Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/32

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his sword drawn. This fair fighting, however, this killing your man in self-defence, was not the only sign of the savagery of the time.

"A girl named Miriam, in Northamptonshire," an old record tells us, "maid-servant to a farmer, was leading a pair of horses with a harrow, walking in front of them. Her master, who was ploughing in the next field, observing that the harrow progressed slowly, stole behind the horses and suddenly belaboured them; with the result that the horses and the machine passed over the body of the unfortunate girl, inflicting a horrible death. The provocation pleaded was the lazyness of the girl, a plea that was held sufficient." (Quoted from Hubert Hall.)

It was the English archer with his cloth-yard shaft that contributed most largely to the renown of the mediæval armies of England. By the time of Elizabeth, however, archery had degenerated into a mere sport or pastime. The state passed various laws whose intent was to encourage yeomen to use the bow with their old-time skill and energy. Among these laws we find the following:

"In case any person should be wounded, or slain in these sports, with an arrow shot by one or other of the archers, he that shot the arrow shall not be sued or molested, if he had, immediately before the discharge of the weapon, cried