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!"
[Image...'The pug-dog sat up']
The pug-dog sat up, as a precautionary measure, as I passed; but, as I took no notice of the treasure he was guarding, he let me go by without even one remonstrant bark. "He that takes my life," he seemed to be saying, wheezily, to himself, "takes trash: But he that takes the Daily Telegraph--!" But this awful contingency I did not face.