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- Healthful Sports for Boys - 2/25 -


INTRODUCTION

Among the many good and wise things said by the great Lincoln was this: "Give me the boy with promise of the man in him, and give me the man with the memory of the boy in him, and both can sit at my table, and if they sit together, we'll have all the better time!"

This book of out-door games for boys will make better boys, and they'll get a lot more joy out of life and be the better men in time, for having read it and carried out its rules as to wholesome, honest sport.

The boy who plays an honest game will do an honest business, and he'll win over "the sneak."

If you are "a grown-up," read this book, and in doing so live over again the joyous, gladsome days of your boyhood, and you will sigh, as we do while writing this: "Would I were a boy again!"

We want the mother, as well as the father, to read this book, for it will recall the brothers of far-off days, and bring her into closer sympathy--we must not say "love," for that is already strong enough --with the exuberance of her boys.

And the girls? Why, bless you! They, too, should read every scrap of this book, for they will find in it many of their own games, and not one that they could not play and enjoy, if circumstances permitted.

And the grand-parents? God bless them! Why, they'll enjoy it quite as much as the young folks.

SPRING

CHAPTER I

MARBLES: WHERE MADE; TERMS OF THE GAMES; DIFFERENT GAMES; HOW TO ACQUIRE SKILL

Each season has its own particular work for the farmer, and he does his work without direction from or consultation with his neighbors or any one else. Each season has its own particular games for the young folks, and they take to them without any suggestion from outsiders, just as young ducks take to water, without any instructions from the mother bird. The seasons in the south temperate zone are just the opposite to those in the north. Some years ago I spent the months of July and August in New Zealand, and great was my surprise to find the boys down at Dunedin snowballing on the Fourth of July, while the sleigh-bells made music through the streets. In the following October, which is the spring month in Victoria, Australia, I found the youngsters of Melbourne playing marbles, just as the boys in New York had been doing when I left it the previous May.

MARBLES

We have reason to believe that the first marbles were fashioned from pebbles on the ocean's shore, or ground into roundness by the action of river currents. We do not know when or where marbles originated, but of the antiquity of the game we are very sure. Egyptian boys played marbles before the days of Moses, and marbles are among the treasures found buried in the ruins of Pompeii, which you will remember was destroyed by an eruption of lava from Vesuvius in the first century of the Christian era. To-day marbles are played in every civilized land under the sun, and with slight differences, the method of shooting and the games are practically the same.

Germans are the greatest toy and game-makers in the world, and so we should not be surprised to learn that that great country not only produces the most marbles, but also the very best. From Germany we get the finest "agates," the beauty and value of which every lover of the game knows. The more common marbles are made in Saxony, of a fine kind of white limestone, which is practically a variety of the building material known as "marble," and from which the name is derived. Broken into small pieces, and the irregular bits placed between two grooved grinders, the lower one being stone and the upper wood, power is applied, and after much rotating the spheres are turned out, hundreds at a time, and these are afterwards sorted and polished.

Glass marbles, some of which are imitation agates, are cast in moulds that close so perfectly that the place where they join cannot be seen in the finished product. China marbles are made from pottery-clay, and after being joined are baked, and sometimes they are painted. The small gray, brown or black marbles, usually called "commies," are little balls of clay, baked and glazed. These, being the cheapest, are the most numerous, and are usually the objects of attack, and so change owners the oftenest.

NAMES OF MARBLES AND PLAY TERMS

While the names of marbles and the terms of the game may vary slightly in different parts of the United States, they are in the main so much alike that the following will be understood by all boys throughout the land:

The _Taw_ or _Shooter_ is the marble used for shooting.

The _Taw Line_, or _Scratch_, is a line drawn for a starting point in the game.

_Ducks_ are marbles to be shot at.

_Dubs_, an abbreviation of "doubles," means that you get all the marbles knocked out with one shot.

_Fen Dubs_, an abbreviation of "defend doubles," is shouted by an opponent before the play, and means that you must put back all but one marble.

_Lofting_ means shooting through the air, so that your taw does not touch the earth till it hits the object aimed at or a point near it.

_Knuckling Down_ means resting the knuckles on the ground while shooting.

_Histing_ or _Hoisting_ is holding some distance above the ground. It is not permitted in Bull Ring or in Meg-on-a-string.

_Roundsters_ means taking a new position to avoid an obstruction. It is not allowed in Bull Ring.

_Sidings_ means moving your taw from one side to the other in a straight line when about to shoot It is barred in Bull Ring.

_Burying_ is when the taw, if in a good spot, is forced into the ground with the heel of the shoe. This is seldom allowed; "Fen buryings" being the accepted law of experts. _Laying_ means placing the marbles in the ring.

_Clearances_ means the removal of all obstructions between the players and the ducks.

_Sneaking_ means shooting for a position.

_Babying_ is shooting so as not to send the taw too far. Good players often do this so as to secure a position from which they can "skin the ring."

_Dabsters_ are little squares of cloth or skin laid under the knuckles when playing to keep them from being cut by constant contact with the hard ground.

_Marble Bag_ saves pockets and explains itself.

According to quality, marbles are known as "agates," "crystals," "chinas," "alleys," "potteries," and "commies," or the cheapest and least prized.

The three great essentials of the game are the boys, the marbles, and suitable ground.

The marble is shot from the hollow of the crooked index finger, and projected by the thumb. Good shooting is often done in this way, but the most expert shots place the marble on the point of the index finger, and project it with a firmer grip of the thumb. This method is more difficult to acquire, but it pays as does everything that requires practice and effort. A good player, as in billiards, can make his taw carom for position, or he can make it remain stationary, while the marble struck shoots away in a straight line.

SOME GOOD GAMES

A boy can practice the above, and I would advise him to do so, but it takes at least two boys to make a game--just as it takes two to make a quarrel, and you must never be one of the latter. Just here let me say that the boy who loses his temper, or who has not the manhood to accept defeat in the right spirit, does not make a desirable friend or playmate, for if he cannot conquer himself he is unfit to contest in the sports of youth or in the business of maturer years.

FAT

Fat is one of our oldest and simplest marble games. It is played in this way: Make a ring eighteen inches or two feet in diameter; ten feet back draw or scratch a taw line to shoot from. If four boys are playing, each places a marble, as indicated, or if there are more players the marbles are placed at equal distances about the ring. The order of the play having been decided on, by shooting or rolling towards the taw line, the nearness to which decides the question, number one shoots for the ring, and if he knocks out a marble, he shoots again from where his taw rests, and so keeps on until he has missed. Number two knuckles down at the taw line and shoots, as did number one. If the first taw is within range, he can shoot at that, and if he hits it, then number one must hand number two all the ducks he has knocked from the ring. If number two can hit number one's taw again, then number one is killed, and must retire from that game.

When number two misses, the next in order shoots, either at the ring or at the line taw, and so the game proceeds till all the marbles are knocked out, or all but the last player are killed. In the second game, the first man killed is the last to shoot, and so they take turns in the order of their defeat This game is the more fascinating


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