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Title: Healthful Sports for Young Ladies
Author: Sernin, St.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Healthful Sports for Young Ladies" ***

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[Frontispiece: Girl on a swing]

  _Draughtsman to His Majesty the King of France_;
  Accompanied by Descriptions,



The most eminent physicians dwell particularly upon the necessity
there is for young ladies, as they advance towards womanhood, to take
active and regular exercise; and to avoid, as much as possible, all
sedentary amusements. That love of variety, however, so natural to the
human mind, and which is particularly observable in children, renders
it a matter of some difficulty to diversify their sports, so as to
discover a sufficient number of games that require exertion: we,
however, flatter ourselves that this has been accomplished, in the
little Work here presented to the reader in an English dress. They
will find in it instructions for playing at a great number of games,
of such a nature that they cannot fail of being conducive to their
health; and which, while they afford an innocent relaxation from
study, will be eminently useful in forming that easy and graceful
carriage, which can only result from the free and active motion of the

The prose part of the work has been faithfully rendered into English
from the French original; but the Proprietor is indebted to the author
of the Tours of the original Dr. Syntax, who has enriched this little
Repository of Youthful Sports, with some elegant verses, illustrative,
in a moral point of view, of the games described.





Madame D’Hernilly was accustomed to pass, every year, several of the
summer months in the country: a particular circumstance obliged her to
go there sooner than usual, and her husband, who was one of the chief
magistrates in the capital, was not able to accompany her. Her only
companions were her two daughters, both young girls. There was very
little society to be met with in that part of the country where Madame
D’Hernilly’s castle was situated: the nearest town, which was at a
distance of two or three leagues, was a small place, with but few
genteel inhabitants; and, even were it otherwise, she would not have
been tempted to mix with her neighbours. Solitude was her choice and
her device, till the time of the vacation: at that period she expected
to be joined by her husband and her only son. The visits she received
in the mean time were confined to those of two ladies in the
neighbourhood, and their daughters, and these were admitted only on
condition that they brought with them no men, not even those of middle

Adela and Ernestina, the daughters of Madame D’Hernilly, found this
lonely life very dull; in fact it suited ill with the vivacity of
their age; and, in order to enliven it, they managed to prevail upon
the two ladies, their neighbours, to leave behind them at the castle
three young persons who accompanied them there on a visit. This
addition to the family was delightful to Adela and Ernestina, for they
were equally in want of employment and amusement. They had read over
and over all the books they brought with them from Paris. As their
masters had not accompanied them, they did not pursue their studies
regularly, but only took occasionally a few lessons upon the
piano-forte, and of singing, so that a great portion of their time was

A moralist has said, with much reason, that the mind requires
relaxation; and as it is necessary to seek employment, in order to
preserve oneself from the evil habits which are the offspring of
idleness, so it is equally requisite to relieve the fatigue of labour
by recreation; a proper mixture of both keeps up the spirits, and
preserves the health of the mind as well as that of the body. In
mixing with society we lose the remembrance of past troubles, and even
present ones weigh less heavily upon our spirits. The mind, in short,
resembles a fruitful soil, like which it should sometimes be suffered
to lie fallow; or rather it may be compared to a farmer with whom a
landlord is obliged to act leniently, and to give him time for
payment, for fear that by demanding his rent too strictly, the
farmer’s resources should fail, and he should be ruined.

Our five young friends were not obliged to rack their brains to find
amusement. In the beginning of the visit the youngest, named Adriana,
taught the grown-up girls those dances which they had learned in their
childish days, but had already forgotten; “_My fine Castle_,” “_We
will not go again to the Wood_,” “_The Duke de Bourbon_,” _&c. &c._
These are things out of date, we must allow, but they will always be
new for children, and our imitations of them are, after all, lifeless
copies; they want the spirit of the originals――“_The Chevalier de la
Marjolaine_,” “_The Tower_,” “_Take Care_,” “_Hands Round_,” amused
even Madame D’Hernilly, who herself did not disdain sometimes to join
in them.

The pleasure which they found in renewing their childish games gave to
our young people the idea of taking advantage of a swing, which was
already erected in the garden. Persons of a more advanced age, and
distinguished by grave occupations, did not look upon it as any
disgrace to take the exercise of swinging, during the months of August
and September, when the castle was crowded with guests. The posts
which supported the swing were a little decayed since the preceding
year, but they were soon repaired. Madame D’Hernilly recommended
prudence to the young people in partaking of this amusement, and, as
an additional precaution, she took care to be present whenever they
enjoyed it, and strictly ordered that no one should swing in her
absence. They were prohibited standing upon the seat; neither were two
persons allowed to get in at the same time; Ernestina, or Aglaé, or
another of their friends, placed themselves by turns upon the seat,
which was furnished with a soft cushion; and, while the one who took
the exercise grasped the cords tightly with her two hands, two or
three of her companions pulled the end of the cord, and thus made it
go backward and forward.

Satiety would not have interrupted this amusement, but bad weather
came on suddenly, and it was impossible for our young folks to
frequent the garden. Thus thwarted in their favourite sport, they set
their wits to work to find out some other agreeable pastime.

Adriana regretted the swing less than her play-fellows: a new doll,
which had been sent her from Paris, was her faithful companion; and,
shall I add, the others envied her happiness? They contrived, however,
to participate in it, for, under the sly pretence of amusing little
Adriana, they made much of her doll. They took pains to dress her, to
curl her hair nicely, and to put on her cap to the best advantage.
They made dresses for her, and even pretty little rose-coloured silk
slippers. In short, the doll’s drawers were soon completely filled
with a very handsome wardrobe.

They were just beginning to tire of the amusement, which making the
doll’s clothes had at first afforded them, when one morning, Aglaé,
one of the young visitors, happening to open a book by chance, read
aloud, that it was by trying the effects of the reflection and the
refraction of the light through the fragile partitions of soap
bubbles, that the great Newton had discovered the properties of the
prism, and decomposed the rays of the sun.

Madame D’Hernilly expressed her admiration of this phenomenon in
natural philosophy; but she did not understand the subject
sufficiently to give her little auditors much information upon it.
“But pray,” cried Adriana giddily, “why should we not try to make some
discoveries ourselves, by blowing soap bubbles, they are so pretty?”
“Oh fie,” cried the elder girls, very consequentially; but one of them
immediately added, “I remember to have read in La Fontaine, this
excellent thought――‘Nothing is useless to people of sense.’”

“It is indeed a very just idea,” said Madame D’Hernilly, “and I think,
my children, you will do well to take advantage of Adriana’s
proposal.” The matter was then put to the vote, much in the same
manner as they had learned from the newspapers, the national affairs
are decided in the chamber of deputies. Ernestina, and one of the
young visitors, ranged themselves on the left, to shew that they
rejected a motion for playing at such a childish game; Adriana, and
her companions, took the right side, and they were lucky enough to
secure the support of the centre, of which Madame D’Hernilly was the
only member; they had consequently a majority, and it was decided that
they should play at blowing soap bubbles. “Who knows,” said Aglaé,
smiling, “whether we shall not, like the illustrious Newton, make some
new and great discovery.” This idea raised their impatience to begin,
and luckily, the preparations for their experiment were soon made. A
chambermaid brought some soap suds, rather thick in a china basin;
Adriana chose among some little bits of straw, the one which suited
best with her design, and slit the extremity in four parts, then
dipped the end she had slit in the soap suds, and blew in the other
extremity of the straw. Each blew in her turn, and formed bubbles
which reflected all the brilliant colours of the rainbow, but which,
unfortunately, were as transient as they were beautiful.

Madame D’Hernilly astonished the young people very much, by explaining
to them the process by which enamellers formed the balls of the
thermometer: it is done by blowing through a glass tube, the extremity
of which is made red hot, and softened by the fire of a lamp. She
added, that they had adopted this method also in glass manufactories,
and that goblets, bottles, in a word, almost all the utensils which we
use in glass and crystal, are blown in a similar manner.

Our little band now struggled with each other, to see who should form
the largest bubble, and who should make it rise highest in the air:
one of them waved her pocket-handkerchief to make it rise higher and
higher, till the bubble burst, and the illusion was destroyed. Madame
D’Hernilly, who recollected some verses on the subject of this
amusement, took the opportunity of repeating them, and impressing
their moral on the minds of her young audience.


  See how the cherub children play
  And force the bubbles on their way,
  Which, as in various course they sail,
  Borne by the zephyr’s gentle gale,
  Catch the tints which Phœbus gives
  While the aërial globule lives;
  But soon it bursts, and all is gone,
  The children mourn their pleasure done.
  Say, do we not too often see
  Mankind in this same sport agree;
  Who their intrinsic good forego,
  For the bright gleams of outward show.

This amusement did not last longer than the morning, and at night our
juvenile group were again at a loss for something to do. Adriana was
once more the first to find out a new species of amusement. In hunting
about, she, at length, discovered some cards, and immediately began,
with great alacrity, to arrange files of soldiers and to build houses
with the cards. The elder girls found a malicious pleasure in throwing
down her houses, just as she had brought them to the last story; and
in blowing upon her soldiers in order to make them fall, just before
the file was properly arranged. As Adriana was good-tempered, she put
up with their tricks quietly, though she meditated perhaps in her own
mind some method of soon taking her revenge.

