ED-OO-ARD,THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK.
or Time is Money.
Downstairs from the bedroom where Angelina and Samuel were ticking away so happily, in the entrance hall to the house, stood a clock that was very different from them, and that was Edward, the Grandfather Clock.
Now, for one thing he was ever so much bigger than they were, so that when I say ‘stood’, I do mean stood, for Edward stood on the floor, and was so tall he was taller than Householder. For another thing, he was ever so much older than Angelina and Samuel, even older than Householder’s grandfather. And for another thing, he looked very different from them, because he lived in a large, polished wooden case with a narrow door in it. If you opened the door you could see his long pendulum swinging slowly to and fro, and two heavy brass weights, which were the weights that made his works work.
. There was one other way where he was very different from Angelina and Samuel, and that was that he had a Chime. You remember Angelina couldn’t strike the hours at all, and Samuel only had a bell on top of his head. I can’t imagine what Edward would have said if you suggested that he had a bell on top of his head, for his face was surrounded by a polished wooden case with fancy carving on the top, and ringing a bell couldn’t come anywhere near the sound of his chime.
It was a lovely, mellow chime that could sound right through the house; and though he only had four notes, Edooard could play a different tune for each quarter of an hour.
Bong,bong, he struck at a quarter past.
Bong, bong;bong, bong at half past.
Then quarter to:-
bong, bong, bong,bong,bong;bong,bong, b bong, bong;bong, bong,bong
Finally on the hour:bong, bong,bong;bong,bong, bong;
bong, bong, bong,bong.
bong, bong; bong,bong,
He was a great “bong-er” was Edooard and you can see he was very old and very special, and I’m afraid he knew it, for he felt very superior. The one thing he hadn’t learnt, in spite of his age, was that clocks, rather like people, are rarely as superior as they like to think.
His name was Edward. But he wasn’t the sort of Edward you could call Teddy for short. In any case he was much too tall a clock to be called anything for short. He himself, because he was old, special, well-made and serious, and had that long pendulum with a slow tick that made him talk rather slowly, would answer, if anybody asked him his name : “Ed-oo-ard.” It was as though he was rolling his name round his tongue <which of course he couldn’t>, and he always answered, rather pompously: “Ed-oo-ard.”
Now, from where he stood in the hall, Edooard could see into the kitchen, and on the wall he could see a small clock with a face that looked like a plate, with a bright green band round the edge. This was Daniel, the kitchen clock, and he didn’t mind being called Danny for short, for he was a very cheery, friendly-looking clock. You didn’t have to wind him up, because he ran off a little battery. He had, like most clocks, a small hand for the hours, a bigger hand for the minutes and a third hand which was a second hand, which may sound rather odd, but means that the third, thin hand moved a little bit round his face every second.
Now Edooard hadn’t really a lot of time for a clock that looked like a plate and hung on a wall, because he thought on the whole a clock should stand on the floor.
When Danny first arrived, being a very friendly sort of clock, he tried to strike up a conversation with Edooard.
” Hallo,” he called out cheerily, “I’m Daniel; – Danny my friends call me. “What’s your name?”
Edooard didn’t really think Daniel should have spoken without being introduced, but he had to admit that there were no other clocks about to introduce them, so he answered.
“I’m – Edooard,” he replied; but he thought Danny might need to be kept in his place, and he went on: “So –
you are – a – clock, – then? I – thought – you were – just – a – plate – hanging – on the – wall.”
Danny didn’t think this was a very friendly start, but he thought he’d better ignore it for the moment until he’d found out more about Edooard, in case he was joking; so he just said :”Oh, no, I’m a clock all right, a kitchen clock; – that’s why I’m designed like a plate.”
“I – see,” said Edooard. “You – must – forgive me. – But – you see – the – better – sort of – clocks – that I – know – stand on – the floor. – Or perhaps – a shelf. – Certainly – not – on the – wall. – If – you are – a kitchen – clock,” he went on, ” you had – better – be – careful – that – the steam – doesn’t – get into – your – works. – Steam – is not – good – for – clockwork, – you know.”
“Oh, I’m not clockwork,” replied Danny; “I run off a little battery.”
