"I don't know if it is only a week since we lost him"
Statue of Chronos by George Heermann (1696)
Public DomainStatue of Chronos by George Heermann (1696) - Credit: Mirko Schmid

Over the course of the novel, time shifts and changes.  Initially, and in possession of her handbag and clock, it is Lizzie who tampers with the hours.  Now, however, she has lost her accoutrements and can only observe how time, for Walser, appears to be passing more swiftly than for the remainder of the circus.

In Greek mythology, the god of time was Chronos - the root of our modern words chronology, and chronicle.  During the Renaissance, Chronos was confused and combined with Cronus, or the Roman Saturn, god of the harvest.  This combined figure developed into Father Time; his scythe, originally for cutting wheat, became associated with the 'cutting off' of life in the inevitable progression of time.  He was depicted as an old man with a long grey beard, and also having the wings of an angel.  As the furthest planet and that with the longest revolution, it was also felt that Saturn held some power over the progress of other bodies within its orbit.

Modern witchcraft continues to draw parallels between Chronos, Saturn and Old Father Time, and to associate both with the control of the hours.  In the figure of Father Time on Ma Nelson's clock, perhaps Lizzie had a powerful talisman which allowed her to tamper with chronology at will.  Now the clock is abandoned in the snow, and Limbo itself seems to be altering the speed of its inhabitants' lives - perhaps giving the 'unhatched' Walser the time he needs to mature into Fevvers' equal, and the primitive tribe the time to catch up with the approaching century.