From the game's manual:
You are the famous explorer, Sir Richard Wittenbottom. you have discovered an ancient civilization deep in the forest of a mysterious island. Since you are a likeble chap, they have decided to induct you into their council of warriors - but first you must run the GAUNTLET to prove you are worthy of the honor.
You are given three glasses of water. Your task is to use the water to extinguish as many of the ceremonial fires burning at various places within the GAUNTLET as you can, before your water supply runs out. To successfully run the GAUNTLET you must dodge, jump and duck your way through the various obstacles and projectiles while remaining within the confines of the GAUNTLET. Any contact with an obstacle, projectile, or the GAUNTLET, will trip you up and cause you to spill water. You may stop and rest momentarily, but be careful - running the GAUNTLET is thirsty work and you may be tempted to take a drink!