SUMMER at last. Bright summer, glad summer, delightful summer, jolly summer, as different poets have called it. The sun lies warm on the open uplands, the breeze blows soft across the grassy valleys, the shady spots upon the edges of the rustling wood look cool and inviting; and so, out of the sun and into the shadow let us pass, accepting the invitation of still another famous poet -
" Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat, Come hither, come hither, come " -
But what! cry all our would-be athletes in chorus; loll under the trees like cows and other cattle for sheer laziness and cud-chewing? No, sir, not we. Summer means fun, and not loafing. It means the open air and the blue sky; it means the freedom of street and park and meadow and seashore, and all the big playground that Mrs. Nature has laid out for the young people who seek her. So, sir, under no trees and into no shadows do we go while there are enough of us stirring to get up some jolly, good game, or take sides in some particularly favorite fun.
I suppose there never was a nation, race, or people since first the earth was made, that did not have girls and boys who not only loved play, but did play, and with a will. The Eskimos of the frozen North, the Tupinambras of the Brazilian pampas, the gamins of the Paris streets, the boys and girls of London and Boston and New York, have in their nature one kindred tie, - the love of sport.
But if there is any boy or girl who thinks that he or she has ever conceived, planned, or played a new game, let such consider well before claiming the right of invention.
There is nothing new under the sun, said the wise man; and especially is there nothing new in young folks' games. Archaeologists find well-beloved dolls in Egyptian pyramids and on prehistoric tombs; the name of a popular ball-club was found scrawled upon the outer walls of Pom-peiian houses; and one of the most exciting baseball matches on record was the one, stubbornly fought, between the rival nines of Montezuma, King of Mexico, and Nezahualpilli, 'tzin of Tezcuco. The boys of ancient Greece and Rome played at whip-top and quoits, and base-ball and pitch-penny, and blind-man's-buff and hide-and-seek, and jack-stones and follow my leader, just as do the boys of to-day; the girls were experts at see-saw, and swinging and dancing, and grace-hoops and dice-throwing and ball-play, and, in Sparta, even at running, wrestling, and leaping. Tobogganing is as old as ice and snow; and when you play at cherry-pits you are only doing what Nero and Commodus and young Themistocles did ages ago in Rome and Athens.
So, whatever the age or clime, the boys and girls of the world have always lived more for play than anything else; and however harsh or hard their surroundings, however stern or strict their fathers and mothers, they always found and made the most of the time for play, and, more than any other season, the time for summer sports.
These sports to-day are fast reducing themselves into as many sciences, over-weighted with rules and restrictions, that often take the real play element from them, and make them as unyielding and sedate as a problem in algebra.
Now, while rules and restrictions are undoubtedly necessary, there is such a thing as going too far; and I am inclined to believe that the boys and girls prefer to follow the cast-iron rules only to the verge of " cast-ironness," and make their sport, if less absolute, at least more jolly. There is no fun in making our sport a matter of life and death.
I know grown people who, in these days of prize-giving in all manner of games, centre their whole desires, not on the fun of the game, but on the prizes offered. They really seem as disappointed if they do not carry off a trophy as if they had met with some serious loss. Let us take our fun with jollity or not at all. Interest is one thing, and irritability is quite another.
So, whatever the game you are playing, remember that the best of all rules is: Keep your temper. Life has plenty of shifting clouds without the necessity of quarrels over games; disputes and bickerings have far too often broken up a merry company, and spoiled the beauty of a summer play-day.
"Tobogganing is as Old as Ice and Snow."
Now, while I fully realize that no new games are likely to supplant foot-ball, base-ball, or tennis in the favor of Young America, I do feel sure that there is left plenty of room for some such games as may be played by any number of young people, - boys or girls, - and without the necessity of having carefully prepared grounds. Croquet formerly filled this want; and golf, called by one enthusiast "a sort of glorified croquet," is at present attracting a good deal of attention. But croquet has fallen more or less into disfavor, and golf can be played only in the open country. For this reason I am going to say just a word about one or two games which may be played almost anywhere by any number of people.
And in the first of these - the good old English game of bowls - the croquet balls which have been unused for several years may be made to do service.
The "bowls" used in the scientific game are peculiarly constructed, but for unprofessional sport the croquet balls will serve the purpose. The rules here given are for this unprofessional game, and are those pronounced by a very recent authority on this attractive sport. Retain the sides chosen for your last game of croquet, and let the captains choose for "first." The ground is marked off by a line at one end, and a small quoit is placed in the centre of a ring at the other. The game is commenced by the first player of the side winning the toss; he endeavors to roll his ball as near as possible to the quoit, or tee as it is called. The first player on the other side then strives to roll his ball either closer to the tee than is that of his adversary, or, if that is not possible, to drive his opponent's ball away. If he fails to do either, then the second player of the leading side rolls his ball so as to guard the first player's ball from attack; and so the game proceeds until all the balls have been rolled to the tee, when the side whose ball or balls are nearest to the tee scores an ace for each ball counting. Only the side to whom belongs the ball nearest the tee can count; so, if the second nearest ball is an opponent's, the winning side can only count one. The winner of the game is the side which first scores twenty-one. Should a ball settle in the centre of the tee quoit, then the count is four, unless the ball be knocked off the quoit, either by an opponent's ball, or by a ball of the side which rolled it on the tee. These are the rules for a bowling court or field with one end. If two ends are laid out, two tees or quoits are set one at either end, and the contestants roll from each end alternately.