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trouble himself about any effective concealment if he can find a place from which he can burst out with advantage.
The seekers should always keep to one golden rule—to take nothing for granted—to test every place thoroughly before they trust themselves too near it, above all, before they pass beyond it; for if once cut off from the home, their case is desperate. It is a very common ruse of the hiding party to take advantage of the rush for home to slip into a place previously unoccupied and nearer the home, hoping thus to catch the searchers unawares; the latter, therefore, on their part, must be ever suspicious: for that a corner has been found unoccupied twice affords no guarantee that it will be so a third time. Even a place unsuitable for concealment should not be trusted in too implicitly: a crafty player will sometimes take advantage of this over-confidence, and effect a touch simply by hiding in too obvious a place, so obvious that no one dreamt of his iclecting it.
The game is sometimes played with local modifications, but the most orthodox way is the one described.
A really capital game. A home is marked out in one corner of the playground; one of the players is chosen "Warner," and takes possession of the home; hence he sallies forth, after crying "Warning!" three times, with his hands clasped in front of him, and strives to touch one of the others without unclasping his hands. If, before he can effect this, he unclasp his hands, or be made to do so by the others pulling at his arms, he must run home as fast as he can, subject, if caught, to be compelled to carry his captor home. Once home, he is safe.
If, however, he can touch any one without unclasping his hands, they both scurry home as above, and then sally out afresh, hand in hand, after duly calling "Warning!" and try to make a fresh capture without breaking hold. After each capture they hurry home, and sally forth afresh after admitting the new comer into their ranks; thus the line of warncrs is constantly increasing, and the difficulty of escaping it increasing in almost equal ratio. Its very length, however, makes it not only unwieldy, but more hkely to be broken in the middle; so that a player hard pressed will often make his escape by a frantic burst through the weakest part of the line. As, of course, only the players at cither end have a hand a-picce at liberty, they are the only two who can touch, and this gives the runner a certain advantage in breaking through.
A great deal of the success of the warning party depends upon the arrangement of their men: two weak players should never, where it can be avoided, be allowed to hold hands together; a strong player should always be placed between them.
This game must be played within tolerably strait boundaries. The only chance of the warncrs is to pen the fugitives up: running them down in an open field is simply out of the question.
The warning party are only allowed to resist their opponents passively; no kicking or similar mode of offence is permissible. The first warner is generally allowed to retire after catching two or three, and the last man untouched goes warner for a fresh game.
In some parts of the country this amusing game is called "Widdy Widdy Way."
Leap-frog may be played by any number of players, and at a moment's notice, for it requires no preparation.
One player offers to give the first " back," and stands with his back to the rest, his head bowed down and his shoulders elevated; he then stoops more or less according to the height of the back required, and the "back " is ready.
One of the other players now takes a short run, "overs" him,helping himself over with his hands, aa the street boys do over a post, and running on a few yards, stops, and offers his own back in turn. The next then "overs" both, and, going on, offers his back, and so on until they have all gone over; the giver of the first back then has his turn over the lot; then all begin again as before; and thus they go on alternately " overing" and "offering backs" until the game is concluded.
A player who fails to make a clean "over" is out, and stands aside until the end of the game, he who lasts out longest being the winner.
The leaper must be careful to avoid pressing too heavily upon the shoulders of the player giving the "back," and the latter must most scrupulously avoid any shrinking or shirking at the moment the leap is attempted: the sudden failure of the expected support is nearly certain to bring the leaper heavily and helplessly to the ground, to the imminent peril of his arms and shoulders. Broken bones, or sprained and dislocated joints, are a sad termination to a. game of play,
A variation upon the last; a kind of combination, in fact, of leap-frog and follow my leader.
A player is chosen by lot for leader, and another for "first back." The leader "overs " in all sorts of eccentric fashions, and the rest arc bound to imitate him, even to the minutest particular, under penalty, in case of failure, of relieving the " first back" until relieved in turn by some one else.
A leader with a ready invention may hit upon innumerable variations in the method of "overing;" such as, for instance, putting a cap on the back, and "overing" without knocking it off, or even making a pile of two or three, and "overing" without touching; taking the one cap off, and leaving his own behind—a very neat trick; throwing his cap up before " overing," and catching it after, before it touches the ground; and so on almost ad infinitum.
FLY THE GARTER. Another variation. A line, or, as it is technically termed, a "garter," is marked out on the ground: the "first back," chosen by lot as before, stands a foot from the "garter,'' and sets a "back;" the rest "over" him in succession, springing from inside the "garter." He then advances one foot more, and they "over" him again as before; then another foot, and if now all succeed in' overing" him, he takes a close-footed leap forward as far as he can, and sets a fresh "back" where he alights. If they still succeed in "overing" him, the game begins again, and he starts from the "garter" afresh. If, however, at any time one fails to "over" him, they change places, and the game begins anew.
A ring is staked and roped out upon a piece of turf, and inside this the players take their places. One of them has his hands tied behind him, and carries a bell slung round his neck; all the rest are closely blindfolded. The "Jingler," or bell-man, tries to escape from the blind men; while they, guided by his bell, do their best to catch him. If the number of players be duly apportioned to the size of the ring, or vice versa, there is positively no end to the fun that may be got out of the game: a good jingler will lead the blind men into all sorts of scrapes, of course without compromising himself—into each other's arms, over the ropes, or over some luckless companion who has come to grief in labouring after the jingler, or a hundred other devices equally effective and amusing.
