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A History of Horncastle by James Conway Walter

Among the boarders archery was practised


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the Doctor's energy of character it would be expected that he would encourage active healthy recreations. The days of cricket were not yet, {100b} although "single wicket" was sometimes practiced. Nor was football popular, as it is now. The game was indeed played, but we had, in those days, no Rugby rules, and the ball was composed of a common bladder, with a leather cover made by the shoemaker. In the school yard the chief game was "Prisoner's Base," generally played by boarders against day boys; in this swiftness of foot was specially valuable. There was also a game named "Lasty," in which one boy was selected to stand at the upper end of the yard, while the rest gathered at the lower end. After a short interval, the one boy darted forward towards the others, who all tried to avoid him; his object was to catch one of the other boys, and when he succeeded in this, the boy whom he caught took up the running to catch another, and this could go on for any length of time. There was another exciting game called "Lug and a Bite." In the fruit season a day boarder, from the country, frequently brought his pocket full of apples; he would throw an apple among the other boys, one of whom would catch it, and run away biting it; the others would chase him, and seize him by the lug (ear), when he would throw it away, and another would catch it, and continue the process, he being, in his turn, caught by the ear, and so on. This afforded much amusement, and many apples would in this
way be consumed. There were large slabs of stone laid down in the yard, on which marbles were played with, and peg tops were spun. Hockey, or shinty, as it was commonly called, was also a favourite game; but these amusements were chiefly confined to the sons of tradesmen in the town.

Among the boarders archery was practised, and by some of them with a skill almost rivalling that of Locksley in Sir Walter Scott's novel of _Ivanhoe_. A carpenter in the town made for us bows of lancewood, and arrows of poplar, tipped with spikes of iron. With these we could not only split our "willow wand" at 80 yards distant, but the more skilful deemed an arrow hardly worth having until it had been baptized in the blood of blackbird or pigeon, and some of the neighbouring pigeon cotes suffered accordingly. The writer was presented with a bow made of bamboo, and arrows said to be poisoned, which a great traveller, then residing in Horncastle, had brought from the South Sea Islands. He lent these to a brother archer, who by mistake shot another boy in the calf of the leg. Great alarm was the result, but the poison must have lost its power, for no evil consequences ensued, except that the wounded party almost frightened himself into a state of fever.

[Picture: Successive Head Masters, from 1818 to 1907]

These, however, were among the less hardy of our sports. The good old Doctor's great aim was to get us healthily engaged in the country. With this object he would say on a Monday morning to the bigger boys of the two highest classes, "Now, lads, if you will translate this book


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