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Tom Potts

No: 109; variant: 109C

  1. IN Scotland there are ladies fair, There’s ladies of honor and high degree, Hey down, down a down derry But one excels above all the rest, And the Earl of Arundel’s daughter is she. With hey down, derry down,Lang derry down derry
  2. Both knights and lords of great account Comes thither a wooing for this ladie’s sake: It fell on a day that Earl Arundell said, Daughter, which of these lords will you take?
  3. Or which of them now likes thee best? Speak truth to me, but do not lie; Speak truth to me, and do not jest, Who must heir my livings when as I die?
  4. Lord Fenix is a lord of high degree, And hath both lands and livings free; I tell thee, daughter, thou shalt him have, If thou wilt take any counsell at me.
  5. With that the young lady fell down of her knee, And trickling tears ran down her eye: ‘As you are my father, and loves me dear, My heart is set where it must be.
  6. ‘On a serving-man which is so poor, For all he hath is but pounds three; He was the first lover that ere I had, And the last I mean him for to be.’
  7. With that her father was sore offended, And fast he rode at that same tide, Untill he to the Lord Fenix came, And fast he rode at that same tide,
  8. The yong ladie cald up Jack, her foot-boy: ‘I dare trust no man alive but thee; Thou must go my errand to Strawberry Castle, To the place where Tomy o’th Potts doth lye.
  9. ‘And carry this letter, in parchment fair, That I have sealed with mine own hand; And when Tomey looks this letter upon, Be sure his countenance thou understand.
  10. ‘And if he either laugh or smile, He is not sorry at his heart; I must seek a new love where I will, For small of Tomey must be my part.
  11. ‘But if he wax red in the face, And tricling tears fall from his eyes, Then let my father say what he will, For true to Tomey I’le be always.
  12. ‘And thou must tell him by word of mouth, If this letter cannot be read at that tyde, That this day sennight, and no longer hence, I must be Lord William Fenix bride.’
  13. The boy took leave of his lady gay, And to Strawberry Castle he did him fast hie; A serving-man did guide him the way To the place where Tomey o’th Pots did lie.
  14. ‘O Christ thee save, good Tomey o’th Pots, And Christ thee save as I thee see; Come read this letter, Tomey o’th Potts, As thy true-love hath sent to thee.’
  15. Then Tomey he waxed red in the face, And trickling tears ran down his eyes; But never a letter could he read, If he should be hanged on th’gallow-tree.
  16. ‘Shee bid me tell you by word of mouth, If this letter could not be read at this tide, That this day sennight, and no longer hence, She must be Lord William Fenix bride.’
  17. ‘Now in faith,’ said Tomey, ‘She is mine own, As all hereafter shall understand; Lord Fenix shall not marry her, by night or day, Unless he win her by his own hand.
  18. ‘For on Gilforth Green I will her meet, And if she love me, bid her for me pray; And there I will lose my life so sweet, Or else her wedding I will stay.’
  19. He cald this boy unto accounts; Think whether he loved this lady gay! He gave him forty shilling for his message, And all he had was but pounds three.
  20. The boy took his leave of Tomey o’th Potts, Fearing that he had staid too late; The young lady did wait of his comming, And met him five miles out of the gate.
  21. ‘O boney boy, thou art not of age, Therefore thou canst both mock and scorn; I will not beleeve what my love hath said, Unlesse thou on this book be sworn.’
  22. ‘Now, in faith, gay lady, I will not lye,’ And kist the book full soon did he: ‘One letter he could not read at that time, If he should have been hangd at gallo-tree.
  23. ‘He said in faith you are his own, As all hereafter shall understand; Lord Fenix shall not marry you by night or day, Unlesse he winn you with his own hand.
  24. ‘For on Gilforth Green he will you meet, And if you love him, you must for him pray; And there he will lose his life so sweet, Or else your wedding he will stay.’
  25. Let us leave talking of the boy, That with his gay lady is turned home; Now let us go talk of Tomey o’th Potts, And how to his master he is gone.
  26. When Tomey came his master before, He kneeled down upon his knee: ‘What tidings hast thou brought, my man, As that thou makes such courtesie?’
  27. ‘O Christ you save, dear master,’ he said, ‘And Christ you save as I you see; For God’s love, master, come read me this letter, Which my true love hath sent to me.’
  28. His master took this letter in hand, And looked ore it with his eye; ‘In faith, I am fain, my man,’ he said, ‘As thou hast a lady so true to thee.’
  29. ‘I have a lady true to me, And false to her I’le never be; But ere this day sennight, and no longer hence, I must lose my love through povertie.
  30. ‘Lord Fenix he will her have, Because he hath more wealth then I:’ ‘Now hold thy tongue, my man,’ he said, ‘For before that day many a one shall die.
  31. ‘O Tomey,’ said he, ‘I love thee well, And something for thee I will doo; For Strawberry Castle shall be thine own So long as thou dost mean to woo.
  32. ‘One half of my lands I’le give thee a year, The which will raise thee many a pound; Before that thou lose thy bonny sweet-hart, Thou shalt drop angels with him to the ground.
