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Gunpowder

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Gunpowder was chancy stuff, whatever it was meant for. It would go off at seemingly a breath or a hard look — witness the lengths the makers of the stuff went to! Milling it in peculiar huts, half stone, half wood and withy, the better to come apart when, not if, something blew up. Or it would fail to go off at the moment it was needed most in pistol or cannon or sapper’s careful charge. And what were fireworks but little bombs, just waiting to go off in an unwary hand? No, give him a sword any day at all.


Duel after a Masquerade Ball - Jean-Léon Gérôme from Wikpedia