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Mirth and Dancing
Active Games


The Ascent of Man is so called because it was invented by Henry Drummond, though with characteristic modesty he described it as merely a non-fatal adaptation of a game that he came across in the Western States of America, where it is played with bowie-knives. You need for it a fairly large pitch-dark room, and the less furniture there is the better for everybody and also for the furniture. The procedure is simplicity itself. Each player tries to capture another by leaping on his back. In Drummond's time the game was for men only, but nowadays girls may join in provided they are active enough and suitably clothed.


The one who is "out" stands with his face to a wall, while the others line up in readiness to cross the road or the room. So long as he cries out "Carrot, carrot!" they may move, but when he says "Neep!" they must try to stop, for he is then allowed to wheel round and to send back any whom he detects, moving. The first across wins and takes his place at the wall instead of the other.


Stand up, put your head forward, and lay an empty wine- or beer-bottle across the back of your neck. Without touching it at any time with your hands, go down on your hands and knees and pick up with your teeth a cork conveniently placed on the floor. Rise to your feet again without dislodging the bottle. It has often been done.

Lay a round bottle, e.g. a screw-stopper beer-bottle or a lemonade bottle, end-wise on the floor. Competitors line up: referee is armed with a watch with a secondhand. First competitor is given a pencil and a sheet of paper with a board or other backing surface. He sits on the bottle with a hip on either side and the neck of the bottle pointing towards his feet. His legs must be kept crossed with his heels touching the floor. No part of his legs must touch the floor and he must not lay his feet flat. At the word "Go!" he begins to write a sentence agreed upon at the start. Referee times him. Both hands must be clear of the ground. If one touches he must stop writing till it is clear again. In thirty seconds the referee calls "Stop!" Each competitor takes his turn and the referee decides the winner according to the number of letters written and the legibility of the writing. This is an exercise in balance, and it will generally be found that cyclists have a slight advantage.


Husbands and wives is the active parlour game par excellence for middle-aged or even elderly men and women. It is very comforting to both sexes, as it provides each with an opportunity for jeering at the other.

I. Wives look on and Laugh. - Four chairs are placed in the four corners of the room, marked respectively "handkerchiefs", "ties", "coats" and "shoes". (If desired more chairs may be provided for "socks", "waistcoats", etc., etc. The men line up and at the word "Go!" leave their handkerchiefs and other articles of attire at the proper places. Then, without stopping, they do a second round, retrieve their things and put them on decently and in order. Each must recognise even his own handkerchief.

2. Husbands look on and Laugh. - Each woman is given two folded sheets of newspaper (a sheet is four pages). She must stand on one, spread out the other in front of her, step on to it, pick up the first sheet, now behind, and put it down for the next step, and in this way progress from one end of the room to the other without stepping on anything but her newspapers. By this time it is hoped that she may be convinced of the inefficiency of newspapers as a protection of springcleaned floors against a visit by the sweep or other entering male.

3. Wives and Husbands look on and Cheer. - A pile of assorted garments is put in a basket or on a chair, and a clothes-line is stretched across the room. Players in turn are furnished with clothes-pegs and timed in hanging up all the clothes neatly on the line. Or two players with two equal piles may race.


You must have a chalkable floor. Any number of players stand in a circle on one foot, with arms folded. The chalk circle is drawn round them. At "Go!" everybody starts trying to shove somebody else out of the circle, and hence out of the game. He who unfolds his arms or allows both feet to touch the ground is also out. The survivor is ringmaster.

The game can also be played by opposing teams in which a chalk line is drawn across the floor between them. It is then called Jebusites and Perizzites.


Without necessarily being rough, this game is a tester of stamina. The players pile up their jackets and, having joined hands round the pile, endeavour to make each other touch it. They must not leave go of one another's hands. Whoever touches the jackets (with feet, face or any part of himself) is put out of the circle. The final "singles" is interesting to watch.


Put a lighted candle somewhere about the level of the players' mouths (preferably and for obvious reasons not on the mantelpiece when the fire is alight); blindfold one player so that he cannot see any light through, round or over the bandage, and turn him round three times on the spot where the bandaging was done - i.e. about three yards from the candle and facing it. His job (or hers) is to walk up to the candle and blow it out. It is an exceptional player who walks in the right direction and blows in the right place.


Brief Candles is amusing at any time, but it ought to be played over coffee and dessert, when it gets better and better as the decanter goes round. One of the table candles is extinguished and placed, along with a box of matches, before one of the company, who must then strike a match, light the candle, blow out the candle, re-light it, blow it out again-and so on as long as light of match or candle lasts. As a rule you will light the candle from the match, but it is equally permissible to light the match from the candle. It is only when both are out that you are out. Then you pass candle and matches to your left-hand neighbour, and so the game goes round the table. With the average match a skilled player can light about fifty candles.


The players sit in two rows on chairs opposite to each other, each row being a "side". At either end, on a chair set between the rows and looking down them, sit A and B, who belong to neither side. A has a penny, or other object of which two are identical in size and shape, in each hand. At the word "Go!" he hands in the same moment the one in his right hand to the left hand of the end player on his right, and the one in his left hand to the right hand of the end player on his left. Each end player passes it to his neighbour, who must use the same hand as the one who passes it to him, and so on down the rows, racing. When the end is reached the last player in the row touches the hand of B that lies nearest to him, then he transfers the object to his other hand and passes it to his neighbour, who takes it with the same hand - i.e. with the reverse hand from the one used in the other journey. The side that gets the object back into A's nearest hand without mishap or cheating, has won. If there is cheating or dropping on either side, the race on that side has to start afresh from the beginning. It is the business of A and B to act as umpires in case of dispute.

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