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An Unfinished Race






James Burne Worson was a shoemaker who lived in Leamington,
Warwickshire, England. He had a little shop in one of the by-ways
leading off the road to Warwick. In his humble sphere he was
esteemed an honest man, although like many of his class in English
towns he was somewhat addicted to drink. When in liquor he would
make foolish wagers. On one of these too frequent occasions he was
boasting of his prowess as a pedestrian and athlete, and the outcome
was a match against nature. For a stake of one sovereign he
undertook to run all the way to Coventry and back, a distance of
something more than forty miles. This was on the 3d day of
September in 1873. He set out at once, the man with whom he had
made the bet--whose name is not remembered--accompanied by Barham
Wise, a linen draper, and Hamerson Burns, a photographer, I think,
following in a light cart or wagon.

For several miles Worson went on very well, at an easy gait, without
apparent fatigue, for he had really great powers of endurance and
was not sufficiently intoxicated to enfeeble them. The three men in
the wagon kept a short distance in the rear, giving him occasional
friendly "chaff" or encouragement, as the spirit moved them.
Suddenly--in the very middle of the roadway, not a dozen yards from
them, and with their eyes full upon him--the man seemed to stumble,
pitched headlong forward, uttered a terrible cry and vanished! He
did not fall to the earth--he vanished before touching it. No trace
of him was ever discovered.

After remaining at and about the spot for some time, with aimless
irresolution, the three men returned to Leamington, told their
astonishing story and were afterward taken into custody. But they
were of good standing, had always been considered truthful, were
sober at the time of the occurrence, and nothing ever transpired to
discredit their sworn account of their extraordinary adventure,
concerning the truth of which, nevertheless, public opinion was
divided, throughout the United Kingdom. If they had something to
conceal, their choice of means is certainly one of the most amazing
ever made by sane human beings.





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