The Three Lost Babes Of Americay (Peacock)

See also: The Three Babes (MacEdward Leach)

"Come, Uncle, come tell me that wonderful tale
That you promised you would yesterday."
"Yes, gladly I will - hush, my darling, be still -
If you'll miss not one word that I'll say."

An Englishman lived with his children and wife
In a forest that spreads far and wide;
Up a mountain so steep, in a valley so deep,
All alone by a great riverside.

The names of those children
were John, Frank, and Jane,
The names of some darlings of mine
Whom I love more than gold,
Frank was scarce five years old,
Jane she was seven, and John he was nine.

To help their dear parents
those three children went,
Went away in the forest so gloom,
When sunset drew nigh,
oh straight homeward did fly
With their brush-wood for kindling and brooms.

The mother she gazed
through the door when the sun
It sank low in the red western sky
Saying, "Husband, I fear -
oh why are they not here? -
Our darlings are lost and will die."

The father, he instantly mounted his steed,
And away in the forest rod' he;
Long and loud did he shout as he galloped about
Over hills, through hedge thickets, and trees.

He rod' all around to the brow of the bay
Till the dark filled the forest with gloom;
In turning his steed he rod' home with all speed
To get help from his neighbours around.

His neighbours being willing
and joined in the ranks,
All night in the forest to search;
Till day after day, till a week passed away,
But their searching it ended in none.

Loud weeped the sad mother
and said in her grief,
"Our darlings will ne'er come again."
Till at length to Black Chief
went the father in grief,
Many's a mile over mountains and plains.

Black Chief bid him welcome
and heard his sad tale,
As the tears down the father's cheeks rolled.
"My best skill will be tried now,"
the Black Chief replied,
"But I want not your silver or gold.

"Yes, white man and brother,
I'll share in your care,
For I met the same fate long ago,
Our tribe were at war o'er the blue hills so far,
And my son in the fight did lay low.

"Yes I will take with me two youths of my tribe,
As swift as for travels on wing,
I can see when I pass by one glance of the glass
Where the foot of a white man has been."

They rod' on along till the father he said,
"We must hurry, it soon will be night."
They beheld up a way, and drew up in delay,
On the ground something flittering in white."

'Twas down beneath the gum-tree
those three children lay,
Johnny's arms around Frank did enclose;
While Frank did embrace his beloved sister's waist,
And his head on her bosom reposed.

"Oh Pappa," said Frankie, "why haven't you come
Down to Johnny and sister and me?"
While poor Janie sighed cold
as the poor father's tears rolled,
Where he stood and he gazed at the three.

He said, "My dear children, this forest is wide,
And in which we may all go astray;
But if God be our guide, no, no ills will betide,
And for certain we won't lose our way."

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####

Collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1958 from Levi Everett Bennett [1899-?] of St Paul's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.30-32, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was collected by MacEdward Leach in 1951 from Nicholas (Nick) Davis [1914-?] of St Shott's , NL, as The Three Babes and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

MacEdward Leach also collected a variant published as #50, Babes In The Wood, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that most Newfoundland outports have hundreds of square miles of uninhabited barrens of forests at their back door where children may easily wander away and get lost. Many parents reinforce their daily admonishings not to wander with bedtime entertainments like The Three Lost Babes Of Americay. Peacock further noted that he had no information on the ballad's practical effect on children's behaviour, but he did know they love to hear it, either sung or told as a story. As a song, he wrote, it is a favourite with adult audiences as well. Its 'literary' origin is obvious.


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