Madame D’Hernilly seized the occasion which the cards presented to
her, to give the young people some account of the manner in which they
were first introduced. Almost all historians agree in saying, that
they imagine games with cards were first invented in the reign of
Charles the Sixth of France, in order to procure that prince some
amusement during his long illness. As a proof that this is the fact,
they cite the register of the chamber of accounts, in which there is
the following passage: “the sum of fifty-six _sous Parisis_, (which
was a very considerable sum in those times), was paid to Jacquemin
Gringonneur, a painter, for three packs of cards, adorned with gold
and divers colours, and different devices.” This passage proves
nothing more than that Gringonneur was a card-maker, but not the
inventor of any game. In making further researches, we find that
Charles the Fifth, predecessor of Charles the Sixth, had prohibited
the playing at cards, and that they were already known in Spain
towards the year 1330, under the name of _Naipes_.

All the European nations give to the four principal cards of each
suit, the names of ace, king, queen, and knave, according to the
denominations which correspond in each language; but the names of the
four suits vary; hearts and spades are pretty nearly the only ones,
the appellations of which are analogous in the different languages.
The diamond is called _carreau_ in French, and _oros_, which means
jewel, in Spanish. The club called in French _trèfle_, and in Spanish
_bastos_, has, like the diamond, a corresponding signification in the
Spanish and English languages, because the name in both signifies a
stick. In Germany, it was formerly made like a cross, and it still
retains the name of _kreuz_. These little hints may be found worthy of
the attention of those persons who seek to discover the origin of

The young ladies questioned Madame D’Hernilly about the rules of the
different games at cards: but, upon this point, she did not think it
right to satisfy their curiosity. “It must be owned,” she said, “that
we find fewer examples among women than men, of an inordinary fondness
for cards, but we cannot be too much upon our guard against the love
of play: recollect, besides, the observation, unfortunately too just,
which one of our poets makes upon the avidity with which people
sometimes give themselves up to gaming:――‘We begin by being dupes, and
end by being cheats.’”

“Long live our childish games!” cried Ernestina, “these at least do
not occasion any remorse.”


The weather cleared up, and the young people resumed their usual walks
in the garden. The swing was out of order, and Madame D’Hernilly would
not permit them to make use of it till it was repaired. The
imagination of our juvenile group quickly suggested something to
supply its place. A plank, placed across a very solid marble bracket,
which they happened to find on the ground in the middle of the bower,
was fastened to it by iron cramps, in order to render it more secure.
The gardener, one of those ingenious fellows to whom we give the name
of jack-of-all-trades, because he knew a little of every thing, and
was besides a very decent mason, smith, and even blacksmith, seconded
the impatience of the young ladies: the see-saw was soon ready, and
Adriana and Aglaé were the first to spring upon it. They were both of
them of the same height, and about the same weight, conditions quite
necessary for the players at this game. Madame D’Hernilly watched that
their alternate ascent and descent should be managed without any jerk,
which might derange the machine, or, which was worse, make the young
ladies, who were seated at each extremity, lose their balance.

[Illustration: Girls on a see-saw]

I recollect at this moment some moral lines upon the game of see-saw;
they are rather obsolete, and the versification is not distinguished
for its elegance, but the lines contain a maxim well worth
remembering, the force of which could not be heightened by the finest

  Behold the play-game; those who rise
  Seem as they would reach the skies;
  But soon they find that they descend,
  And to the earth as quickly tend.
  Thus Fortune guides the rolling ball,
  While these ascend, the others fall.

There are some see-saws of a double construction, which are mounted
upon a revolving pivot, four persons may balance themselves at the
same time upon these machines, two and two; the one who descends
touches the ground lightly, with his foot to the right or to the left;
it results from this, that the persons who play move continually in
rotation in one direction or another; this variety of motion is
indispensable, for the head would become giddy if the players moved
very long in the same direction.

When Adriana and Aglaé were tired of their new sport, two of the elder
girls mounted the see-saw, and while they were enjoying this exercise,
two others occupied themselves with a more common amusement; each of
them, armed with a battledore, threw to one another a shuttlecock.
This game is too well known to our young readers, for any description
of it to be necessary.

Such of our little friends as are curious respecting the manners,
customs, and amusements of distant countries, may like to know, that
in China, and other countries of Asia, they play at shuttlecock with
the foot. The Chinese shuttlecock, like ours, is decorated with
feathers, but they place at the bottom a small bit of lead, or some
pieces of copper money to render it heavier; they make use of the
instep to push it, as is frequently done at the game of football. The
following verses were written upon the play of shuttlecock by Pannard,
and are thus translated:

  Reason, whene’er your humour’s gay,
  You treat us just as children play,
  When with their battledores they force
  The shuttlecock in airy course.
  About you beat us as you please,
  Till tir’d, we wish the game to cease;
  And, when we fall upon the floor,
  You pick us up to play, as you have done before.

[Illustration: Girls with shuttlecocks and rackets]

When all the young ladies were tired of the game of see-saw, and that
Adriana had taken, or tried in vain to take, a sufficient number of
butterflies, the whole party united and continued to play at
shuttlecock. It is not impossible for four or five people to amuse
themselves together, when they have a sufficient number of
battledores, but it is better to do it by turns, or in the following
manner. When a player fails to send back the shuttlecock which is sent
to her, she should give up her place to another, and if the new player
fails, she also should in her turn yield her place to a fresh
competitor, and so on, till each enjoys the amusement in rotation.
Such was the method pursued by our young players; but we do not know
whether disputes might not sometimes have arisen from it, had not
Madame D’Hernilly, as we before observed, always mixed in the sports
of the children, and, by her presence, prevented squabbles.

The famous Christina, queen of Sweden, was very fond of the game of
Shuttlecock. One day, during this queen’s stay in France, in the time
of Louis XIV., she asked the learned Bochart, whom she had attracted
to her court, to play with her. He did not need much entreaty, but
immediately taking off his cloak, began a game with her Majesty. Some
of his friends ridiculed his complaisance, but they were wrong; a
refusal would have been at once pedantic and ill-bred.

Before we quit this subject, we must say a few words respecting
_sognettes_, or, as we call them in English, battledores. They are, as
every body knows, little hoops of wood bent in an oval, and the
extremities, united to form a handle, are kept together by strips of
white leather bound round them. The interior of the battledore is a
netting made of catgut, which is stretched lightly.

Those learned people who found fault with Bochart for making use of
the battledore, have written several grave dissertations, for the
purpose of ascertaining whether the ancients were acquainted with this
game; those who are of opinion they were, cite this verse of Ovid:

  Reticuloque pilæ leves fundantur aperto.

This passage of the Latin poet evidently means a net-work, upon which
not shuttlecocks, but light balls, were tossed backwards and forwards.

As to our young rattle-pates, they were not at all curious to learn
whether the amusement was of ancient or modern invention; leaving that
to be ascertained by graver heads, they entered with so much ardour
into the spirit of the game, that time flew unperceived, till their
amusement was at last interrupted by the castle bell announcing the

On the following day, as there was not a sufficient number of
battledores and shuttlecocks for every body, one of the young
visitors, named Valeria, contrived a very ingenious means of supplying
their place. She took a small hoop, which she had procured from a
barrel of oysters, and bound it round with pink and white ribbon; five
or six young persons, armed with sticks, stood in a group, one of them
threw this hoop to a great height in the air, and each of them caught
it and threw it up again in her turn. When any one failed, they were
obliged to quit the game for a moment, or to give a forfeit. This is
called the game of the “_flying ring_,” it resembles in many respects
the play of the “_funnel_,” which we shall speak of by-and-by.

Sometimes, in order to heighten the pleasure of the game, the players
added three little bells to the ring, and these bells striking while
the ring turned in the air, served to announce its approach.


Madame D’Hernilly’s birth-day was celebrated by her family without
parade or ceremony: the offerings upon this occasion were those of the
heart alone. The neighbouring farmers, and superior class of peasants,
presented themselves at the castle, to offer their congratulations to
Madame on the return of the day; their little girls, dressed in white,
brought her flowers. Madame D’Hernilly received with pleasure the
simple offerings of these worthy people, for whom she prepared
pleasures suited to their taste. The court of the castle became the
theatre of a _fête champêtre_, which not only lasted the whole day,
but was prolonged during the evening, by the light of a number of
small lamps. The villagers amused themselves with dancing, and at
night they were regaled with a simple collation.

[Illustration: Girls amusing themselves outdoors]

While the villagers were enjoying the dance, their children were
diverting themselves in the gardens of the castle with the young
ladies and their visitors. As the games which they commonly played
would not suffice for the amusement of so many, Ernestina, who had a
very ready invention, proposed to them a new game, which she assured
them was quite original. We know that children, and particularly young
persons who are just past childhood, play sometimes at a game called
“_Who will laugh last?_” The mode of playing this game is very simple;
they look each other full in the face, using at the same time every
effort to preserve their gravity, and the first who smiles, even in
the slightest degree, gives a forfeit, or else her companions impose a
slight penance upon her.