“A battery?”” exclaimed Edooard, horrified. He was much too old-fashioned to know much about clocks with batteries, and much too proud to be caught talking to a wall clock looking like a plate and without proper works.
“A battery – indeed!”
Well, that ended that conversation, and Danny wondered what sort of home he had come to. But you couldn’t keep Danny down for long, and the next day he had another try at being friendly.
“Edooard,” he said, being very careful to pronounce his name the way Edooard apparently wanted, ” I do admire your chime. It makes me wish I had one, too.”
“It’s – a – Westminster – chime,” answered Edooard, who could always stand being admired. “Like – Big Ben’s. – The famous – clock – in – Westminster. In – the – buildings known – as the – Palace – of – Westminster.” In other words, the Houses of Parliament, but Palace of Westminster was more to Edooard’s taste. “But – I suppose – it’s – rather – difficult – to fit – chimes – in a – clock – that fits – on a – wall.”
Danny was quiet for a while after that, but later on he tried again.
Gradually as the days went by Danny won through, and got talking to Edooard; and Edooard got replying to Danny, and sometimes forgot he needed to impress him all the time. In fact, Edooard wouldn’t like to admit it, but he did quite like having a chat with Danny, though he had to tell himself that was because there weren’t any other clocks to talk to. Mind you, the chat was a bit one-sided, because Danny was a brisk little clock, who chatted away nineteen to the dozen; whereas Edooard with his slow talking that matched his slow tick – tock, took some time to get a sentence out, and had to keep stopping every quarter of an hour to bong’ his chime.
One day, when Danny had got rather worried about something going on in the kitchen, he dared to have a word about it with Edooard.
“I say, Edooard,” he began, “I’m rather worried about something. Can I tell you about it?”
“Mmmm, – yes,” said Edooard, not too sure whether he wanted to be bothered with the troubles of a battery clock.
“Well,” said Danny, “for a long time now, when Mywife wants to boil an egg for Householder, she always keeps an eye on me so she knows when four minutes are up, and then the egg’s done just right. – I always try and tick very carefully then to make sure I’m right, because Householder makes such a fuss if his egg isn’t boiled properly.”
“I – see,” replied Edooard. But he thought: ‘What – am I – coming to? – This – chap – doesn’t know – whether – he’s a – clock – or an – egg-timer – now.’
“Well, recently” went on Danny, “they’ve gone and bought a Pinger that they wind up, and at the end of four minutes he goes Ping-a-ling, and they know the egg’s done. Without me. I say, Edooard, you don’t think they’ve bought the Pinger to replace me, and I shan’t be necessary any more, do you?”
Edooard actually thought about this for a little while. Then he said: “Tell me – Daniel, – does this – Pinger tell – the – time?”
“)h, no, “replied Danny. “When he’s pinged he stops.”
“Well, then – he’s – less – of a – clock – than – you are.” He still couldn’t help himself snubbing Daniel sometimes. “It – seems – to me – you’ll – still be – wanted.”
“Yes, I suppose so.” said Danny. “Thank you, Edooard.”
He did have to try hard to keep cheerful with Edooard sometimes, but he always looked on the bright side if he could, and he realised Edooard was probably trying to be helpful, actually.
But Danny was not the only one who could get depressed now and then. Edooard, like most of us, sometimes started the day feeling full of the joys of his spring, and sometimes felt very down and depressed. This got worse the days he felt even older than he was, and on those days he could feel that everything was wrong with his world.
“Daniel – my – boy,” he said one day, “I – think – I envy – you. You seem – such a – lively – clock, – and – reliable, and I – can’t – help – noticing – that if – they really – want – to know – the – accurate – time – they go – into – the kitchen – to see – what you – say. They – don’t come – into the – hall – to see – what – my old face – says. – I think – I’m – becoming – some sort – of – decoration, – and not – much use – as a – clock – at all.”
“Oh, that’s nonsense, Edooard,” answered Danny, who always made sure he called him Edooard when he spoke to him; “They’re often working out here in the kitchen, and just look up quickly to see how the time’s going, but you can’t really compare an little battery clock like me with a beautifully made Grandfather clock like you. I haven’t got your wonderful chime, or your magnificent pendulum, or your shiny wooden case.”
