déchirés. Les poils de son visage avaient poussé depuis deux semaines. Ils étaient de toutes les couleurs : gris et brun, rouge et vert-jaune. Son chapeau était plus vieux et plus déchiré que ses chaussures et ses autres vêtements.

Le prince Michael était assis sur le banc qu'il préférait, et il souriait. C'était une joyeuse pensée pour lui qu'il avait assez d'argent pour acheter chaque maison qu'il pouvait voir près du parc, s'il le souhaitait. Il avait autant d'or que n'importe quel homme riche dans cette fière ville de New York. Il avait autant de bijoux, de maisons et de terres. Il aurait pu s'asseoir à table avec des rois et des reines.

Toutes les meilleures choses du monde pourraient être siennes, art, plaisir, belles femmes, honneur. Toutes les choses les plus douces de la vie attendaient le prince Michael de Valleluna chaque fois qu'il choisissait de les prendre. Mais au lieu de cela, il choisissait de s'asseoir dans des vêtements déchirés sur un banc dans un parc

Car il avait goûté au fruit de l'arbre de la vie. Il n'avait pas aimé le goût. Ici, dans ce parc, il se sentait proche du cœur battant du monde. Il espérait que cela lui permettrait d'oublier ce goût

Ces pensées bougeaient tel un rêve dans l'esprit du prince Michael. Il y avait un sourire sur son visage avec ses cheveux multicolores. Assis de cette façon, dans des vêtements déchirés, il aimait étudier d'autres hommes. Il aimait faire du bien pour d'autres. Donner était plus agréable pour lui que de posséder toutes ses richesses. C"était son plus grand plaisir d'aider les personnes en difficulté. Il aimait donner aux personnes qui avaient besoin d'aide. Il aimait les surprendre par des cadeaux princiers. Mais il donnait toujours avec sagesse, après mûre réflexion.

Et maintenant, alors qu'il regardait la face brillante de la grande horloge, son sourire changea. Le prince pensait toujours à de grandes réflexions. Quand il pensait au temps, il ressentait toujours une touche de tristesse. Le temps commandait le monde. Les personnes devaient faire ce que le temps ordonnait. Leurs allées et venues étaient toujours contrôlées par une horloge. Ils étaient toujours pressés et toujours craintifs à cause du temps. Cela le rendait triste.
Après un petit moment, un jeune homme en tenue de soirée vint et s'assit sur un banc à proximité du prince. Pendant une demi-heure, il s'assit nerveusement. Puis il commenca à regarder la face de l'horloge lumineuse au-dessus des arbres. Le prince pouvait voir que le jeune homme avait des problèmes. Il pouvait également voir que, de quelque façon, l'horloge faisait partie du problème.

Le prince se leva et alla au banc du jeune homme.

— Je suis un étranger, et je ne devrais pas vous parler, déclara-t-il. Mais je peux voir que vous êtes troublé. Je suis le prince Michael de Valleluna. Je ne veux pas que les gens sachent qui je suis. C'est pourquoi je porte ces vêtements déchirés.

C'est un petit plaisir pour moi secourir ceux qui ont besoin d'aide. Tout d'abord, je dois être certain qu'ils méritent d'être aidés. Je pense que vous en êtes. Et peut-être votre problème sera-t-il clos si vous et moi décidons ensemble de ce qu'il faut faire à ce sujet. »

Le jeune homme leva les yeux vers le prince. Gaiement, mais il était encore troublé. Il se mis à rire alors, mais il restait toujours l'aspect des problèmes. Mais il accepta cette chance de parler à quelqu'un.

— Je suis content de vous rencontrer, Prince, dit-il agréablement. Oui, je peux voir que vous ne voulez pas être reconnu. C'est facile à voir. Merci pour votre proposition d'aide. Mais je ne vois pas ce que vous pouvez faire. C'est mon problème. Mais merci.

Le prince Michael s'assit à côté du jeune homme. Les personnes lui disaient souvent non, mais elles le disaient toujours courtoisement.