Ernestina invented a game of this sort, in which a great number of
persons might be engaged at once. It was a trial who should remain the
longest time motionless in the same place. This play, it must be
confessed, did not promise much amusement, but the preparations were
entertaining enough. Madame D’Hernilly’s daughters had the greatest
trouble to make the young villagers comprehend what they were to do;
some of them, as soon as they were placed in proper positions, and
desired to remain without moving as long as they possibly could,
turned round immediately to the opposite side, and asked, with great
simplicity, what they were to do? The confusion which resulted from
these blunders was very diverting to the lookers-on. At last every
thing was arranged, and the game might have gone on smoothly enough,
but for want of patience in the players, who very naturally got tired
of this silent amusement as soon as they began it; and, passing at
once from one extreme to the other, in which, by-the-by, they
resembled many grown people, they adopted the proposal of a pretty
little peasant, to play at the game of “_Thread-my-needle_.” They
comprehended with great facility the explanation which she gave them
of it, and they began to play at it immediately.

The young ladies, their visitors, and the villagers, took each other
by the hand, and formed a long file: they arranged themselves in such
a manner that the two tallest girls were at the end of this file, and
one of the most active at the opposite extremity. The lot fell to
Aglaé to conduct the joyous band; and while the two last remained
fixed in their places, with their arms raised, she passed under them,
and all those who followed her did the same: after making a circuit,
Aglaé returned between the second and the third, then between the
third and the fourth, and so on, till by coming nearer and nearer, she
found herself obliged at last to make a turn under the arm of the
young girl who was next her; this is the termination of the game. Each
of them took her turn in this manner to pass under one another’s arms,
as a thread drawn through a needle, and, directed by a skilful hand,
successively runs through all the meshes of a web.

This exercise does not require any particular degree of agility, the
main point is to hold each other by the hand firmly, and to take care
that you do not lose your hold. Half an hour was long enough to tire
our young revellers of this game, and they had recourse to another
somewhat similar to it, called _queue-le-leu_, or sometimes more
simply termed the _wolf_.

They tossed up to see who should be _wolf_; the chance fell upon
Adriana, who stood alone on one side during some time; her companions,
holding each other by the tails of their gowns, ranged themselves
behind a tall and active female villager, who was to play the
shepherdess. It was expressly agreed upon, that Adriana should only
take the last of the flock, and the shepherdess took all possible care
to prevent her getting at that one. The struggle was a little unequal,
because the shepherdess’s movements were quicker and more abrupt than
those of the poor little wolf. Fortunately, those girls who formed the
tail of the flock, had not so much strength or agility as their
shepherdess, they relaxed by degrees in their exertions, and Adriana
took advantage of it to catch the last; the file was then thrown into
disorder, and they suffered themselves to be taken one after another.
As fast as Adriana made a captive, it was placed behind her, and the
flock of wolves became at last so formidable, that they completely
surrounded the sheep, and not one of them could escape. Valeria,
Ernestina, and the others, each in their turn, became the _wolf_; and
when they were tired of this game, they divided into groups, and
played at “_hide and seek_,” “_puss in the corner_,” “_paquets_,” and
other sports, which the villagers delight to play at in their rustic

[Illustration: Girls playing with yoyo and balls]


The Misses D’Hernilly received from their brother a delightful
present, and one worthy of the affection which these amiable children
bore to each other. Young D’Hernilly had learned by a letter from
Ernestina, that the companions whom his sister met with at the castle,
were younger than themselves, and that, in conformity to the taste of
their little friends, the Misses D’Hernilly had resumed the trifling
and puerile amusements of their childish days. Upon receiving this
intelligence, Victor D’Hernilly went immediately to one of the most
elegant toy-shops, and purchased a complete collection of all sorts of
games, which he sent to his sisters by the first opportunity.

My little readers will easily conceive, that the arrival of this
present occasioned a grand rejoicing among the young inmates of the
castle. Each vied with the other who should first try the
“_cup-and-ball_,” the “_solitaire_,” and the other play-things, some
of which were unfortunately gone a little out of fashion, such as the
“_Devil_,” and above all, the “_Emigrant_,” the name of which alone is
sufficient to indicate its origin.

Madame D’Hernilly who still continued to share in the amusements of
the children, was particularly attentive to them while they were
engaged in these new games; she made them keep at certain distances
from each other, lest they should be hurt by the ball of the
_cup-and-ball_, or by the fall of the _devil_.

The cup-and-ball, in the management of which the celebrated Marquis of
Bièvre is said to have excelled, is of ancient origin, since mention
is made of it in Rabelais. It is composed of two parts, which are
united by a small cord, the strongest, and at the same time, the most
flexible of its kind that can be procured. One of the parts is a
wooden or ivory stick, pointed at one extremity and rounded at the
other; the cord fixed in the centre of the stick, supports a large
ball, pierced through the middle by a hole, the cord which is passed
through the smallest opening, comes out at the large one; then a knot
is tied at the end, which secures the ball from falling down.

The player begins by twirling the ball so as to give it a very quick
motion in a perpendicular direction; you must wait a few seconds till
you feel that the ball begins to move less quickly; this is the moment
to throw it up, and if the aim is good, the ball will be caught in the
cup, or with a more skilful player upon the point, which is called the
spindle. There are some players so clever, that they will catch the
ball every time; two people may play at this game by trying in a given
number of throws, which will first be able to catch the ball.

An ancient historian, named Estoile, tells us that King Henry the
Third of France amused himself very frequently at cup-and-ball. This
game came suddenly into very great favour in the middle of Louis the
Fifteenth’s reign; it was in fact so much the fashion, that the
actresses had the cup-and-ball in their hand even upon the stage.

The _Emigrant_ was at one time quite as much in vogue, and it deserved
it, on account of its singular mechanism, which though very simple
causes it to remount of itself the whole length of the cord from which
it descends. The _Emigrant_ is a double disk, made of ebony or ivory;
the two parts of this disk are united in the centre by a ball, which
is of the same shape, and which forms a single piece; the ball is
pierced with a hole, through which a cord is passed, the cord is
knotted at the extremity in the same manner as the string of a
cup-and-ball. You wind this cord round the ball, and then raising it
by one end, you let the toy drop, retaining only the end of the cord;
the toy falls, but it has acquired a force of rotation, which obliges
it to roll itself round the cord in an opposite direction, and it thus
winds itself up almost to the very end of the cord. It would in fact
return of itself into your hand, only that a part of its impulse is
destroyed by the friction and the resistance of the air; you are
therefore obliged to second its motion by the alternate play of the
hand. The _Emigrant_ descends and ascends without ceasing, unless it
gets deranged by the string getting out of the rut, which is formed by
the middle of the ball.

You may play with the _Emigrant_ not only by giving it a vertical
motion, but also a horizontal one; and you may make it go, if you
choose, like a censer, but this last method is not free from
inconvenience, for if the string should chance to break, the disk may
hurt the people who are near the player, or it may smash the
looking-glasses or china.

The _Devil_ is a toy still more dangerous to furniture; it is indeed
so much so, that one cannot without imprudence play with it in a room.
Most people remember this noisy plaything, for it was much in vogue a
few years ago. It is in some respects, the reverse of the _Emigrant_;
but it is moved by the same principle. It consists of two hollow
balls, which are cut out of the same piece of wood, and united by a
common stalk. Sometimes instead of wood, the toy is composed of tin,
pewter, or even crystal; it is hardly necessary to observe that the
_Devils_ of this last substance are the most expensive and the most
fragile. Each ball is pierced with a hole into which the air enters,
and from which it escapes with impetuosity as the instrument turns
round; a continual noise results from this, similar to that made by a
German top. The rotation of the Devil is kept up by the alternate play
of a small cord, suspended between two sticks placed in each hand of
the player. You may throw this plaything very high, even to the
distance of fifteen or twenty feet, and yet retain it upon the string;
but this cannot be done without exposing the poor _Devil_ to the
chance of falling every instant; and it does not long survive repeated

It seems likely that this game has been brought from India by the
English, for it has been long known in China, and it is represented in
some engravings sent from China, by the missionaries thirty years ago.

Adriana, although the youngest of the girls, had seized upon a toy,
the use of which requires both stillness and reflection; consequently,
she did not expect much amusement from it. It is called the
_Solitaire_, because it can be played by a single person.

The _Solitaire_ is a sort of octagon table, in which thirty-seven
holes are made in the following order; three upon the first row, five
upon the second, seven upon the third, fourth, and fifth, five upon
the seventh, and three upon the eighth and last row.

The thirty-seven holes receive little pegs of bone or ivory which are
taken out at pleasure; but you must leave one of the holes towards the
middle empty. You take the pegs at this game in the same manner as at
draughts, jumping in a straight line over those who leave behind them
an empty space. You may take away the pegs in whatever way you think
proper, but at the end of the game there must remain only one peg; if
two or three, or a greater number, should remain so separated, that
they cannot be taken one after another, the game is lost.

