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A number of stools are placed in a circle with considerable space between them, there being two stools less than the number of players. If played out of doors, a stone may be used to sit on in place of a stool, or the players may stand, each on a spot or base marked on the ground. One of the odd players is a leader, and sits or stands in the center; the remainder are circle men and take each his place on a stool or base, the other odd man standing anywhere in the circle between the bases. The object of the game is for the circle men to change places on a signal given by the leader, each player trying to secure a stool and avoid being the odd man. The longer the distance between stools or bases the greater the sport. The running must be done in a circle outside of the bases, and no crosscuts through the circle are allowed. The player in the center repeats in rapid time the following lines:–
“Fire on the mountain, run, boys, run!
You with the red coat, you with the gun,
Fire on the mountains, run, boys, run!”
At any time, at the close of the verse, or unexpectedly, by way of interruption to it, the center player will call “Stool!” or “Base!” when all of the players must change bases. There will thus be one odd player left out. This player then steps one side and is out of the game, taking with him a stool belonging to one of the players, so that the number of stools is reduced by one; if bases are used, one is crossed out to show it is out of the game. The center player, who remains caller throughout, then repeats the verse and the signal for changing.
For each round of the game one player and one stool are taken out of the circle, until but two players and one stool are left. These two finish the game by circling the stool and some objective point a couple of yards away; when the signal to change is then given, the last one of the two to reach the stool becomes the leader for the next game.
VARIATION.–This game may be played without eliminating a player for each round. In this form, each player who is left out when stools or bases are taken must pay a forfeit, but continues actively in the game. The forfeits are redeemed when each player has been odd man at least once.
In this form of the game, instead of having one leader throughout, the leader (center man) should try to secure a stool for himself when the others change, the odd man becoming leader. There should then be but one stool or base less than the number of players.
This is a Scotch game, the reference to signal fires on the mountains, to red coats, and guns, having an obviously historic origin.
Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft