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string, a properly applied turn of the wrist sufficing to make it spin for ir.cr; than a minute.
The so-called French Top is in fact a Japanese top. It consists of a case within which are a number of shallow, hollow, conical tops. Motion is given to them all by the same pull of the string, and a skilful player can keep them going for an astonishing time.
This is a weapon of warfare—and a terrible one, too—reduced to the condition of a toy.
Strictly, the game consists in blowing a dart out cf a tube like an enlarged pea-shooter at a target similar in arrangement to that used in archery, but of course much smaller; but the tube may also be used and do much execution with clay pellets instead of the darts. For this purpose the tube is much used by the youth of Paris and oth :r tewns of France, and tubes form a regular article of sale in the toy-shops, where they may be had of all degrees of excellence, from the simple roughly got up metal tube to the highly finished production—a piece of bamboo with a copper tube running through the centre, and a screw top and ferule to protect it when not in use, exactly like our walking-stick fishing-rods.
Our own toy-shops now furnish the article, but, as there is less demand for it, at a somewhat higher price than it may be procured in Paris.
The natives of Borneo and of the tropical parts of South America use tubes and darts as weapons of warfare and the chase; but the tubes are of much greater length, ranging up to ten or even twelve feet; and the darts, quite insignificant in size, derive their whole efficacy from the terrible poison in which
PUFF AND DART.
their points are dipped- -a poison so deadly that a mere flesh wound is sufficient to seal the doom of man or beast.
Very efficient darts, for all the purposes of the game, may be made as follows: Get a few penholder sticks, and cut them into lengths of about two inches; next take some worsted, and bind it firmly to one end of each stick, leaving a series of loops projecting beyond: the exact quantity for each dart must be ascertained by experiment. Now for the spike. Take a common brad, file up the sharp end into a good point, not too fine; dip the point into the grease of a candle, and hold it in the flame till it is nearly red hot, and then plunge it into cold water: this will harden it. Now file off the projecting piece of metal at the end, and, having bored a hole somewhat too small in the end of your stick, force the blunt end of the nail into it, and then bind it round firmly with waxed thread. A little sealing-wax varnish over all will both improve its appearance and add to the strength of the binding. Now trim the worsted off carefully with a pair of scissors, and your dart is complete; afar better one, too, th<in those oidinarily sold in the shops. Such a dart from a three-foot tube will go through an almost incredible num ber of sheets of paper at ten or twelve paces distance, and will, if carefully iiiade, fly with wonderful accuracy.
There is, however, a kind of dart you may buy in the shops, which is far superior to anything likely to be produced by home work. It consists of a sharp, bayonet-shaped steel spike, almost two inches in length, fitted into the smaller end of a funnel-shaped piece of gutta-percha (see figure,). The guttapercha, being thin, readily takes the shape of the bore, and the cavity gives an extraordinary purchase for the action of the wind.
In holding the tube nothing is gained in steadiness by throwing one hand out along the tube: both hands should be held close together as in the figure, and the aim should be quick and decided; an attempt at an exceptionally long and steady aim is certain to result in an exceptionally bad shot—the end of the tube is sure to " wabble."
The aim, it must be remembered, is not taken as with a rifle: it is taken more by a species of intuition than by actual sighting. No reasoning from analogy with rifle-shooting, therefore, can hold at all good; we must go rather to the bow and arrow for an illustration.
A little caution may not be out of place with regard to the irregular use of these tubes: the novice will do well to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the powers and capacities of his weapon before he begins to take liberties with it, or he may, without the least intending it, inflict some serious injury, or do some irreparable mischief, before he is quite aware of what he is about.
The manufacture of a watch-spring gun out of a bit of old slate-frame, a quill, and a piece of damaged mainspring, was, in those old days when boys were boys and toys were toys, and when a piece of old watch-spring was a valued and envied possession, a source of intense interest and excitement not only to the eminent artist himself, whose skill in such productions made him an object of respectful admiration to his less gifted compeers, but also to a large circle of personal and private friends, who would gather round and watch with untiring zeal every detail of its construction, from the first rough-hewing of the stock to the final finishing-touch which turned it into a complete work of high art.
But those old days, whether for good or evil, are past; now-a-days, despite, or perhaps in consequence of, the immense increase of the resources at their command, in India rubber, for example, and other materials, boys seem to have almost forgotten the art of making all sorts of ingenious contrivances which the last generation produced in endless variety.
