+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

an honourable competitor who declines to
compete. I do not mention the honourable
competitor's name, because he is a modest young man,
and given to blushing. Now, gentlemen, you
will please to remember that this is a solemn
occasion, and that the eyes of Europe are upon you!"

And so, rattling on in the gaiety of good
spirits, the Earl enrolled the second party.
Next in order came the long jump of eighteen
feet, for Signer Colonna's Elzevir Horace; then
the race of one hundred yards, for Lady Castletowers'
prize; and, last of all, the one-mile race
for the twenty-guinea purse, dignified by the
name of "the Italian Cup," and entered for by
the whole of the athletes.

When the programme was fairly made out,
Castletowers called Saxon aside, and, taking
him familiarly by the arm, led him into the
billiard-room adjoining.

"Trefalden," said he, "may I ask you a

"Twenty, if you like," replied Saxon.

"Noone will do, if you answer it honestly.
Why don't you put in a shot at either of the

Saxon looked embarrassed.

"I'd rather not," he said, after a momentary

"But why? You must be a good marksman."

Saxon made no reply.

"To tell you the truth," said the Earl, "I'm
disappointed. I had looked to you for a display
of skill, and expected something brilliant. I
think you should have gone into the field, if
only to maintain the honour of the Swiss rifles."

Saxon laughed good

"Do you really want your question answered?"
said he.

"Of course."

"Then wait a minute while I fetch my gun."

He ran out of the room, and presently
reappeared outside the window, rifle in hand.

"Look there," he said, pointing to the roof
of the stables. " Do you see that weathercock?"

It was a gilt cock, like that which Goethe
used to admire, as a child, on the Ober Main
Thor at Frankfort; and was just then shifting
with the breeze, and flashing in the sunshine
like a yellow diamond. The Earl threw up the
window and leaned out.

"I should think so," he replied. " I have
seen it pretty nearly every day of my life, ever
since I was born."

How far off is it, do you think?"

"Well, I hardly know; perhaps six hundred
yards. But you can't hit a thing that blazes
like a comet, and is never still for two seconds

"It's an ugly bird," said Saxon, bringing his
gun to his shoulder. "Don't you think he'd
look more intelligent if he had an eye in his

The words were no sooner out of his lips
than he fired. Lord Castletowers snatched up
his hat, and bounded down upon the sward.

"You haven't done it?" he exclaimed.

"Let us go and see."

They had to go round by the front of the
house, and across the yards, to reach those
out-buildings over which the vane was placed.
At about two-thirds of the distance the Earl
stood still.

There was a small round hole drilled through
precisely that part of the cock's head where his
eye ought to have been.

At the sight of his friend's dumb amazement,
Saxon roared with laughter, like a young giant.

"There," said he, "I told you it would be an
improvement. And now you see why I wouldn't
compete for the cup. We Swiss are always
shooting, from the time we are old enough to
carry a gun; and I didn't want to spoil the
sport for others. It wouldn't have been fair."


IT is probably owing to the great increase
of publicity that we have lately heard of so
many cases of persons struck dead by lightning.
These sad occurrences, for the most part, take
place on the Continent, and numerous instances
are recorded in the continental newspapers of
buildings damaged, and individuals struck. Even
in England deaths caused by lightning seem, to
have been more common than formerly.

Among the most remarkable later cases,
may be included the following:— A woman at
Hull was struck blind; another woman, who was
standing in a room talking to her daughter, was
struck on the side and leg, the lightning having
previously passed through an adjoining house,
and greatly injured both it and a great number
of articles of furniture. Bell-wires seem to be
the usual conductors of the fluid from one
apartment to another. During a recent storm
it entered a house, and was, by this medium,
conducted from room to room, rending things to
pieces as it went, and throwing the mistress
of the house from a sofa to the floor, who, as
the account states somewhat needlessly, was
greatly shaken by it. One young woman was
struck in a railway carriage, and remained
insensible a considerable time. But the most
painful case is that of the landlady of the
Beehive at Digbeth. She was in one of the
upper rooms of her house when the lightning
entered it, but, instead of striking her dead, it
merely scorched her head and the upper part of
her body deeply, and set her clothes on fire.
Her husband was the first to enter the room
where she was lying, and there was still sufficient
life in her to enable her to recognise him. About
the same time that this happened, though at a
place so far distant as Coray, in the department
of Finisterre, five men, working in a field, were
struck dead at the same moment, and ten others
severely injured.

Within a few days two gendarmes were struck
dead as they were hastening to get shelter from a
thunderstorm. They were running to overtake
a postman, who, like themselves, was looking
about for shelter, and had just reached him,
when one of them turned his head towards a