Brown Ear Wolf




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By Dan Beard

"What Time do You Dine?" or, The Brown-Eared Wolf

Take a piece of old newspaper, wrapping-paper, or any other similar material, and tear it into as many bits as there are players. Mark each piece of paper with a number representing some hour of the day, until there is only one piece left. Mark this piece with the same number as any one of those already numbered.

This will make two of a kind; that is, the papers will read one, two, two, three, etc., or one, one, two, three, four, etc. There can only be twelve numbers, as there are only twelve hours on the clock; but, if more boys are playing, you can make some of the numbers half hours until the required number of papers are marked.

Under one of the twin numbers mark a cross, thus X. No one but the lad chosen as marker must see the numbers until they are drawn, and then each player must keep his number a secret.

To draw the numbers the marker places them all in a hat. And each boy in turn reaches in the hat without looking and selects a bit of paper; the piece of paper left in the hat belongs to the marker. The boy who finds that he has drawn the paper with a figure and a cross is "It."

A simpler form of the game is played by omitting the duplicate number and counting out to see who shall be "It." "It" then retires a short distance while the sheep decide among themselves what o'clock they shall each represent.

"It" announces himself in this way:

"I eat no meat but woolly sheep, My stomach is very good; It's their blood, I think, that I will drink, If caught inside my wood!"

With a cry of alarm all the sheep hasten to form themselves in a ring around the wolf, for, if the ring is not complete before he finishes his verse, he is allowed, by the rules of the game, to catch any boy who is not grasping the hands of two other boys, one on each side. Consequently the end boys of be line hasten to join hands and form the circle.

Now this funny old wolf is hemmed in by his prey, and, in spite of his blood-thirsty nature, he is either not allowed or is afraid to catch anyone until a proper signal is given. The signal is given in this manner: All the sheep dance around the wolf, shooting together this verse:

Wolf! Wolf! Wolf with a brown ear, Tell us what time you will dine On one of the sheep gathered here!"

Then the wolf shouts out "Two o'clock," "three o'clock," or whatever he chooses, and the sheep holding the ticket answering to the time given darts out of the ring with the wolf after him. The wolf cannot call the same number twice. If the sheep can run around the ring three times without the wolf catching him ! and regain his place he is safe, and the wolf sings out again:

"I eat no meat but woolly sheep, My stomach is very good; It's their blood, I think, that I will drink, If caught inside my wood!"

And the sheep reply, repeating the verse first given. The wolf then guesses another hour, and so the game goes on until a sheep is caught, when the sheep becomes a wolf and the wolf a sheep, and all the boys trade numbers, being careful not to allow the brown-eared wolf to hear them.

In case the wolf guesses the twin number of his own, it is unnecessary for him to catch that sheep, for the sheep becomes a wolf as soon as his number is mentioned, and there are two wolves inside the circle. Happy then is the sheep that escapes them when his time is called.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.