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Frank R. Stockton

The Lady or
the Tiger?

(Part 1/2)


Now, the VOA Special English program, "American Stories". We present the short story THE LADY, OR THE TIGER? by Frank R. Stockton. Here is Barbara Klein with the story.


Long ago, in the very olden time, there lived a powerful king. Some of his ideas were progressive. But others caused people to suffer.

in the very olden time: antiguamente; powerful: poderoso; progressive: progresistas; caused people to suffer: le hacían sufrir a la gente;


One of the king's ideas was a public arena as an agent of poetic justice. Crime was punished, or innocence was decided, by the result of chance. When a person was accused of a crime, his future would be judged in the public arena.

public arena: anfiteatro, coliseo, circo de acceso público; agent of poetic justice: procurador de justicia; crime: el delito; punished: castigado; innocence: la inocencia; decided: acordada; by the result of chance: como resultado del azar; judged: juzgado;


All the people would gather in this building. The king sat high up on his ceremonial chair. He gave a sign. A door under him opened. The accused person stepped out into the arena. Directly opposite the king were two doors. They were side by side, exactly alike. The person on trial had to walk directly to these doors and open one of them. He could open whichever door he pleased. 

would gather: se concentraba; high up: arriba de todo; a sign: una señal; the accused person: el acusado; stepped out into: salía a; directly opposite: enfrente del; side by side: una al lado de la otra; exactly alike: idénticas; the person on trial: el reo; whichever door he pleased: la puerta que más le gustara;


If the accused man opened one door, out came a hungry tiger, the fiercest in the land. The tiger immediately jumped on him and tore him to pieces as punishment for his guilt. The case of the suspect was thus decided. 

out came: salía; a hungry tiger: un famélico tigre; the fiercest: el más feroz; jumped on him: le saltaba encima; tore him to pieces: lo hacía pedazos; guilt: culpa; the case: el caso; suspect: sospechoso; was thus decided: era decidido de esta manera;


Iron bells rang sadly. Great cries went up from the paid mourners. And the people, with heads hanging low and sad hearts, slowly made their way home. They mourned greatly that one so young and fair, or so old and respected, should have died this way.

iron bells rang sadly: las campanas de hierro tañían luctuosamente; great cries: gritos agudos; went up: surgían; from the paid mourners: por parte de los llorones a sueldo; hanging low: gachas; sad hearts: entristecidos; made their way home: se retiraban a sus hogares; mourned greatly: lamentaban enormemente la muerte; one so young and fair: alguien tan joven y honrado; so old and respected: tan anciano y respetado; died this way: muerto de semejante forma;


But, if the accused opened the other door, there came forth from it a woman, chosen especially for the person. To this lady he was immediately married, in honor of his innocence. It was not a problem that he might already have a wife and family, or that he might have chosen to marry another woman. The king permitted nothing to interfere with his great method of punishment and reward. 

came forth: del escondite salía; to this lady: con esta dama; permitted nothing to interfere with: no permitia que nada interfiriera con; method: método, sistema; punishment and reward: castigo y recompensa;


Another door opened under the king, and a clergyman, singers, dancers and musicians joined the man and the lady. The marriage ceremony was quickly completed. Then the bells made cheerful noises. The people shouted happily. And the innocent man led the new wife to his home, following children who threw flowers on their path.

clergyman: sacerdote; musicians: músicos; joined: se unían al; marriage ceremony: ceremonia nupcial; cheerful noises: alegres sonidos; on their path: a su paso;


This was the king's method of carrying out justice.  Its fairness appeared perfect. The accused person could not know which door was hiding the lady. He opened either as he pleased, without knowing whether, in the next minute, he was to be killed or married.  

carrying out justice: dar cumplimiento de la justicia; its fairness appeared perfect: su imparcialidad parecía perfecta; which door was hiding: qué puerta ocultaba a; either as he pleased: a su gusto; without knowing whether: sin saber si;


Sometimes the fierce animal came out of one door. Sometimes it came out of the other. 

fierce animal: feroz animal; came out of: salía de;


This method was a popular one. When the people gathered together on one of the great trial days, they never knew whether they would see a bloody killing or a happy ending. So everyone was always interested. And the thinking part of the community would bring no charge of unfairness against this plan. Did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?

trial days: días de proceso; a bloody killing: un sagriento asesinato; the thinking part: la parte pensante; bring no charge of unfairness: no reportaría injusticia; did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?: ¿acaso no estaba la solución de todo el asunto en las propias manos del reo?


The king had a beautiful daughter who was like him in many ways. He loved her above all humanity. The princess secretly loved a young man who was the best-looking and bravest in the land. But he was a commoner, not part of an important family.  

like him: como él, muy parecida; secretly loved: amaba secretamente; the best-looking: el más buen mozo; bravest: el más valiente; a commoner: un plebeyo;


One day, the king discovered the relationship between his daughter and the young man. The man was immediately put in prison. A day was set for his trial in the king's public arena. This, of course, was an especially important event. Never before had a common subject been brave enough to love the daughter of the king. 

the relationship: la relación; put in prison: encarcelado; a day was set for his trial: se fijó la fecha de su proceso; never before: nunca antes; a common subject: un lacayo; brave enough to: lo suficientemente valiente para;


The king knew that the young man would be punished, even if he opened the right door. And the king would take pleasure in watching the series of events, which would judge whether or not the man had done wrong in loving the princess.

would be punished: sería castigado; even if: aunque; the right door: la puerta correcta; would take pleasure in watching: disfrutaría viendo; which would judge whether or not: que juzgarían si o no; had done wrong: se había equivocado;


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