The combinations of this game are very varied, and after you have won
one game, you find it very difficult to play another exactly in the
same manner. This difficulty is a good deal increased by the manner in
which players exercise themselves, in leaving at different times a
hole empty in various parts of the board, first in one place, and then
in another.

There was at this time a continued and heavy fall of rain, which
obliged our young friends to remain for some days within doors.
Fortunately, Victor’s liberality enabled them to amuse themselves as
well in the house as in the open air. In the parcel he had sent to
them, there were two sorts of shuttlecock; the one we have already
described, and another in which the shuttlecock is received on each
side in a sort of funnel attached to a long handle. This exercise is
less active than battledore and shuttlecock, because it is necessary
that both the players should stand in a straight line. The dining-room
was sufficiently spacious to admit of their playing this game with
perfect convenience[1].

Adela and Ernestina laughed very heartily at seeing Tee-totums among
their brother’s presents; even Adriana herself thought that this play
was somewhat too childish; nevertheless, after they had ridiculed
Victor for sending them Tee-totums, they demonstrated at last by
playing with them, that his foresight was not useless. When they had
played at this game in their infancy, they had never troubled
themselves to seek the signification of the letters marked on each
side. All their pleasure consisted in trying who should make the totum
spin the longest. Sometimes they themselves made a totum of a
button-mould into which they drove a nail, a pin, or a little wooden
peg. When Madame D’Hernilly explained to them what was meant by the
letters engraved in black on the sides, they conjectured that the
amusement had been invented by grave professors of science, or at
least by some of their pupils, who had made a certain progress; for
each of these letters P. A. D. T. is the initial of a Latin word
expressing divers chances of the game. The letter P. is the beginning
of the Latin word _pone_, which signifies put down; the person who
throws it is obliged to put down a counter to the pool. The letter A.
is the initial of _accipe_, that is to say, _receive_; the player who
throws it gains a counter. D. the first letter of the Latin word _da_,
in English _give_, obliges you if you turn it up, to pay a counter. If
T, the first letter of _totum_, which signifies _all_, should turn up,
you take all that is in the pool.

We need hardly tell our young readers, that it is from this word
_totum_, that the game takes its name. There are some totums that have
a greater number of sides than others; this causes an infinite variety
in the game, and greatly increases the chances of gain or loss. The
totums with twelve sides, do not differ much from a ball in form; but
they are not turned upon a pivot, they are only rolled by the hand.
The sides are numbered up to twelve, he who gains the highest point
wins the game, and as this play does not require any profound
combinations, they have given it the familiar name of _Jack_.

“It is a pity,” said Adriana, “that Victor did not send us a _Jack_.”
“Oh,” cried Adela, “we may manage to have one with two dice, which
will produce the same numbers from two to twelve.” Madame D’Hernilly
surprised her daughters very much by proving to them, that at the game
of dice, the chances were not equal, and that they would find by
calculation, it was probable they might throw one number more
frequently than another.

In the first place, you can never throw the simple number 1, because
you are obliged to make use of two dice; the lowest number you can
produce, must therefore be 2, which is formed by the two aces; there
is consequently only one means of producing this number: 3 may be
formed in two ways, that is to say, with the ace of one die, and the 2
of another; and then with the 2 of the first, and the ace of the

Number 4 may be formed in three ways, by the double 2, by 1 and 3, and
by 3 and 1. Number 5 has four chances, namely, 2 and 3, 3 and 2, 4 and
1, 1 and 4.

6 may be thrown in five different ways; first, the double 3; second, 2
and 4; third, 4 and 2; fourth, 5 and ace; fifth, ace and 5.

The chances are most in favour of the number 7; it may be formed first
by 6 and ace; second, by ace and 6; third by 5 and 2; fourth, by 2 and
5; fifth, by 4 and 3; sixth, by 3 and 4.

The numbers which follow these, decrease in the same proportion as the
preceding ones have augmented; therefore there are five chances for
number 8, as there are for number 5; the 9 like the 4 has four
chances; the 10 is gained in three ways like the 3; and the 11 is made
by two different combinations like the 2; lastly, the number 12 can be
produced only by the double 6.

It is very necessary to understand these combinations at the games of
tric-trac, or backgammon; the knowledge of them, in fact, constitutes
the whole art of placing the men skilfully.

Players at different games, down even to the very game of _goose_,
have made use of these combinations in order to calculate the probable
chances of the different numbers. There is an infinite variety of
drawings upon pasteboard designed for these games. The game of the
_goose_, and similar ones, are disposed from 9 to 9; but you cannot
stop there, and it is not possible to arrive at the last number 63,
till you have surmounted a great number of obstacles. As a proof of
this, we need only observe how often it happens, that when a person is
nearly at the end of the game, and upon the point of winning it, he
throws 6, which is one of the most common throws, and thus going
beyond the required number is obliged to begin the game again. The
_bridge_, the _well_, the _prison_, and _death_, that is to say, the
figures which represent these quicksands, are arranged in such a
manner, that one falls into them by the numbers 6, 7, and 8, which
come every instant. In speaking upon this subject, Ernestina said
facetiously, that a comic poet was not in the wrong in making one of
his personages say:――

  These games I prefer, which the spirit amuse,
  And ’tis a nice game, this same game of the GOOSE.

Adela, who had seen her parents play at tric-trac, asked the meaning
of the words carmes, sonnes, &c., which she had heard pronounced at
this game. Madame D’Hernilly informed her, that they call the two aces
_leset_; the two trays _ternes_; the two fours _carmes_; the two
fives, _quines_; the two sixes _sonnez_. There is no particular
denomination for the double deuce.

With three dice, the chances are still more multiplied, and it would
be very easy to calculate them; three points alike are called
_raffle_, that is to say, a raffle of aces, a raffle of trays, a
raffle of sixes, &c. &c.

From explaining the chances of the dice, Madame D’Hernilly turned to
that of the _osselets_, or knuckle bones, which the ancients used
nearly in the same manner as we do dice. They placed two or three in
the dice box, and they reckoned a certain number of points according
to what was turned up. The game was, however, looked upon only as a
childish amusement. Phrates, king of the Parthians, wishing to
reproach Demetrius, king of Syria, for his habitual levity, sent him
some golden _osselets_.

Our children employed the little bone which is found in the leg of
mutton, and which we call cramp-bone, or else small pieces of ivory
cut to resemble it. The convex side is called the back, the opposite
side which is concave, is called the hollow, and the two other sides
are called the flat sides. The _osselet_ is thrown up into the air,
and before it falls, the player is obliged to place those which remain
upon the tube one after another upon the back, upon the hollow, and
upon the concave side; another osselet is then thrown up, and before
it returns into his hand, he must successively snatch up all those
which are on the table, or else he must make them pass under the thumb
and forefinger of his left hand, which is extended; these different
combinations are called making the _back_, the _hollow_, the _wells_,
the _fricassee_, the _raffle_, &c.

The Misses D’Hernilly, and their young friends amused themselves very
little with the _osselets_ which Victor had sent them; they declared
that such a fatiguing game was fitter for boys than girls. But though
they thought little of the _osselets_, they prized very highly a
superb set of dominos, which were made of mother-of-pearl, and had the
spots marked with golden nails. Madame D’Hernilly thought that this
elegant token of Victor’s affection for his sisters, would not be very
long safe in the hands of those little rattle-pates and their giddy
associates; she therefore took charge of them herself, and presented
the children with a common set in their stead.

Each Domino is divided into two parts, and each part presents seven
combinations; namely, the six points of the dice, and the white space:
it is for this reason, that the dominos are 28 in number. Each player
takes at random a certain number of dominos, which he places before
him in such a manner, that his adversary cannot distinguish how many
there are. The person who has a double six, or for want of that, a
double five, or any other number doubled, begins the game: the others,
for three or four may play at it, place by turns, a corresponding
domino to one of the extremities of the domino which is put upon the
table. If any one has not a domino to correspond with the others, he
is passed by, and loses his turn; this is called _sulking_. When there
are only two, it is called _fishing_. You take at first very few
dominos, for example, three, or at most five. When you _sulk_, instead
of letting your adversary play, you draw from the dominos which
remain, until you have drawn the required number; in consequence of
this, it sometimes happens, that the player draws more than half the
set. The game is won by the player who has first used all his dominos.
If the game is closed, and that no one can place their remaining
numbers either to the right or the left, he who has the smallest
number of points, or if the points are equal, who retains the least
number of dominos, wins the game. The winner reckons in his favour the
number of points which his adversary has not been able to place, and
they begin again until one of the players has gained the number 100 as
at picquet.

The young neighbours were obliged to absent themselves for a few days
from the castle, they soon however returned; and they passed whole
evenings in playing at domino. Each of the players marked by means of
a card the numbers they had gained. Madame D’Hernilly informed them,
that their manner of reckoning up their numbers, by cutting a card in
different places, had a great resemblance to the _abacus_, which the
ancient Romans made use of in counting; and the _souan-pan_, which the
Chinese employ for the same purpose.

On one side is a large hollow, with four slits to mark the units; on
the other side is a mark reckoned equal to fifty, and four others,
which are each equal to ten. You might by this means, count beyond
ninety-nine, but in multiplying the slits, you might go to several
millions, or even millions of millions.

