A woman gives birth to one or two illegitimate children (usually sons) in the woods, kills them, and buries them. On her return trip home, she sees a child, or children, playing, and says that if they were hers, she would dress them in various fine garments and otherwise take care of them. The children tell her that when they were hers, she would not dress them so but murdered them. Frequently they say she will be damned for it.
Some variants open with the account that she has fallen in love with her father's clerk.
The Cruel Mother
'The Cruel Mother' Performed by Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds