The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock (Henry)

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The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: A wealthy man disguised as a beggar helped a young man reconcile with his fiancée by offering him advice and support. The young man later discovered the truth about the beggar's identity.

Prince Michael, a wealthy man and heir to the throne of the Electorate of Valleluna, enjoyed disguising himself as a poor man and spending his time in a park. He found pleasure in helping others and studying humanity. One evening, he noticed a young man in evening clothes, anxiously watching the illuminated clock in the park's tower. Prince Michael approached the young man and offered his assistance, revealing his true identity.

Prince Michael — wealthy man disguised as a poor man; heir to the throne of the Electorate of Valleluna; ragged clothes, multicolored beard; altruistic, wise, compassionate.
The Young Man — engaged to Marian; anxious about his relationship; evening clothes, nervous demeanor; hopeful, impatient, sincere.

The young man shared his story with the Prince. He had been engaged to a woman named Marian, but she had discovered his wrongdoings and was considering ending their relationship. She had given him an ultimatum: at exactly 8:30 pm, he should watch the middle upper window of her house. If she decided to forgive him, she would hang a white silk scarf from the window. If not, their relationship would be over.

"I will either fully forgive you, or I will never see your face again."

Prince Michael offered the young man $100,000 and a palace on the Hudson River if he married Marian, but the young man believed his chances were gone. However, when they discovered that the clock tower was half an hour fast, the young man saw the white scarf and rushed to Marian's house, filled with hope and joy.

"Wait," he said solemnly, "till the clock strikes."

The next morning, two policemen found Prince Michael asleep on a park bench, still in his tattered disguise. They recognized him as "Dopy Mike," a park bum who had been living there for twenty years. They were surprised to see a fifty-dollar bill in his hand, unaware of his true identity and the events that had transpired the previous night.