The Twa Sisters
No: 10; variant: 10C
- THERE were two sisters sat in a bour;
Binnorie, O Binnorie
There came a knight to be their wooer.
By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie
- He courted the eldest with glove and ring,
But he loed the youngest aboon a’ thing.
- He courted the eldest with broach and knife,
But he loed the youngest aboon his life.
- The eldest she was vexed sair,
And sore envied her sister fair.
- The eldest said to the youngest ane,
‘Will ye go and see our father’s ships come in?’
- She’s taen her by the lilly hand,
And led her down to the river strand.
- The youngest stude upon a stane,
The eldest came and pushed her in.
- She took her by the middle sma,
And dashed her bonnie back to the jaw.
- ‘O sister, sister, reach your hand,
And ye shall be heir of half my land.’
- ‘O sister, I’ll not reach my hand,
And I’ll be heir of all your land.
- ‘Shame fa the hand that I should take,
It’s twin’d me and my world’s make.’
- ‘O sister, reach me but your glove,
And sweet William shall be your love.’
- ‘Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove,
And sweet William shall better be my love.
- ‘Your cherry cheeks and your yellow hair
Garrd me gang maiden evermair.’
- Sometimes she sunk, and sometimes she swam,
Until she came to the miller’s dam.
- ‘O father, father, draw your dam,
There’s either a mermaid or a milk-white swan.’
- The miller hasted and drew his dam,
And there he found a drowned woman.
- You could not see her yellow hair,
For gowd and pearls that were sae rare.
- You could na see her middle sma,
Her gowden girdle was sae bra.
- A famous harper passing by,
The sweet pale face he chanced to spy.
- And when he looked that ladye on,
He sighed and made a heavy moan.
- He made a harp of her breast-bone,
Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.
- The strings he framed of her yellow hair,
Whose notes made sad the listening ear.
- He brought it to her father’s hall,
And there was the court assembled all.
- He laid this harp upon a stone,
And straight it began to play alone.
- ‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
And yonder sits my mother, the queen.
- ‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
And by him my William, sweet and true.’
- But the last tune that the harp playd then,
Was ‘Woe to my sister, false Helen!’