Source: Games For The Playground, Home, School And Gymnasium
Category: SINGING GAMES
Many of the things described in the previous section of this
chapter may be used as forfeits.
Forfeits are used in many games as a penalty for failure, and
may be an occasion for much merriment. The usual method of
collecting and disposing of the forfeits is for each player
when he fails, to deposit with some one person designated for
the purpose some article which shall serve to identify him when
the penalties are assigned. This may be a ring, some small
article from the pocket, a bonbon, a pebble, or flower, a bit
of ribbon, or other ornament of dress.
When the game is over, the forfeits are redeemed. For this
purpose one player is chosen as the judge, who is seated.
Behind him stands a player who takes one article at a time from
the pile of collected forfeits, holds it over the head of the
judge so that he may not see it, and says, "Heavy, heavy hangs
over thy head."
The judge then asks, "Fine or superfine?" (meaning, boy or
The holder answers, "Fine," if a boy, and "Superfine," if a
girl, and adds, "What must the owner do to redeem it?"
The judge then pronounces sentence. Part of the sport of this
imposing of penalties for forfeits is the ignorance of the
judge as to who is the owner of the forfeit.
The following penalties are appropriate for the paying of
forfeits, and many of the feats previously described are also
The practice of forfeits is prehistoric, and is thought to have
originated in the custom of paying ransom for immunity from
punishment for crimes. As used in games of later years, the
main object has been to make the offender ridiculous.
A player is required to ask a question that cannot
be answered in the negative. The question is, "What does y-e-s spell?"
The player is required to pay a compliment to each
person in the room in turn.
Two players are blindfolded and told to waltz together.
CHEW THE STRING
Two bonbons are wrapped in paper and tied each to a
piece of string six yards in length. These are placed on the floor at
a distance from each other, the free end of each string being given
to one of the two players who are assigned to this penalty. At a
signal, each player puts his piece of string in his mouth, and with
hands behind back chews rapidly at the string, trying to get it all
into the mouth. The one who first gets to his piece of candy is
rewarded by having both pieces.
The player is required to "Spell Constantinople, one
syllable at a time." As soon as he gets to the letter "_i_," all of
the other players shout the following syllable, "No!" The speller
naturally thinks that he has made a mistake, and commences again. Each
time that he gets to the letter "_i_," the same cry of "No" is made,
and the poor victim may become very much confused, and doubt his own
memory as to spelling before he discovers the trick.
CORDIAL GREETING, A
This penalty is imposed upon two players at
once. They are blindfolded and led to opposite corners of the room.
They are then told to go toward each other and shake hands.
The player is required to leave the room with two legs
and come back with six. He does this by bringing a chair with him when
DANGEROUS POSITION, A
The player is required to sit upon the fire.
This is done by writing the words "the fire" on a slip of paper, and
then sitting on it.
The player is required to yawn until he makes some one else
A ball the size of an orange is made of crumpled paper. It
is placed on the floor, and the player is required to stand at a point
three times the length of his foot from the ball. From this point he
is required without bending the knees to kick the ball out of the way.
The player is required to make a speech on any subject
assigned by the judge.
The player is required to put four feet against the wall.
He does this by placing the feet of a chair against the wall.
The player is required to hold one foot in his hand and
hop on the other around the room.
A player is given some small article to hold in each
hand, such as a flower or lead pencil, and required to stretch both
arms at full length sideways, the right arm to the right and the left
arm to the left. He is then required to bring both articles into one
hand without bending shoulders or elbows; or, to state it differently,
without bringing the hands any nearer together. This may be done by
placing one of the objects on a table with one hand, turning around,
and picking it up with the other hand.
A player is required to make a pile of chairs as high as
his head, and then take off his shoes and jump over them. (Jump over
The player is required to cross the arms and grasp
the left ear with the right hand and the nose with the left hand. He
is then suddenly to release the grasp and reverse the position of the
hands, grasping the right ear with the left hand and the nose with the
right hand. This should be repeated several times in quick succession.
