The Ballad of
Minepit Shaw

“The Tree of Justice” in Rewards and Fairies

About the time that taverns shut
  And men can buy no beer,
Two lads went up to the keepers' hut 
  To steal Lord Pelham's deer. 

Night and the liquor was in their heads—
  They laughed and talked no bounds,
Till they waked the keepers on their beds 
  And the keepers loosed the hounds. 

They had killed a hart, they had killed a hind,
  Ready to carry away,
When they heard a whimper down the wind 
  And they heard a bloodhound bay. 

They took and ran across the fern,
   Their crossbows in their hand,
Till they met a man with a green lantern 
  That called and bade 'em stand. 

"What are ye doing, O Flesh and Blood,
   And what's your foolish will,
That you must break into Minepit Wood 
  And wake the Folk of the Hill?"  

"Oh, we've broke into Lord Pelham's park,
  And killed Lord Pelham's deer, 
And if ever you heard a little dog bark 
  You'll know why we come here.  

"We ask you let us go our way,
  As fast as we can flee,
For if ever you heard a bloodhound bay 
  You'll know how pressed we be." 

"Oh, lay your crossbows on the bank
  And drop the knives from your hand,
And though the hounds be at your flank 
  I'll save you where you stand!"  

They laid their crossbows on the bank,
  They threw their knives in the wood,
And the ground before them opened and sank 
  And saved 'em where they stood. 

"Oh, what's the roaring in our ears 
   That strikes us well-nigh dumb?" 
"Oh, that is just how things appears 
   According as they come."  

"What are the stars before our eyes 
  That strike us well-nigh blind?"
"Oh, that is just how things arise
  According as you find." 

"And why's our bed so hard to the bones 
  Excepting where it's cold?" 
"Oh, that's because it is precious stones 
   Excepting where 'tis gold. 

"Think it over as you stand,
  For I tell you without fail,
 If you haven't got into Fairyland 
  You're not in Lewes Gaol."  

All night long they thought of it, 
  And, come the dawn, they saw 
They'd tumbled into a great old pit, 
  At the bottom of Minepit Shaw. 

And the keeper's hound had followed 'em close,
  And broke her neck in the fall;
So they picked up their knives and their crossbows 
  And buried the dog. That's all.  

  But whether the man was a poacher too
  Or a Pharisee' so bold— 
I reckon there's more things told than are true.
  And more things true than are told.