Imagens das páginas

And to his little daughter Jane

Five hundred pounds in gold,
To be paid down on marriage day,

Which might not be controllid;
But if the children chance 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 recommend

My children dear this day, But little while be sure we 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 I am dead and gone." With that out spoke their mother dear,

“O brother kind," quoth[1] she, “ You are the man must bring our babes

To wealth or misery. And if you keep them carefully,

Then God will you reward ; But if you otherwise should deal,

God will your deeds regard.”[2]

[1] Quoth-says or said.
[2] Regard-regard and punish.

With lips as cold as any stone

They kiss'd their children small :
“ God bless you both, my children dear,”

And then their tears did fall.
These words did then their brother speak,

To this sick couple there :
" The keeping of your little ones,

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 straight 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. [1]
He bargain'd with two ruffians strong,

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

And slay them in a 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.

U To make them both away to make away with them to kill them.

Away then went these pretty babes,

Rejoicing, at that tide, [1]
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 murderers be,

And work their lives' decay.
So that the pretty speech they had,

Made murder's hand relent,
And they that undertook the deed,

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

Did vow to do his charge, [2]
Because the wretch that hired him,

Had paid him very large. [3]
The other won't agree thereto;

So here they fall 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-

The babes did quake for fear!
He took the children by the hand,

Tears standing in their eye,
And bade them straightway follow him,

And look they did not cry. [1] Tide-time. [x] His charge—that which he had been charged with. (3] Large-for largely.

And two long miles he led them on,

While they for bread complain,
“Stay here," quoth he, “ I'll bring you some,

When I come back again.”
These pretty babes, with hand in hand,

Went wandering up and down,
But never more could see the man

Approaching from the town:
Their pretty lips with blackberries,

Were all besmear'd and dyed,
And when they saw the darksome night,

They sat them down and cried.
Thus wandered these poor innocents,

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

For want of due relief.
No burial this pretty pair

Of any man receives,
Till Robin Redbreast painfully (1)

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 a 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 staid.

[1] Painfully-with pains or trouble-carefully. Some copies read “ piously.”

And in a voyage to Portugal

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

To want and misery.

He pawn’d and mortgaged[i] all his land,

Ere seven years came about,
And now at length his wicked act

Did by this means come out:
The fellow that did take in hand

These children dear to kill,
Was for a robbery judg'd to die,

(Such was God's blessed will!)

Who did confess the very truth,

As here hath been display'd :
Their uncle having died in gaol,

Where he for debt was laid.

You that executors[2] be made,

And overseers eke, [3]
Of children that be fatherless,

And their undoing [4] seek,

Take your example by this thing,

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

Your wicked deeds requite.

[1] Mortgag'd all his land-gave up his land as security. for the repayment of money that he borrowed.

[2] Executor-one who carries into effect the will of a deceased person.

[3] Eke-also.
[4] Undoing-destruction, ruin.

« AnteriorContinuar »