INSIDE AND OUT
The player is required to kiss a book inside and
outside without opening it. He accomplishes this seemingly impossible
task by taking the book out of the room, kissing it there, coming
back, and kissing it again inside the room.
The player is given two pairs of rhymes and required to
write a verse of four lines ending with the prescribed rhymes. This
same forfeit may be imposed on several different players at once, an
added interest arising from comparison of the finished verses.
KNIGHT OF THE RUEFUL COUNTENANCE
This requires two players, one who
is assigned to be the knight and the other to be the squire.
The squire takes the knight by the arm and leads him before each lady
present. The squire kisses the hand of each lady in turn, and after
each kiss carefully wipes the knight's mouth with a handkerchief. The
knight must display his grief at the loss of so many opportunities by
preserving throughout an unsmiling countenance.
LITTLE DOG TRAY
The player is required to crawl under the table on
all fours and bark like a dog.
LITTLE GERMAN BAND, THE
Three or four players are told to imitate a
little German band, each being required to represent a certain
instrument, and all to join in rendering some popular air, which
should be assigned.
The player is required to walk around the room and
bestow a smile on each person in turn.
An apple is suspended at head height on the end of a
string from a chandelier or portiere pole. The delinquent player is
required to walk up to the apple and take a bite from it without help
from the hands. For obvious reasons, only one person should be allowed
to bite at an apple.
The player is required to laugh in one corner of the room, to
sing in the second corner, to cry in the third, and to whistle or
dance in the fourth.
NEGATIVE SIDE, THE
The player is required to answer "No" to a
question put to him by each member of the company in turn. This may be
made very funny if he be required, for instance, thereby to express
dislike for his favorite occupations or friends.
PILGRIMAGE TO ROME, A
The judge announces that the player who is to
redeem this forfeit is about to make a pilgrimage to Rome, and
requests that each member of the company give him something to take on
his journey. The pilgrim is then required to pass around the room
while each person, in turn, presents him with some article, the more
inappropriate or difficult or cumbersome to carry the better. These
may consist, for instance, of a small chair, a sofa pillow, a house
plant, a big basket, a lunch consisting of a nut, etc. These must all
be carried at once, and when all have been collected, the pilgrim must
make one entire round of the room before laying any of them down.
The player is required to put one hand where the other
cannot touch it. He does this by placing the right hand on the left
elbow, or _vice versa_.
SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR
Two players are required to stand upon an
open newspaper in such a manner that they cannot possibly touch one
another. They will find the solution of the problem in placing the
newspaper over the sill of a door, and then closing the door between
Two players are blindfolded and seated on the floor, each
with a large towel or napkin pinned around the neck like a bib. Each
is then given a bowl filled with corn meal or flour, and a spoon.
When all is ready, the two players are told to feed each other. This
forfeit makes as much sport for the rest of the company as for those
engaged in its performance.
The delinquent player is sent out of the room. While
he is gone, the remaining players decide on three questions, to which
he must reply "Yes" or "No" before he knows what the questions are.
When he returns, he is asked if he will answer the first question with
"Yes" or "No." Having made his choice, the question is then repeated
to him, often resulting in much laughter from the incongruity of the
answer. The other questions are answered in the same way.
The player is required to bite an inch off the poker. He does
this by holding the poker about an inch from his face and making a
bite at it.
TOAST OF THE EVENING, THE
The player is required to propose his or
her own health in a complimentary speech about himself or herself.
A closed umbrella or a cane is held upright on the
floor by pressing on the top of it with the forefinger. The player is
then required to release his hold, to pirouette rapidly, and snatch
the umbrella before it falls to the ground.
The player is required to repeat a verse or jingle,
stating the number of the word after each word. For example
"Yankee, _one_, Doodle, _two_, went, _three_, to, _four_, town,
The player is given a cane or closed umbrella. He
rests this on the floor, places both hands on top of it, and then
rests his forehead on the hands. While in this position, he is
required to turn around three times, then suddenly stand with head
erect, and walk straight ahead.
The player is required to imitate a donkey or any other
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