Jack Candles




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By Dan Beard

ohb266.gif (10450 bytes)
Fig. 266.
Jack and the Candles

"School is out and it will be hours before it is dark. What shall I do to fill in the time?" says the healthy boy.

Well-meaning parents sometimes answer: "Come home, be Washed and dressed, and go out with nurse for a walk."

Old Mother Nature says: "Shout, ran, jump, and have a rollicking good time. After a good romp you will need no walk and no nurse. You can wash yourself as clean as soap and water will make you, put on your good clothes, and eat as hearty a meal as your parents can provide; study as hard before bedtime as your young mind is able; sleep as soundly as good health will admit, and wake up as bright as a dollar next morning."

It is hard in cities to find games that can be played in the awful presence of cable and trolley cars and big brass-buttoned policemen, none of whom have much sympathy with boys or their sports, but there are few places, even in crowded New York, that have not a comparatively quiet side-street near by where such a game as jack and the Candles can be played with little danger of the direful interference of the street cars or policemen.

Choosing the Master

There ought to be at least half a dozen boys in the game. One boy is chosen for master by drawing straws previously described; the boy bolding the longest straw is "master," and the lad with the shortest straw is poor "Jack." The game begins by the master sending Jack after some candles.

"Jack!" calls the master in a domineering manner. "Yes, sir," answers Jack, meekly. "You lazy rascal, come here!" "Yes, sir," replies Jack, edging cautiously up. "We expect company tonight, and need more light; go and fetch me some candles."

Jack, apparently glad to escape from the presence of his master, hastens away. While Jack is out of hearing, the other boys range themselves in a row on any convenient seat, and each selects a name for himself, as "Baked Beans," "Tripe," "Onions," "Mutton Chops," "Mush," "Sauerkraut," "Plum Pudding," or any other set of name they may choose.

After all have chosen names and told them to the master, the latter, in a loud tone, summons Jack, who, of course, comes back empty-handed. This apparently enrages the master, and he threatens Jack with a pocket-handkerchief that has a knot in one end. Jack begins to make excuses, saying that he went to the hardware shop and the clerk told him he had nothing in light ware except tin lanterns; at the bakery they told him that the only light they had for sale was light bread, and the blacksmith told him to light out, and some one else said that if he did not snuff himself out mighty quick he would let daylight through him, and the butcher that he would sell him liver and lights, etc. In fact, Jack tries in his excuses to be silly or witty enough to make the other boys laugh. The master then tells Jack that he is light-headed enough to answer the purpose, and since he has brought no candles they must eat in the dark. Then he commands him to bring on the "sauerkraut," or any other name chosen by the boys.

It is

Now Jack's Duty

ohb267.gif (5950 bytes)
Fig. 267.
Hard-Boiled Eggs.

To select the one of his playmates whom he thinks may have chosen sauerkraut for his name. If the servant fails, as he is most likely to do, Jack is told to get up on the back of the boy he has selected in this manner: "Master, let him have three hard eggs and three soft eggs," or "four soft eggs and two peppers," always limiting the amount of the dish to six. For soft eggs the master gently flaps Jack on the back with the loose or soft end of the handkerchief; for hard eggs he applies the knotted end; for pepper he snaps the handkerchief at that part of Jack's clothes which is drawn the tightest, after which he is told to try again and to bring on some other dish named.

But if Jack selects the boy whose name has been called then that boy must mount on Jack's back and Jack passes the sentence and the master administers the punishment accordingly, giving him pepper, soft or hard eggs, as the case may be, after which Jack becomes master. The master takes his place in the line, and the boy whose name was guessed becomes Jack and is sent for candles, while the others choose new names, and so the game goes on. Each boy in the line is careful, as a rule, not to make Jack's punishment too severe, for fear Jack may guess his adopted name and pay him back in his own coin.

In many cities in the United States there are hundreds of Jacks hunting for candles every summer evening, and some that I have heard of become so proficient in their part and create so much fun by their witty excuses that the merry shouts of boyish laughter that greet their remarks may be heard for a block away. And some boys make excellent masters, imitating with rare ability the harsh, unreasonable language of a churl in authority, while Sauerkraut, Baked Beans, Pickles, and Mush sit in a line on curbstone or fence and applaud their young dramatic stars.







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Costume Race ] Duck on a Rock ] Hopscotch ] Hunkety ] I Spy ] [ Jack Candles ] Jack Stones ] Jack's Alive! ] Kick the Wicket ] Leap-Frog Race ] Mumbly Peg ] Renegade ] Simon Kenton ] Skittles ] Spirit Tortoise ] Tip-Cat ] The Wheelbarrow Race ] Woodsmen's Tests ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.