498 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
for his hat or coat, and a short stick with bunches of ribbons at one end. With a flourish of a trumpet, the herald proclaims the name of each one, who then advances.
The dance about the May-pole is then in order. The Queen is treated with every honour, and her subjects dance "before her"—or she may join them, as she pleases.
The morris-dance is one of the most ancient of English dances around the May-pole. Shakespeare refers to "a morris for May Day." It chiefly consisted in "capering" and skipping to the sound of lively music, but its chief characteristics were the bells tied about the ankles or knees, and wreaths or posies in the hats, and all carried short sticks tied with bunches of ribbons. These last were substituted for the swords that were anciently carried by the Moors—from whom the dance was derived.
The girls' costumes naturally lend themselves picturesquely to the pretty scene, but that of the boys will owe much to garters trimmed with folly-bells, berib-boned wands, and posy-crowned hats. The bells, too, make merry music in the dance.
Dancers dressed to represent Maid Marian, Will Scarlet, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and the Fool or Jester belong to the traditions of May Day, and "merry milkmaids," who danced with their pails filled with flowers upon their heads, had a recognised part in the festivities. All of which may add to the interest and fun of a modern May-Day celebration.
To the accompaniment of some gay or prettily accented music the dances may then follow the pretty and graceful old custom of "plaiting the May-pole."
An even number of dancers take the ends of the