Seconds whipped like snowflakes at the astronomer’s face and hands; he fought to drag his feet forward. Bells unrang.
“Why invoke such lunatic sorcery?” he cried.
Drosselmeier stood mad and time-whipped in the eye of the engine. “Because you did not deserve this,” he said, tears streaming into his eyes. “It was my quest! My life at stake! And in my fear, my selfish desperation, I took fifteen years from you!”
“My friend,” said the astronomer, “my dear Christian Elias Drosselmeier–for you I would give them all.”
The heartspring of the clock, driven beyond its strength, shattered like glass.