Once upon a time, long long years ago, in the days when one had to be careful about witches, there lived a good man, whose young wife died, leaving him a baby girl.
Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, though it wasn't in my time, nor in your time, nor any one else's time, there was a girl whose mother had died,
A lad named Jack was once so unhappy at home through his father's ill-treatment, that he made up his mind to run away and seek his fortune in the wide world.
Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who were not over rich. And they had so many children that they couldn't find meat for them; so, as the three youngest were girls,
A Girl once went to the fair to hire herself for servant. At last a funny-looking old gentleman engaged her and took her home to his house.
There was an old woman, as I've heard tell, She went to the market her eggs for to sell; She went to the market, all on a market-day, And she fell asleep on the king's highway.
There was once a widow that lived on a small bit of ground, which she rented from a farmer. And she had two sons; and by and by it was time for the wife to send them away to seek their fortune.
Now ponder well, you parents dear, These words which I shall write; A doleful story you shall hear, In time brought forth to light.