“ The old Thyme Clock was so ornate it dominated the mantelpiece. Its face was the

size of a dinner plate, and had the Thyme clan motto written across it in elaborate

copperplate. Behind the gold filigreed hands were four smaller dials – counting the

seconds, days of the week, months of the year, and showing the phases of the

moon. The outer case was solid gold encrusted with jewels. Emeralds carved into

sprigs of thyme grew around the right half of the face; tiny playing cards made from

ivory, rubies and jet bordered the left.

To the right of the clock stood Old Father Time. His sinister hand carried a scythe

over one shoulder; his dexter hand held a golden hourglass, smaller than an egg

timer and filled with a minute’s worth of sand. As the last grain fell, it flipped over

to measure the next minute. To the left of the clock, leaning back against it, sat a

jester. He glanced mischievously over his shoulder at the hourglass. In one hand

he held a theatrical mask; in the other, he twirled a pair of dice. Each mechanical

figure was a work of art, exquisitely crafted in gold, ivory and platinum, studded with


Beneath the clock, between the two figures, a polished pendulum swung to and fro

with the words ...

... engraved upon it. A small arched bell-tower stood above the clock – and etched