Perhaps the most absurd scenes occur when two or more blind men rush into each other's arms and grapple frantically, each perr.uaded that the other is the jingler, and ready to drag or be dragged anywhere rather than relax their grasp.
In a match the winner is either the jingler himself, if he can contrive to keep clear of his pursuers for the requisite time, or, if he be caught, the blind man who catches him.
If smartly played, this is a very good game for cold weather. To play it properly there should be at least eighteen or twenty players, who arrange themselves thus:
all in pairs, except one set of three, and the game is as follows: the outside player, marked *, runs round the circle, and tries to catch three or a "tierce" together in a line. If he can do this, and touch the outsider, he takes his place in the circle, and the player just touched becomes outsider.
The outermost man of the tierce, therefore, when he sees the outsider coming his way, slips from his place into the middle of the ring, and stations himself in front of some other pair at a distant point in it, thus making a fresh tierce, to which the outsider has to hasten, only, perhaps, to be disappointed in like manner.
Where there are many players, and the ring is consequently large, there should be two or more tierces, and thus the game will be made more lively by making it more difficult to avoid being caught. The game must be kept up with spirit or it soon falls tame, but with lively players it is excellent fun.
Two players are made to sit on the ground, draw their legs up, and clasp their hands together over their shins. A stout stick is then passed through under their knees, and over their arms at the bend of the elbows, as in the cut, and there they sit trussed like a couple of fowls.
Thus prepared, the two combatants arc placed face to face, their toes touching, and are left to fight it out. This they do by striving to knock each other down, each to overbalance the other without losing his own equilibrium.
Two falls out of three decide the game: if both fall it is no "round," and does not count.
As the player may not unclasp his hands even when down, he is quite helpless, and must be assisted by his friends.
KING OF THE CASTLE.
A good game to get warm with when there is no time for any more set amusement. One player stands upon a mound or piece of rising ground, crying, " I am king of the castle,-' and the others try to pull him down and supplant him. Any agreement may be entered into previously as to what use of the hands, &c, shall be allowed. The game works better when nothing but pure pushing is allowed—no holding or dragging.
The writer once saw a lot of lambs play this game in splendid style, using a large stone about a yard in diameter as their castle. There must have been about forty of them, and they played the game just like a parcel of boys, showing a wonderful individuality of character amongst them—some very plucky and not to be denied, some making a great parade of charging, but doing next to nothing, and others merely prancing and frisking about, and making no attempt to get on the stone at all.
DICKY, SHOW A LIGHT.
This game can only be played on a tolerably dark night, and is a kind of combination of " Hare and Hounds'' and " I Spy" in the dark.
One or two players, armed with a policeman's dark lantern, undertake the part of " Dicky," and start off to conceal themselves, while the rest, also with a lantern, after allowing a few minutes' law, proceed in search of them.
When the Dicky is ready, he flashes his light in the direction of the searchers and "makes tracks," while the searchers come after him in full cry. If they arc at fault they may cry, " Dicky, Dicky, show a light," when he is bound, unless dangerously near, to flash his light; so that, if they s^c the light, they get a fresh start; if not, they know that they arc close upon him.
A good Dicky, however, will scarcely ever give them an opportunity of doing this, but will lead them, especially if he knows the country thoroughly as he ought, a regular will-o'-the-wisp dance, through hedges, over ditches, and into quagmires, without ever allowing them to catch him; flashing his light, now far, now near, now here, now there; disappearing for a moment in one direction, and flashing out again suddenly in a totally different quarter; ever leading them on, but always keeping a wary distance; or, most annoying of all, allowing them to come nearly up with him, only to find themselves brought up by some impassable obstacle—a deep river, for instance, with the Dicky laughing at them from the other side.
The Dicky has many advantages over his pursuers, amongst which not the least is his knowledge of their movements, while they are ignorant of his: this, as it makes mere avoidance so easy, renders it desirable to fix beforehand some not very extended boundaries within which the game shall be played; otherwise, with any very considerable area of operations, the pursuers might "whistle" for their Dicky.
A Dicky when hard pressed will sometimes effect his escape by turning sharp upon his pursuers and blazing his bull's-eye in their faces; before they have time to recover from their surprise, the Dicky is off into the surrounding darkness, and may contrive, if favoured by the ground, to be non est by the time their eyes have got over the sudden glare.
Whatever time of year the game be played, all the players should be warmly clad, and the Dicky should be especially careful when hiding not to lie down on the damp ground, however dry he may believe it to be: the game, however great may be its attractions, is not worth the risk of a bad cold, much less of rheumatism or a chest complaint.
There should not be too much standing about, cither, when heated with running: the same liberties, it must be remembered, cannot be taken in the night as in the day-time.
All the players are armed with knotted handkerchiefs; the one chosen "Fox" has a den marked out, in which he is unassailable.
When prepared for action, he hops out of this on one leg, with his handkerchief ready to strike; the other players immediately gather round and attack him with their handkerchiefs.
If he can strike one of these assailants with his own handkerchief, and without putting his other foot to the ground, the player thus struck is basted by all into the den, and takes fox's place, the original fox going free.