Three little children sought the plain
Gleaners of the golden grain.
They lingered past the angel-song,
And dewy shadows swept along.
'Mid the silence of the wood
The butcher's lonely cottage stood,
"Butcher! lodge us for the night,
Lodge us till the morning light."
"Enter in, ye children small,
I can find a place for all."
The butcher seized a knife straitway,
And did the little creatures slay.
He put them in a tub of brine,
In pieces small as they were swine.
St. Nicholas, at seven years end,
His way did to the forest wend.
He sought the butcher's cottage drear:
"Butcher! I would rest me here!"
"Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
You are welcome, St. Nicholas!
Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
There's place for you the night to pass."
Scarce had the Saint his entrance made,
He would the supper board was laid.
"Will you have of ham a slice?"
"I will not, for it is not nice!"
"Of this veal you'll take a bit?"
"No! I do not relish it."
"Give me of the little swine,
For seven long years have laid in brine!"
The butcher caught the words he said,
And forthwith from the portal fled.
"Butcher! butcher! do not flee,
Repent and God will pardon thee!"
St. Nicholas the tub drew near,
And lo! he placed three fingers there.
The first one said, "I sweetly rest!"
The second said, "I too am blest!"
The third replied, "Tis well with me,
In Paradise I seem to be!"