— Les horloges, dit le prince, sont attachées aux pieds de tous les hommes et femmes. Je vous ai vu regarder cette horloge. Ce cadran nous commande d'agir, que nous le voulions ou non. Permettez-moi de vous dire de ne pas faire confiance aux chiffres sur cette face. Ils vous détruiront s'ils le peuvent. Arrêtez de regarder cette horloge. Qu'est-ce qu'elle sait des hommes et des femmes vivants ? — Je ne regarde généralement pas cette horloge, déclara le jeune homme. Je porte une montre, sauf quand je porte des vêtements de soirée.

— Je connais les hommes et les femmes comme je connais les arbres et les fleurs», déclara le prince avec chaleur et fierté. J'ai étudié plusieurs années. Je suis très riche. Il y a peu de problèmes que je ne peux pas régler. Je l'ai lu sur votre visage. J'ai trouvé l'honneur et la bonté là-bas, et des problèmes. S'il vous plaît, acceptez mon aide. Je peux voir que vous êtes sage. Montrez à quel point vous l'êtes. Ne me jugez pas à mes vêtements déchirés. Je suis sûr que je peux vous aider.

Le jeune homme regarda à nouveau l'horloge, et son visage devint plus sombre. Puis il regarda une maison à côté du parc. Des lumières pouvaient être vues dans de nombreuses pièces.
— Dix minutes avant neuf heures, dit le jeune homme. Il leva les mains et les laissa tomber, comme si l'espoir s'en était allé. Il se leva et fit un ou deux pas rapide.

— Restez ! ordonna le prince Michael. Sa voix fut si puissante que le jeune homme se retourna rapidement. Il riait un peu.

— J'attendrai dix minutes et je pars, dit-il à voix basse, comme si ce n'était que pour lui-même. Puis, au prince, il dit : Je vais me joindre à vous. Nous allons détruire toutes les horloges. Et aussi les femmes.

— Asseyez-vous, dit doucement le prince. Je ne souscris pas à cela. Je n'inclus pas les femmes. Les femmes sont les ennemis des horloges. Elles sont nées ainsi. Par conséquent, elles sont les amies de ceux qui souhaitent détruire les horloges. Si vous pouvez me faire confiance, racontez-moi votre histoire.

Le jeune homme s'assit de nouveau et se mit à rire fort.

— D'accord, Prince, dit-il . Il ne croyait pas que le prince Michael fut vraiment prince. Sa manière de parler le prouvait. Vous voyez cette maison, Prince ? Cette maison avec des lumières aux trois fenêtres du troisième étage ? À dix-huit heures, j'étais dans cette maison avec la jeune femme à laquelle je suis... j'étais marié. J'avais faut du mal, mon cher prince, et elle en avait entendu parler. J'étais désolé. Je voulais qu'elle l'oublie. Nous demandons toujours aux femmes d'oublier des choses comme ça, n'est-ce pas, Prince ? — Je veux du temps pour réfléchir, a-t-elle déclaré. Ou bien je l'oublierai pour toujours, ou je ne reverrai jamais ton visage. À huit heures et demie, dit-elle, regarde la fenêtre du milieu au troisième étage de cette maison. Si je décide d'oublier, j'accrocherai un long tissu blanc. Tu sauras alors que tout est comme avant. Et tu pourras venir me voir. Si tu ne vois rien suspendu à la fenêtre, tu sauras que tout entre nous est terminé pour toujours ".

Voilà pourquoi, déclara le jeune homme, c'est pourquoi je regardais cette horloge. L'heure est passéz depuis vingt-trois minutes. Voyez-vous pourquoi je suis un peu troublé, mon prince déchiré ? — Permettez-moi de vous répéter, déclara le prince Michael dans sa voix douce, que les femmes sont les ennemis nées des horloges. Les horloges sont mauvaises, les femmes sont bonnes. Le tissu blanc peut encore apparaître.

— Jamais ! dit le jeune homme, désespérément. Vous ne connaissez pas Marian. Elle est toujours à l'heure, à la minute. C'est la première chose que j'ai aimé en elle. À 8h31, j'aurais dû savoir que tout était fini.

Je vais partir pour l'ouest. Je prendrai le train ce soir. Je trouverai un moyen de l'oublier. Bonne nuit...Prince.

