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Queen Eleanor’s Confession

No: 156; variant: 156E

  1. THE Queen fell sick, and very, very sick, She was sick, and like to dee, And she sent for a friar oure frae France, Her confessour to be.
  2. King Henry, when he heard o that, An angry man was he, And he sent to the Earl Marshall, Attendance for to gie.
  3. ‘The Quen is sick,’ King Henry cried, ‘And wants to be beshriven; She has sent for a friar oure frae France, By the rude, he were better in heaven!
  4. ‘But tak you a friar’s guise, The voice and gesture feign, And when she has the pardon crav’d, Respond to her, Amen!
  5. ‘And I will be a prelate old, And sit in a corner dark, To hear the adventures of my spouse, My spouse, and her haly spark.’
  6. ‘My liege, my liege, how can I betray My mistress and my queen? O swear by the rude that no damage From this shall be gotten or gien!’
  7. ‘I swear by the rude,’ quoth King Henry, ‘No damage shall be gotten or gien; Come, let us spare no cure nor care For the conscience o the Queen.’
  8. ‘O fathers, O fathers, I’m very,very sick, I’m sick, and like to dee; Some ghostly comfort to my poor soul O tell if ye can gie!’
  9. ‘Confess, confess,’ Earl Marshall cried, ‘And you shall pardoned be;’ ‘Confess, confess,’ the King replied, ‘And we shall comfort gie.’
  10. ‘Oh, how shall I tell the sorry, sorry tale! How can the tale be told! I playd the harlot wi the Earl Marshall, Beneath yon cloth of gold.
  11. ‘Oh, wasna that a sin, and a very great sin? But I hope it will pardoned be;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth the Earl Marshall, And a very feart heart had he.
  12. ‘O down i the forest, in a bower, Beyond yon dark oak-tree, I drew a penknife frae my pocket To kill King Henerie.
  13. ‘Oh, wasna that a sin, and a very great sin? But I hope it will pardoned be;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth the Earl Marshall, And a very feart heart had he.
  14. ‘O do you see yon pretty little boy, That’s playing at the ba? He is the Earl Marshall’s only son, And I loved him best of a’.
  15. ‘Oh, wasna that a sin, and a very great sin? But I hope it will pardoned be;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth the Earl Marshall, And a very feart heart had he.
  16. ‘And do you see yon pretty little girl, That’s a’ beclad in green? She’s a friar’s daughter, oure in France, And I hoped to see her a queen.
  17. ‘Oh, wasna that a sin, and a very great sin? But I hope it will pardoned be;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth the Earl Marshall, And a feart heart still had he.
  18. ‘O do you see yon other little boy, That’s playing at the ba? He is King Henry’s only son, And I like him warst of a’.
  19. ‘He’s headed like a buck,’ she said, ‘And backed like a bear;’ ‘Amen!’ quoth the King, in the King’s ain voice, ‘He shall be my only heir.’
  20. The King lookd over his left shoulder, An angry man was he: ‘An it werna for the oath I sware, Earl Marshall, thou shouldst dee.’