Cloak of Romance




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" To stand on the right footing for getting the best out of your boys you must see things with their eyes. To you the orchard must, as it is with them, be Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood and his Merry Men in the background ; the fishing harbour must be the Spanish Main with its pirates and, privateers ; even the town common may be a prairie teeming with buffaloes and Red Indians, or the narrow slum a mountain gorge where lived the bandits or the bears." Scouting for Boys, p. 321.

Readers of Richard Jefferies' Bevis--and that should mean all Scooters--will remember how the boys turned a reservoir into a Sea of Romance. They put names. to every feature of the area, and had the Nile running into one end of the New Sea and the Mississippi out of the other.

" ` We ought to be something,' said Mark discon­tentedly- ' Of course we ought,' said Bevis. ` Things are stupid unless you are something.'

` Lions and tigers,' said Mark, growling, and showing his teeth.

` Pooh i

` Shipwrecked people on an island.'

`Fiddle ! They have plenty to do, and are always happy, and we are not.'

` No ; very unhappy. Let's try escaping-prisoners running away."'

" We ought to be something," is the Scout's cry for romance ; he wants very little encouragement to paint his world in glowing colours. The difficulty with the

Scooter is that he sometimes forgets this hunger for romance and makes a dull exercise of what should be a thrilling adventure. Some grown-ups, although mas­querading as bank-clerks or engineers, manage to pre­serve the imaginative outlook of the boy ; fortunate the Troop that has one such a Scooter ! Others have allowed their imaginations to rust, and this chapter is an attempt to give hints for reburnishing this powerful instrument. We can clothe most of our Scout activities with this cloak of romance, but perhaps the Wide Game offers the

best scope for flights of imagination. Of course the Scouts will enjoy a Flag Raid in its plain form, but they will get extra jollity and zest if it becomes a struggle between rival bands of savages, or develops into a Wild West Drama. Perhaps we have too frequently left them

to get their colour and thrills from " The Pictures," when they should be getting them in their Scouting.

Most Troops, except for the summer camp, have to use the same area time and time again for their outdoor

Scouting. Any sense of monotony can be banished by changing the picture in the frame ; at one time it may be the African Veld, at another the Rocky Mountains, or again, the frozen wastes of the Antarctic ; in one game

the Scouts may be Incas of Peru, in another Bedouins of the desert, or perhaps, as the Chief Scout suggests, Outlaws of Sherwood.

" Friar Tuck and Little John are aiding down together

With quarter-staff and drinking-can and grey goose feather.

The dead are coming back again, the years are rolled away

In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day."

The commonest form of romance used amongst Scouts seems to be the Red Indian story. It has an obvious attraction as the Red Man showed great Scouting skill, and the endless strife between the various Tribes and. Nations offers a ready-made scheme for many a Wide Game. Generally the Red Indian material is exploited to little further purpose than the borrowing of picturesque names. This is a pity, because a -reading of Fenimore Cooper's Leather-Stocking tales would suggest many exciting possibilities. Stewart Edward White's Daniel Boone contains many incidents which could be used as hints for Red Indian games. This is but one illustration of how even well-worn themes may be rejuvenated if we will go further afield for inspiration.

But it is better perhaps to avoid overworking one kind of romantic material; there is so much crying aloud to be used that it seems a waste not to do something with it. A few hints on where to find raw material may therefore prove of service, and then an example will be given of how to shape the finished product.

i. THE PRESS. Newspapers and magazines will supply hints and suggestions. For example, here is a cutting from the evening newspaper.

" Jones's bid for freedom last February was one of the most daring episodes in the history of flights from Dart­moor. " He bolted from a working party inside the prison with a confederate named Brown. They scaled a thirty­foot wall with a rope hooked on to the outside masonry, and they made for the open country. "They had chosen theirs time well. The working party was about to restart after the midday meal, and one of the warders in charge of them was collecting the tools when they slipped away behind the tool shed.

'° Jones threw his blue smock on the grass. " The bell over the prison clanged out a warning, and the police drew a cordon round the moor and put blood­hounds on the trail. " Brown was caught the following morning, but Jones

reached Laira, a suburb of Plymouth.

" Then he was challenged by a police-constable, who recognised him by three moles on his face under his left eye. " He had in his possession a cigarette case which had been stolen from a bungalow at Yelverton, and one penny."

A few Patrol Leaders, letting their imaginations work

on that material, will soon evolve something exciting for the Troop's next Wide Game.

