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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 165 pages of information about Lair of the White Worm.

Caswall took a personal interest in the keeping of the great kite flying.  He had a vast coil of cord efficient for the purpose, which worked on a roller fixed on the parapet of the tower.  There was a winch for the pulling in of the slack; the outgoing line being controlled by a racket.  There was invariably one man at least, day and night, on the tower to attend to it.  At such an elevation there was always a strong wind, and at times the kite rose to an enormous height, as well as travelling for great distances laterally.  In fact, the kite became, in a short time, one of the curiosities of Castra Regis and all around it.  Edgar began to attribute to it, in his own mind, almost human qualities.  It became to him a separate entity, with a mind and a soul of its own.  Being idle-handed all day, he began to apply to what he considered the service of the kite some of his spare time, and found a new pleasure—­a new object in life—­in the old schoolboy game of sending up “runners” to the kite.  The way this is done is to get round pieces of paper so cut that there is a hole in the centre, through which the string of the kite passes.  The natural action of the wind-pressure takes the paper along the string, and so up to the kite itself, no matter how high or how far it may have gone.

In the early days of this amusement Edgar Caswall spent hours.  Hundreds of such messengers flew along the string, until soon he bethought him of writing messages on these papers so that he could make known his ideas to the kite.  It may be that his brain gave way under the opportunities given by his illusion of the entity of the toy and its power of separate thought.  From sending messages he came to making direct speech to the kite—­without, however, ceasing to send the runners.  Doubtless, the height of the tower, seated as it was on the hill-top, the rushing of the ceaseless wind, the hypnotic effect of the lofty altitude of the speck in the sky at which he gazed, and the rushing of the paper messengers up the string till sight of them was lost in distance, all helped to further affect his brain, undoubtedly giving way under the strain of beliefs and circumstances which were at once stimulating to the imagination, occupative of his mind, and absorbing.

The next step of intellectual decline was to bring to bear on the main idea of the conscious identity of the kite all sorts of subjects which had imaginative force or tendency of their own.  He had, in Castra Regis, a large collection of curious and interesting things formed in the past by his forebears, of similar tastes to his own.  There were all sorts of strange anthropological specimens, both old and new, which had been collected through various travels in strange places:  ancient Egyptian relics from tombs and mummies; curios from Australia, New Zealand, and the South Seas; idols and images—­from Tartar ikons to ancient Egyptian, Persian, and Indian objects of worship; objects of death and torture of American

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