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An Unfinished Race

Scary Books: Present At A Hanging

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 ped
strian 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.