Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/170

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126
THE ELIZABETHAN PEOPLE

And here she meets another sadly scowling,
To whom she speaks and he replies with howling.

"When he hath ceased his ill-resounding noise,
Another flap-mouthed mourner, black and grim,
Against the welkin volleys out his voice;
Another and another answer him,
Clapping their proud tails to the ground below,
Shaking their scratch'd ears, bleeding as they go."

The huntsman, in order to save the lives of his dogs, customarily dashed in from behind and killed the stag with a short sword or dagger. All those who were present with horns blew the "mort" of the deer, and the hunters were then ready for the last ceremony.

The "assay," which followed next in order, is thus described in The Noble Art of Venery: "Our order is that the prince or chief (if so please them) do augur and take assay of the deer with a sharp knife, the which is done in this manner: The deer being laid upon his back, the prince, chief, or such as they shall appoint, comes to it; and the chief huntsman (kneeling, if it be a prince), doth hold the deer by the fore foot, whiles the prince or chief cut a slit drawn alongst the brisket of the deer, somewhat lower than the brisket towards the belly. This is done to see the goodness of the flesh, and how thick it is."

The office next performed was the breaking up