I was just proofing a book on time and clocks (scans are here
), and on p. 171-172:
As the hour hand revolves
it carries a cam so arranged as to be deeper cut
away for the twelfth hour, less for the eleventh,
and so on. When the minute hand comes to the
hour it releases the striking mechanism, which,
urged by a weight, begins to revolve, and, driving
an arm carrying a pin, raises a hammer, which
goes on striking away as the arm revolves. This
would continue for ever if it were not that at the
same moment an arm is liberated which falls
against the cam. At each stroke the arm is (by
the striking apparatus) raised a bit back into
position. When it comes back into position it stops
the striking. It thus acts as a counter, or reckoner
of the blows given, stopping the movement when
the clock has struck sufficiently. If the counting
mechanism fails to act, we have the phenomenon
which occasionally occurs of a "Grandfather" clock
striking the whole of the hours for the week
It's possible that EBD had heard or witnessed a similar case to the one quoted?
Regarding "the cat's mother," the context was that Rix had been told by Madge not to stand on his head:
"She does it," said Rix pointing aggrievedly at Evadne, thereby making that young lady blush and choke into her coffee.
"Who's 'she'?" demanded Jo.
"The cat's mother," said Rix calmly ...