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Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

No: 81; variant: 81J

  1. FOUR and twenty ladies fair Was playing at the ba, And out cam the lady, Barnabas’ lady, The flower amang them a’.
  2. She coost an ee on Little Mossgrey, As brisk as any sun, And he coost anither on her again, And they thocht the play was won.
  3. ‘What would you think, Little Mossgrey, To lye wi me this nicht? Good beds I hae in Barnabey, If they were ordered richt.’
  4. ‘Hold thy tongue, fair lady,’ he says, ‘For that would cause much strife; For I see by the rings on your fingers That you’re Lord Barnabas’ wife.’
  5. ‘Lord Barnabas’ lady indeed I am, And that I’ll let you ken, But he’s awa to the king’s court, And I hope he’ll neer come hame.’
  6. Wi wrapped arms in bed they lay Till they fell both asleep, When up and starts Barnabas’ boy, And stood at their bed-feet.
  7. ‘How likes thou the bed, Mossgrey? Or how likes thou the sheets? Or how likes thou my master’s lady, Lyes in thy arms and sleeps?’
  8. ‘Weel I love the bed,’ he said, ‘And far better the sheets; But foul may fa your master’s lady, Lies in my arms and sleeps!’
  9. She pulled out a rusty sword, Was sticking by the stroe; Says, Tell no tidings of me, my boy, Or thou’ll neer tell no moe.
  10. He’s awa to the king’s court, As fast as he can dree; He’s awa to the king’s court, For to tell Barnaby.
  11. ‘Are there any of my biggins brunt? Or any of my young men slain? Or is my lady brocht to bed, Of a dochter or a son?’
  12. ‘There is none of your biggings brunt, There’s none of your young men slain; But Little Mossgrey and your lady They are both in a bed within.’
  13. ‘If that be true, my bonnie boy, Thou tellest unto me, I have not a dochter but only one, And married ye shall be.
  14. ‘But if it be a lie, my bonnie boy, You’re telling unto me, On the highest tree of Balisberry, Thereon I’ll gar hang thee.’
  15. There was a man in the king’s court Had a love to Little Mossgrey; He took a horn out of his pocket, And blew both loud and hie: ‘He that’s in bed wi Barnabas’ lady, It’s time he were away!’
  16. ‘Oh am I not the maddest man Ere lay in a woman’s bed! I think I hear his bridle ring, But and his horse feet tread.’
  17. ‘Lye still, lye still, Little Mossgrey, And keep me from the cold; It’s but my father’s small sheep-herd, Calling his sheep to the fold.’
  18. With wrapped arms in bed they lay Till they fell both asleep, Till up and darts Barnabas himsell, And stood at their bed-fit.
  19. ‘How likest thou the bed, Mossgrey? And how loves thou the sheets? And how loves thou my lady fair, Lyes in your arms and sleeps?’
  20. ‘Well I love your bed,’ he says, ‘And far better your sheets; But foul may fa your lady fair, Lyes in my arms and sleeps!’
  21. ‘Rise, O rise, Little Mossgrey, Put on your hose and shoon; I’ll neer hae’t said in a far countrie I killed a naked man.’
  22. Slowly, slowly rose he up, And slowly put he on, And slowly down the stairs he goes, And thinking to be slain.
  23. ‘Here’s two swords,’ Barnabas said, ‘I wad they cost me dear; Tak thou the best, I’ll tak the warst, We’ll try the battle here.’
  24. The first stroke that Mossgrey got, It was baith sharp and sore; And the next stroke his lady got, One word she neer spak more.
  25. ‘Ye’ll mak a coffin large and wide, And lay this couple in; And lay her head on his right hand, She’s come o the highest kin.’