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He had not kept these pretty babes

A twelvemonth and a day,
But, for their wealth, he did devise

To make them both away.

He bargain’d with two ruffians rude,

Which were of furious mood,
That they should take the children young,

And slay them in a wood.
He told his wife, and all he had,

He did the children send
To be brought up in fair London,

With one that was his friend,

Away then went these pretty babes,

Rejoicing at that tide,
Rejoicing with a merry mind,

They should on cock-horse ride.
They prate and prattle pleasantly,

As they rode on the way,
To those that should their butchers be,

And work their lives decay.

So that the pretty speech they had,
Made murderers' hearts relent

;
And they that undertook the deed

Full sore they did repent.
Yet one of them, more hard of heart,

Did yow to do his charge ;
Because the wretch that hired him

Had paid him very large.

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The other would not agree thereto,

So here they fell at strife į
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;

While babes did quake for fear.

.

He took the children by the hand,

When tears stood in their eye,
And bade them come and go with him,

And look they did not cry :
And two long miles he led them on,

While they for food complain ;
Stay here, (quoth he) I'll bring you 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 died ;
And, when they saw the darksome night,

They sate them down and cried,

Thus wandered these two pretty babes,

Till death did end their grief ; In one another's arms they died,

As babes wanting relief : No burial these pretty babes

Of any man receives,

Till Robin-red-breast, painfully,

Did cover them with leaves.

And now the heavy wrath of God

Upon their uncle fell ; Yea, fearful fiends did haunt his house,

His conscience felt an hell : His barns were fir’d, his goods consum'd,

His lands were barren made ; His cattle died within the field,

And nothing with him stay'd.

And in the voyage to Portugal,

Two of his sons did die ; And, to conclude, himself was brought

To extreme misery : He pawn’d and mortgag'd all his land,

Ere seven years came about ; And now 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 judg’d to die,

As was God's blessed will ; Who did confess the very truth,

The which is here express'd : Their uncle died while he, for debt,

In prison long did rest.

All you that be executors made,
And overseeers eke,

Of children that be fatherless,

And infants mild and meek; Take you example by this thing,

And yield to each his right, Lest God, with such like misery,

Your wicked minds requite.

BALLAD XIV.

GEORGE BARNWEL.

All youths of fair England,

That dwell both far and near, Regard my story that I tell,

And to my song give ear.

A London lad I was,

A merchant's prentice bound, My name George Barnwel, that did spend

My master many a pound.

Take heed of harlots then,

And their enticing trains ;
For by that means I have been brought

To hang alive in chains.

As I, upon a day,

Was walking through the street, About my master's business,

I did a wanton meet.

A gallant dainty dame,

And sumptuous in attire,
With smiling looks she greeted me,

And did my name require.

Which when I had declar'd,
She gave me then a kiss

;
And said, if I would come to her,

I should have more than this.

• In faith, my boy, (quoth she)

· Such news I can you tell, As shall rejoice your very heart,

" Then come where I do dwell.'

• Fair mistress, (then said I,)

If I the place may know, * This evening I will be with you,

For I abroad must go,

• To gather moneys in,

' That is my master's due : And, ere that I do home return, • I'll come and visit you.'

* Good Barnwel, (then quoth she)

• Do thou to Shoreditch come, And ask for mistress Milwood there, *Next door unto the Gun.

And trust me on my truth,

“If thou keep touch with me, * For thy friend's sake, and as my own heart,

'Thou shalt right welcome be.'

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