The Little Babes in the Woods

Reprinted in AppLit with permission from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James H. Hylton

Wise, Virginia

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. Typographical errors in the original transcript have not been corrected. For details on variants of this tale, see The Babes in the Woods - and - The Two Lost Babes - and - Hansel and Gretel.

(Folk Tales)   (Original)   Introduction:

Related to this Writer March 26, 1942, by Mary (Mrs. Edward) Dockery, aged 54, who is a mother of two children who are both married. She lives with her husband and daughter in their comfortable little home which is located on a good farm several miles north east of Wise on the Hurricane road. The parents of Mrs. Dockery are Scoth-Irish and she knows many of the old Songs and Tales of the olden days that she had heard told and retold and sung and sung again by her relatives and parents before her. She has a splendid memory and knows most of the old songs and Tales in their true form of origin. During an interview with these good people on March 26, 1942, this Writer became informed that she (Mrs. Docker) knows many of the songs listed on the "Finders" list by Mrs. Collins, which was sent here some time ago. Mrs. Dockery says that she is glad to be of any help that she might to this Writer in the way of information as to these songs and Ballads and promises to be of genuine help in the near future when she has ample time to think over some of the longer and harder ones to remember. She loaned to this Writer many old Ballads which will be shown on the following report next week of interest. It is with seeming pleasure she recited for this Writer this Tale of the Little Babes in the Woods and she went about it in such a splendid manner that ther is no doubt that she is a splendid Story-teller. If ever there was a sign of friendliness and kindness in a southern home it may be found here in this home of the Dockery's, nothing but kindness and a good word and smile for all, and any deed or act of kindness that might be done for a friend is as if there is no thought of return or compensation. The daughter of Mrs. Dockery lives with them in their good home now, she is married and so is the son who makes his home in another state. The daughter is married to a man who is serving his country in the United Forces at this writing. There is a peculiar coincidence that came about when Mrs. Dockery was married to Mr. Dockery. Mrs. Dockery's birthday not only comes on Christmas but her Father was named Zack and the other named Samuel Hicks. There was no relation whatever between the two of them. Her people came from North Carolina and settled in this country long ago. Her mother Mary Hicks came from Jonesboro, Tennessee, while her father came from North Carolina and was Zack Hicks of Yancy County. She says her Grandfather stood in the Court House at Jonesboro and plead a many a case although he never knew his A, B, Cs but was a self-made man whom all people respected and reconized as one of the smartest men of his day and time. It is needless to add her in words how appreciative a person seeks information along the line of Folklore in general, to find himself among those who are so considerate and kind. I list the Tale of the "Babes In The Woods" on the following pages, as Mrs. Dockery related it to me word for word as best I can.

(Folk Tales)

"The Little Babes In the Woods"

"I will twist this Tale together for you if I can as I've always heard it" said Mrs. Dockery as she began:

"Once upon a time there were two little children, a boy and a girl who I think were twins. Their real mother had died when they were still small and the father had married again, leaving the little twins in the care of the usual kind of step-mother. The father was a woodsman and was gone all during the day and it so happened that the step-mother never did like the twins at all from the start. She schemed and made plans to do away with them when she got the chance and one day while he (the father) was away in the woods at a wood-pile she put the two of them in a basket and went deep into the forest until she came to a hill or mountain. To the top of this she carried the two little twins in the basket in the cold wintry air and when she reached the top she left them their to their fate. The night grew cold and the wind blew around them as the clouds overhead became darker. The two were young but yet were old enough to move about and get out of the basket".

"However, later they fumbled around in the snow until nightfall and then somehow got back to the basket and huddled up together and went to sleep. It so happened that an old woman who sold wood for a living was coming that way from her work and she saw the basket and wont to it and found the two little twins nearly frozen to death with the snow and the cold. She told them she would give them warm milk and bread if they would go with her to her home on into the forest at a distance from where they were. After some time they decided to go along with her and when she got them to her hut they were fed on warm milk and bread and tucked away in a good warm and comfortable bed where they were not long in falling to sleep".

"In the meantime the father and husband of the woman returned to the home from where the twins had been taken and asked about them. The step-mother told him she had sent them on some kind of errand and that they had more or less been inclined to stay through the night as it was snowy and cold. The father wanted to go after them but on second thought remained at home as it was nothing unusual for them to stay on such a cold night until morning. It ended there as they were later searched for but could not be found".

"Back in the old wood hut the old woman was poor and could only take care of one of the twins and she went about finding someone to take care of the other, somebody that would be good and kind to them. She soon found someone who was willing and turned the boy over to them. The girl stayed on with her and grew to be a beautiful woman and married one of the up and coming Princes of the Land".

"The boy fell into good hands and also made a good mark in the World and it fell the lot of the step-mother and husband and father to never know what happened to the two twins".

[JTA-1152] (500 Words)

Replaced Copy Made by Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original April, 1991

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