Le prince Michael sourit de son sourire doux et compréhensif. Il attrapa le bras de l'autre. L'éclat brillant dans les yeux du prince s'adoucissait. C'était un rêve, obscurcit

— Attendez, dit-il, jusqu'à ce que l'heure indique l'heure. J'ai la richesse et le pouvoir et je suis plus sage que la plupart des hommes. Mais quand j'entends l'horloge dire l'heure, j'ai peur. Restez avec moi en attendant. Cette femme sera vôtre. Vous avez la promesse du Prince de Valleluna. Le jour où vous serez mariés, je vous accorderai 100 000 $ et une grande maison à côté de la rivière Hudson. Mais il ne doit pas y avoir d'horloge dans cette maison. Êtes-vous d'accord avec cela ? — Bien sûr, dit le jeune homme. Je n'aime pas les horloges.

Il regarda à nouveau l'horloge au-dessus des arbres. Il était trois minutes avant neuf heures.
— Je pense, dit le prince Michael, que je vais dormir un peu. Ce fut une longue journée. Il se coucha sur le banc, comme s'il l'avait déjà fait avant.

Vous me trouverez sur ce parc chaque soir quand le temps est bon, déclara le prince. Venez à moi quand vous connaîtrez le jour de votre mariage. Je vais vous donner l'argent.

— Merci, Prince, reprit le jeune homme. Ce jour-là ne viendra pas. Mais merci.

Le prince Michael tomba dans un sommeil profond. Son chapeau roula sur le sol. Le jeune homme lz souleva, le replaca sur le visage du prince et déplaca une des jambes du Prince dans une meilleure position. — Pauvre homme ! dit-il. Il tira le manteau déchiré sur le corps du prince.

Il était neuf heures. Bruyante et surprennante, le chant de l'horloge annonça l'heure. Le jeune homme prit une profonde inspiration, et se tourna pour un autre regard sur la maison. Et il cria de joie.
De la fenêtre du milieu au troisième étage, un merveilleux chiffon blanc comme neige pendait.

À travers le parc, un homme est venu, se dépêchant à la maison.

— Pourriez-vous me donner l'heure, s'il vous plaît ? Demanda le jeune homme.

L'autre homme sortit sa montre et dit : « Neuf heures moins une ».

Et puis il regarda l'horloge.

— Mais cette horloge n'est pas à l'heure ! dit l'homme. « La première fois depuis dix ans ! Ma montre est toujours ... » Mais il ne parlait à personne. Il se retourna et vit le jeune homme courir vers une maison avec trois fenêtres allumées au deuxième étage.

Et au petit matin, deux policiers traversèrent le parc. Il n'y avait qu'une personne à voir : un homme, endormi sur un long siège de parc. Ils s'arrêtèrent pour le regarder.

— C'est Michael le rêveur, dit l'un. Il dort ainsi dans le parc depuis vingt ans. Il ne vivra plus longtemps ; j'imagine.

L'autre policier regarda quelque chose dans la main du dormeur. — Regarde ça, dit-il. Cinquante dollars. J'aimerais avoir un rêve comme ça.

