MANY years ago there lived at the University of Oxford a young student, who, having seduced the daughter of a tradesman, sought to conceal his crime by committing the more heinous one of murder. With this view, he made an appointment to meet her one evening in a secluded field. She was at the rendezvous considerably before the time agreed upon for their meeting, and hid herself in a tree. The student arrived on the spot shortly afterwards, but what was the astonishment of the girl to observe that he commenced digging a grave. Her fears and suspicions were aroused, and she did not leave her place of concealment till the student, despairing of her arrival, returned to his college. The next day, when she was at the door of her father's house, he passed and saluted her as usual. She returned his greeting by repeating the following lines:
One moonshiny night, as I sat high,
Waiting for one to come by,
The boughs did bend; my heart did ache
To see what hole the fox did make.
Astounded by her unexpected knowledge of his base design, in a moment of fury he stabbed her to the heart. This murder occasioned a violent conflict between the tradespeople and the students, the latter taking part with the murderer, and so fierce was the skirmish, that Brewer's Lane, it is said, ran down with blood. The place of appointment was adjoining the Divinity Walk, which was in time past far more secluded than at the present day, and she is said to have been buried in the grave made for her by her paramour.
According to another version of the tale, the name of the student was Fox, and a fellow-student went with him to assist in digging the grave. The verses in this account differ somewhat from the above.
As I went out in a moonlight night,
I set my back against the moon,
I looked for one, and saw two come:
The boughs did bend, the leaves did shake,
I saw the hole the Fox did make.