Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

No: 81; variant: 81[O]

  1. There was four-and-twenty ladies Assembled at a ball, And who being there but the king’s wife, The fairest of them all.
  2. She put her eye on the Moss Groves, Moss Groves put his eye upon she: ‘How would you like, my little Moss Groves, One night to tarry with me?’
  3. ‘To sleep one night with you, fair lady, It would cause a wonderful sight; For I know by the ring upon your hand You are the king’s wife.’
  4. ‘If I am the king’s wife, I mean him to beguile; For he has gone on a long distance, And won’t be back for a while.’
  5. Up spoke his brother, An angry man was he; ‘Another night I’ll not stop in the castle Till my brother I’ll go see.’
  6. When he come to his brother, He was in a hell of a fright: ‘Get up, get up, brother dear! There’s a man in bed with your wife.’
  7. ‘If it’s true you tell unto me, A man I’ll make of thee; If it’s a lie you tell unto me, It’s slain thou shalt be.’
  8. When he came to his hall, The bells begun to ring, And all the birds upon the bush They begun to sing.
  9. ‘How do you like my covering-cloths? And how do you like my sheets? How do you like my lady fair, All night in her arms to sleep?’
  10. ‘Your covering-cloths I like right well, Far better than your sheets; Far better than all your lady fair, All night in her arms to sleep.’
  11. ‘Get up, get up now, little Moss Groves, Your clothing do put on; It shall never be said in all England That I drew on a naked man.
  12. ‘There is two swords all in the castle That cost me very dear; You take the best, and I the worst, And let’s decide it here.’
  13. The very first blow Moss Groves he gave, He wounded the king most sore; The very first blow the king gave him, Moss Groves he struck no more.
  14. She lifted up his dying head And kissed his cheek and chin: ‘I’d sooner have you now, little Moss Groves, Than all their castles or kings.’