Et puis ils donnèrent au prince Michael de Valleluna une forte secousse, et le sortirent de ses rêves et plonger dans la vie réelle.
unit 1
The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock (1906).
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unit 2
O. Henry (William Sidney Porter, 1862-1910).
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unit 3
PRINCE MICHAEL OF VALLELUNA SAT IN THE PARK on the seat he liked best.
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unit 4
In the coolness of the night, he felt full of life.
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unit 5
The other seats were not filled.
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unit 6
Cool weather sends most people home.
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unit 7
The moon was rising over the houses on the east side of the park.
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unit 8
Children laughed and played.
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unit 9
Music came softly from one of the nearer streets.
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unit 10
Around the little park, cabs rolled by.
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unit 11
The trains that traveled high above the street rushed past.
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unit 12
These cabs and trains, with their wild noises, seemed like animals outside the park.
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unit 13
But they could not enter.
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unit 14
The park was safe and quiet.
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unit 15
And above the trees was the great, round, shining face of a lighted clock in a tall old building.
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unit 16
Prince Michael’s shoes were old and broken.
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No shoemaker could ever make them like new again.
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unit 18
His clothes were very torn.
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unit 19
The hair of his face had been growing for two weeks.
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unit 20
It was all colors—gray and brown and red and green-yellow.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
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His hat was older and more torn than his shoes and his other clothes.
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unit 22
Prince Michael sat on the seat he liked best, and he smiled.
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He had as much gold as any rich man in this proud city of New York.
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He had as many jewels, and houses, and land.
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unit 26
He could have sat at table with kings and queens.
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unit 27
All the best things in the world could be his—art, pleasure, beautiful women, honor.
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unit 29
But instead he was choosing to sit in torn clothes on a seat in a park.
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unit 30
For he had tasted of the fruit of the tree of life.
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unit 31
He had not liked the taste.
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unit 32
Here, in this park, he felt near to the beating heart of the world.
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unit 33
He hoped it would help him to forget that taste.
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unit 34
These thoughts moved like a dream through the mind of Prince Michael.
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There was a smile across his face with its many-colored hair.
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Sitting like this, in torn clothes, he loved to study other men.
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unit 37
He loved to do good things for others.
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Giving was more pleasant to him than owning all his riches.
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unit 39
It was his chief pleasure to help people who were in trouble.
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unit 40
He liked to give to people who needed help.
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unit 41
He liked to surprise them with princely gifts.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 42
But he always gave wisely, after careful thought.
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unit 43
And now, as he looked at the shining face of the great clock, his smile changed.
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unit 44
The Prince always thought big thoughts.
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unit 45
When he thought of time, he always felt a touch of sadness.
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unit 46
Time controlled the world.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 47
People had to do what time commanded.
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unit 48
Their comings and goings were always controlled by a clock.
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unit 49
They were always in a hurry, and always afraid, because of time.
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unit 50
It made him sad.
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unit 51
After a little while, a young man in evening clothes came and sat upon a seat near the Prince.
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unit 52
For half an hour he sat there nervously.
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unit 53
Then he began watching the face of the lighted clock above the trees.
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The Prince could see that the young man had a trouble.
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He could also see that somehow the clock was part of the trouble.
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The Prince rose and went to the young man’s seat.
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unit 57
“I am a stranger, and I shouldn’t speak to you,” he said.
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unit 58
“But I can see that you are troubled.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
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I am Prince Michael of Valleluna.
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unit 60
I do not want people to know who I am.
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unit 61
That is why I wear these torn clothes.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 62
It is a small pleasure of mine to help those who need help.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 63
First I must feel sure they are worth helping.
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unit 64
I think you are.
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unit 65
And perhaps your trouble may be ended if you and I together decide what to do about it”.
3 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 66
The young man looked up brightly at the Prince.
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unit 67
Brightly, but he was still troubled.
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unit 68
He laughed, then, but still the look of trouble remained.
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unit 69
But he accepted this chance to talk to someone.
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unit 70
“I’m glad to meet you, Prince,” he said pleasantly.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 71
“Yes, I can see you don’t want to be known.
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unit 72
That’s easy to see.
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unit 73
Thanks for your offer of help.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 74
But I don’t see what you can do.
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It’s my own problem.
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But thanks”.
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Prince Michael sat down at the young man’s side.
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unit 78
People often said no to him, but they always said it pleasantly.
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“Clocks,” said the Prince, “are tied to the feet of all men and women.
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unit 80
I have seen you watching that clock.
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unit 81
That face commands us to act, whether or not we wish to act.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 82
Let me tell you not to trust the numbers on that face.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 83
They will destroy you if they can.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 84
Stop looking at that clock.
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unit 86
“I carry a watch, except when I wear evening clothes”.
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unit 88
“I have studied many years.
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I am very rich.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 90
There are few troubles that I cannot help.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 91
I have read what is in your face.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 92
I have found honor and goodness there, and trouble.
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unit 93
Please accept my help.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 94
I can see that you are wise.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 95
Show how wise you are.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 96
Do not judge me by my torn clothes.
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unit 97
I am sure I can help you”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 98
The young man looked at the clock again, and his face grew darker.
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unit 99
Then he looked at a house beside the park.
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unit 100
Lights could be seen in many rooms.
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unit 101
“Ten minutes before nine!” said the young man.
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unit 102
He raised his hands and then let them fall, as if hope had gone.
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unit 103
He stood up and took a quick step or two away.
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unit 104
“Remain!” commanded Prince Michael.
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unit 105
His voice was so powerful that the young man turned quickly.
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unit 106
He laughed a little.
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unit 107
“I’ll wait ten minutes and then I’ll go,” he said in a low voice, as if only to himself.
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unit 108
Then to the Prince he said, “I’ll join you.
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unit 109
We’ll destroy all the clocks.
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unit 110
And women, too”.
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unit 111
“Sit down,” said the Prince softly.
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unit 112
“I do not accept that.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 113
I do not include women.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 114
Women are enemies of clocks.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 115
They are born that way.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 116
Therefore, they are friends of those who wish to destroy clocks.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 117
If you can trust me, tell me your story”.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 118
The young man sat down again and laughed loudly.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 119
“Prince, I will,” he said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 120
He did not believe that Prince Michael was really a prince.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 121
His manner of speaking proved that.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 122
“Do you see that house, Prince?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 123
That house with lights in three windows on the third floor?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 124
At six tonight I was in that house with the young lady I am going to—was going to marry.
4 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 125
I had been doing wrong, my dear Prince, and she had heard about it.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 126
I was sorry.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 127
I wanted her to forget it.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 129
‘I will either forget it forever, or never see your face again.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 130
At half-past eight,’ she said, ‘watch the middle window on the third floor of this house.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 131
If I decide to forget, I will hang out a long white cloth.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 132
You will know then that everything is as it was before.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 133
And you may come to me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 135
“That,” said the young man, “is why I have been watching that clock.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 136
The time was passed twenty-three minutes ago.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 138
Clocks are bad, women are good.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 139
The white cloth may yet appear”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 140
“Never!” said the young man, hopelessly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 141
“You don’t know Marian.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 142
She is always on time, to the minute.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 143
That was the first thing I liked about her.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 144
At 8:31, I should have known that everything was finished.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 145
I’m going to go West.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 146
I’ll get on the train tonight.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 147
I’ll find some way to forget her.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 148
Good night—Prince”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 149
Prince Michael smiled his gentle, understanding smile.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 150
He caught the other’s arm.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 151
The bright light in the Prince’s eyes was softening.
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 152
It was dream-like, clouded.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 153
“Wait,” he said, “till the clock tells the hour.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 154
I have riches and power and I am wiser than most men.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 155
But when I hear the clock tell the hour, I am afraid.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 156
Stay with me till then.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 157
This woman shall be yours.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 158
You have the promise of the Prince of Valleluna.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 159
On the day you are married I will give you $100,000 and a great house beside the Hudson River.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 160
But there must be no clocks in that house.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 161
Do you agree to that?” “Sure,” said the young man.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 162
“I don’t like clocks”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 163
He looked again at the clock above the trees.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 164
It was three minutes before nine.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 165
“I think,” said Prince Michael, “that I will sleep a little.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 166
It has been a long day.” He lay down on the seat, as if he had often done it before.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 167
“You will find me on this park on any evening when the weather is good,” said the Prince.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 168
“Come to me when you know the day you’ll be married.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 169
I’ll give you the money”.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 170
“Thanks, Prince,” said the young man.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 171
“That day isn’t going to come.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 172
But thanks”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 173
Prince Michael fell into a deep sleep.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 174
His hat rolled on the ground.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 176
“Poor fellow!” he said.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 177
He pulled the torn coat together over the Prince’s body.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 178
It was nine.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 179
Loud and surprising came the voice of the clock, telling the hour.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 180
The young man took a deep breath, and turned for one more look at the house.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 181
And he gave a shout of joy.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 182
From the middle window on the third floor, a snow-white wonderful cloth was hanging.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 183
Through the park a man came, hurrying home.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 184
“Will you tell me the time, please?” asked the young man.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 185
The other man took out his watch and said, “Twenty-nine and a half minutes after eight”.
3 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 186
And then he looked up at the clock.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 187
“But that clock is wrong!” the man said.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 188
“The first time in ten years!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 189
My watch is always—” But he was talking to no one.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 190
unit 191
And in the morning two cops walked through the park.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 192
There was only one person to be seen—a man, asleep on a long park seat.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 193
They stopped to look at him.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 194
“It’s Michael the Dreamer,” said one.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 195
“He has been sleeping like this in the park for twenty years.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 196
He won’t live much longer; I guess”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 197
The other cop looked at something in the sleeper’s hand.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 198
“Look at this,” he said.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 199
“Fifty dollars.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago
unit 200
I wish I could have a dream like that”.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 6 months ago

