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Weird Tales JANUARY, 1952

Cat's Cradle

by E.W. Tomlinson

...the glassy eyes of the stuffed crocodile seemed to gleam with mockery.

IT has been a long time since I have seen children playing at cat's-cradle. It was popular pastime when I was a boy and I can remember how children were set to playing the game as an engagement for long Sabbath afternoons when custom and parents required quiet and repose. On such occasion's my sister and I faced each other from hassocks placed in the large parlor bow-window and for several hours were occupied with a long loop of cord and a printed chart which showed us how to begin and how to progress, alternately lifting a continuously more intricate complex of cord from each others hands.

I have often wondered how the game ever came to this country—what strange group of immigrants brought the cat's-cradle with them from over the sea. But more I wonder how it ever came to asume the rank of a game for children, whose nearest approach to evil was an occasional raid on cookie-jar or jam-pot. Even in the mild form it assumed there remained a taint of an old evil, especially since some of the figures were called by such names as "Hang the Witch", "Flying Goblin" and the like. I can now see more clearly this truth because of what happened to a friend of mine. I trust his veracity completely for reasons which need no explanation here. And I know that his powers of observation are remarkable.

My friend is a man only a little older than myself and we were brought up together. The houses of our parents were so placed that their alley-entrances were exactly opposite and the children of both establishments were constantly back and forth. My sister and I were as much at home in my friend's house as we were in our own and I am happy to remember that the reverse was also true. Our father was the minister of a local ...

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