Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/254

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The story-teller, especially in the country, was always in popular demand. It was a time when the common people of the rural districts read little. They would gather about the fire of a winter evening and listen credulously to the most outlandish stories of spirits, prodigies, and fairies. Desdemona was fond of hearing of "men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders." Even King Richard did not disdain to "Sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings." Domestic servants often held their positions by virtue of their ability to tell a story with effect, a skill they utilised to amuse their master and his guests at meals. This personage merged into the professional story-teller, who was only a step removed from the juggler, the minstrel, and the musician—all common Elizabethan characters in both town and country.

There were in vogue a great number of parlour games such as are still played to-day. A Thing and Who Did It and Substantives and Adjectives are two such, fully described in Cynthia's Revels[1] The former is thus introduced by one of the players: "Why, I imagine a Thing done; Hedon thinks, who did it; Moria, with what it was done; Anaides, where it was done; Argurion, when it was done; Amorphus, for what cause it was done;

  1. Act IV., Scene i.