This kind of arithmetic is much more expeditious than that of writing
down and adding up columns of figures, but it is attended with one
very great inconvenience, that of leaving no trace of detached
calculations; so that you cannot ascertain afterwards whether you have
not committed some error.

The children’s fondness for dominos, subsided at last like their other
whims, and they condescended to play with the _onchets_. Adriana
deceived by the similarity of sound between this word and _échecs_,
the French name for chess, supposed they were the same game; Madame
D’Hernilly explained the difference, which was very considerable; but
although she was tolerably skilful at chess and draughts, she thought
that their combinations were too complicated for young people. “When
you are older,” said she, “I will make you acquainted with a charming
poem, written by Cérutti on the game of chess; but in order to
comprehend the poem, you must be acquainted with the rules of the
game. I shall content myself to-day with reading you some verses
descriptive of the subject.”

     [1] This game and those that follow are represented in the
         border of the print.


  In order due, the king, the queen,
  The knights and other ranks are seen:
  A picture true of martial strife,
  Such as appears in human life.
  The contest of the mind succeeds,
  The stratagems, the daring deeds:
  Queens yield them to the subtle foe,
  And even monarchs are laid low.
  The battle’s lost, the battle’s won;
  The contest o’er, the game is done.

  Kings, queens, knights, pawns, whate’er their name, }
  Whate’er is their dignity or fame,                  }
  Are hustled in the bag from whence they came.       }

When Madame D’Hernilly had read the verses, they renewed their
conversation about the game of _onchets_. “The grand question,” cried
Madame D’Hernilly, “is whether these little ivory fish, or these
figures of kings, queens, knaves, and horses, should be called
onchets, honchets, or jonchets; those who make very laborious
researches after the most trifling things, assure us, that we should
say _honchets_, because the word may be used to signify little men. I
am of the opinion of those who call them _jonchets_, which is derived
from the game being originally played with straws, instead of these
little sticks of ivory and gold. After all, my children, there is no
need to trouble ourselves respecting the name of the game, the only
essential thing about the amusement is that it should divert you.”

This game is most amusing when played by two persons only, although it
is possible for three or four to join in it. They draw lots to decide
who shall begin; the player who gains the chance, holds in his fingers
one of these little hooks, the other takes the bundle of fish and
figures which he strews over the table; the first then seizes with his
hook upon as many of them as he can catch, but it requires a great
deal of address to do this according to the rules of the game; for if
the pieces in contact with the one which you covet happen to move in
the slightest degree, you are obliged to resign your turn to your
adversary, and this continues on both sides till all the pieces are

The young people easily comprehended the instructions of Madame
D’Hernilly, and soon became proficients in the game; they reckoned the
king for fifty, the queen forty, the knave thirty, the horse twenty,
and each plain fish for ten. The player who contrives to get together
the greatest number of points, wins the game.

  In every time, at ev’ry age,
  By grave and gay, by fool and sage,
  Or more or less, we’re sure to see
  The love of dear variety.
  The _Cup-and-Ball_ thrown to and fro
  The pious game of _Domino_[2]
  Amuse by turns, with various games
  Of other shapes and other names,
  While, without meaning any evil,
  Some may prefer to play the _Devil_.

     [2] This game was invented by a monk to amuse the monastic
         orders, who are forbidden to play at cards.


It is still a question among the players of this game in France,
whether one should say hide, hide, Mitoubat, or hide, hide, Nicholas?
The frolicksome group whose plays we are describing, did not care a
jot which was most proper; in fact, they seldom gave themselves the
trouble to reason either upon the names or the choice of their
diversions. They were induced to engage in this, from a circumstance
which we are about to mention. The amusements which were practised at
the castle of D’Hernilly, were very much talked of in the
neighbourhood, and the fame of their sports drew a number of youthful
visitors to the family. We have before observed, that young ladies
alone were admitted; among those who presented themselves were several
new-married ladies, who did not blush to join again in the innocent
diversions of their childhood. The young ladies and their visitors
passed a whole day in juvenile sports, without feeling a moment’s
uneasiness, except when the hour came which by summoning them to
partake of a repast, interrupted their games.

[Illustration: Girls playing hide-and-seek]

There are several ways of playing at Hide-and-Seek: sometimes one of
the children went and hid herself in a dark corner, as far as she
could from the others, but always within a certain distance; the
others then ran about in every direction within this space to find
her, and the one who succeeded in doing so, concealed herself in her
turn in the best hiding-place she could find. The ladies’-maids, and
some of the other female domestics, exerted their skill to aid those
who wished to hide, in discovering the most secret corners; but care
was always taken to avoid all dangerous places, as, for example, steep
stairs, from whence they might have been precipitated at the moment
when they were on the point of being seized.

Another way of playing at hide-and-seek, is to form a circle, and to
set a person to seek through it for a particular object, which each of
the others contrives to conceal from her view; a pocket-handkerchief,
a snuff-box, or, in short, any toy or trinket, will serve for this
purpose. Formerly they used to make use of a slipper, but always upon
the express condition, that it should be very clean: this is, however,
a shabby sort of expedient, and ought to be proscribed in good
company: when it is adopted the game is called _Hunt-the-Slipper_.

Our readers will readily conceive, that the Misses D’Hernilly and
their companions, did not condescend to hunt the slipper: but when
they were tired of hide-and-seek in the way we have described, they
seated themselves in a semi-circle upon the grass, in a very
picturesque part of the garden, where flowers, of the most varied and
beautiful hues, at once delighted the eyes, and gave a delicious
fragrance to the air.

Mademoiselle Valeria, one of the new comers, voluntarily offered to
play the dull part of the seeker. A young lady went round the circle
holding up the drapery of her shawl, in order that Mademoiselle
Valeria, who held her hand before her eyes, promising at the same time
not to cheat, might not see to whom she gave the handkerchief.

As soon as she had given it, she cried aloud, “It is done;” at this
cry, Mademoiselle Valeria began the round; the pocket-handkerchief
which she pursued with ardour, circulated rapidly from hand to hand,
and was concealed by the players in the folds of their dress. It is
necessary for the seeker to guess exactly who the person is who holds
it, and to seize her in the act. Poor Valeria found it very difficult
to do this, for at the moment that she thought herself sure of finding
the handkerchief, the one who held it slily slipped it to another, and
it arrived in the twinkling of an eye, at the very extremity of the

After a long and vain search, Valeria succeeded at last in seizing the
handkerchief in the hand of Adela, who being now obliged to become a
seeker in her turn, retired to a fountain, and turning her back to her
companions, waited till it was time to begin the search. She did not
wait long, the signal was speedily given, and, more lucky than
Valeria, she was only a few minutes before she succeeded in
discovering and seizing the handkerchief. A third and a fourth
speedily took her place in turn. At last, Ernestina suffered the
handkerchief to be found in her possession. This was a real triumph to
all the rest, because Ernestina was supposed to understand the game
better than any of them, and she was, besides, very active, so that it
was extremely difficult to catch her; in fact, she would have escaped
then, if a mischievous neighbour had not purposely been too long in
receiving the handkerchief which she passed to her.

They cried bravo on all sides, and mischievously determining to tease
Ernestina, they formed a little plot against her, while she was
standing on one side, waiting for the game to begin. The hour
approached for leaving off play, and they quickly agreed to finish
with a little cheating trick. The pocket-handkerchief for which
Ernestina was to seek, was placed at a great distance under a tuft of
flowers, and they made believe to pass it from hand to hand. Ernestina
was completely duped by this stratagem; her young friends’ hands moved
with so much rapidity that she never perceived they passed nothing;
for, to render the illusion more complete, they every now and then
shewed her the corner of a gown, the end of a shawl, or sometimes
another handkerchief. Ernestina eagerly caught hold of what she saw;
but she was soon made sensible of her error, by long and loud bursts
of laughter. However, she took these disappointments very gaily, and
passed rapidly on, first to the right, and then to the left, till she
became fatigued and out of breath. The mirth of her young friends grew
more noisy; their suppressed laughter and whisperings, and perhaps
also some inadvertence on the part of the youngest players, warned her
at last, that they were making game of her. “I am certain,” cried she,
“that the handkerchief is at a distance from this spot, and that you
only make believe to pass it, and that is not the game.” They were
obliged then to confess the trick they had played her. Ernestina was
half inclined to be angry; but she had been often told that ill-humour
alters the prettiest features; and perhaps this idea had some share in
making her quickly get the better of hers; for she immediately resumed
her gaiety, and returned to the castle, saying that she should one day
take her revenge. Her comrades defied her to realize her threats; when
she promised them that they would be caught sooner than they expected.
Perhaps, after all, she was herself the first who was caught; for at
her age we are easily deceived, because the credulity, natural to
youth, lays us open to imposition.

