X

SYLVIE and BRUNO by LEWIS CARROLL

and was thrown headlong against the wheel of the spring-cart.

The driver ran out to his assistance, and he and I together raised the

unfortunate cyclist and carried him into the shop. His head was cut and

bleeding; and one knee seemed to be badly injured; and it was speedily

settled that he had better be conveyed at once to the only Surgery in

the place. I helped them in emptying the cart, and placing in it some

pillows for the wounded man to rest on; and it was only when the driver

had mounted to his place, and was starting for the Surgery, that I

bethought me of the strange power I possessed of undoing all this harm.

“Now is my time!” I said to myself, as I moved back the hand of the

Watch, and saw, almost without surprise this time, all things restored

to the places they had occupied at the critical moment when I had first

noticed the fallen packing-case.

Instantly I stepped out into the street, picked up the box,

and replaced it in the cart: in the next moment the bicycle had spun

round the corner, passed the cart without let or hindrance, and soon

vanished in the distance, in a cloud of dust.

“Delightful power of magic!” I thought.

“How much of human suffering I have–not only relieved, but actually

annihilated!” And, in a glow of conscious virtue, I stood watching the

unloading of the cart, still holding the Magic Watch open in my hand,

as I was curious to see what would happen when we again reached the

exact time at which I had put back the hand.

The result was one that, if only I had considered the thing carefully,

I might have foreseen: as the hand of the Watch touched the mark, the

spring-cart–which had driven off, and was by this time half-way down

the street, was back again at the door, and in the act of starting,

while–oh woe for the golden dream of world-wide benevolence that had

dazzled my dreaming fancy!–the wounded youth was once more reclining

on the heap of pillows, his pale face set rigidly in the hard lines

that told of pain resolutely endured.

“Oh mocking Magic Watch!” I said to myself, as I passed out of the

little town, and took the seaward road that led to my lodgings.

“The good I fancied I could do is vanished like a dream: the evil of

this troublesome world is the only abiding reality!”

And now I must record an experience so strange, that I think it only

fair, before beginning to relate it, to release my much-enduring reader

from any obligation he may feel to believe this part of my story.

I would not have believed it, I freely confess, if I had not seen it

with my own eyes: then why should I expect it of my reader, who, quite

possibly, has never seen anything of the sort?

I was passing a pretty little villa, which stood rather back from the

road, in its own grounds, with bright flower-beds in front—creepers

wandering over the walls and hanging in festoons about the bow-windows–

an easy-chair forgotten on the lawn, with a newspaper lying near it–

a small pug-dog “couchant” before it, resolved to guard the treasure

even at the sacrifice of life–and a front-door standing invitingly

half-open. “Here is my chance,” I thought, “for testing the reverse

action of the Magic Watch!” I pressed the ‘reversal-peg’ and walked in.

In another house, the entrance of a stranger might cause surprise–

perhaps anger, even going so far as to expel the said stranger with

violence: but here, I knew, nothing of the sort could happen.

The ordinary course of events first, to think nothing about me;

then, hearing my footsteps to look up and see me; and then to wonder

what business I had there–would be reversed by the action of my Watch.

They would first wonder who I was, then see me, then look down,

and think no more about me. And as to being expelled with violence,

that event would necessarily come first in this case. “So, if I can

once get in,” I said to myself, “all risk of expulsion will be over!”

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