Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard
No: 81; variant: 81C
- AS it fell on a light holyday,
As many more does in the yeere,
Little Mousgrove would to the church and pray,
To see the faire ladyes there.
- Gallants there were of good degree,
For beauty exceeding faire,
Most wonderous lovely to the eie,
That did to that church repaire.
- Some came downe in red velvet,
And others came downe in pall,
But next came downe my Lady Barnet,
The fairest amongst them all.
- She cast a looke upon Little Mousgrove,
As bright as the summer’s sunne;
Full well perceived then Little Mousgrove
Lady Barnet’s love he had wonne.
- Then Lady Barnet most meeke and mild
Saluted this Little Mousgrove,
Who did repay her kinde courtesie
With favour and gentle love.
- ‘I have a bower in merry Barnet,
Bestrowed with cowslips sweet;
If that it please you, Little Mousgrove,
In love me there to meete,
- ‘Within mine armes one night to sleepe,
For you my heart have wonne,
You need not feare my suspicious lord,
For he from home is gone.’
- ‘Betide me life, betide me death,
This night I will sleepe with thee,
And for thy sake I’le hazzard my breath,
So deare is thy love to me.’
- ‘What shall wee doe with our little foot-page,
Our counsell for to keepe,
And watch for feare Lord Barnet comes,
Whilest wee together doe sleepe?’
- ‘Red gold shall be his hier,’ quoth he,
‘And silver shall be his fee,
If he our counsell safely doe keepe,
That I may sleepe with thee.’
- ‘I will have non of your gold,’ said he,
‘Nor none of your silver fee;
If I should keepe your counsell, sir,
‘Twere great disloyaltie.
- ‘I will not be false unto my lord,
For house nor yet for land;
But if my lady doe prove untrue,
Lord Barnet shall understand.’
- Then swiftly runnes the little foot-page,
Unto his lord with speed,
Who then was feasting with his deare friends,
Not dreaming of this ill deede.
- Most speedily the page did haste,
Most swiftly did he runne,
And when he came to the broken bridge
He lay on his brest and swumme.
- The page did make no stay at all,
But went to his lord with speed,
That he the truth might say to him
Concerning this wicked deed.
- He found his lord at supper then,
Great merriment there they did keepe:
‘My lord,’ quoth he, ‘This night, on my word,
Mousgrove with your lady does sleepe.’
- ‘If this be true, my little foot-page,
And true as thou tellest to me,
My eldest daughter I’le give to thee,
And wedded thou shalt be.’
- ‘If this be a lye, my little foot-page,
And a lye as thou tellest to mee,
A new paire of gallowes shall straight be set,
And hanged shalt thou be.’
- ‘If this be a lye, my lord,’ said he,
‘A lye that you heare from me,
Then never stay a gallowes to make,
But hang me up on the next tree.’
- Lord Barnet then cald up his merry men,
Away with speed he would goe;
His heart was so perplext with griefe,
The truth of this he must know.
- ‘Saddle your horses with speed,’ quoth he,
‘And saddle me my white steed;
If this be true as the page hath said,
Mousgrove shall repent this deed.’
- He charg’d his men no noise to make,
As they rode all along on the way;
‘Nor winde no hornes,’ quoth he,’on your life,
Lest our comming it should betray.’
- But one of the men, that Mousgrove did love,
And respected his friendship most deare,
To give him knowledge Lord Barnet was neere,
Did winde his bugle most cleere.
- And evermore as he did blow,
‘Away, Mousgrove, and away;
For if I take thee with my lady,
Then slaine thou shalt be this day.’
- ‘O harke, fair lady, your lord is neere,
I heare his little horne blow;
And if he finde me in your armes thus,
Then slaine I shall be, I know.’
- ‘O lye still, lye still, Little Mousgrove,
And keepe my backe from the cold;
I know it is my father’s shepheard,
Driving sheepe to the pinfold.’
- Mousgrove did turne him round about,
Sweete slumber his eyes did greet;
When he did wake, he then espied
Lord Barnet at his bed’s feete.
- ‘O rise up, rise up, Little Mousgrove,
And put thy clothe:s on;
It shall never be said in faire England
I slew a naked man.
- ‘Here’s two good swords,’ Lord Barnet said,
‘Thy choice, Mousgrove, thou shalt make;
The best of them thy selfe shalt have,
And I the worst will take.’
- The first good blow that Mousgrove did strike,
He wounded Lord Barnet sore;
The second blow that Lord Barnet gave,
Mousgrove could strike no more.
- He tooke his lady by the white hand,
All love to rage did convert,
That with his sword, in most furious sort,
He pierst her tender heart.
- ‘A grave, a grave,’ Lord Barnet cryde,
‘Prepare to lay us in;
My lady shall lie on the upper side,
Cause she’s of the better kin.’
- Then suddenly he slue himselfe,
Which grieves his friends full sore;
The deaths of these thra worthy wights
With teares they did deplore.
- This sad mischance by lust was wrought;
Then let us call for grace,
That we may shun this wicked vice,
And mend our lives apace.