Buchan's version, (_Lord John's Murder_, ii. 20,) it will be seen, supplies this deficiency.
Young Johnstone and the young Col'nel Sat drinking at the wine: "O gin ye wad marry my sister, It's I wad marry thine."
"I wadna marry your sister, 5 For a' your houses and land; But I'll keep her for my leman, When I come o'er the strand.
"I wadna marry your sister, For a' your gowd so gay; 10 But I'll keep her for my leman, When I come by the way."
Young Johnstone had a nut-brown sword, Hung low down by his gair, And he ritted[L15] it through the young Col'nel, 15 That word he ne'er spak mair.
But he's awa' to his sister's bower, He's tirled at the pin: "Whare hae ye been, my dear brither, Sae late a coming in?" 20 "I hae been at the school, sister, Learning young clerks to sing."
"I've dreamed a dreary dream this night, I wish it may be for good; They were seeking you with hawks and hounds, 25 And the young Col'nel was dead."
"Hawks and hounds they may seek me, As I trow well they be; For I have killed the young Col'nel, And thy own true love was he." 30
"If ye hae killed the young Col'nel, O dule and wae is me; But I wish ye may be hanged on a hie gallows, And hae nae power to flee."
And he's awa' to his true love's bower, 35 He's tirled at the pin: "Whar hae ye been, my dear Johnstone, Sae late a coming in?"
"It's I hae been at the school," he says, "Learning young clerks to sing." 40
"I have dreamed a dreary dream," she says, "I wish it may be for good; They were seeking you with hawks and hounds, And the young Col'nel was dead."
"Hawks and hounds they may seek me, 45 As I trow well they be; For I hae killed the young Col'nel, And thy ae brother was he."
"If ye hae killed the young Col'nel, O dule and wae is me; 50 But I care the less for the young Col'nel, If thy ain body be free.
"Come in, come in, my dear Johnstone, Come in and take a sleep; And I will go to my casement, 55 And carefully I will thee keep."
He had not weel been in her bower door, No not for half an hour, When four-and-twenty belted knights Came riding to the bower. 60
"Well may you sit and see, Lady, Well may you sit and say; Did you not see a bloody squire Come riding by this way?"
"What colour were his hawks?" she says, 65 "What colour were his hounds?
What colour was the gallant steed That bore him from the bounds?"
"Bloody, bloody were his hawks, And bloody were his hounds; 70 But milk-white was the gallant steed That bore him from the bounds."
"Yes, bloody, bloody were his hawks, And bloody were his hounds; And milk-white was the gallant steed 75 That bore him from the bounds.
"Light down, light down now, gentlemen, And take some bread and wine; And the steed be swift that he rides on, He's past the brig o' Lyne." 80
"We thank you for your bread, fair Lady, We thank you for your wine; But I wad gie thrice three thousand pound, That bloody knight was ta'en."
"Lie still, lie still, my dear Johnstone, 85 Lie still and take a sleep; For thy enemies are past and gone, And carefully I will thee keep."
But young Johnstone had a little wee sword, Hung low down by his gair, 90 And he stabbed it in fair Annet's breast, A deep wound and a sair.
"What aileth thee now, dear Johnstone?
What aileth thee at me?
Hast thou not got my father's gold, 95 Bot and my mither's fee?"[L96]
"Now live, now live, my dear Ladye, Now live but half an hour, And there's no a leech in a' Scotland But shall be in thy bower." 100
"How can I live, how shall I live?
Young Johnstone, do not you see The red, red drops o' my bonny heart's blood Rin trinkling down my knee?
"But take thy harp into thy hand, 105 And harp out owre yon plain, And ne'er think mair on thy true love Than if she had never been."
He hadna weel been out o' the stable, And on his saddle set, 110 Till four-and-twenty broad arrows Were thrilling in his heart.
15. In the copy obtained by the Editor, the word "ritted" did not occur, instead of which the word "stabbed" was used. The "nut-brown sword" was also changed into "a little small sword." MOTHERWELL.
96. Buchan's version furnishes the necessary explanation of Young Johnstone's apparent cruelty:--
"Ohon, alas, my lady gay, To come sae hastilie!
I thought it was my deadly foe, Ye had trysted in to me."
From the _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, iii. 10. _Bondsey and Maisry_, another version of the same story, from Buchan's collection, is given in the Appendix.
"In this ballad the reader will find traces of a singular superstition, not yet altogether discredited in the wilder parts of Scotland. The lykewake, or watching a dead body, in itself a melancholy office, is rendered, in the idea of the assistants, more dismally awful, by the mysterious horrors of superstition. In the interval betwixt death and interment, the disembodied spirit is supposed to hover round its mortal habitation, and, if invoked by certain rites, retains the power of communicating, through its organs, the cause of its dissolution. Such inquiries, however, are always dangerous, and never to be resorted to, unless the deceased is suspected to have suffered _foul play_, as it is called. It is the more unsafe to tamper with this charm in an unauthorized manner, because the inhabitants of the infernal regions are, at such periods, peculiarly active. One of the most potent ceremonies in the charm, for causing the dead body to speak, is, setting the door ajar, or half open. On this account, the peasants of Scotland sedulously avoid leaving the door ajar, while a corpse lies in the house. The door must either be left wide open, or quite shut; but the first is always preferred, on account of the exercise of hospitality usual on such occasions. The attendants must be likewise careful never to leave the corpse for a moment alone, or, if it is left alone, to avoid, with a degree of superstitious horror, the first sight of it.
"The following story, which is frequently related by the peasants of Scotland, will illustrate the imaginary danger of leaving the door ajar. In former times, a man and his wife lived in a solitary cottage, on one of the extensive Border fells. One day the husband died suddenly; and his wife, who was equally afraid of staying alone by the corpse, or leaving the dead body by itself, repeatedly went to the door, and looked anxiously over the lonely moor for the sight of some person approaching. In her confusion and alarm she accidentally left the door ajar, when the corpse suddenly started up, and sat in the bed, frowning and grinning at her frightfully.
She sat alone, crying bitterly, unable to avoid the fascination of the dead man's eye, and too much terrified to break the sullen silence, till a Catholic priest, passing over the wild, entered the cottage. He first set the door quite open, then put his little finger in his mouth, and said the paternoster backwards; when the horrid look of the corpse relaxed, it fell back on the bed, and behaved itself as a dead man ought to do.
"The ballad is given from tradition. I have been informed by a lady, [Miss Joanna Baillie,] of the highest literary eminence, that she has heard a ballad on the same subject, in which the scene was laid upon the banks of the Clyde. The chorus was,
"O Bothwell banks bloom bonny,"
and the watching of the dead corpse was said to have taken place in Bothwell church." SCOTT.
Of a' the maids o' fair Scotland, The fairest was Marjorie; And young Benjie was her ae true love, And a dear true love was he.
And wow but they were lovers dear, 5 And loved fu' constantlie; But aye the mair when they fell out, The sairer was their plea.
And they hae quarrell'd on a day, Till Marjorie's heart grew wae; 10 And she said she'd chuse another luve, And let young Benjie gae.
And he was stout, and proud-hearted, And thought o't bitterlie; And he's gane by the wan moonlight, 15 To meet his Marjorie.
"O open, open, my true love, O open, and let me in!"-- "I darena open, young Benjie, My three brothers are within."-- 20
"Ye lied, ye lied, ye bonny burd, Sae loud's I hear ye lie; As I came by the Lowden banks, They bade gude e'en to me.