Two babes in the wood (1)/The Two Babes in the Wood

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THE

Two Babes in the Wood.




Now ponder well ye parents dear,
The words that I shall write,
A woeful story you shall hear,
By time brought forth to light.


A gentleman of good account,
In Norfolk dwelt of late,
Whose means and riches did surmount
Most men of his estate.


Sore sick he was, and like to die,
No help then could he have,
His wife with him as sick did lie,
And both possessed one grave.


No love betwixt these two was lost,
Each was to 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 father left his little son,
As plainly doth appear,
When he should come to be of age,
Three hundred pounds a year.


And to his little daughter, Jean,
Two thousand pounds in gold,
To be paid down on marriage day,
Which might not be controuled.


But, if his children chanced to die,
Ere they to age did come,
Their Uncle should receive their wealth,
And thus the will did run.


Now, brother, said the dying man,
Look to my children dear,
Be good unto my boy and girl,
No friend else have I here.


To God and you I do commend
My children night and day;
A little while we have, ’tis sure,
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 I am dead and gone.


With that then spoke the mother dear,
My brother kidd, quoth she,
Thou art the man must bring my babes,
To wealth or misery. If you do keep it carefully,
Then God will you reward.;
If otherwise you seem to deal,
God will your deeds regard.


With lips as cold as any stone,
She kissed her children small;
God bless you both, my children dear——
With that the tears did fall.


These speeches that the brother spoke,
To the sick couple there——
The keeping of your children dear,
Sweet sister do not fear.


God never prosper me nor mine,
Nor ought else that I have,
If I do wrong your children dear,
When you’re laid in the grave.


Their parents being dead and gone,
Their children home he takes,
And brings them home into his house,
And much of them he makes.


He had not kept these pretty babes
A twelvemonth and a day,
But for their wealth he did devise
To take their life away.


He bargained with two ruffians rude,
Who were of furious mood,
That they should take these children both,
And slay them in a wood.

Then told his wife, and all he had,
He did the children send,
To be brought up in fair London,
With one that was a friend.


They prate and prattled pleasantly,
As they rode on the way,
To those that should their butchers be,
And take their lives away.


So that the pretty talk they had,
Made the murd’rers heart relent,
And they that took the deed to do,
Full sore they did repent.


Yet one of them more hard of heart,
Did vow to do his charge;
Because the wretch that hired him
Had paid him very large.


The other would not agree thereto,
So there they fell to strife;
With one another they did fight,
About the children's life.


And he that was of mildest mood,
Did slay the other there,
Within an unfrequented wood,
Where babes did quake for fear.


He took the children by the hand,
While tears stood in their eye,
And bade them come along with him,
And look they did not cry.

And two long miles he led them thus,
While they for bread complain,
Stay here, says he, I’ll bring you bread,
When I do come again.


The 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 besmeared and dyed,
And when they saw the darksome night,
They sat them down and cried.


Thus wander’d these two pretty babes,
Till grief did end their life.
In one another’s arms they died.
Like babes wanting relief.


No burial these two pretty babes,
Of any man receives,
Till Robin Red-breast carefully
Did cover them with leaves.


And now the heavy wrath of God,
Upon the Uncle fell,
A fearful fiend did haunt his house——
His conscience felt a hell.


His barns were fired, his house consumed,
His lands were barren made;
His cattle died, within the house,
And nothing with him staid.

And in a voyage to Portugal
Two of his sons did die:
And to conclude, himself was brought
Unto great misery.


He pawned and mortgaged all his land,
Ere seven years came about;
And now at length this wicked act,
By this means did 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,


Who did confess the very truth
The which is here expressed:
The Uncle died while he for debt
In prison long did rest.


All you that be executors made,
And overseers eke,
Of children that be fatherless,
And infants mild and meek;


Take all example by this sight,
And yield to each his right,
Lest God with such like miseries,
Your wicked deeds requite.




This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.