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Child Waters

No: 63; variant: 63A

Source: Percy MS., p. 274; Hales and Furnivall, II, 269.

  1. Childe Watters in his stable stoode, And stroaket his milke-white steede; To him came a ffaire young ladye As ere did weare womans wee[de].
  2. Saies, Christ you saue, good Chyld Waters’ Sayes, Christ you saue and see’ My girdle of gold, which was too longe, Is now to short ffor mee.
  3. ‘And all is with one chyld of yours, I ffeele sturre att my side; My gowne of greene, it is to strayght; Before it was to wide.’
  4. ‘If the child be mine, Faire Ellen,’ he sayd, ‘Be mine, as you tell mee, Take you Cheshire and Lancashire both, Take them your owne to bee.
  5. ‘If the child be mine, Ffaire Ellen,’ he said, ‘Be mine, as you doe sweare, Take you Cheshire and Lancashire both, And make that child your heyre.’
  6. Shee saies, I had rather haue one kisse, Child Waters, of thy mouth, Then I wold haue Cheshire and Lancashire both, That lyes by north and south.
  7. ‘And I had rather haue a twinkling, Child Waters, of your eye, Then I wold haue Cheshire and Lancashire both, To take them mine oune to bee.’
  8. ‘To-morrow, Ellen, I must forth ryde Soe ffarr into the north countrye; The ffairest lady that I can ffind, Ellen, must goe with mee.’ ‘And euer I pray you, Child Watters, Your ffootpage let me bee’’
  9. ‘If you will my ffootpage be, Ellen, As you doe tell itt mee, Then you must cutt your gownne of greene An inche aboue your knee.
  10. ‘Soe must you doe your yellow lockes, Another inch aboue your eye; You must tell noe man what is my name; My ffootpage then you shall bee.’
  11. All this long day Child Waters rode, Shee ran bare ffoote by his side; Yett was he neuer soe curteous a knight To say, Ellen, will you ryde?
  12. But all this day Child Waters rode, Shee ran barffoote thorow the broome; Yett he was neuer soe curteous a knight As to say, Put on your shoone.
  13. ‘Ride softlye,’ shee said, ‘Child Watters; Why doe you ryde soe ffast? The child which is no mans but yours My bodye itt will burst.’
  14. He sayes, Sees thou yonder water, Ellen, That fflowes from banke to brim? ‘I trust to god, Child Waters,’ shee said, ‘You will neuer see mee swime.’
  15. But when shee came to the waters side, Shee sayled to the chinne: ‘Except the lord of heauen be my speed, Now must I learne to swime.’
  16. The salt waters bare vp Ellens clothes, Our Ladye bare vpp he[r] chinne, And Child Waters was a woe man, good Lord, To ssee Faire Ellen swime.
  17. And when shee ouer the water was, Shee then came to his knee: He said, Come hither, Ffaire Ellen, Loe yonder what I see’
  18. ‘Seest thou not yonder hall, Ellen? Of redd gold shine the yates; There’s four and twenty ffayre ladyes, The ffairest is my wordlye make.
  19. ‘Seest thou not yonder hall, Ellen? Of redd gold shineth the tower; There is four and twenty ffaire ladyes, The fairest is my paramoure.’
  20. ‘I doe see the hall now, Child Waters, That of redd gold shineth the yates; God giue good then of your selfe, And of your wordlye make’
  21. ‘I doe see the hall now, Child Waters, That of redd gold shineth the yates; God giue good then of your selfe, And of your paramoure’’
  22. There were four and twenty ladyes, Were playing att the ball, And Ellen, was the ffairest ladye, Must bring his steed to the stall.
  23. There were four and twenty faire ladyes Was playing att the chesse; And Ellen, shee was the ffairest ladye, Must bring his horsse to grasse.
  24. And then bespake Child Waters sister, And these were the words said shee: You haue the prettyest ffootpage, brother, That euer I saw with mine eye; That euer I saw with mine eye;
  25. ‘But that his belly it is soe bigg, His girdle goes wonderous hye; And euer I pray you, Child Waters, Let him goe into the chamber with mee.’
  26. ‘It is more meete for a little ffootpage, That has run through mosse and mire, To take his supper vpon his knee And sitt downe by the kitchin fyer, Then to goe into the chamber with any ladye That weares soe [rich] attyre.’
  27. But when th’e had supped euery one, To bedd they took the way; He sayd, Come hither, my little footpage, Harken what I doe say.
  28. And goe thee downe into yonder towne, And low into the street; The ffairest ladye that thou can find, Hyer her in mine armes to sleepe, And take her vp in thine armes two, For filinge of her ffeete.
  29. Ellen is gone into the towne, And low into the streete; The fairest ladye that shee cold find Shee hyred in his armes to sleepe, And tooke her in her armes two, For filing of her ffeete.
  30. ‘I pray you now, good Child Waters, That I may creepe in att your bedds feete; For there is noe place about this house Where I may say a sleepe.’
  31. This [night] and itt droue on affterward Till itt was neere the day: He sayd, Rise vp, my litle ffoote-page, And giue my steed corne and hay; And soe doe thou the good blacke oates, That he may carry me the better away.
  32. And vp then rose Ffaire Ellen, And gaue his steed corne and hay, And soe shee did and the good blacke oates, That he might carry him the better away.
  33. Shee layned her backe to the manger side, And greiuouslye did groane; And that beheard his mother deere, And heard her make her moane.
  34. Shee said, Rise vp, thou Child Waters, I thinke thou art a cursed man; For yonder is a ghost in thy stable, That greiuouslye doth groane, Or else some woman laboures of child, Shee is soe woe begone.
  35. But vp then rose Child Waters, And did on his shirt of silke; Then he put on his other clothes On his body as white as milke.
  36. And when he came to the stable-dore, Full still that hee did stand, That hee might heare now Faire Ellen, That hee might heare now Faire Ellen, How shee made her monand.
  37. Shee said, Lullabye, my owne deere child’ Lullabye, deere child, deere’ I wold thy father were a king, Thy mother layd on a beere’
  38. ‘Peace now,’ he said, ‘good Faire Ellen, And be of good cheere, I thee pray, And the bridall and the churching both, They shall bee vpon one day.’