The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock (1906).

O. Henry (William Sidney Porter, 1862-1910).

PRINCE MICHAEL OF VALLELUNA SAT IN THE PARK on the seat he liked best. In the coolness of the night, he felt full of life. The other seats were not filled. Cool weather sends most people home.

The moon was rising over the houses on the east side of the park. Children laughed and played. Music came softly from one of the nearer streets. Around the little park, cabs rolled by. The trains that traveled high above the street rushed past. These cabs and trains, with their wild noises, seemed like animals outside the park. But they could not enter. The park was safe and quiet. And above the trees was the great, round, shining face of a lighted clock in a tall old building.

Prince Michael’s shoes were old and broken. No shoemaker could ever make them like new again. His clothes were very torn. The hair of his face had been growing for two weeks. It was all colors—gray and brown and red and green-yellow. His hat was older and more torn than his shoes and his other clothes.

Prince Michael sat on the seat he liked best, and he smiled. It was a happy thought to him that he had enough money to buy every house he could see near the park, if he wished. He had as much gold as any rich man in this proud city of New York. He had as many jewels, and houses, and land. He could have sat at table with kings and queens.

All the best things in the world could be his—art, pleasure, beautiful women, honor. All the sweeter things in life were waiting for Prince Michael of Valleluna whenever he might choose to take them. But instead he was choosing to sit in torn clothes on a seat in a park.

For he had tasted of the fruit of the tree of life. He had not liked the taste. Here, in this park, he felt near to the beating heart of the world. He hoped it would help him to forget that taste.

These thoughts moved like a dream through the mind of Prince Michael. There was a smile across his face with its many-colored hair. Sitting like this, in torn clothes, he loved to study other men. He loved to do good things for others. Giving was more pleasant to him than owning all his riches. It was his chief pleasure to help people who were in trouble. He liked to give to people who needed help. He liked to surprise them with princely gifts. But he always gave wisely, after careful thought.

And now, as he looked at the shining face of the great clock, his smile changed. The Prince always thought big thoughts. When he thought of time, he always felt a touch of sadness. Time controlled the world. People had to do what time commanded. Their comings and goings were always controlled by a clock. They were always in a hurry, and always afraid, because of time. It made him sad.
After a little while, a young man in evening clothes came and sat upon a seat near the Prince. For half an hour he sat there nervously. Then he began watching the face of the lighted clock above the trees. The Prince could see that the young man had a trouble. He could also see that somehow the clock was part of the trouble.

The Prince rose and went to the young man’s seat.

“I am a stranger, and I shouldn’t speak to you,” he said. “But I can see that you are troubled. I am Prince Michael of Valleluna. I do not want people to know who I am. That is why I wear these torn clothes.

It is a small pleasure of mine to help those who need help. First I must feel sure they are worth helping. I think you are. And perhaps your trouble may be ended if you and I together decide what to do about it”.

The young man looked up brightly at the Prince. Brightly, but he was still troubled. He laughed, then, but still the look of trouble remained. But he accepted this chance to talk to someone.

“I’m glad to meet you, Prince,” he said pleasantly. “Yes, I can see you don’t want to be known. That’s easy to see. Thanks for your offer of help. But I don’t see what you can do. It’s my own problem. But thanks”.

Prince Michael sat down at the young man’s side. People often said no to him, but they always said it pleasantly.

“Clocks,” said the Prince, “are tied to the feet of all men and women. I have seen you watching that clock. That face commands us to act, whether or not we wish to act. Let me tell you not to trust the numbers on that face. They will destroy you if they can. Stop looking at that clock. What does it know about living men and women?”

“I don’t usually look at that clock,” said the young man. “I carry a watch, except when I wear evening clothes”.

“I know men and women as I know the trees and the flowers,” said the Prince, warmly and proudly. “I have studied many years. I am very rich. There are few troubles that I cannot help. I have read what is in your face. I have found honor and goodness there, and trouble. Please accept my help. I can see that you are wise. Show how wise you are. Do not judge me by my torn clothes. I am sure I can help you”.

The young man looked at the clock again, and his face grew darker. Then he looked at a house beside the park. Lights could be seen in many rooms.
“Ten minutes before nine!” said the young man. He raised his hands and then let them fall, as if hope had gone. He stood up and took a quick step or two away.

