Duck on a Rock




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By Dan Beard

Bowlder On; or Duck on a Rock.

It was hot. The boards of the lumber-piles visibly shrank and lost color under the direct rays of the sun. The yellow-clay banks of the river dried and cracked until what was lately mud now appeared to be a mosaic work of irregular flat stones. Between the bricks of the uneven sidewalk, the ants were busy piling up little cones of dry pellets of yellow earth. The angle-worms had retreated so far below that a spade would scarcely reach them, and on the gate-post the song sparrow perched himself, that being the most exposed and unprotected spot available, and there he gleefully sang his little tune. In the vacant lots the bumblebees buzzed and feasted on the red clover that grew among the weeds.

Where were the boys on this hot day? All were in swimming, except those who had already soaked themselves in the water until the ends of their fingers shriveled up like a washer-woman's. And these lads were gathered under the wide-spreading branches of a giant oak playing "Bowlder On," the local name for "Duck on a Rock," and the author of this book was with them gaining his first knowledge of the charms of this simple but popular game.

How the Game is Played

It is not customary to count out for the one who is to be "It" in this game. As soon as the game is proposed each boy searches for a cobble-stone, and when he finds one announces the fact by shouting "My duck!" The last boy to shout is "It," and he cries "My drake!" and places his cobblestone or small boulder on the larger one selected for the purpose and stands guard over his drake.

The other players stand at a taw or scratch line and throw their rocks at the drake with the purpose of knocking it from its perch. Each player who has thrown and missed must recover his duck and run the risk of being caught by the lad guarding the drake. The guardian stands by the rock, but cannot tag a playfellow until the latter has touched his duck. 

Often all the boys make a rush for their ducks at the same time, each one trusting to luck that he will have the good fortune to escape over the taw-line free, and sometimes they all escape. More frequently, however, some one of the crowd receives a tag from the guardian of the drake, and he must then drop his duck and assume the guardian's place, while the latter picks up the duck and joins the rest of the crowd of duck-throwers at taw-line.

If at any time one of the players succeeds in knocking the drake off of his perch then all the boys scramble for their ducks that are scattered around, and the guardian, or "It " as quickly as possible replaces his drake, for he may not tag any one until his drake is in place.

There is always an appearance of danger in this game on account of the flying bowlders, but the danger is only apparent and is nothing like as real as it is in baseball or football. "Bowlder On," however, is quite exciting.

See Also:

Rat on the Lodge







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Costume Race ] [ Duck on a Rock ] Hopscotch ] Hunkety ] I Spy ] Jack Candles ] Jack Stones ] Jack's Alive! ] Kick the Wicket ] Leap-Frog Race ] Mumbly Peg ] Renegade ] Simon Kenton ] Skittles ] Spirit Tortoise ] Tip-Cat ] The Wheelbarrow Race ] Woodsmen's Tests ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.