The decadence of those pocket-knife and slate-frame times is owing, perhaps, more than anything to the more liberal scale on which boys are now supplied with pocket-money than in the days gone by, and to the consequent rise of a superior kind of toy-shop, where everything that a boy can possibly desire, or even think of, is to be bought at no very exorbitant price, and of such superior style and finish to his own less artistic efforts that he feels it hardly worth his while to waste time and patience upon turning out some little toy that he can purchase, of an infinitely superior make and construction, perhaps for a few pence, at the nearest toy-shop.
Thus it has fared with watch-spring guns amongst the rest. Such a firstrate article, all in metal, is turned out by the shops at such an extraordinary cheap rate that but little surprise need be felt at the consequent depression of the home manufacture.
If, however, any of our young readers wish to construct a watch-spring gun for himself, we will here give him a few instructions to assist him in so laudable an enterprise. For tools and material he will want a pocket-knife, a piece of slate-frame or similar piece of wood, a brad-awl, a file, a supply of waxed string, or, better still, thin copper wire, and last, not least, the indispensable piece of watch-spring. To these may be added, if you wish to be very elaborate, a quill, or, which is far better, one of those iron tubes used as slate pencil-holders, to be used as the barrel of the gun; but this is unimportant.
With your pocket-knife work the piece of wood for your stock into the shape you may see in the stock of a regular cross-bow: a watch-spring gun is, in fact, only a small cross-bow with a butt-end that is like a gun, and a groove where the barrel would be, taking care to leave sufficient thickness of wood ;it the muzzle end to admit the watch-spring, which serves as your bow. To avoid splitting the wood, it is better to make this hole while the stock is yet in the rough and before it has been finally thinned down. The watch-spring, duly filed and inserted in the hole, for the correct position of which you mus. again refer to the cross-bow, should be firmly wedged into its place, and then strongly bound with string or wire, as the case may be, of course taking care not to pass the string or wire over the groove in which the shot is to move.
The spring should be inserted with the concave side towards the butt, and will be immensely strengthened by a second piece of not much more than half its length inserted the reverse way, and thus pressing it back; this adds very much to the quickness of the recoil in the spring, and is stronglv to be recommended.
The rest of the construction is exactly the same as in the cross-bow, and therefore needs no further detailed description. The only difficulty will be found with the trigger. If a regular trigger prove too difficult, a movable piece of wood with a flat head will be a very efficient substitute, and will answer all purposes (but appearances) almost equally well.
A gun with a six-inch spring, backed by a second, as described above, and loaded with No. 1 shot, will make very good practice at fifteen or even twenty yards.
This amusing game requires more care and delicacy of touch than at first seems to be the case.
The apparatus of the game is very simple, consisting of a bull's head painted on a board, with a hook in its nose and another on each horn. In the top of the board is fixed a horizontal rod, to the end of which is suspended a ring by a piece of string. The players stand in succession in front of the bull, take the ring, and try to fling it so that it shall be caught on the hook in the bull's nose. Each player has nine throws, and he who succeeds the greatest number of times wins the game.
It is tolerably ca;y tD throw the ring on the hook, but not easy to throw it so that it shall stay there, and the "knack" of the game consists in throwing it with only just sufficient force vo reach the ring.
In another modification of the game the string is lengthened to twelve or fifteen feet, and has a slip-noose at the end. The other end of the string is not fastened to the end of the horizontal rod, but held in the left hand, while with the right the player tries to throw the loop over the two hooks in the bull's horns. If he can catch them both he scores two, and if he ci'ch only one of them, he scores one. Each player has six throws.
In this very amusing game little n required except the Jack, 1.e., the figure of a sailor cast in metal, so as to be very heavy, a number of coloured balls, and three drawing-pins.
Before commencing the game the three drawing-pins are stuck into the floor in a line, the Jack being placed on the central pin, which is generally some five paces from each of the others. The whole of the space behind the line of the three pins is called "Jack's ground." Sometimes the game is played on a lawn, and in this case three wooden pegs are substituted for the drawingpins. The following arc the rules, as entered at Stationer's Hall, by Messrs. Jaques and Son:
Laws And Instructions.—The game of Jack's Alive can be played by eight or a lesser number of players: each player to take a ball of distinctive colour, and retain it during li e game; Jack to be placed upon his stand ten or twelve yards from the throwing-point.
These points settled, each player sta^ons nin.sclf at the starting-peg and pitches his ball towards Jack. The unlucky player whose ball shall be decided to be the greatest distance from Jack, becomes ''Jack's master." The game now begins. Jack's master has the active duty to perform of keeping Jack on his stand whilst the other players amuse themselves by continually knocking Jack down by pitching their balls (after the manner of quoits) at him