“Remain!” commanded Prince Michael. His voice was so powerful that the young man turned quickly. He laughed a little.

“I’ll wait ten minutes and then I’ll go,” he said in a low voice, as if only to himself. Then to the Prince he said, “I’ll join you. We’ll destroy all the clocks. And women, too”.

“Sit down,” said the Prince softly. “I do not accept that. I do not include women. Women are enemies of clocks. They are born that way. Therefore, they are friends of those who wish to destroy clocks. If you can trust me, tell me your story”.

The young man sat down again and laughed loudly.

“Prince, I will,” he said. He did not believe that Prince Michael was really a prince. His manner of speaking proved that. “Do you see that house, Prince? That house with lights in three windows on the third floor? At six tonight I was in that house with the young lady I am going to—was going to marry. I had been doing wrong, my dear Prince, and she had heard about it. I was sorry. I wanted her to forget it. We are always asking women to forget things like that, aren’t we, Prince?“

“I want time to think,’ she said. ‘I will either forget it forever, or never see your face again. At half-past eight,’ she said, ‘watch the middle window on the third floor of this house. If I decide to forget, I will hang out a long white cloth. You will know then that everything is as it was before. And you may come to me. If you see nothing hanging from the window, you will know that everything between us is finished forever”.

“That,” said the young man, “is why I have been watching that clock. The time was passed twenty-three minutes ago. Do you see why I am a little troubled, my torn Prince?”

“Let me tell you again,” said Prince Michael in his soft voice, “that women are the born enemies of clocks. Clocks are bad, women are good. The white cloth may yet appear”.

“Never!” said the young man, hopelessly. “You don’t know Marian. She is always on time, to the minute. That was the first thing I liked about her. At 8:31, I should have known that everything was finished.

I’m going to go West. I’ll get on the train tonight. I’ll find some way to forget her. Good night—Prince”.

Prince Michael smiled his gentle, understanding smile. He caught the other’s arm. The bright light in the Prince’s eyes was softening. It was dream-like, clouded.

“Wait,” he said, “till the clock tells the hour. I have riches and power and I am wiser than most men. But when I hear the clock tell the hour, I am afraid. Stay with me till then. This woman shall be yours. You have the promise of the Prince of Valleluna. On the day you are married I will give you $100,000 and a great house beside the Hudson River. But there must be no clocks in that house. Do you agree to that?”

“Sure,” said the young man. “I don’t like clocks”.

He looked again at the clock above the trees. It was three minutes before nine.
“I think,” said Prince Michael, “that I will sleep a little. It has been a long day.”
He lay down on the seat, as if he had often done it before.

“You will find me on this park on any evening when the weather is good,” said the Prince. “Come to me when you know the day you’ll be married. I’ll give you the money”.

“Thanks, Prince,” said the young man. “That day isn’t going to come. But thanks”.

Prince Michael fell into a deep sleep. His hat rolled on the ground. The young man lifted it, placed it over the Prince’s face, and moved one of the Prince’s legs into an easier position. “Poor fellow!” he said. He pulled the torn coat together over the Prince’s body.

It was nine. Loud and surprising came the voice of the clock, telling the hour. The young man took a deep breath, and turned for one more look at the house. And he gave a shout of joy.
From the middle window on the third floor, a snow-white wonderful cloth was hanging.

Through the park a man came, hurrying home.

“Will you tell me the time, please?” asked the young man.

The other man took out his watch and said, “Twenty-nine and a half minutes after eight”.

And then he looked up at the clock.

“But that clock is wrong!” the man said. “The first time in ten years! My watch is always—”

But he was talking to no one. He turned and saw the young man running toward a house with three lighted windows on the third floor.

And in the morning two cops walked through the park. There was only one person to be seen—a man, asleep on a long park seat. They stopped to look at him.

“It’s Michael the Dreamer,” said one. “He has been sleeping like this in the park for twenty years. He won’t live much longer; I guess”.

The other cop looked at something in the sleeper’s hand. “Look at this,” he said. “Fifty dollars. I wish I could have a dream like that”.

And then they gave Prince Michael of Valleluna a hard shake, and brought him out of his dreams and into real life.