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affixture can only be ascertained by experiment, it depends entirely upon the balance of the kite.
Another and a very useful sort of kite (see Figs. 2 and 3) may be made with calico set upon a frame, all of whose pieces work upon a single pivot. By this arrangement the whole kite may be folded together and put into a case like an umbrella.
The calico is only fastened permanently to the two long pieces, and simply tied to the cross-piece; this being released, the three laths may be worked round on the pivot until they are in a straight line, and the calico wrapped round them. The great advantage of this construction is, that not only are they more easy of carriage, but they are much less liable to injury.
Sometimes they are made with only two pieces, an upright and a crosspiece, but the principle is the same.
If expense be no consideration, oiled silk, or that thin gutta percha which is now used as its substitute, may be employed with advantage, and will be found, on account of their superior lightness, infinitely preferable to paper or calico.
For decorations the young artist must follow his own fancy, only he must
remember that, as the effect is to be produced from a distance, only the most staring and brilliant colours can be employed, and that fine and finished details will be of no use whatever.
One of the prettiest kites now in use is that which represents a hawk with outspread wings. If this kite be properly made, it sweeps backwards and forwards with a movement- exactly like that of the bird whose name it bears If the tail be made of fine but strong string, and the weight at its end be cut in the shape of a small bird, the kite enacts in a marvellously faithful manner the manoeuvres of a falcon attacking its prey.
Flying The Kite.—To start the kite in the first instance it is mostly necessary to have some aid; two persons are required, one to hold the kite up and help it off, while the other, holding the string, runs a little way against the wind to increase its pressure upon the kite, and thus help it to get its tail fairly off the ground, after which, if there be sufficient breeze—without which it is of course useless to attempt flying it at all—the kite will do very well by itself.
The kite, once up in the air, may be allowed to soar upwards as far as the string or its own capabilities will permit: if the string be unlimited, the height to which the kite can ascend will only be measured by its power of supporting the requisite length of string.
Sometimes when great altitude is aimed at, when one kite has taken all the string it can well cariy, the lower end of the string is attached to another kite, which then takes up a fresh length, and enables its precursor to mount higher.
This method of procedure is only worth practising with really large kites, and in managing these some little care is requisite (a six-foot kite, for instance, pulls like a cart-horse), and serious accidents have been known to happen through the string getting entangled, and the owner of the kite being, as it were, run away with by his unmanageable plaything.
Where the kite is very large, it is advisable to give the string a turn or two round a post or tree; this will enable its owner to control it at will.
A piece of paper with a hole in it, slipped on to the lower end of the string, will soon by the force of the wind be carried right up to the kite itself, however high up it may be. This is called sending letters, or messengers.
This game is a favourite one in many places, and is useful in one respect, namely, that it can be played in a comparatively limited space. Indeed, a large lawn is unsuitable to the game, and if the ground be of too great dimensions, it will be better to enclose a circular space, as seen in the illustration.
The materials for the game are simple. In the first place there are eight or ten balls of different colours, a stick or cue by which to propel them, and a revolving ring through which they are to be passed. We will describe these articles in rotation.
The balls are generally a foot in circumference, and ought to be made of some hard and heavy wood. An ordinary set of croquet balls will answer the purpose perfectly well.
The ring is usually made of iron, though brass is perhaps better, and, as may be seen in the diagram, has a shank or neck. When it is to be used, a large wooden peg is driven into the ground, with the top a little below the surface, and into it a hole is bored, large enough to receive the shank of the . ring, and to let it revolve freely.
The cue is made of two parts, namely, a wooden handle and a metal tip of rather a peculiar shape. The reader will see, by reference to the illustration, that this tip is also ring-shaped, and that it is fixed at an angle with the handle. This formation enables the ball to be played better than if the cue and tip were in a line. Sometimes each player has a cue, but as a general rule one cue only is required, and is handed round to the players in succession.
The objects of the game are very simple, and the rules scarcely less so. Each player endeavours to pass his ball through the ring, and every time he can do so he scores one point. If his ball runs through the ring after striking another ball, he adds two to his score. The ball must not be pushed through the ring with the cue touching it, neither may it be thrown through. After making a successful stroke, the player does not go on with the game, as in croquet, but makes way for the next player.
In this game there is more play than at first appears to be the case. If, for example, a player finds the hoop turned edgewise to him, he can either place his own ball so as to obstruct the next stroke of the enemy, or, by dexterous play at the ring, can turn it edgewise to the enemy next in succession. Sometimes he will strike a ball belonging to his own party so as to put it into position, or will strike away the ball of an enemy who seems likely to make a successful stroke.
A really good player will often contrive to pass the ring even though it be almost edgewise to him. If the ring be turned in the least to one side or the other, he will play at it with a peculiar push of his cue, and strike it a little on one side.
