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By Dan Beard

The American Game of Three
(Fox and Geese Modernized)

ohb260b.gif (9882 bytes)
Fig. 260.
American Game of Three.

An even number of boys are necessary to play this game. They decide who shall be "It" and who shall be "Three."

The remaining boys form themselves in a double circle or in concentric circles; that is, one ring of boys is inside the other ring of boys, and so arranged that they stand in couples. (Fig. 260). "It" takes his position opposite the outer circle, and "Three" takes his position opposite to him, also outside the outer ring.

When ready, all the couples join hands, "Three" taking the hand of the boy next to him, and all facing the same way. The boys now shout in unison a jingle making fun of "Three:"

"Three, Three! Ric, stick, stee! High ball, low ball, Long-legged Three!"

This is supposed to anger "Three," and he retaliates with a verse of his own. While the boys recite their verse they march around in a circle, and "It" stands still. When "Three" passes "It" he shouts:

"There stands he, High ball, low ball, Red-headed he, Will never catch me!"

The word "me" is the signal for the circle to come to a stand-still and For "It" to dash after "Three," who must run around, outside the ring, at least once, after which, if hard pressed, he may shout: "Hands right and left" Then he grasps the right hand of the boy nearest to him with his right hand, and the left hand of the next in order with his left hand, one hand and then the other, right and left, as in a square dance. (B, Fig. 260).

"It" follows close at his heels, going any way he can and watching for "Three" to make a mistake. If "Three" gives his right hand when he should have given his left, or his left when he should have given his right, and "It" touches him before the mistake is rectified, then "Three" is "it," and the game begins again. But if "Three" gets out of breath he may suddenly stop on the inside of the circle next to one of the ring boys. This move puts the outside boy of the couple next to which "Three" stands outside the circle. (C, Fig. 260). The outsider then becomes "Three" and "It" must try to catch him.

In case " Three " is caught while running, the outside boy that he stood next to when the game commenced is "Three" and "It" takes his place, while the late "Three" becomes "It."

It is a noisy game, furnishing plenty of exercise of muscle and ingenuity, and the jingle, as it is changed to suit the different players, creates any amount of laughter. Sometimes, it is "Little dude three," "Freckled-face three," "Long-nosed three," "Short-legged three," "Curly-headed three," "Pretty boy three;" and "Three," when he sings his verse, retaliates upon poor "It" with some apt or comic allusion to this particular boy's peculiarities. "It" always stands stock-still until he hears the word "me."







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.