Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/237

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185
OUT-OF-DOOR SPORTS

well as for the common people. The contemporary plays are redundant with technical allusions to the games; perhaps nothing so well illustrates the popular familiarity with its play and rules as the numerous allusions to its technical details to be found in Middleton's play, The World Lost at Tennis. Many references show that the indoor game of racquet was most fashionably played in the forenoon.

Trap-stick, trap-ball, and Northern-spell were names given to a familiar game in which the ball was struck out of a sort of trap by means of a small paddle, and batted before reaching the ground. In some respects, it resembled the modern cat-stick.


Barley-break was a rural sport of great popularity, whose other and better known name was The Last Couple in Hell. It is thus described by Gifford: "It was played by six people (three of each sex) who were coupled by lot. A piece of ground was then chosen, and divided into three compartments, of which the middle one was called hell. It was the object of the couple condemned to this division to catch the others, who advanced from the two extremities; in which case a change of situation took place, and hell was filled by the