  33. ‘I have thirty steeds in my stable strong, Which any of them is good indeed, And a bunch of spears hangs them among, And a nag to carry thee swift with speed.
  34. ‘My sute of armour thou shalt put on– So well it becomes thy fair body– And when thou comst on Gilford Green Thou’ll look more like a lord then he.
  35. ‘My men shall all rise and with thee go, And I my self with thee will ride; And many a bloody wound will we make Before that thou shalt lose thy bride.’
  36. ‘Now Christ reward you, dear master,’ he said, ‘For the good will you bear to me; But I trust to God, in a little space, With my own hands to set her free.
  37. ‘I’le none of your horses, master,’ he said, ‘For they cannot well skill of their trade; None but your gray nag that hath a cut tail, For hee’ll either stand or turn again.
  38. ‘One spear, master, and no more, No more with me that I will take, And if that spear it will not serve my turn, I’le suffer death for my true-love’s sake.’
  39. Early in the morning, when day did spring, On Gilforth Green betime was he; There did he espie Lord Fenix comming, And with him a royall company.
  40. Gold chains about their necks threescore, Full well might seem fine lords to ride; The young lady followed far behind, Sore against her will that she was a bride.
  41. There Tomey passed this lady by, But never a word to her did say; Then straight to Lord Fenix he is gone, And gives him the right time of the day.
  42. ‘O Christ you save, Lord Fenix,’ he said, ‘And Christ you save as I you see;’ ‘Thou art welcome, Tomey o’th Potts,’ he said, ‘A serving-man into our company.
  43. ‘O how doth thy master, Tomy o’th Potts? Tell me the truth and do not lye;’ ‘My master is well,’ then Tomey replide, ‘I thank my lord, and I thank not thee.
  44. ‘O Christ you save Lord Fenix,’ he said, ‘And Christ you save as I you see; You may have choyce of ladies enough, And not take my true-love from me.’
  45. With that Lord Fenix was sore offended, And fast away he rode at that tide; ‘God forbid,’ Lord Fenix he said, ‘A serving-man should hold me from my bride!’
  46. But afterward Tomey did him meet, As one that came not thither to flye, And said, Lord Fenix, take thou my love, For I will not lose her cowardly.
  47. ‘O meet me here tomorrow,’ he said; ‘As thou art a man, come but thy sell; And if that I come [with] any more, The divell fetch my soul to hell.’
  48. And so this wedding-day was staid, The lady and lords they turned home; The lady made merry her maidens among, And said, Tomey I wish thou may win thy own.
  49. Early in the morning, when day did spring, On Gilforth Green betime was he; He waited long for Lord Fenix comming, But Lord William Fenix he could not see.
  50. He waited long and very long, Untill the sun waxed very high; There was he ware of Lord Fenix coming, And with him other men three.
  51. ‘Thou art a false thief, Lord Fenix,’ he said, Thou promisedst me to come by thy self, And thou hast brought other men three.
  52. ‘But in regard I call thee thief, Because thou hast broken promise with me, I vow, and you were as many more, Forsaken sure you should not be.’
  53. ‘These are my men,’ Lord Fenix said, ‘That every day do wait on me; If any of them do strike a stroke, In faith then hanged he shall be.’
  54. They fetcht a race and rode about, And then they met full eagerly; Lord Fenix away by Tomey’s body glowd, And he ran him quite thorow the thigh.
  55. Out of his saddle bore him he did, And laid his body on the ground; His spear he ran thorow Tomey’s thigh, In which he made a grievous wound.
  56. But Tomey quickly start up again; For as he was a physitian good, He laid his hand upon the wound, And quickly he did stanch the blood.
  57. Full lightly he leaped to his saddle again, Forth of it long he did not stay; For he weighed more of the ladie’s love Then of any life he had that day.
  58. They fetched a race and rode about, The blood in Tomey’s body began to warm; He away by Lord Fenix body glowde, And he ran him quite through the arm.
  59. Out of his saddle bore him he hath, Of from his steed that mounted so high; ‘Now rise and fight, Lord Fenix,’ he said, ‘Or else yeeld the lady unto me.’
  60. ‘I’ll yeeld the lady unto thee; My arm no more my spear will guide; It was never better likely to prove, To hold a poor seving-man from his bride.’
  61. ‘But if thou wilt thus deal then with me, Lest of this matter should rise any voice, That I have gotten the victory, Then thou shalt have another choice.
  62. ‘Yonder is a lane of two miles long; At either end then stand will we; Wee’l set the lady in the midst, And whether she come to, take her, for me.’
  63. ‘If thou wilt thus deal,’ said Fenix then, ‘Thou’ll save my credit and honor high; And whether I win her, or go without her, I’le be willing to give ten pounds to thee.’
  64. There was a lane of two miles long; The lady was set in the middle that tide; She laught and made merry her maids among, And said, Tomey o’th Pots, now I’le be thy bride.
  65. Now all you ladies of high degree, And maides that married yet would be, Marry no man for goods or lands, Unlesse you love him faithfully.
  66. For I had a love of my own, she said, At Strawberrie Castle there lived he; I’le change his name from Tomey o’th Pots, And the yong Earl of Arundell now he shall be.