the person who is sitting next to him or her on the left-hand side exclaims:
“Who’s there?” or “Who is it?”
The first player answers:
“What says Buff?”
“Buff says ‘Buff’ to all his men,
And I say ‘Buff’ to you again.”
“I think Buff smiles.”
“Buff neither laughs nor smiles,
But gives the staff to you again.”
And suiting the action to the word, “Buff” hands the stick or poker to the next player, who is bound to receive it, and becomes “Buff” in turn. Should the first player, however, at any time during the foregoing dialogue smile before the staff is actually handed over, a forfeit is incurred.
Playing forfeits was a very favourite amusement with Dorset folk during the long winter evenings, and more particularly at Christmastide, when the family circle had generally more than its usual complement. There should be if possible twenty or thirty present to play forfeits properly, who arrange themselves round the room as conveniently as possible, and should be careful to be provided with some trifling article wherewith to pay forfeits should any be incurred. In some places the players sit in two lines opposite each other, each holding in his or her hand a piece of paper, or pencil, or thimble, or some such slight article wherewith to pay their forfeit in case they should make a mistake in answering.
A common form of playing forfeits was that of a game which involved a question and answer. Two persons sat in front of the
- Conf. variant in Shropshire Folklore, p. 526.