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The Cruel Mother

No: 20; variant: 20E

  1. THERE was a lady, she lived in Lurk, Sing hey alone and alonie O She fell in love with her father’s clerk. Down by yon greenwood sidie O
  2. She loved him seven years and a day, Till her big belly did her betray.
  3. She leaned her back unto a tree, And there began her sad misery.
  4. She set her foot unto a thorn, And there she got her two babes born.
  5. She took out her wee pen-knife, She twind them both of their sweet life.
  6. She took the sattins was on her head, She rolled them in both when they were dead.
  7. She howkit a grave forenent the sun, And there she buried her twa babes in.
  8. As she was walking thro her father’s ha, She spied twa boys playing at the ba.
  9. ‘O pretty boys, if ye were mine, I would dress ye both in the silks so fine.’
  10. ‘O mother dear, when we were thine, Thou neer dressed us in the silks so fine.
  11. ‘For thou was a lady, thou livd in Lurk, And thou fell in love with thy father’s clerk.
  12. ‘Thou loved him seven years and a day, Till thy big belly did thee betray.
  13. ‘Thou leaned thy back unto a tree, And there began thy sad misery.
  14. ‘Thou set thy foot unto a thorn, And there thou got thy two babes born.
  15. ‘Thou took out thy wee pen-knife, And twind us both of our sweet life.
  16. ‘Thou took the sattins was on thy head, Thou rolled us both in when we were dead.
  17. ‘Thou howkit a grave forenent the sun, And there thou buried thy twa babes in.
  18. ‘But now we’re both in [the] heavens hie, There is pardon for us, but none for thee.’
  19. ‘My pretty boys, beg pardon for me!’ ‘There is pardon for us, but none for thee.’