"Ere the King my feir countrie get, This land that's nativest to me, Mony o' his nobilis sall be cauld, 105 Their ladyes sall be right wearie."
Then spak his ladye, feir of face, She seyd, "Without consent of me, That an Outlaw suld come befor a King; I am right rad of treasonrie. 110 Bid him be gude to his lordis at hame, For Edinburgh my lord sall nevir see."
James Boyd tuik his leave o' the Outlaw kene, To Edinburgh boun is he; When James he cam before the King, 115 He knelit lowlie on his kne.
"Welcum, James Boyd!" seyd our nobil King; "What foreste is Ettricke Foreste frie?"
"Ettricke Foreste is the feirest foreste That evir man saw wi' his ee. 120
"There's the dae, the rae, the hart, the hynde, And of a' wild bestis grete plentie; There's a pretty castell of lyme and stane, O gif it standis not pleasauntlie!
"There's in the fore front o' that castell, 125 Twa unicorns, sae bra' to see; There's the picture of a knight, and a ladye bright, Wi' the grene hollin abune their brie.
"There the Outlaw keepis five hundred men, He keepis a royalle cumpanie; 130 His merryemen in ae livery clad, O' the Lincome grene sae gaye to see: He and his ladye in purple clad; O gin they live not royallie!
"He says, yon foreste is his awin; 135 He wan it frae the Southronie; Sae as he wan it, sae will he keep it, Contrair all kingis in Christentie."
"Gar warn me Perthshire, and Angus baith, Fife, up and downe, and Louthians three, 140 And graith my horse!" said our nobil King, "For to Ettricke Forest hie will I me."
Then word is gane the Outlaw till, In Ettricke Forest, where dwelleth he, That the King was cuming to his cuntrie, 145 To conquess baith his landis and he.
"I mak a vow," the Outlaw said, "I mak a vow, and that trulie, Were there but three men to tak my pairt, Yon King's cuming full deir suld be!" 150
Then messengers he called forth, And bade them hie them speedilye-- "Ane of ye gae to Halliday, The Laird of the Corehead is he.[L154]
"He certain is my sister's son; 155 Bid him cum quick and succour me!
The King cums on for Ettricke Foreste, And landless men we a' will be."
"What news? What news?" said Halliday, "Man, frae thy master unto me?" 160 "Not as ye wad: seeking your aide; The King's his mortal enemie."
"Ay, by my troth!" said Halliday, "Even for that it repenteth me; For gif he lose feir Ettricke Foreste, 165 He'll tak feir Moffatdale frae me.
"I'll meet him wi' five hundred men, And surely mair, if mae may be; And before he gets the foreste feir, We a' will die on Newark Lee!" 170
The Outlaw call'd a messenger, And bid him hie him speedilye, To Andrew Murray of Cockpool,[L173]
"That man's a deir cousin to me; Desyre him cum, and make me aide, 175 With a' the power that he may be."
"It stands me hard," Andrew Murray said, "Judge gif it stand na hard wi' me; To enter against a king wi' crown, And set my landis in jeopardie! 180 Yet, if I cum not on the day, Surely at night he sall me see."
To Sir James Murray of Traquair,[L183]
A message came right speedilye-- "What news? What news?" James Murray said, 185 "Man, frae thy master unto me?"
"What neids I tell? for weel ye ken The King's his mortal enemie; And now he is cuming to Ettricke Foreste, And landless men ye a' will be." 190
"And, by my trothe," James Murray said, "Wi' that Outlaw will I live and die; The King has gifted my landis lang syne-- It cannot be nae warse wi' me."
The King was cuming thro' Caddon Ford,[L195] 195 And full five thousand men was he; They saw the derke Foreste them before, They thought it awsome for to see.
Then spak the lord hight Hamilton, And to the nobil King said he, 200 "My sovereign liege, sum council tak, First at your nobilis, syne at me.
"Desyre him mete thee at Permanscore, And bring four in his cumpanie; Five Erles sall gang yoursell befor, 205 Gude cause that you suld honour'd be.
"And, gif he refuses to do that, We'll conquess baith his landis and he; There sall nevir a Murray, after him, Hald land in Ettricke Foreste free." 210
Then spak the kene Laird of Buckscleuth, A stalworthe man, and sterne was he-- "For a King to gang an Outlaw till, Is beneath his state and his dignitie.
"The man that wons yon foreste intill, 215 He lives by reif and felonie!
Wherefore, brayd on, my sovereign liege, Wi' fire and sword we'll follow thee; Or, gif your countrie lords fa' back, Our Borderers sall the onset gie." 220
Then out and spak the nobil King, And round him cast a wilie ee-- "Now, had thy tongue, Sir Walter Scott, Nor speak of reif nor felonie: For had every honest man his awin kye, 225 A right puir clan thy name wad be!"
The King then call'd a gentleman, Royal banner-bearer there was he, James Hoppringle of Torsonse, by name; He cam and knelit upon his kne. 230
"Wellcum, James Pringle of Torsonse!
A message ye maun gang for me: Ye maun gae to yon Outlaw Murray, Surely where bauldly bideth he.
"Bid him mete me at Permanscore, 235 And bring four in his cumpanie; Five erles sall cum wi' mysell, Gude reason I suld honour'd be.
"And gif he refuses to do that, Bid him luke for nae good o' me! 240 There sall nevir a Murray, after him, Have land in Ettricke Foreste free."
James cam before the Outlaw kene, And served him in his ain degre-- "Welcum, James Pringle of Torsonse! 245 What message frae the King to me?"
"He bids ye meet him at Permanscore,[L247]
And bring four in your cumpany; Five erles sall gang himsell befor, Nae mair in number will he be. 250
"And gif you refuse to do that, (I freely here upgive wi' thee,) He'll cast yon bonny castle down, And make a widowe o' that gay ladye.
"He'll loose yon bluidhound Borderers, 255 Wi' fire and sword to follow thee; There will nevir a Murray, after thysell, Have land in Ettrick Foreste free."
"It stands me hard," the Outlaw said, "Judge gif it stands na hard wi' me, 260 Wha reck not losing of mysell, But a' my offspring after me.
"My merryemen's lives, my widowe's teirs-- There lies the pang that pinches me; "When I am straught in bluidie eard, 265 Yon castell will be right dreirie.
"Auld Halliday, young Halliday, Ye sall be twa to gang wi' me; Andrew Murray, and Sir James Murray, We'll be nae mae in cumpanie." 270
When that they cam before the King, They fell before him on their kne-- "Grant mercie, mercie, nobil King!
E'en for his sake that dyed on tree."
"Sicken like mercie sall ye have, 275 On gallows ye sall hangit be!"
"Over God's forbode," quoth the Outlaw then, "I hope your grace will bettir be; Else, ere you come to Edinburgh port, I trow thin guarded sall ye be. 280
"Thir landis of Ettricke Foreste fair, I wan them from the enemie; Like as I wan them, sae will I keep them, Contrair a' kingis in Christentie."
All the nobilis the King about, 285 Said pitie it were to see him dee-- "Yet grant me mercie, sovereign prince, Extend your favour unto me!
"I'll give thee the keys of my castell, Wi' the blessing o' my gay ladye, 290 Gin thou'lt make me sheriffe of this Foreste, And a' my offspring after me."
"Wilt thou give me the keys of thy castell, Wi' the blessing of thy gaye ladye?
I'se make thee sheriffe of Ettricke Foreste. 295 Surely while upward grows the tree; If you be not traitour to the King, Forfaulted sall thou nevir be."