The Babes in the Wood (4) Now ponder well, you parents dear, These words which I shall write; An awful story you shall hear In time brought forth to light. A gentle man of good account In Northforth (Norfolk) dwelt of late, Whose wealth and riches did surmount Most men of high estate. So sick he was and like to die, No help there could he have; His wife as sick as him did die; They both possessed one grave. So love between these two was lost, And to the other kind; And as they lived, in love they died, And left two babes behind. One was a fine and pretty boy Not passing three years old; The other a girl more younger was, And made in beauty's mold. The father left his little son, Which plainly doth appear, When he to proper age should come, Three hundred pounds a year. And to his little daughter dear Two hundred pounds in gold, For to be paid on her marriage day, Which should not be controlled. And if these children chanced to die, And ne'er to age do come, Their uncle should their wealth possess, For so the will begun. "Dear Brother," said the dying man, "Look to my children dear; Be good unto my boy and girl; No friend else have they here. "To God and you I do commend My children night and day; 'Tis but a little time I have Within this world to stay. "You must be father and mother both, And uncle all in one; You know what will become of them When I am dead and gone." These words spoke their mother dear, "Attention to me give; Keep both my babes carefully, That they may never grieve." With lips as cold as any stone She kissed her children small; Saying, "God bless you both, my babes." With that the tears did fall. Now then the brother spake again To that sick couple there, "The keeping of these children dear Sweet Sister, do not fear. "God never prosper none of men, Or aught else what I have, If I do wrong your children dear When you are in the grave." The parents being dead and gone, These children then he takes; He carried both into his house, And much of them he makes. He did not keep these children dear A twelve month and a day, Before their wealth he did desire To put them both away. He bargained with two ruffians rude, Which was of curious mode, All for to take these young children, And slay them in the woods. He told his wife and all of them He would these children send To be brought up in London By one who was a friend. Away then with these little babes, Rejoicing at the tide, Rejoicing in a merry mode, They should on horseback ride. They played and prattled on the way As they rode off astray With those who would their butcher be And work their lives away. How then the pretty talk they had Made the murderer's heart relent; The one that took the deed to do Full sore he did repent. The other one more hardened heart He vowed to do his charge, Because the man that hired him had paid hem very large. The other one would not agree; So then they fell to strife; With another they did fight About these children's lives. But he that was of the wildest mode Did slay the other there, While in an uncreek (unintelligible) wintered Those babes did quake with fear. He took these children by the hand While tears stood in their eyes, And bid them go along with him But they could not but cry. Now two long miles he led them there While they for bread complained "Stay here," said he, "I'll bring you bread When I return again." Now hand in hand these little babes Went wandering up and down, But never more they saw the man, Approaching from the town. Thus wanders these two little babes Till death did end their grief; In one another's arms they died, As babes a-wanting relief. Their little lips with blackberries Was all besmeared and dyed; And when they saw the darkness of night, They sat them down and cried. The burying of these little babes They did no man accuse. The robin redbreast lovingly Did cover them with leaves. Now then the heavy wrath of God Upon the uncle fell; The awful friend he'd haunters have And his conscience fell in Hell. His barns was fired; his goods were croomed; His lands were barren made; All cattle died within his field, And nothing with him stayed. And in a voyage to Portugal Two of his sons did die, And to conclude himself he brought Unto such misery. He pawned and mortgaged all his lands In seven years brought about, And now at length these wicked ways By these words did come out. Come all that are executors Of orphans weak in sight; Do what is right and just And give to each that's right. Do what is right and just By them both day and night, Lest God by such misery Your wicked minds requite. The very man that took in hand These children for to kill Fared robber's fate until he died, Which was God's blessed will. He did confess the very truth Which is plainly here expressed; Their uncle died, and he in death Did long in prison dwell. Source: Folksongs of Florida, Alton C. Morris, 1950. DT #542 Laws Q34 @child @death JRO oct99
Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!