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by (H)erbert (G)eorge Wells
Contents I. The Toys To Have II. The Game Of The Wonderful Islands III. Of The Building Of Cities IV. Funiculars, Marble Towers, Castles And War Games, But Very LIttle Of War Games
Section I THE TOYS TO HAVE
The jolliest indoor games for boys and girls demand a floor, and the home that has no floor upon which games may be played falls so far short of happiness. It must be a floor covered with linoleum or cork carpet, so that toy soldiers and such-like will stand up upon it, and of a color and surface that will take and show chalk marks; the common green- colored cork carpet without a pattern is the best of all. It must be no highway to other rooms, and well lit and airy. Occasionally, alas! it must be scrubbed--and then a truce to Floor Games. Upon such a floor may be made an infinitude of imaginative games, not only keeping boys and girls happy for days together, but building up a framework of spacious and inspiring ideas in them for after life. The men of tomorrow will gain new strength from nursery floors. I am going to tell of some of these games and what is most needed to play them; I have tried them all and a score of others like them with my sons, and all of the games here illustrated have been set out by us. I am going to tell of them here because I think what we have done will interest other fathers and mothers, and perhaps be of use to them (and to uncles and such-like tributary sub-species of humanity) in buying presents for their own and other people's children.
Now, the toys we play with time after time, and in a thousand permutations and combinations, belong to four main groups. We have (1) SOLDIERS, and with these I class sailors, railway porters, civilians, and the lower animals generally, such as I will presently describe in greater detail; (2) BRICKS; (3) BOARDS and PLANKS; and (4) a lot of CLOCKWORK RAILWAY ROLLING-STOCK AND RAILS. Also there are certain minor objects--tin ships, Easter eggs, and the like--of which I shall make incidental mention, that like the kiwi and the duck-billed platypus refuse to be classified.
These we arrange and rearrange in various ways upon our floor, making a world of them. In doing so we have found out all sorts of pleasant facts, and also many undesirable possibilities; and very probably our experience will help a reader here and there to the former and save him from the latter. For instance, our planks and boards, and what one can do with them, have been a great discovery. Lots of boys and girls seem to be quite without planks and boards at all, and there is no regular trade in them. The toyshops, we found, did not keep anything of the kind we wanted, and our boards, which we had to get made by a carpenter, are the basis of half the games we play. The planks and boards we have are of various sizes. We began with three of two yards by one; they were made with cross pieces like small doors; but these we found unnecessarily large, and we would not get them now after our present experience. The best thickness, we think, is an inch for the larger sizes and three-quarters and a half inch for the smaller; and the best sizes are a yard square, thirty inches square, two feet, and eighteen inches square--one or two of each, and a greater number of smaller ones, 18 x 9, 9 x 9, and 9 x 4-1/2. With the larger ones we make islands and archipelagos on our floor while the floor is a sea, or we make a large island or a couple on the Venice pattern, or we pile the smaller on the larger to make hills when the floor is a level plain, or they roof in railway stations or serve as bridges, in such manner as I will presently illustrate. And these boards of ours pass into our next most important possession, which is our box of bricks.
(But I was nearly forgetting to tell this, that all the thicker and larger of these boards have holes bored through them. At about every four inches is a hole, a little larger than an ordinary gimlet hole. These holes have their uses, as I will tell later, but now let me get on to the box of bricks.)