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There were two pretty boys they were going to school,
In the evening coming home
Said William to his brother John,
"Oh can you throw a stone?"

"I can either throw a stone
Or little can I play at the ball
But if you come down to the merry green woods
I will try you a wrestle and fall."

Then they went down to the merry green woods,
The biggest threw the littlest down,
Then John took out a little penknife
And stabbed William to the ground.

"Oh brother dear; oh brother dear
What makes you so pale and wan?"
"Do you not see by the light of the moon
That my heart's blood's trickling down."

He took off his lily-white shirt
And he tore from gore to gore
And wrapped it round his lily-white breast
But the blood came ten times more.

Its "What will your dear father say
This night when you come home?"
"Tell him I'm away to a London school
And a good boy I'll return."

(Donald's variant was:
Its "What will your dear father say
This night when you come home?"
"Tell him I'm away to a long, long school
And a good scholar I'll return.")

And "What will you dear step-mother say
This night when you go home?"
"Tell her the last prayer she prayed for me
That I would never return."

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Source: Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec 1957

An abridged form of the Journal entry is given here:

The tune given above is that sung by old Lucy Stewart of Duke Street, Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire. Two of the verses were sung by scrap-metal merchant, Donald Stweart of Huntley, to a tune which was a variant of 'The Star of the County Down'. Lucy Stewart's tune is submitted by Peter Kennedy as being of a most unusual kind. Hamish Henderson has already recorded other versions for the School of Scottish Studies, including some with exceptional beauty of melodic shape.

This recording by Peter Kennedy was issued on "The Folk Songs of Britain, Volume 4: Child Ballads 1", 12T160, and by Caedmon Records, TC 1145.

Roud: 38 (Search Roud index at VWML)
Child: 49

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