LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ELLINOR.
The four pieces which follow have all the same subject. _Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor_, is given from the _Collection of Old Ballads_, 1723, vol. i. p. 249, where it is entitled, _A Tragical Ballad on the unfortunate Love of Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor, together with the Downfal of the Brown Girl_. The text differs but slightly from that of Percy, (iii. 121,) and Ritson, _Ancient Songs_, ii. 89.
Lord Thomas he was a bold forrester, And a chaser of the king's deer; Fair Ellinor was a fine woman, And Lord Thomas he loved her dear.
"Come riddle my riddle, dear mother," he said, 5 "And riddle us both as one; Whether I shall marry with fair Ellinor, And let the brown girl alone?"
"The brown girl she has got houses and land, And fair Ellinor she has got none; 10 Therefore I charge you on my blessing, Bring me the brown girl home."
As it befell on a high holiday, As many more did beside, Lord Thomas he went to fair Ellinor, 15 That should have been his bride.
But when he came to fair Ellinors bower, He knocked there at the ring; But who was so ready as fair Ellinor, For to let Lord Thomas in. 20
"What news, what news, Lord Thomas?" she said, "What news hast thou brought unto me?"
"I am come to bid thee to my wedding, And that is bad news for thee."
"O God forbid, Lord Thomas," she said, 25 "That such a thing should be done; I thought to have been thy bride my own self, And you to have been the bridegrom."
"Come riddle my riddle, dear mother," she said, "And riddle it all in one; 30 Whether I shall go to Lord Thomas's wedding, Or whether I shall tarry at home?"
"There are many that are your friends, daughter, And many that are your foe; Therefore I charge you on my blessing, 35 To Lord Thomas's wedding don't go."
"There's many that are my friends, mother; And if a thousand more were my foe, Betide my life, betide my death, To Lord Thomas's wedding I'll go." 40
She cloathed herself in gallant attire, And her merry men all in green; And as they rid through every town, They took her to be some queen.
But when she came to Lord Thomas's gate, She knocked there at the ring; 45 But who was so ready as Lord Thomas, To let fair Ellinor in.
"Is this your bride?" fair Ellinor said; "Methinks she looks wonderful brown; 50 Thou might'st have had as fair a woman, As ever trod on the ground."
"Despise her not, fair Ellin," he said, "Despise her not unto me; For better I love thy little finger, 55 Than all her whole body."
This brown bride had a little penknife, That was both long and sharp, And betwixt the short ribs and the long, Prick'd fair Ellinor to the heart. 60
"O Christ now save thee," Lord Thomas he said, "Methinks thou look'st wondrous wan; Thou us'd to look with as fresh a colour, As ever the sun shin'd on."
"O art thou blind, Lord Thomas?" she said, 65 "Or canst thou not very well see?
O dost thou not see my own heart's blood Run trickling down my knee?"
Lord Thomas he had a sword by his side; As he walk'd about the hall, 70 He cut off his bride's head from her shoulders, And threw it against the wall.
He set the hilt against the ground, And the point against his heart; There never were three lovers met, 75 That sooner did depart.
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET.
From Percy's _Reliques_, iii. 290, where it was "given, with some corrections, from a MS. copy transmitted from Scotland." There is a corresponding Swedish Ballad, _Herr Peder och Liten Kerstin_, in the _Svenska Folk-Visor_, i. 49. It is translated in _Literature and Romance of Northern Europe_, by William and Mary Howitt, i. 258.
Lord Thomas and fair Annet Sate a' day on a hill; Whan night was cum, and sun was sett, They had not talkt their fill.
Lord Thomas said a word in jest, 5 Fair Annet took it ill: "A' I will nevir wed a wife Against my ain friends will."
"Gif ye wull nevir wed a wife, A wife wull neir wed yee:" 10 Sae he is hame to tell his mither, And knelt upon his knee.
"O rede, O rede, mither," he says, "A gude rede gie to mee: O sall I tak the nut-browne bride, 15 And let faire Annet bee?"
"The nut-browne bride haes gowd and gear, Fair Annet she has gat nane; And the little beauty fair Annet has, O it wull soon be gane." 20
And he has till his brother gane: "Now, brother, rede ye mee; A', sall I marrie the nut-browne bride, And let fair Annet bee?"
"The nut-browne bride has oxen, brother, 25 The nut-browne bride has kye: I wad hae ye marrie the nut-browne bride, And cast fair Annet bye."
"Her oxen may dye i' the house, billie, And her kye into the byre, 30 And I sall hae nothing to mysell, Bot a fat fadge by the fyre."
And he has till his sister gane: "Now sister, rede ye mee; O sall I marrie the nut-browne bride, 35 And set fair Annet free?"
"Ise rede ye tak fair Annet, Thomas, And let the browne bride alane; Lest ye sould sigh, and say, Alace, What is this we brought hame!" 40
"No, I will tak my mithers counsel, And marrie me owt o' hand; And I will tak the nut-browne bride; Fair Annet may leive the land."
Up then rose fair Annets father, 45 Twa hours or it wer day, And he is gane into the bower Wherein fair Annet lay.
"Rise up, rise up, fair Annet," he says, "Put on your silken sheene; 50 Let us gae to St. Maries kirke, And see that rich weddeen."
"My maides, gae to my dressing-roome, And dress to me my hair; Whair-eir yee laid a plait before, 55 See yee lay ten times mair.
"My maids, gae to my dressing-room, And dress to me my smock; The one half is o' the holland fine, The other o' needle-work." 60
The horse fair Annet rade upon, He amblit like the wind; Wi' siller he was shod before, Wi' burning gowd behind.
Four and twanty siller bells 65 Wer a' tyed till his mane, And yae tift o' the norland wind, They tinkled ane by ane.
Four and twanty gay gude knichts Rade by fair Annets side, 70 And four and twanty fair ladies, As gin she had bin a bride.
And whan she cam to Maries kirk, She sat on Maries stean: The cleading that fair Annet had on 75 It skinkled in their een.
And whan she cam into the kirk, She shimmer'd like the sun; The belt that was about her waist, Was a' wi' pearles bedone. 80
She sat her by the nut-browne bride, And her een they wer sae clear, Lord Thomas he clean forgat the bride, Whan fair Annet she drew near.
He had a rose into his hand, 85 And he gave it kisses three, And reaching by the nut-browne bride, Laid it on fair Annets knee.
Up than spak the nut-browne bride, She spak wi' meikle spite; 90 "And whair gat ye that rose-water, That does mak yee sae white?"