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like these changes. When she delivered
the daily pastry plate to the merchant, she
would mutter about Progress, and there
was something about her tone that did
not impress the merchant. What offended
him? She spoke slowly, as if she was
making some point the merchant could
not quite fathom.
But aside from young Cassie, most
folk were happy about the pace lifting.
They skipped their morning teas and
cancelled walking altogether. Running
became a required form of transport.
The lame galloped along on scooters. In
fact, a number of townspeople began to
grumble that the merchant had not
looked after the needs of the town nearly
well enough. Why stop at minutes? Every
second counted! They petitioned the
merchant, who listened gravely. A second
hand would be an added expense, but it
would make things more precise.
The engineers redesigned the Clock:
using smaller wheels for the mice to run
around, thereby driving a second hand.
A clock with a second hand! The Clock
excited everyone’s heartbeat. In fact,
the merchant found he had to talk much
faster just to not miss out. People
abandoned their running and just broke
into fast dashes. People got married in
record time. It was at that point that a few
started to ask questions.
Cassie Silas left it all behind her. She
went to live in a cottage on the edge of
the forest, and milked the cow at the
beginning of the day, and in the evening.
When she was not sure of the season, she
checked the stars. She observed the day’s
shadow to tell her how much time she
had to draw water, and pick berries. And
that might have been the end of the story,
but for the fact she missed the merchant,
and his silly ways. She went back to the
town in the middle of the night. She freed
the mice and she let the dog go and the
cat, too. She took the clockwork key and
threw it into the river. And the Clock stood
still. And the townspeople sighed, and slept
more deeply than they realised, and their
dreams slowed down to ordinary speed,
while Cassie worked in the bakery, alone.
When the merchant awoke, he looked
out the window. “My clock!” he called out,
seeing it had come to a stop. But Cassie
was waiting for him, with a primrose in
her hair, waiting with a plate of biscuits.
“Have a melting moment,” she offered,
and the merchant’s heart stopped, and
his life began.
‘And the townspeople
sighed, and slept more
deeply than they realised...’
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