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BABES 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 account
In Norfolk dwelt of late,
Whose wealth and riches did surmount
Most men of his estate.
Sore sick he was; ancd 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 Baldw.n Library
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STHE BABES IN THE WOOD.
The father left his little son,
As plainly doth appear,
When he to perfect age should come,
Three hundred pounds a-year
And 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 commend
My 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 babes
To joy or misery:
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THE BABES IN THE WOOD.
"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,
VWhen you are in the grave."
The parents being dead and gone,
The children home he takes,
And brings them both unto his house,
Where much of them he makes.
He had not kept these pretty babes
A twelvemonth and a day,
When, for their wealth, he .did devise
To 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 heart
Did vow to d6 his charge,
Because the wretch that hired him
Had ,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 mood
Did slay the other there,
Within an unfrequented wood;
The babes did quake for fear I
THE BABES IN THE WOOD.
He took the children by the hand,
When 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 man
Approaching 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 innocents
Of any man receives,
But robin red-breast lovingly
Did cover them with leaves.
And now the heavy wrath of God
Upon 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 Portugal
Two of his sons did die;
And, to. conclude, himself was brought
Unto much misery:
He pawn'd and mortgaged all his land,
'Ere seven years came about;
And then at length this wicked act
Did by this means come out:
The fellow that did take in hand
These 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 expressed;
Their uncle died while he for debt
Did 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 misery
Your wicked deeds requite.
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