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Cat's Cradle Or Catch Cradle








Dr. Brewer, in his "Dictionary of Phrase and Fable," thinks this "the
corrupt for cratch cradle or manger cradle, in which the infant Saviour
was laid. Cratch is the French creche (a rack or manger), and to the
present hour the racks which stand in the fields for cattle to eat from
are called cratches." Of this, however, I am doubtful, though there is
much reason in his suggestion. In Sussex and Kent, when I was a boy, it
was commonly played among children, but always called cat's, catch, or
scratch cradle, and consisted generally of two or more players. A piece
of string, being tied at the ends, was placed on the fingers, and
crossed and re-crossed to make a sort of cradle; the next player
inserted his or her fingers, quickly taking it off; then the first
catching it back, then the second again, then the first, as fast as
possible, catching and taking off the string. Sometimes the sides were
caught by the teeth of the players, one on each side, and as the hands
were relaxed the faces were apart, then when drawn out it brought the
faces together; the string being let go or not, and caught again as it
receded, was according to the will of the players, the catching and
letting go affording much merriment. When four or five played, the
string rapidly passed from hand to hand until, in the rapidity of the
motion, one missed, who then stood out, and so on until only one was
left, winning the game of cat's, catch, or scratch cradle. It was
varied also to single and double cradle, according to the number of
crossings of the string. Catch is easily converted into cat's, or it
might be so called from the catching or clawing at, to get and to
hold, the entanglement.





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