The Sling was much used as a weapon in ancient warfare, and was held in such esteem, that it long kept its place even with the bow: as time passed on, however, it fell into gradual disuse, and long before the bow gave way to firearms, the sling had come to be regarded as little more than a toy.
It must not be supposed that it was failure in accuracy that brought the sling into disfavour as a military weapon; it is not worth any one's while nowadays to devote the necessary time and labour to acquire proficiency in its use; though, even at the present time, there would be no difficulty in finding many boys who would be by no means desirable antagonists at fifty yards or so. But in past times, when a man's life and living depended on his skill in slinging, when as a child he had to earn his meals before eating them, then the full capabilities of the sling were brought out, and even the bow hardly overmatched it in absolute accuracy.
Its real defects as a military weapon were the want of penetrative power in the missile, especially against armour, but chiefly the inconvenient extent of space each slinger required to work in, and the impossibility of discharging the missiles from anywhere but the front rank. It was the bow's superiority in these respects, rather than fts greater accuracy, that drove the sling out of the field.
The simplest form of sling is an oval piece of leather, with a slit in the middle and a stout string fastened at cither end; one of these strings is looped, the other plain. In using the sling, a smooth stone is put into the leather, the slit in which retains it in its place; the slinger inserts his middle finger in the loop of the one string, grasping it at the same time firmly in his hand, and holding the other string firmly and yet so that he can easily let it slip, whirls the whole swiftly round his head two or three times, and then at the right moment lets fly the loose string; the pocket of the sling immediately flies open, and the stone is discharged with extraordinary velocity.
The explanation of the great velocity is this: The human arm cannot be made to move through the air at more than a certain velocity; its power, therefore, of imparting velocity to stones or other missiles is strictly limited. Beyond a certain ratio of speed, increase of muscular power has not the least effect upon the individual's power of projecting missiles to a distance, it only enables him to cast a greater weight; but though the arm is thus limited as to the rate at which it can be made to move through the air, it is possible to add considerably to its capabilities by mechanical means. Many of our most ordinary tools and implements, for instance, such as long-handled hammers and the like, are mere contrivances to gain extra velocity. Many ways have been invented to effect this with respect to missiles, of which the most striking are perhaps the sling and the throwing-stick of the Australian blacks, by means of which they arc enabled to project their spears with extraordinary force and velocity.
The sling in effect lengthens the arm of the person using it, without increasing to any perceptible extent the weight to be moved. The hand in throwing passes through the arc of a circle whose centre is the shoulder of the thrower, and the stone in the sling does the same; but the arc through which the stone passes is larger than that through which the hand passes in exact proportion with the length of the sling. As, therefore, the sling and hand work in perfect unison, it is evident that the stone in the sling passes over a larger space in a given time than when in the hand, which is only another way of saying that it passes over the same space in less time, or, in scientific language, has greater velocity.
If a more solid and reliable sling be required, it should be made entirely of leather, thongs and all, every detail being carefully finished off and adjusted to the missile it is intended to use. The missile, too, should, if anything like accuracy is aimed at, be most carefully constructed. Nothing great can be done with stones, they are too uncertain in weight and shape; clay balls, made as much as possible of equal weight and size, and baked in the ashes, arc very serviceable; but the very best things of all are good-sized leaden bullets: they travel farther and faster, and are more reliable, than any other procurable missile; they have only one drawback—their expense. The slinger might keep a stock of both—clay for ordinary occasions, lead for special service; but he should avoid variety of ammunition as much as possible if he means to attain to any great skill.
Armed with a good sling and store of ammunition, a boy may, if his tastes lie that way, do considerably more execution as a sportsman than many a more favoured comrade with his envied pistol, and may, after a successful day's sport, comfort himself that, if the pistol has made more flash and smoke and waked up more echoes, the sling has given him more sport and decidedly more exercise.
Slinging, to be learnt, must, like everything else, be diligently practised; proficiency will come much more rapidly than the novice on first handling the sling would expect.
The ordinary game of Javelin is simply acontest of skill in hurling the weapons at a target, and for this purpose the javelins should be rods of ash or fir, about six feet long, by I \ inches in diameter, and one end must be ai med with a good strong iron spike about two inches in length. The target may be knocked up out of any pieces of soft wood that are readily obtainable—the lid of a packing case does admirably. The circles may be chalked or painted, and the rings numbered from the outermost ring inwards.
To throw the javelin: balance it in the hollow of the right hand a little behind the car, the thumb lying along the fingers, firmly pressing down upon the shaft; the left leg must be advanced, and the body poised upon the right. Now hurl the javelin at the mark with a quick motion of the arm, throwing the body at the same time well forward on to the left leg.
At first the effect produced will appear by no means commensurate with the force expended; Dut let not that be any discouragement: practice and experience will soon give command over the weapon, and every day's practice will lessen the waste of force.