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60 The Play-Party in Indiana.
Often a way is provided for an alert player to get out of the "mush pot." If he can snatch the handkerchief, before the person behind whom it has been dropped, discovers it, he becomes "dropper" and the slow person takes his place in the "mush pot."
In a large circle there are usually two "droppers" and they run in opposite ways around the ring. This means that there are four running, much of the time. This adds to the confusion and also to the fun of the game.
c. This has recently lost the song and at the play-party it is merely a game of chase. The children may retain the song in Ripley County but I think not, and certainly it is not well known today.
d. This is not, strictly speaking, a play-party game. It was played and sung on the school ground in Versailles about ten years ago but today it has become merely a game of chase. Like "Three Deep"35 it has, however, a connection with the play-party. "Drop the Handkerchief" and "Three Deep" have the relation to the play-party which "Authors" and "Chess" sometimes have to the Euchre party. If there are enough guests who object to the dance in the playing games, they play this. It is the substitute for the dance-games and as such is very popular at play-parties and "roasts."
Mrs. Gomme gives fourteen variants (Trad. Games, vol. I, pp. 306-8) under the title "Kiss in the Ring."
In certain variants, if the "dropper" is caught by his pursuer he is given a kiss, and in one the marriage formula is a feature of the game. (Mrs. Gomme. Trad. Games, vol. I, pp. 309-10.)
The expression, "throw (or fling) the handkerchief," Mrs. Gomme says is used commonly with the meaning of "an expected proposal of marriage which is more of a condescension than a complimentary or flattering one to the girl." Further she concludes that "Kiss in the Ring" is probably a relic of the earliest form of marriage by choice or selection. The custom of dropping or sending a glove as the signal of a challenge may have been succeeded by the handkerchief in this game."36
Mr. Newell (Games and Songs, pp. 168-9) gives this in connection with "Hunt the Squirrel."
35 Another game of chase.
36 Mrs. Gomme, Trad. Games, vol. T, p. 310.