Madame D’Hernilly, to whom Ernestina related her adventure, laughed
very heartily at it, and said it was not the first time people sought
to discover mysteries, where there were none. She gave, as an example
of this, the following singular anecdote of the celebrated Catherine
II., Empress of Russia. This sovereign was one day surrounded by some
of the gravest of her courtiers, and becoming tired of their pedantic
dissertations, she said, “Permit me, gentlemen, to interrupt for a
moment the important discussion in which you are engaged, in order to
consult you about a charade which I have read in the last _Mercure de
France_, and which I cannot solve. It is this; ‘my first is a cavity,
my second is a cavity, my whole is a cavity.’”

Our statesmen, with all the suppleness of true courtiers, turned their
conversation immediately from politics to the charade. Nothing could
be more easy than to find hollow objects, which might be supposed to
form one of its three parts; but they tried in vain to discover any
term which could be applied to the whole. The Empress made a pretence
to slip out of the room, leaving her counsellors profoundly occupied
with their endeavours to solve the charade, which they were heartily
vexed at being unable to do at last. The next day, however, they
discovered that the Empress had merely been amusing herself at their
expense, for they found that there was no such charade in the latest
_Mercure de France_, which had arrived at St. Petersburgh.

This was not the only time that Catherine sought, by jokes of this
kind, to divert the ennui attendant upon a throne; and to lighten the
painful yoke of _etiquette_. We might relate more than one trick of
this sort which she has played, not merely upon different persons, but
very often upon the inhabitants of a whole city. On more than one
occasion, the people of the capital have tormented themselves during
whole days to discover the solutions of problems and enigmas, which in
reality had no meaning.

[Illustration: Girls playing seated blind man's buff]


The next day the family were once more alone, and the young people
were obliged to find out games which did not require such a
considerable number of players. Blindman’s Buff was the first that was
chosen by this joyous little group. Adriana, as the youngest, had her
eyes bound, and ran after her companions. Madame D’Hernilly took upon
herself to call out, in order to warn the one who was blinded, when
she approached too near a tree, or any other object that might
endanger her safety. Adriana ran about during some time without
catching any body; at last Ernestina suffered herself to be caught,
out of compassion no doubt, and she pursued her young friends in her
turn. This play lasted the greatest part of the day, but a storm
coming on towards evening forced them to seek a shelter, and they
retired to the drawing-room. As they complained of being obliged to
leave off their game, Adela advised them to continue it in the hall,
which was very spacious.

Madame D’Hernilly disapproved of this proposal, because she thought
the game would endanger the furniture; but being always desirous to
contribute to the amusement of the children, she told them that they
might play at _Blindman’s Buff sitting_. This game is not attended
with any risk to the furniture, and may be played without
inconvenience even in a small room; it is besides more amusing perhaps
than the other, particularly if it is played by candle-light.

The young people applauded Madame D’Hernilly’s idea; but they agreed
at the same time that they would not begin to play till after dinner.
They had scarcely dined when visitors arrived, whose company was
almost as tiresome to the mistress of the house, as to the children.
Our young readers will easily conceive with what impatience the latter
waited for the moment when the departure of the guests, would leave
them at liberty to begin their sport. At last it arrived, the visitors
retired, and our gay young troop immediately formed themselves into a
circle in the middle of the saloon. As Ernestina was to be blinded,
they covered her eyes with a muslin handkerchief; every one then
changed their place, and she was conducted into the middle of the
group, and had the liberty of seating herself upon the knee of
whatever person she pleased; but she was obliged, without putting her
hands upon the person whom she touched, to guess who it was.

As the young folks were all differently dressed, the touch of their
clothes would furnish an easy means of discovering them, but they did
every thing in their power to prevent the one who was blinded from
profiting by this circumstance: Adriana, who had a plain cambric
muslin gown on, drew upon her knees the skirt of her next neighbour’s
Merino pelisse. Ernestina deceived by the touch, exclaimed that it was
Madame D’Hernilly or Adela; they called out, triumphantly, “Wrong!
wrong!” and poor Ernestina had to begin her round again.

This game amused them during the whole evening, and they liked it so
much, that in some days afterwards they began to play at it again,
with as much eagerness as the first time; but they varied the manner
of playing at it, and by so doing, heightened the amusement it
afforded them. This new method, which we must call playing blindman’s
buff in shadow, was as follows:――

One of the young ladies stood facing the wall, and she was enjoined
not to look behind her: an Austral lamp was placed upon a table at the
bottom of the saloon, and there was no other light in the room. All
the party then passed between the lamp and the person who stood with
her face to the wall, so that their shadows fell upon the wall; the
lady who stood with her face to it, was obliged to guess as each
shadow passed whose it was.

Madame D’Hernilly’s daughters, and their young companions, exerted all
their ingenuity to disguise their figures, that they might avoid being
caught. At first they passed pretty quickly in succession, because
they were not yet well acquainted with the game; but at the fifth or
sixth game, when Madame D’Hernilly occupied the post facing the wall,
they made use of all the little artifices they could think of to lead
her into error. Ernestina, Adela, and Adriana, vied with each other in
endeavours to disguise their shadows most effectually. Their postures
were so whimsical, that Madame D’Hernilly could not succeed in
discovering any one.

To increase the difficulties, they resolved to put a cheat upon her,
and slily brought a young servant girl to take a part in the game
without her knowledge. This girl presented herself at first with a
gardener’s hat on; and presently afterwards, she put on the pouch and
belt of the game-keeper, and clapped a villager’s cap upon her head.
After that she crawled along upon her hands and feet with a
postilion’s jack-boot upon her arms. Madame D’Hernilly was obliged to
say that she “_threw her tongue to the dogs_.” This phrase is used to
signify that you give up; and uncouth as it sounds in our language,
Madame de Sevigné has condescended to employ it in one of her most
sprightly letters[3].

They deliberated upon the penance which they should inflict upon
Madame D’Hernilly; and they agreed that she should be obliged to
embrace those of the company whom she loved best, and that she must do
it without making the others jealous. She tenderly embraced her
daughters and their young friends; and though her preference for her
daughters was too natural to be doubted, they did not perceive that
there was any difference in her manner of caressing them, and their
companions. She therefore fulfilled the express condition of the
penance, which was in fact a pleasure, rather than a penance to her.

They then played one more game; Ernestina soon found herself in the
same situation as Madame D’Hernilly, and she was consequently obliged
to submit to a penance. They gave her a fable to read, of which the
following lines form the concluding moral:

  Sometimes smooth and sometimes rough,
  Is the game of Blindman’s Buff.
  Between the blind and those who see,
  It oft produces treachery.
  ’Twere better then, amid the strife
  That mingles in the scenes of life,
  As the best guard ’gainst those who flout you,
  To keep an open eye, and look about you.

These childish amusements were interrupted for some time by the
arrival of a new present from Victor, the kind brother of the Misses
D’Hernilly: it consisted of some new music. Their father had added
several instructive books to Victor’s gift; and the young ladies were
delighted with both. Their occupations now became as serious as
possible; they were engaged the whole day at the harp, the piano, and
the _Solfeggio_; they hardly allowed themselves even a short interval
to walk in the garden, gather flowers, or admire the beauty of the
fruits which were approaching to maturity.

If by chance bad weather obliged the company to confine themselves to
the drawing-room, the young people read extracts from voyages and
travels, written in such a manner as to suit their capacity, divested
of those scientific details which are uninteresting to people of the
world, and cleared at the same time from all that could be detrimental
to the youthful and delicate mind. These extracts united all that is
most pleasing in history and romance, and they were free from the
dryness of the one, and from all that is dangerous in the other.

One evening Madame D’Hernilly took her work-basket into the park,
where she seated herself at the foot of a majestic oak, surrounded by
beautiful plane trees, and began to amuse herself with her work. The
young visitors, of whom we have spoken, had left the castle for some
days, on account of a slight indisposition of their mamma, but they
came to pass this evening with Adela and Ernestina. The young people
amused themselves with roving about the park; the evening was
delightfully serene, the last rays of the setting sun were gradually
disappearing before the brilliant disk of the full moon, which arose
at the opposite extremity of the horizon in mild and cloudless
majesty. The lovely serenity of the scene invited the young friends to
the pursuit of rural pleasures, but the heat of the day was not
sufficiently abated, to enable them to run about and give themselves
up without restraint to active exercise. Madame D’Hernilly found that
it was too dark to pursue her embroidery any longer, when the young
people came and grouped themselves about her. Adela proposed to return
to the house and practise some music. “We should do much better,”
cried Adriana, “to stay here.” “But what should we play at then?”
cried one of the others. “Oh,” replied Adriana, “at what you will, no
matter, provided it is play.” “Let us dance hands round,” said
Ernestina. “No,” said Adela, “it is too hot.” “Well then, let us play
at blindman’s buff.” “Oh,” cried Adriana, “we have played at that so
much; besides, I am always afraid you will cheat me, you know how you
caught me the last time.”

Adriana alluded to a little trick which her companions had put upon
her. Three weeks before, they played one day at blindman’s buff upon a
very extensive lawn, which was surrounded on all sides by gravel
walks, where there was no breakneck place to fear. It was expressly
settled that they should not go beyond the lawn, and that whoever
passed its limits, should be looked upon as caught, and submit to be
blinded accordingly.

