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By Dan Beard

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Fig. 262.
Long Island Hunkety.

When the world was young the little folks played I Spy, and the game is still popular, and will be, I venture to say, as long as there are young people to play it, even though the world becomes old and gray in the meantime.

And, if there are no children left, the young beasts of the forest will play it as they do now. A pair of young foxes once owned by the writer never seemed to tire of playing I Spy. First one would hid, and then the other, and great would be the race when the hider was discovered. The race generally ended in a rough-and-tumble fight and then the game was started afresh. The had no rules determining which should be "It " that I could discover, nor did "It" count a hundred with his eyes shut to give the other a chance to hide as a boy does. Nor was the young fox intelligent enough to use the unfair methods of counting sometimes employed by boys. For instance, when "It" agrees to count one hundred, and the other boys are seeking a hiding-place, they are sometimes caught unaware when "It" shouts "Ten, ten, double ten, forty-five, and fifteen!" opens his eyes and goes in search of his half- hidden playmates. Any hider gaining home before "It" can do so is in free, and generally announces the fact by shouting as he runs, " In free! In free!" But if "It" spies a boy, calls his name, and reaches home first, the boy is caught. The same goes on until all are in free or caught. If "It" fails to catch one, then "It" must be "It" for the next game, but if he catches one or more buys, the first one caught is "It " for the next game.

As Played in the Evening

As this game is played in the evening, or after dark, it is frequently difficult for "It " to distinguish one boy from another. This difficulty is often increased by those hiding turning their caps and coats inside out or exchanging caps and hats, and purposely allowing the disguised head to appear from behind a tree or the front steps of a house. When the boy who is "It" sees the head and recognizes the covering, in nine times out of ten he will be deceived, and cry out, "I spy Tom Jones!" when it is really Billy Smith with Tom Jones's hat or cap on. In this case both Jones and Smith are free. Usually, while this affair is going on, several others, slip in crying, "In free!" and "It " learns by experience to be more cautious the next time.

The exchanging of hats and coats or the turning of them inside out adds greatly to the difficulty of detection and to the interest of the game.


if the last hider to come in succeeds in reaching home without being caught and cries " Freeings! " then all go out and hide again, and "It " is "It " for another game.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.