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THEBABES IN THE WOOD.Now ponder well, you parents dear,These words which I now write;A doleful story you shall hear,In time brought forth to light.A gentleman of good accountIn Norfolk dwelt of late,Whose wealth and riches did surmountMost men of his estate.Sore sick he was, and like to die,No help his life could save;His wife by him as sick did lie,And both were near the grave.No love between these two was lost:Each to the other kind,In love they lived, in love they died,And left two babes behind.The one a fine and pretty boy,Not passing three years old;The other a girl, more young than he,And made in Beauty's mould.-The Baldwin Library19mmdBva
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THE BABES IN THE WO OD.The father left his little son,As plainly doth appear,When he to perfect age should come,Three hundred pounds a-yearAnd to his little daughter Jane,Two hundred pounds in gold,To be paid down on marriage-day,Which could not be controlled:But if the children chanced to die,Ere they to age should come,Their uncle should possess their wealth :For so the will did run." Now, brother," said the dying man,"Look to my children dear;Be good unto my boy and girl,No friends else have they here:" To God and you I do commendMy children night and day;But little time we yet shall have"Within this world to stay."You must be father and mother both,And uncle all in one;God knows what will become of them,When we are dead and gone."Then next did speak their mother dear--"0 brother kind," quoth she," You are the man must bring my babesTo joy or misery:
THE BABES IN THE WOO D."If you do keep them carefully,Then God will you reward;But if you otherwise should deal,God will your deeds regard."With lips as cold as any stone,They kiss'd the children small:"God bless you both, you pretty lambs!"With that their tears did fall.These words then their brother spoke,The parents sad to cheer:"The keeping of your little babes,Sweet sister, do not fear:"God never prosper me nor mine,Nor aught else that I have,If I do wrong your children dear,When you are in the grave."The parents being dead and gone,The children home he takes,And brings them both unto his houseWhere much of them he makes.He had not kept these pretty babesA twelvemonth and a day,When, for their wealth, he did deviseTo make them both away.He bargained with two ruffians bold,Who were of savage mood,That they should take the children twain,And slay them in a wood.
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THE BABES IN THE WOOD.He told his wife an artful tale;He would the children send,To be brought up in fair London,With one that was his friend.Away then went the pretty babes,Rejoicing. at that tide,.For gaily both of them did feel,They should on cock-horse ride.They prate and prattle pleasantly,'While riding on the way,To those their wicked uncle hired,These lovely babes to slay:So that the pretty speech they had,Made the ruffians' hearts relent;And they that took the deed to do,Full sorely did repent.Yet one of them, more hard of heartDid vow to do his charge,Because the wretch that hired himHad paid him very large.The other would not agree thereto,So here they fell at strife;With one another they did fight,About the children's life:And he that was of milder moodDid slay the other there,Within an unfrequented wood;The babes did quake for fear
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THE BABES IN THE WOOD.He took the children by the hand,Vhen tears stood in their eye,And bade them straightway follow him,And look they did not cry:And two long miles he led them thus,"While they for bread complain:"Stay here," quoth he, "I'll bring ye bread,When I do come again."These pretty babes, with hand in hand,"Went wandering up and down;But never more they saw the manApproaching from the town:Their pretty lips with black-berries"Were all besmear'd and dyed,And when they saw the darksome night,They sat them down and cried.Thus wander'd these two pretty dears,Till death did end their grief;In one another's arms they died,Poor babes, past all relief:No burial these innocentsOf any man receives,But robin red-breast lovinglyDid cover them with leaves.And now the heavy wrath of GodUpon their uncle fell;For fearful fiends did haunt his house,His conscience felt a hell:
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THE BABES IN THE WOOD.His barns were fired, his goods consumed,His lands were barren made,His cattle died within the field,And nothing with him stayed.And in a voyage to PortugalTwo of his sons did die;And, to conclude, himself was broughtUnto much misery:He pawn'd and mortgaged all his land,Ere seven years came about;And then at length this wicked actDid by this means come out:The fellow that did take in handThese children for to kill,"Was for a robbery judged to die,As was God's blessed will:And did confess the very truth;The which is here express'd;Their uncle died while he for debtDid long in prison rest.All you that be executors,And overseers eke,Of children that be fatherless,And infants mild and meek,Take you example by this tale,And yield to each his right,Lest God with such like miseryYour wicked deeds requite.
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