“Well, – I don’t – know,” sighed Edooard; “It just seems – to be – more – and more -of an – effort – to keep – up with – the time, – and I’m – not -at all – sure – how long – they’ll – bother – to keep – me if – I can’t – be – relied on – to tell – the time – properly, – chime – or no chime.”
“I’m sure you’re worrying unnecessarily, Edooard,” replied Danny. ” I just can’t see them giving you up.”
But the next morning Edooard felt worse. He felt worse because he was worse. There were little clicking and grinding noises coming from him, and his tick seemed even slower, and when Danny was waiting for him to chime he realised that Edooard was actually slow. That is about the worst thing that can happen to happen to a clock, and it certainly was to a proud clock like Edooard.
Then a terrible thing happened for a Grandfather clock: his chime went wrong. At a quarter to one Edooard lost a bong. “Bong,bong,click,bong,” he went. “Bong,Click.bong, bong; bong, click,bong,bong.”
It was all too much for Edooard. He stopped completely.
That evening Danny overheard Householder on the phone to someone, obviously talking about Edooard.
“Well, it’s been losing time recently,” said Householder, ” then something went wrong with the chime, and now it’s stopped completely.”
“It,” thought Danny indignantly. “I only hope Edooard doesn’t hear them call him ‘It’. That would be nearly as bad as stopping.”
“So you’d need to take it away,” Householder went on;” right. – And you’ll come for him in the morning? That’s fine.”
You can imagine that Danny was very upset. Just what Edooard had feared. Taken away and thrown on the scrap-heap. He couldn’t get a word out of Edooard, either because he had stopped, or because he was too upset to talk.
Sure enough, half way through the next morning, the bell rang, and a little old man appeared on the doorstep. Danny wished he had ears that he could prick up and listen, so that he was sure what was going on.
What Danny didn’t know was that this was Mr.Tickspring, the old clockmender. Now, I don’t know why the clockmenders you read about are always old; they must begin as young clockmenders when they start to learn, but perhaps because it’s a very hard job to learn properly, they always seem to become old clockmenders before they get into stories.
This old clockmender, Mr. Tickspring, was a little, old man, with a bald head about as shiny as the bell on Samuel’s head, with thick tufts of white hair at each side which looked as though they were there to stop his hat falling over his ears. His face was wrinkled and lined, with as many lines as Edooard had on his face, and his nose was as shiny as his bald head, and apparently very slippery, too, for he had a pair of glasses that were continually sliding down it; but as he seemed just as happy looking down through them as over the top of them, that didn’t seem to matter very much.
Like Edooard in a way, Mr. Tickspring was very special, because he was a very expert clockmender. In fact, he was known as a Horologist. Now, there are people who give themselves very high-sounding, important-looking names with more letters than there are hours in the day, and that’s because they feel they need a boost, and knowing their clever name is about the cleverest thing they do. But Mr. Tickspring really knew what he was about, he loved clocks, and he was really like a doctor to the ones he had to mend.
In fact, he often sounded like a doctor.
“Is this the patient?” he asked, as he came in, going up to Edooard. When he saw Edooard he stopped and gazed. “My word, my word, my word!” he exclaimed. Mr.Tickspring had been working with clocks so long that he often repeated himself, rather like Edooard’s chime. “You have some clock here,” he said, turning to Householder.”You have some clock here!” <As though it were half past.> “A clock of this age,” he went on, “In such a beautifully preserved case, – look at that woodwork!” – he stroked it lovingly, which made Edooard feel more like somebody’s favourite pussy-cat rather than a very special clock; “And the maker’s name – John Parker, a very old London firm, they are, – a very old London firm.”<Half past again.> “This is not just a clock, this is a very valuable antique, a very valuable antique, a very valuable antique.” He struck a quarter-to in his enthusiasm.
“So, well worth repairing?” put in Householder.
