Floor Games

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You see how the game goes on. We land and alter things, and build and rearrange, and hoist paper flags on pins, and subjugate populations, and confer all the blessings of civilization upon these lands. We keep them going for days. And at last, as we begin to tire of them, comes the scrubbing brush, and we must burn our trees and dismantle our islands, and put our soldiers in the little nests of drawers, and stand the island boards up against the wall, and put everything away. Then perhaps, after a few days, we begin upon some other such game, just as we feel disposed. But it is never quite the same game, never. Another time it may be wildernesses for example, and the boards are hills, and never a drop of water is to be found except for the lakes and rivers we may mark out in chalk. But after one example others are easy, and next I will tell you of our way of making towns.


WE always build twin cities, like London and Westminster, or Buda-Pesth, because two of us always want, both of them, to be mayors and municipal councils, and it makes for local freedom and happiness to arrange it so; but when steam railways or street railways are involved we have our rails in common, and we have an excellent law that rails must be laid down and switches kept open in such a manner that anyone feeling so disposed may send a through train from their own station back to their own station again without needless negotiation or the personal invasion of anybody else's administrative area. It is an undesirable thing to have other people bulging over one's houses, standing in one's open spaces, and, in extreme cases, knocking down and even treading on one's citizens. It leads at times to explanations that are afterwards regretted.

We always have twin cities, or at the utmost stage of coalescence a city with two wards, Red End and Blue End; we mark the boundaries very carefully, and our citizens have so much local patriotism (Mr. Chesterton will learn with pleasure) that they stray but rarely over that thin little streak of white that bounds their municipal allegiance. Sometimes we have an election for mayor; it is like a census but very abusive, and Red always wins. Only citizens with two legs and at least one arm and capable of standing up may vote, and voters may poll on horseback; boy scouts and women and children do not vote, though there is a vigorous agitation to remove these disabilities. Zulus and foreign- looking persons, such as East Indian cavalry and American Indians, are also disfranchised. So are riderless horses and camels; but the elephant has never attempted to vote on any occasion, and does not seem to desire the privilege. It influences public opinion quite sufficiently as it is by nodding its head.

We have set out and I have photographed one of our cities to illustrate more clearly the amusement of the game. Red End is to the reader's right, and includes most of the hill on which the town stands, a shady zoological garden, the town hall, a railway tunnel through the hill, a museum (away in the extreme right-hand corner), a church, a rifle range, and a shop. Blue End has the railway station, four or five shops, several homes, a hotel, and a farm-house, close to the railway station. The boundary drawn by me as overlord (who also made the hills and tunnels and appointed the trees to grow) runs irregularly between the two shops nearest the cathedral, over the shoulder in front of the town hall, and between the farm and the rifle range.

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