It was Adriana who was blinded, and on the faith of their agreement,
she went quietly groping about for almost a quarter of an hour;
meantime, the other rogues all passed the lawn, and mischievously left
her to seek them in vain. When she found out the trick she was almost
angry, and even Madame D’Hernilly reproached the others gravely for
having broken their express agreement.

Ernestina proposed that they should play at a game, the movements of
which do not require much activity; it is blindman’s buff with the
wand. “What is that?” cried Valeria. “Oh,” said the frolicksome
Ernestina, “I will soon shew you.”

They hastened to gather from the banks of a little rivulet which ran
through a garden laid out in the English taste, a pliant branch of a
weeping willow; they stripped it of all its leaves, and left it about
a foot and a half long. They were proceeding to draw lots to ascertain
in the usual way who should be blinded; when Ernestina, who was very
good-natured, offered of her own accord to take the disagreeable part
of the blind one: the others accordingly put a bandage over her eyes,
and made sure that she could not see, when they gave her the wand to
hold. Each of the others then took hold by turns of the opposite end
of the wand, they put it to their lips and whispered a few words,
endeavouring at the same time to disguise their voices. Ernestina who
had proposed the game, and who was supposed to be well acquainted with
it, became the victim of her good-nature, for she remained a long time
unable to guess at any of the whisperers; she was lucky enough,
however, to succeed at last, and each of the others were obliged to
submit to be blinded in their turn.

Adriana shewed a good deal of cleverness at this game, and managed for
a long time to avoid being caught; at last, the one who was blinded
contrived by a little sly trick to make her betray herself. She threw
her off her guard, and in her surprise, she spoke without disguising
her voice; she was consequently immediately recognised, and
triumphantly seized. It was Ernestina who played this trick, which
Adriana resolved should not pass unrevenged, and accordingly she made
use of every effort to catch Ernestina, who being the cleverest of the
party contrived for a long time to escape. Adriana might easily have
seized upon Adela, or Valeria, but it was Ernestina only that she
wished to catch, and at last she succeeded.

[Illustration: Girls playing blindman's buff]

When Ernestina’s eyes were bandaged, Adriana went to Madame
D’Hernilly, who had till then remained seated at some distance without
taking any share in the game, but at the desire of Adriana, she now
drew near and held the wand. While she thus stood facing Ernestina,
she remained silent, and the adroit Adriana, who was close to her,
muttered a few words, interrupted every now and then by a titter. As
Ernestina knew nothing of Madame D’Hernilly’s holding the wand, she
guessed repeatedly, but always in vain. At last, wearied out with her
ill luck, she declared she gave it up, and Adriana to complete her
little revenge, acknowledged the stratagem she had practised, saying,
“So you see, Ernestina, the plotter is caught in his own trap.” This
joke terminated their sport at blindman’s buff, but as it was yet too
early for them to retire to their apartments, they determined to
finish the evening with another game; and they made choice of
Hot-cockles. Madame D’Hernilly, who wished to put an end to their
little tricks of deceiving and cheating one another, practices which
we hope our young readers will condemn as being highly improper,
determined to play herself the part of the _confessor_; each of the
young people came in succession, and placing her hand upon Madame
D’Hernilly’s lap, spread her right hand upon her back, and remained in
this position which is called, being the _penitent_, till she could
guess who struck her.

The rules of this game are extremely simple, but there is one
precaution necessary in playing it, that of not striking too
violently. Excesses of this sort were not much to be apprehended where
the players were all young ladies; however, we must confess, that some
of them felt inclined to give heavy blows; Madame D’Hernilly, who saw
this, took great care to rein in their impetuosity. She obliged them
also to the strict observance of the rules, one of which was, that two
persons should never strike at the same time. Whenever this happened,
the person who gave the last blow, ought to take the place of
penitent; and Madame D’Hernilly took care always to inflict the
penalty with inflexible severity.

While they were at play, the nursery-maid came to tell them that
supper was ready. Ernestina wanted her to hide behind a bush for a
little while, and then to strike Adriana, who, of course, would be a
long time before she could guess who gave the blow. Madame D’Hernilly,
who regretted having in a former instance lent herself to a deception,
even though it was an innocent one, would not permit this little
deceit to be practised. She broke up the game, and the children found,
in their light and simple supper, a refreshment after the fatigues of
play. They then retired to bed, where exercise, combined with their
temperate repast, ensured them good repose.

  Place this among the golden rules,
  Which you may learn in moral schools;
  When you receive a secret blow
  Be sure that you can name the foe;
  Nor let Suspicion’s vain pretence,
  Risque your revenge on Innocence.

There is also another description of hot-cockles, called “Brother,
they strike me.” There are two penitents, the one who finds himself
touched with the corner of a pocket-handkerchief, calls out to the
other, “Brother, they strike me.” The other replies, “Who strikes
you?” and the first one must guess. But one of the players is a false
brother; sometimes he himself strikes, and sometimes his companion; he
takes care not to name himself. The game does not finish till the
person upon whom the trick is played perceives the cheat; but if his
comrades are clever, the illusion may last a good while. The false
brother complains that they strike him too violently, and is the first
to call out and to complain of the trick. At the expiration of a
certain time he gives up to another, who purposely allows himself to
be caught; and this serves to prolong the joke and the game. At last
they own to their deceived comrade, the trick they have been playing
him, and they comfort him by telling him, that in future he may catch
others in the same manner.

    [3] The letter in which Madame de Sevigné speaks of the
        marriage of De Lauzun with Mademoiselle D’Orléans.


A complete change took place at the Castle of D’Hernilly; the master
of the house and his son arrived to pass the vacation at the castle.
The gentry of the neighbourhood also hastened there to enjoy the last
fine days of autumn. Several young companions of Victor renewed their
acquaintance with him, and they gave themselves up to games much less
sedentary than those played by the ladies. The young people of both
sexes very rarely met during the week-days, but they walked and
conversed together on the Sundays and holidays; sometimes during the
latter they amused themselves with country-dances in a temporary
ball-room raised in a grove. Victor, who played very well on the
flute, was occasionally one of the musicians, but more frequently
appeared among the dancers.

[Illustration: Girls playing with hoops]

When the boys had a holiday, they amused themselves in the park with
noisy sports, such as prison bar, leap frog, _le cheval fondu_, &c.
&c. The little ones played at the poison ball, the skipping-rope, and
the hoop. Madame D’Hernilly’s daughters were very frequently the
witnesses of these sports; they admired the cleverness which the boys
shewed, but they did not envy them their amusement.

One day, Victor and his friends went with their preceptor, a walk of
some miles to join in a village feast. Adriana and Ernestina found in
the hall several of their playthings mingled with the books, maps,
&c., which they used at their studies. Among the rest they found a
hoop, and a skipping-rope. They were impatient to try whether they
could use these with any dexterity; though at the same time, they were
a little ashamed to be seen at such masculine exercises. Their young
neighbour Valeria conquered their scruples; she said, that she had
been in a school where the young ladies were permitted to play at
these games, because their governess considered that they afforded a
healthful exercise, but the players were obliged to observe that
moderation, which the delicacy of their sex, as well as their tender
age, required.

They found Valeria’s reasoning very good, and they determined to
practise the games with that moderation which she recommended. The
weather, which till then had been very warm, changed on a sudden; a
cold sharp wind had succeeded to the most suffocating heat. Nothing
could be more healthful, therefore, than those games which required

As there were only two hoops, they resolved to make use of them by
turns. Each had recourse to the assistance of a stick to enable her to
manage the hoop, which she trundled sometimes forward, sometimes on
one side, and sometimes she turned it round. It was agreed that the
game should be adjudged to be won, by the lady whose hoop arrived
first at the goal without its having fallen to the ground.

This was a matter which could not be managed without great difficulty,
on account of the turnings and windings which they had to pass; the
trees, hedges, and other obstacles also made the hoop upset every
moment. Added to this, the young ladies in imitation of what they had
seen their brothers do, were mischievous enough to try to take
advantage of those who played with them, and by pushing their hoops a
contrary way, to occasion those of their competitors to fall, in order
that they themselves might have a better chance of being first at the

While two of them were amusing themselves at this game, the others
having seized on a skipping-rope, made their young friends skip
alternately. The two young ladies who held the cord moved it
circuitously, but gently; a third, and sometimes several of them
jumped with their feet close together through it. Sometimes they
practised the most difficult steps which they had learned from their
dancing-master, or tried who could rise the highest from the ground in
cutting capers. The most boisterous endeavoured to imitate the boys,
and like them they asked for _vinegar_, that is the term which they
use when they want the rope to go more quickly.

When Victor and his companions returned, they were quite delighted to
find that the young ladies had been playing at their games. Victor
proposed the next day that they should all play together; but the
young ladies very properly refused. They contented themselves with
being spectators. The boys, who were some of them first-rate players
both at the hoop, and the rope, shewed considerable skill and
strength. Victor excelled in the double leaps, the chevaliers or
knights’ cross, and he even performed several triplets with infinite
grace and lightness.

The player who performed, without interruption, the greatest number of
the knights’ double crosses, won the game. The cord turned with so
much swiftness in Victor’s hands, that you could hardly believe he
held it if you had not heard it whiz in the air, for it passed between
his feet and the floor of the apartment without touching either, and
it was almost imperceptible to the sight.

