Karl Wiener

The chronometer

††††††††† Time passes by and we can never bring it back. It isnít the time we donít have but the time we waste which is lost time. I remember the case of a little boy whose name I have forgotten. Maybe his name was John, but it might have been the same as yours or mine. John didnít seem to know that everything in life has its correct moment in time. He was never hungry when all the family was sitting round the table, yet after the meal he asked his mother for something to eat or drink. At night he would make any excuse to delay going to bed. Eventually in bed, he lay awake†† listening to every sound coming from downstairs. He imagined that his parents were secretly drinking refreshing juice or fizzy lemonade whilst he had to stay in bed. As a result, each morning he felt tired and when he was at school he sometimes snoozed off. He wasnít a foolish boy, but he always put his hand up to speak after his classmates had answered the teacherís question. Therefore they called him the inventor of slowness.
†††††††† When Father Christmas came to hear of John's behaviour, he thought to himself, why I should bother to exert myself and do all my work during one day. Anyway this boy doesnít care about the time. So, instead of bringing Johnís presents on Christmas Eve he delivered them at Easter. This delay confused Mr Frost who believed he had gone to rest too soon. He sent once more his icy winds over the lands and mixed snowflakes with the rains of spring. The early flowers that had already shown her buds trembled with the sudden chill and wondered what happened to them. The birds stopped singing and building their nests. The Easter bunny wondered if the time to hide the Easter eggs had already come. Throughout the summer holydays John sat in his room feeling bored and sad. Outside the rain made bubbles skip along the street. The drains couldnít swallow up all water. The clouds disappeared and the sun came shining through just as the summer holidays approached their end. All children sat in school sweating at their desks because nothing happened when it should.
††††††††† Johnís grandfather was a wise old man. He put up with the muddle for a while. Then after much thought he disappeared into his workshop. Soon there were all sorts of noises coming from within. John heard his grandfather hammering and sawing and sometimes mumbling to himself behind the closed door. Whatever he was doing it must have been difficult and it took him longer then one whole day. John was curious what was going on and kept his eyes on the door. At last the grandfather called him in to show him his work. John was amazed when he saw the complicated machine with all its gears, pendulums, pipes, hoppers and stairs but he didnít know what to make of it. So, his grandfather explained the purpose of his invention.
††††††††† Here it would be impossible to explain the machine as detailed as the grandfather did. That would be another story in itself. But as far as I know it works in this way: if you throw a ball into the hopper at the top of the machine it rolls irresistibly through a system of pipes, bounces downstairs, falls into a hole and reappears in a groove underneath. When finally the ball falls into a lower hopper, a bell rings and its time to throw in the next ball. John understood that time rolls as irresistibly as the ball in grandfatherís machine, and he learned that all things must be done at the right moment; otherwise the chronometer of life would be confused.


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Published on e-Stories.org on 31.10.2007.




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