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hands held palms together in front of him, trying to tick (= touch) others. Each whom he touches joins hands with him, and they run together in an ever-lengthening chain, sweeping the playground from end to end, the boys at each end of the chain "ticking" others with their disengaged'hands, till all are caught but one, who becomes the next " Stag." The Stag gives notice of his start by exclaiming—
Come out to-morrow morning! —Shrewsbury.
Stag a-rag a-rorning Very frosty morning! What I cannot catch to-night I'll catch to-morrow morning!
— Chirbury (Burne's Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 523).
The game is mentioned by Mr. Patterson in his Antrim and Down Glossary. Northall's English Folk Rhymes, p. 392, gives a Warkwickshire and Staffordshire version, in which the first player " ticked " or " tagged " becomes Stag when the first game is concluded, all having been caught. The words used are—
Stag aloney, My long poney, Kick the bucket over. Halliwell (Dictionary) also describes the game, and indicates its origin. The boy chosen for the game clasps his hands together, and, holding them out, threatens his companions as though pursuing them with horns, and a chase ensues in which the Stag endeavours to strike one of them, who then becomes Stag in his turn. Unfortunately, Halliwell does not, in this instance, give his authority, but if it is taken from the players themselves, it is a sufficient account of the origin of the game, apart from the evidence of the name. All this group of games is evidently to be traced to one original, though in different places the detail of the game has developed somewhat differently. It evidently comes down from the time when stags were hunted not so much for sport as for food.
See "Chickidy Hand," " Hornie," "Hunt the Stagie," '< Shepherds," " Warney."