Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

No: 81; variant: 81C

  1. 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.
  2. Gallants there were of good degree, For beauty exceeding faire, Most wonderous lovely to the eie, That did to that church repaire.
  3. Some came downe in red velvet, And others came downe in pall, But next came downe my Lady Barnet, The fairest amongst them all.
  4. 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.
  5. Then Lady Barnet most meeke and mild Saluted this Little Mousgrove, Who did repay her kinde courtesie With favour and gentle love.
  6. ‘I have a bower in merry Barnet, Bestrowed with cowslips sweet; If that it please you, Little Mousgrove, In love me there to meete,
  7. ‘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.’
  8. ‘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.’
  9. ‘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?’
  10. ‘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.’
  11. ‘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.
  12. ‘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.’
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.’
  17. ‘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.’
  18. ‘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.’
  19. ‘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.’
  20. 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.
  21. ‘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.’
  22. 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.’
  23. 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.
  24. 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.’
  25. ‘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.’
  26. ‘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.’
  27. 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.
  28. ‘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.
  29. ‘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.’
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. ‘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.’
  33. Then suddenly he slue himselfe, Which grieves his friends full sore; The deaths of these thra worthy wights With teares they did deplore.
  34. 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.