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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Away then went those pretty babes,
Rejoicing at that tide, Rejoicing with a merry mind
They should on cock-horse ride. They prate and prattle pleasantly,
As they ride on the way, To those that should their butchers be
And work their lives, decay :
So that the pretty speech they had
Made Murder's heart 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, Because the wretch that hired him
Had paid him very large.
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;
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