168 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
The leader stands in the centre of a circle. Each one holds out his hands, palms upward, and upon them a book is placed. The leader then goes around the circle, catching up the books in turn, and trying therewith to strike it upon the hands that hold it. Each one tries to withdraw his hands before they are struck. The same leader continues until he is able to strike some one's hands, whereupon the victim must take his place. If one's hands are withdrawn and the book falls to the ground, because of a feint on the part of the leader, it is as if his hands received the blow.
After two captains have been chosen, they proceed to select their particular following so that the company may be divided into two equal sides. They seat themselves in two rows, facing each other.
One of the captains begins the game by throwing a ball or knotted handkerchief to one of the players on the opposite side, crying aloud at the same time: "Earth!" "Air," "Fire," or "Water."
He generally tries to throw it to one who is apparently least expecting it. If "Air" is the word called, the person in whose lap or near whom the missile falls must promptly name some bird; if "Water," a fish or some denizen of the water; if "Earth," an animal— before the other can count ten—but at the word "Fire!" no reply whatever must be made.
If the player answers correctly, he then throws the ball or handkerchief in his turn to one of his opponents; but if he fails to answer in time or replies incorrectly, or speaks when it is the prerogative of another, he drops