The Oxford Book of Ballads - online book

A Selection Of The Best English Lyric Ballads Chosen & Edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch

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Up then spake a little boy,
Near unto her a-kin : ' Full oft I have your errands gone,
But now I will it run.'
Then she call'd her waiting-maid To bring up bread and wine :
' Eat and drink, my bonny boy, Thou'll ne'er eat more of mine.
' Give my respects to my mother, She sits in her chair of stone,
And ask her how she likes the news, Of seven to have but one ?
' Give my respects to my mother, As she sits in her chair of oak,
And bid her come to my sickening, Or my merry lake-wake.
' Give my love to my brothers
William, Ralph, and John, And to my sister Betty fair,
And to her white as bone:
' And bid her keep her maidenhead,
Be sure [to keep it lang:] For if e'er she come into man's bed,
The same gate will she gang.'
lake-wake] lyke-wake, corpse-watching.
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