“Worth repairing, worth repairing?” echoed Mr.Tickspring. “I should say he’s worth repairing; – certainly worth repairing,” getting to the hour at last. “Actually, the chances are all that’s needed is a thorough clean, – a thorough overhaul. It would mean stripping him down completely, re-assembling, – quite an operation, quite an operation.”
“And the chime?” asked Householder.
“Oh, that’s probably just one of the little striking hammers inside; no problem, no problem, no problem at all.”
All this time Danny was trying to guess what was going on, because he still thought Mr.Tickspring might have come to take Edooard away and throw him on the scrap-heap. And what happened next made him worry even more. To his horror he saw Mr.Tickspring open the little door in Edooard’s case and unhitch his weights and his pendulum. Then he got a little pair of steps, and reaching up HE TOOK EDOOARD’S HEAD RIGHT OFF!
“They’re taking him away piece by piece,” thought Danny.
But Mr.Tickspring took the working clock out of the case he had taken off, and holding it very carefully, went out of the door with it. And he didn’t come back for any more.
Well, one of the words that Danny had managed to hear was ‘operation’, and he had heard Mr.Tickspring refer to Edooard as a patient, so he began to think and hope that Edooard might have been taken away to be mended. Very unusually for a clock, he wished like billy-o that just this once he was a human being, and he could have crossed his fingers till Edooard came back. He thought about crossing his hands, but that seemed very irresponsible for a clock, and would certainly have been the last straw as far as the egg-timing was concerned.
So he managed without crossing anything, but he waited and waited more and more anxiously as the days went by. He told himself that an ‘operation’ on a very old and special clock could take some time, and what’s more, nobody had come for any more of Edooard’s parts, so he tried to keep optimistic.
And he was right. Sure enough, one day there was a ring at the doorbell, and there was Mr.Tickspring carrying very carefully the face and works of Edooard. In no time at all Edooard was re-assembled.
“There we are!” exclaimed Mr.Tickspring, and his head seemed to be shining more brightly than ever, he was so pleased with all the work he’d done. “As good as new, as good as new!” How he stopped himself from chiming the full hour he never knew, – he was so pleased.
But he left that to Edooard, who was indeed soon ticking, chiming and striking like a new <but very special> clock.
As soon as he could he called out to Danny to tell him he was back, because as well as being mended, there was one other way he had been put right. He had learnt after all his years that even very old, well-made,very special clocks can fall down on the job, and he knew that there was a time when he hadn’t told the time as well as a little battery-run clock that hung on the wall and looked like a plate. Perhaps it didn’t go as far as making him feel humble, but it certainly made him more ordinarily friendly.
So he called out: “Hallo – Daniel! – I’m – home – again!”
Then it was Edooard’s turn to worry, for there was no reply from the kitchen. Edooard looked as hard as he could, and he could still see that plate with the green edge hanging on the wall. Then after another look he saw that Danny’s third hand <or second hand – you know what I mean> wasn’t moving. Danny had stopped.
“Dear – me,” thought Edooard. “What – will – happen now? They – can’t – be using – that – egg-timer – to tell – the time. – But – will – they – bother – to repair – a wall-clock – that runs – off a – battery?”
And this time he wasn’t being snobbish; he was really concerned for his little friendly clock.
Being a very old, very special clock, he ruminated, which means he thought about things very hard. For quite a long time, too. For it was the next day when his ruminations were interrupted by a cheery little voice.
“Hallo, Edooard!” it said. “How nice to see you’re back! I’d really begun to think they’d taken you away. I’m sorry I couldn’t talk before, but my battery ran down, and they’ve only just replaced it. But I’m all right now.”
“Danny, – my boy,” said Edooard, with a final bit of friendliness, “I’m very – happy – to be – back. – And – very – happy – to hear – your – friendly – voice – again. Tell me, – how – have you – been – while – I’ve been – away?”
And those two very different but very friendly clocks started chatting away as never before.
They probably still are, though neither would ever let it interfere with their ticking or chiming or moving their second <or third> hand, and telling the time as accurately as they knew how.
And as for Householder’s eggs – Danny left those to the Pinger, but kept an eye on things just in case.
Meanwhile, upstairs there was another clock that Samuel said was more pinger than clock – but that’s another story, another time.