Magazines like the Cornhill, or Blackwood's often con­tain first-hand accounts of adventures in out-of-the-way parts of the world; these provide good camp-fire yarns, as well as suggestions for game-plots. 2. Local LEGEND is a fruitful source. A local guide­book generally contains stories of the past connected with the district. Such a series of books as Macmillan's High­ways and Byways (arranged by Counties) will be found helpful particularly for a new camping area. Thus in the Kent volume on page io6 is this passage " A later owner had a lively experience when an ehergetic Royalist, the brave Captain Golding, it is said, sud­denly descended on the coast near Birchington, landed a party of Englishmen and others, hurried them up to Quex Park, took Mr. Henry Crispe but of his bed, hurried him to the shore and carried him off to Flanders."

What a chance for a Troop camping on the Isle of Thanet ! One can imagine the thrilling. yarn the Scoutmaster works up from these bare materials to tell at the Camp Fire, th'~ exploration of the district by the Scouts the next day,

and the exciting Wide Game based on the kidnapping olf. Mr. Henry Crispe

3. HISTORY. A whole book could be written on this mine of material alone! The possibilities of what the imagination can do with historical themes are well illus­trated in Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies. These two books provide many hints for schemes. Try, for instance, to work up one game about the defence of the Roman Wall. The Cavalier and Roundhead struggles provide another series of hints. But it is not sufficient to label the two sides in the game just " Cavalier "and "Roundhead " ; in many games the names might be anything else just as suitable ! The point is to introduce sufficient real fact into the scheme so that the Scouts can really imagine themselves to be either Cavaliers or Roundheads, and act accordingly. Half the fun is lost if the parties in the game do not lose themselves in their parts and see the thing through consistently.

Historical escapes clearly foreshadow man-hunts. For these nothing could be better than John Buchan's A Book of Escapes, which contains twelve brief but vivid accounts (with maps) of famous bids for freedom. Such a story as "The Flight to Varennes " should stir up the most sluggish imagination.

These are only a few ideas chosen at random from a great mass of material ready for our use if only we will use it.

¢. EXPLORATION. Tales of exploration and of pioneer­ing naturally appeal to Scouts, and there is a wealth of record, travellers' own accounts, and diaries of journeys in which to delve. One example must suffice. In Newbolt's The Book of the Long Trail is the story of how Stanley found Livingstone. Here is one sentence, " Mirambo, a chief of Unyamwezi, had blackmailed and turned back a caravan bound for Ujiji, declaring that no Arab caravan should pass through his country while he was alive." In that sentence lies just the hint to stimulate the imagination to give a new setting for cordan­breaking. 5. ROMANCES. The story of how R. L. Stevenson came to write Treasure Island has a moral for Scouters 1 His step-son, Lloyd Osbourne, aged twelve, was one rainy morning busy with his box of paints colouring the map of an island he had drawn. R.L.S. came in, and was soon taking part in the fun; his contribution was such names as Skeleton Island and Spy-glass Hill. When it was finished, the boy exclaimed, " Oh, for a story about it ! " R.L.S. took the map away with him, and next morning the boy was called up to the bedroom. " The first thing I saw was my beloved map lying on the coverlet . . . . I was told to sit down while my step-father took up some sheets of manuscript, and began to read aloud the first chapter of Treasure Island." That book is the very substance of romance, and fortunately for us we have a wealth of yarns which capture the imaginations of all boys. The names of such as Stanley Weyman, Quiller­Couch, and John Buchan come to the mind at once, but the tradition is older than their work. Sir Walter Scott may not be a popular boy's author, but with a little digging the enterprising Scouter can uncover ore of the finest quality. Read for instance Chapter XIV of The Legend of Montrose ; it contains a most exciting man-hunt ready for putting into action. The way in which such a story as Treasure Island can be used is illustrated by the following account of a game actually played by Scouts; they were fairly experienced and decided to keep the game going over-night.

" Captain Smollett's party-the loyalists-leave His= paxiola (Camp) to make a stockade. They take the trek-, eart and are given a fairly definite site to aim for.

" Long John Silver takes the mutineers to another spot where they find Ben Gunn, who gives them a plan of Spy-glass Hill showing exact location of treasure. They are told that the stockade is in a certain area and that Captain Smollett will be inside a tent in meditation from 7~3o to 9.30. They may attack between these hours, and if they touch him Captain Smollett will delay the loyalists , next morning. New lives could be obtained from Ben Gunn (half a mile away) or Dr. Livesey (on spot).

" Next morning, no start before 9.30. The loyalists, if they lost the night before, may be delayed till 9.45

" The loyalists do not know exact spot of treasure and have to get to Spy-glass Hill first and hide waiting for the mutineers to give the show away.

" The loyalists are nearer the hill and times and dis­tances are so worked out that the delay (J hour) just balances the nearer distance and makes a race on level terms. " The side which returns to the ship (camp) with the treasure wins.

" This resulted in a frightful fight at the stockade, which fell after 9o minutes' resistance. The delay (due to their defeat overnight) robbed the loyalists of victory by about 3 minutes (2¢ in each party)." Another " Treasure Island " game will be found in The Scooter for December 1926.

