The clock itself, Edmund had to admit, was rather striking. The sculptor had gone out of his way to carve minute whorls and spirals in the clock to give the white stone the appearance of ashen wood. The pendulum hung crosswise, frozen in mid swing, while the numbers were carved in a beautiful script. The hands themselves were covered by a glass window, attached with a realistic looking hinge.
As soon as Edmund looked closer, he saw what he had expected–the hinge was real, painted to look like stone, and a tiny keyhole sat on the edge of the frame. Edmund reached as high as he could to slip the tiny key from the gargoyle’s mouth into the hole, just managing it.
He twisted the key gently, and the glass window opened with a click. Edmund smiled as he saw that the hands, which had been so exquisitely carved to look like part of the stone face, were in fact painted iron and could rotate about the face.
The rain and thunder crashed down on top of Edmund as he stood, staring at the large granite statue. The cold wind pushed at him, twisting and winding through the holes in the hedges, but he would not move no more than would the clock statue.
‘The time my child first cried,’ went the poem, Edmund recalled. Lucky that he had spent so much time pouring over the journal for clues about the Mechanus Vitae.
Reaching up to the face of the clock, he cast his mind back to Plinkerton’s journal, and the entry about his son: Rotchild had been born at seven twenty-three. Carefully, he moved the hinged hands on the clock to seven twenty-three. Stepping back, Edmund waited in the pouring rain.
Was there something he had forgotten? ‘When lightning fills the sky,’ was the next part, but that was obviously about when Rotchild was born.
A hunch building in his mind, Edmund’s eyes locked onto the very top of Moulde Hall, barely visible over the tops of the hedges.
After only a few seconds, with a crack that almost split his ears, a bolt of lightning struck the western pole on the roof of Moulde Hall. Deep in the building, thought Edmund, the large copper wire traveled down the chimney to the furnace in the cellar, and then into the ground. It had been there for years to protect the building from lightning strikes. Perhaps Plinkerton had put it there himself. Edmund had assumed the cable ended there.
Now, Edmund could imagine the lightning traveling through the building, and then just after the wire sank the ground, it turned to the side, and traveled down the hill, heading straight for where he was standing.
For a moment, nothing happened, and then a tinny gong echoed from the statue, and the sound of a crying bird drifted through the air. There was a loud grinding, and Edmund watched as the grandfather clock slowly moved aside on small brass wheels, revealing a long dark stairway heading into the depths of Haggard Hill.