When they had each amused themselves singly, as long as they liked
with the rope, they formed into groups of six or eight, to dance in
the middle of the long skipping-rope. The first who touched the rope
with his foot stopped the play; he was obliged, by way of penance, to
stand on one side, and was left out of the game till some one else had
failed in it.


  Masters and misses, by your leave,
  I beg this kind advice to give;
  Whate’er your games, whate’er your plays,
  Let them no rival anger raise.
    But play as sisters should with brothers;
  For recollect this wholesome truth,
  To man as useful as to youth;
  Ambition’s drum, and Fancy’s toy
  Excite the man and charm the boy;
  But know, you dear, delightful elves,
  You ne’er can truly please yourselves,
    While you give pain to any others.

[Illustration: Girls skipping rope]

Two may play together with the same rope, each of them holding one
end, one with the right, and the other with the left hand. We must,
however, observe, that they cannot do in this manner, either the
double turns, or the knights’ cross; it would be difficult, if not
impossible. It is necessary to move so as to keep time exactly; both
parties must also turn the rope with the same degree of swiftness.
When the movements of the players are perfectly in unison, they may
overrun a good deal of ground without the motion of the cord being

The Misses D’Hernilly, to whom this idea had been communicated, took
advantage of it to run races with the rope. Nothing could be more
graceful than their manner of performing those races; several grown-up
people, who were lookers-on, agreed that the skipping-rope, thus used,
was as conducive to health, as it was useful in giving the young
ladies an easy and graceful carriage, and that they might amuse
themselves with it not only without impropriety, but with advantage.


The premature coldness of the air forced the company at the Castle to
renounce all sedentary amusements. While the ladies and gentlemen
occupied themselves with billiards; the boys played at bowls, ball,
humming-top, and German top. The young ladies got hold of the bowls
and nine-pins. They were lucky enough to discover three places which
had been purposely adapted for this amusement, in a part of the garden
which was very little frequented by Victor and his companions. Some of
them, who did not like bowls, amused themselves with playing at
Puss-in-the-Corner. (_See the Frontispiece._)

[Illustration: Girls playing nine-pins]

The ground destined for this game was a straight path, which had on
each side a small bank, to hinder the bowl from running out of the
path. They divided the bowls equally, and they drew lots to determine
how they were to play. The lady, who drew Number one, threw the
_jack_, that is to say, the only small bowl at a distance; the _jack_
is regarded as the goal; the player then rolled one of her bowls as
near as she could to it. Number two came next; the one who drew it,
tried to approach still nearer to the goal, or to displace the bowl
which the preceding player had thrown. Numbers three and four followed
in their turn.

Instead of each playing upon their own account, the best method is to
form two parties, every member of each party having the same interest.
The art of the game consists sometimes in _drawing_; that is to say,
to drive at a distance the adversary’s bowl, if it has approached very
near the goal, in order that the player who follows you, may be able
to get nearer the goal than your adversary.

While the Misses D’Hernilly and their young companions were playing at
this game, they were frequently teased by their nursery governess, who
kept calling out to them, “Take care, young ladies, you will dirty
your clothes.” They often disputed which had won the game by
approaching nearest the goal; and as, on these occasions, there was
sometimes less than half an inch difference, the thing was not easily

Speaking of this game, reminds us of a strange circumstance which
happened to the celebrated Marshal Turenne. As he was one day walking
upon the ramparts of a city in which his troops then were, without
servants, or any mark of distinction, he was accosted by a group of
workmen who were playing at bowls, and who begged that he would decide
a difference which had arisen between them about the game. The Marshal
measured the distance with his cane, and then pronounced judgment. The
man against whom he had decided, revenged himself by abuse. The
Marshal smiled, which irritated the angry player still further. At
this moment, the officers belonging to the Marshal’s suite, came up
and addressed him as my lord; the poor workman, equally frightened and
ashamed when he found whom he had insulted, threw himself at Turenne’s
feet, to implore his pardon. The Marshal raising him, said kindly, “My
friend, you were wrong in supposing I would deceive you.”

Our young players had very seldom any dispute at nine-pins, for it was
easy to reckon the nine-pins that were thrown down, and those which
remained standing. Madame D’Hernilly put the young ladies in mind of
an anecdote which is related in the memoirs of the younger Racine. The
great poet Boileau became disgusted with poetry in his old age, and
grew passionately fond of nine-pins. Such was his address, that
sometimes he threw down the nine with one stroke. “Acknowledge,” cried
he one day, “that I possess two great talents, which are equally
useful to the state and to society; that of playing at nine-pins to
perfection, and that of writing tolerable verses.”

When the game is played with small nine-pins, and that you throw the
bowl only a short distance, the players throw alternately; but it more
frequently happens, that a player has two throws running, and this is
the manner in which they proceed. Number one throws his bowl at a
distance to the place marked for the goal; he must, in this first
throw, knock down at least one pin, otherwise he is obliged to remain
there for a time; this is what they call making _white cabbage_, and
he gives up the turn to the player on the opposite side. But if he has
thrown down one or two pins, and particularly that in the middle,
which alone reckons for nine points, he throws a second time, throwing
the bowl from the place in which it has previously stopped. He then
reckons the points he has gained, and leaves the place to Number two,
and so on. The grand difficulty of this game is not to make more
points than is necessary: the number is usually 21; and if, after
having gained 19 points, you happen to throw down two pins, you win
the game; but if you are so unlucky as to throw down three or four,
you _burst_, and are obliged to begin the game again. This occasions
great variety, and renders the strength of the two players equal. It
requires a great deal of practice to enable you to gain the dexterity
necessary to knock down at once a considerable number of nine-pins,
and you can never be certain of throwing down one, two, or three, just
at the moment you wish.

Adriana had less taste than the others for this game, it required too
much precision; and, at the same time, a degree of strength above her

Ernestina, Valeria, and the rest of the eldest girls, received, about
this time, a present of a set of nine-pins, of a different sort from
those we have been speaking of. They compose the game called _Siam_.
You lose at it, also, by making too many points; and you are then
said, as in the other, to _burst_. Your fate is decided more
frequently by chance at _Siam_ than at nine-pins, for you cannot
always guide the quoit at will, which serves to throw down the pins.
The quoit is made of a hard close wood, the edge of it is cut a little
sloping, so as to describe a curve it is directed circularly either to
the right or to the left.

This game is very common in India, and as it was introduced into
France during the reign of Louis XIV., by people in the suite of the
ambassador of Siam, who was at that time at the Court of Versailles,
it has retained the name of their country.

The nine-pins are not all of the same value; those which are ranged in
a circle reckon each for one point; three others which form the point
of the opposite side count for 5, 4, and 3; the one in the middle is
called the Siam, but it is necessary to throw that down by itself,
otherwise the player loses all the points he has gained before, and is
obliged to begin again.

The rock upon which the player is apt to split, is, as we have already
said, the going beyond the number of points fixed upon; and no skill
can avert this danger which may arise from the slightest chance, such
as the least unevenness of the ground, or even a little sand upon the
quoit; from causes thus trivial, the game is frequently lost, just at
the moment that the player appears to be on the point of gaining it.

Our young people amused themselves, for the rest of the autumn, with a
review of the games which had delighted them during the spring and
summer; they returned to the capital in the beginning of November. The
young ladies eagerly resumed the lessons which they took from their
different masters. Victor, who for the first time, obtained a prize at
the University, entered into a higher class, where he strove with a
laudable emulation to surpass his fellow collegians. The Misses
D’Hernilly, instructed by the first masters in the knowledge of
languages, and in every other accomplishment suitable to their rank,
passed their leisure hours in society, selected for them by their
mother, and chiefly under her own eye. Between study and relaxation
their time flew rapidly, but both the young ladies and their brother,
often recollected with pleasure, the amusements they had enjoyed at
the castle D’Hernilly, and looked forward with delight, although
without impatience, to the period when returning to the country they
should once more resume their healthful and exhilarating sports.

  Thus in their early season, gay,
  In life’s delightful month of May,
  Between those necessary hours,
  When kind instruction gravely pours
  Its various lessons on the mind,
  Of knowledge useful or refin’d:
  Thus female youth their time employ,
  To strengthen _Health_ or waken _Joy_,
  While Reason’s rip’ning state prepares
  For other pleasures, other cares.



Transcriber's Note:

Words and phrases in italics are surrounded by underscores, _like
this_. Dialect, obsolete and alternative spellings were left

Obvious printing errors, such as backwards, upside down, or partially
printed letters, were corrected. Unprinted letters and punctuation
were restored.

Footnotes were numbered sequentially and moved to the end of the
chapter in which the related anchor occurs.

Descriptions of illustrations were added.

The following were changed:

  d’Hernilly to D’Hernilly: …D’Hernilly expressed her admiration…
  comma to stop: …another a shuttlecock. This game…
  claok to cloak: …taking off his cloak…
  stop to comma: …Whenever this happened, the person who…
  colon to semi-colon: …Excite the man and charm the boy;…

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