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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/274

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

that is, they gaily stopped a passer-by, broke his nose with a blow of the fist, and then shoved both thumbs into his eyes; if his eyes were gouged out, he was paid for them.

Such were the pastimes of the rich idlers of London about the beginning of the eighteenth century. The idlers of Paris also had theirs. About that time M. de Charolais was firing his gun at a citizen who chanced to be standing on his own threshold. Youth has had its amusements from time immemorial.

Lord David Dirry-Moir would gleefully set fire to a cottage of wood and thatch, just like the others, and scorch the inmates a little; but he always rebuilt their houses in stone. He assaulted two ladies. One was unmarried,—he gave her a portion; the other was married,—he had her husband appointed chaplain. Many praiseworthy improvements were due to him in cock-fighting. It was marvellous to see Lord David dress a cock for the pit. Cocks lay hold of each other by the feathers, as men seize each other by the hair. Lord David, therefore, made his cock as bald as possible. With a pair of scissors he cut off all the tail feathers, and all the feathers on the head and shoulders as well as those on the neck. "So much less for the enemy's beak," he used to say. Then he extended the cock's wings, and cut each feather, one after another, to a point, and thus the wings were furnished with darts. "That is for the enemy's eyes," he would say. Then he scraped its claws with a penknife, sharpened its nails, fitted steel gaffs on its spurs, spat on its head and spat on its neck,—anointing it with spittle, as they used to rub oil over athletes; then set it down in the pit, a formidable opponent, exclaiming, "That's the way to make a cock an eagle; a bird of the poultry-yard a bird of the mountain."