It should be unnecessary to say that there is no obliga­tion to keep to the " book of words " in these games. The stories we " use " are merely jumping-off places; THE CLOAK OF ROMANCE 55

they supply the necessary beginning from which the imagination can get going. Our aim is not so much to dramatise an historical incident, or a romantic yarn, or an explorer's journey ; there is place for that in Scouting, but in the Wide Game we must adapt and alter our raw material according to immediate possibilities and the needs of the game. The spirit in which we work may be illustrated from Alfred Noyes' poem, " Buccaneer Days "

" Then up, in our breeches and shirts, to that buccaneer glow

In the cave. Is it true we grow old ? Is the fire sinking low ?

Come 1 You shall be chief. We'll not quarrel. The time flies so fast,

There are ships to be grappled. There's blood to, be shed, ere our summer be past."

It may be of help if we now work out in detail a game suggested by such material as has been described in this chapter. We will use John Buchan's john Macnab and use Map I as the scene of our game. Perhaps the most suitable part of that delightful story for our purpose is the third of John Macnab's adventures, the attack on the preserves of Haripol House, described in Chapters X to XIV. It is as well to set out on paper the main facts.

OBJECT. To kill a stag on the Haripol ground and remove it outside the bounds.

ATTACKERS. John Macnab-a nom de guerre for Lord Lamancha, Sir Edward Leithen, and John Palliser­Yeates, with the connivance of Sir Archie Roylance, Wattie Lithgow, and of Benjamin Bogle (Fish Benjie). Identity of John Macnab unknown to defenders. DEFENDERS. Rt. Hon. Lord Claybody and his son John­son, supported by Macnicol, the gillies, and the navvies.


MEANS TAKEN FOR DEFENCE. All deer driven into " The Sanctuary " and that area closely watched by Mac­nicol and his men. An outer cordon of navies is drawn right round the ground. PLANS of ATTACKERS. Lamancha under guidance of Wattie to get the stag. Leithen and Palliser-Yeates to draw off defence. Roylance to be receiver.

j7ohn Macnab has a useful map to help us in our plan-

ning. Our area (Map I) is flat but well wooded. How much of the map we can use depends on the numbers of Scouts available. Let us assume that four Patrols can lie used. Some such scheme as the following might be roughed out for the Patrol Leaders to work on

Patrol A will be the attackers ; the defenders will not know which one is John Macnab. Start from Base (4).

Patrols B, C, and D will defend. One Patrol as Macnicol and men; others as Navvies.

Area: the boundaries will be N and S as on Map, E and W two roads marked. Round Thicket will be the Sanctuary. Only Macnicol and his men may enter Sanctuary. Navies must keep outside (limits will have to be clearly defined).

Previous to game a stuffed sack, fairly heavy and unwieldy, will be concealed by Scouters in Round Thicket; this represents the stag to be found and removed to Base (2).

That provides a sufficient working scheme for the

Patrol Leaders to develop into a full game ; they will have to decide whether boundaries are suitable, methods of capture, time limits, etc. They may also invent interesting parts for Lord Claybody and Fish Benjie.

The first time the game is played it may be found that

numbers, boundaries, or time-arrangements do not work well, and the result is rather one-sided. This must not


be a matter for discouragement; an entirely new game generally needs trying out to find its practical possibilities ; once these have been tested, a game like " John Macnab " should prove a real thriller 1

A short list of sources of ideas.

Here are details of the books mentioned in this chapter

with a few additional titles

The Last of the Mohicans, The Deerslayer, and The Path­finder. Fenimore Cooper. (Nelson.) is. 6d. each. Daniel Boone. Stewart Edward White. (Hodder.) 2s.

Highways and Byways Series. (Macmillan.) 6s. each.

Puck of Pook's Hill, Rewards and Fairies. Rudyard Kip­ling. (Macmillan.) School Edition, q.s. each. A Book of Escapes. John Buchan. (Nelson.) 2s.

The Book of the Long Trail. Sir Henry Newbolt. (Long­man.) 5s. Treasure Island, and Kidnapped. One volume. R. L. Stevenson. (Everyman's Library.) 2s.

Bevis. Richard Jefferies. (Everyman's Library.) 2s.

fohn Macnab. John Buchan. (Nelson.) is. 6d.

Camp-Fire Stories for Scouts. E. E. Reynolds. (Harrap.) 3s. 6d.

Legend of Montrose. Sir Walter Scott. (Nelson.) is. 6d. Smuggling and Smuggling Days. H. N. Shore. (Philip Allan.) 2S. 6d.

The Buccaneers. A. H. Cooper-Prichard. (Philip Allan.) zs. 6d.








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Last modified: October 15, 2016.