Once there was a clockmaker who had a son born with a love-sick heart.
In adolescence he fell so deep in love with the Baker’s daughter that he cried for three whole years when a prince rode through town and took her away.
One day, a troupe arrived in the village. One of the performers, Vasilisa, owned the hearts of all men.
She kept them just inside her right eye-lid so that when she winked, they leapt. None leapt higher than the clockmaker’s son. And when Vasilisa saw pure love in his eyes, she too, fell in love. They hid away in her tent. For three days and nights they spent there. On the fourth day Vasilisa wept.
“Why do you cry?” The clockmaker’s son asked.
“Tomorrow the troupe is leaving, and I must go with them.”
And upon hearing this, the clockmaker’s son too, wept. “Is there nothing I can do?” he asked.
Vasilisa smiled. “I am afraid time is the consumer of all things, even love.”
The clockmaker’s son grew angry and his tears dried.
“Then I shall stop time,” he told her. And with that, Vasilisa laughed.
“I am the most beautiful creature in the world. Yet, I will grow old and my beauty will fade. If time will not stop for me, it will surely not stop for you.”
But the Clockmaker’s Son would not be deterred. “I will return only when I have found a way.”
He left her and went to his father’s shop.
“Father” he said “I need to stop time; it is for love.”
His father peered over his glasses at the boy. “Love you say? What is love? I am the Clockmaker. I have spent my life in the service of time. And now soon I will die. If time will not stop for me, it will surely not stop for you.”
“But I must!” cried the Clockmaker’s Son. His father loved the boy very much and did not want to see him hurt again. He decided a distraction might be just what the boy needed.
“I have a very old friend. A scientist who watches the stars. He is over in the next village. Perhaps he will be able to help you.”
So, the Clockmaker’s son set out for the next village. He found the old star-gazer asleep in his bed, ill. He woke him.
“How dare you wake me in this state! Who are you and what is your reason for such rudeness?” demanded the old star-gazer.
“I am The Clockmaker’s Son. I have come to ask you to tell me how to stop time, it is for love.”
The old astronomer laughed until he was coughing. The Clockmaker’s son waited, annoyed.
“Boy, time does not stop for something as silly as love. I have spent my life studying every known star in the universe. I have a lifetime of work, of genius that will now be unfinished because of my frailty. If time will not stop for me, it will surely not stop for you.”
“But I must!” Demanded the Clockmaker’s Son. The Astronomer only laughed. He laughed himself dead. When DEATH came into the room to take him away the Clockmaker’s Son confronted her.
“You must tell me. You must tell me how I can stop time. I must, it is for love!”
“Silly boy,” she sighed. She looked long at the boy. “Time is a dearest friend of mine, yet, even for me, she will not stop. And frieсщдndship is far more powerful than love.”
At this the clockmaker’s son grew angry.
“If time is your dearest friend then you must take me to her!” he demanded.
DEATH laughed, loud. Then, shrugged.
“Oh well. If you must, who am I to stand in your way?”
So, DEATH took the old star-gazer by the hand and motioned for the Clockmaker’s son to follow.
TO BE CONTINUED…