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QUEEN ANNE 101
Guardian then disguises three girls (one with the ball) with veils or other coverings, so that they precisely resemble each other, and returns with the girls to the suitors, saying to the girls—
Turn, ladies, turn ; turn, ladies, turn ;
and to the suitors—
Come choose your own, come choose from all.
I've brought you three letters, pray can you read one ?
Suitor (touching one of the disguised girls).
I cannot read one without I read all.
I pray, Miss ( ), yield up the balL]
Disguised Maiden (one who did not receive the ball).
The ball is mine, and none of thine, And so, good morning, Valentine.
Choi'us of Maidens (curtseying).
We will go to the wood and gather flowers, We will get pins to pin our clothes, You will get nails to nail your toes. Cats and kittens bide within, But we, young maidens, come out and in.
The inference being that the chosen maiden is still free until the suitor can try again, and is fortunate enough to indicate the right maiden.
If this conjectural restoration of the verses be accepted on the evidence, it would suggest that this game originated from one of the not uncommon customs practised at weddings or betrothals—when the suitor has to discriminate between several girls all dressed precisely alike and distinguish his bride by some token. (See " King William.") This incident of actual primitive custom also obtains in folk tales, thus showing its strong hold upon popular tradition, and hence increasing the probability that it would reappear in games. It must be re-