"Ill news, ill news," the fair may said, 75 "Ill news I hae to thee.
"There is fyften English sogers Into that thatched inn, Seeking Sir William Wallace; I fear that he is slain." 80
"Have ye any money in your pocket?
Pray lend it unto me, And when I come this way again, Repaid ye weel shall be."
She['s] put her hand in her pocket, 85 And taen out shillings three; He turn'd him right and round about, And thank'd the weel far'd may.
He had not gone a long rig length, A rig length and a span, 90 Until he met a bold beggar, As sturdy as cou'd gang.
"What news, what news, ye bold beggar?
What news hae ye to gie?"
"O heavy news," the beggar said, 95 "I hae to tell to thee.
"There is fyften English sogers, I heard them in yon inn, Vowing to kill him Wallace; I fear the chief is slain." 100
"Will ye change apparell wi' me, auld man?
Change your apparell for mine?
And when I come this way again, Ye'll be my ain poor man."
When he got on the beggar's coat, 105 The pike staff in his hand, He's dane him down to yon tavern, Where they were drinking wine.
"What news, what news, ye staff beggar?
What news hae ye to gie?" 110 "I hae nae news, I heard nae news, As few I'll hae frae thee."
"I think your coat is ragged, auld man, But wou'd you wages win, And tell where William Wallace is, 115 We'll lay gold in your hand."
"Tell down, tell down your good red gold, Upon the table head, And ye sall William Wallace see, Wi' the down-come of Robin Hood." 120
They had nae tauld the money down, And laid it on his knee, When candles, lamps, and candlesticks, He on the floor gar'd flee.
And he has drawn his trusty brand, 125 And slew them one by one, Then sat down at the table head, And called for some wine.
The goodwife she ran but, ran but, The goodman he ran ben, 130 The verra bairns about the fire Were a' like to gang brain.
"Now if there be a Scotsman here, He'll come and drink wi' me; And if there be an English loun, 135 It is his time to flee."
The goodman was an Englishman, And to the hills he ran, The goodwife was a Scots woman, And she came to his hand. 140
JOHNNY COCK. (See p. 11.)
From Fry's _Pieces of Ancient Poetry, from unpublished Manuscripts and scarce Books_ (p. 51). Bristol, 1814.
"This ballad is taken from a modern quarto manuscript purchased at Glasgow of Messrs. Smith and Son in the year 1810, and containing several others, but written so corruptly as to be of little or no authority; appearing to be the text-book of some illiterate drummer, from its comprising the music of several regimental marches."
Fry did not observe that he was printing fragments of two different versions as one ballad. They are here separated.
Johnny Cock, in a May morning, Sought water to wash his hands; And he is awa to louse his dogs, That's tied wi iron bans, _That's tied wi iron bans_.
His coat it is of the light Lincum green, 5 And his breiks are of the same; His shoes are of the American leather, Silver buckles tying them.
_Silver buckles, &c._
'He' hunted up, and so did 'he' down, Till 'he' came to yon bush of scrogs, 10 And then to yon wan water, Where he slept among his dogs.
Johnny Cock out-shot a' the foresters, And out-shot a' the three; Out shot a' the foresters, 15 Wounded Johnny aboun the bree.
"Woe be to you, foresters, And an ill death may you die![L18]
For there would not a wolf in a' the wood, Have done the like to me. 20
"For ''twould ha' put its foot in the coll water, And ha strinkled it on my bree; And gin [it] that would not have done, Would have gane and lett me be.
"I often took to my mother 25 The dandoo and the roe; But now I'l take to my mother Much sorrow and much woe.
"I often took to my mother The dandoo and the hare; 30 But now I'l take to my mother Much sorrow and much care."
18-24. Finlay furnishes one beautiful stanza which belongs to this portion of the story, and, as that editor remarks, describes expressively the languor of approaching death.
There's no a bird in a' this foreste Will do as meikle for me, As dip its wing in the wan water An straik it on my ee-bree.
_Scottish Ballads_, I. xxxi.
Fifteen foresters in the braid alow, And they are wondrous fell; To get a drop of Johnny's heart bluid, They would sink a' their souls to hell.
Johnny Cock has gotten word of this, 5 And he is wondrous keen; He['s] custan aff the red scarlet, And on 'wi' the Linkum green.
And he is ridden oer muir and muss, And over mountains high, 10 Till he came to yon wan water; And there Johnny Cock did lie.
He's taen out a horn from his side, And he blew both loud and shrill, Till a' the fifteen foresters 15 Heard Johnny Cock blaw his horn.
They have sworn a bluidy oath, And they swore all in one, That there was not a man among them a', Would blaw such a blast as yon. 20
And they have ridden oer muir and muss, And over mountains high, Till they came to yon wan water, Where Johnny Cock did lie.