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The Lochmaben Harper

No: 192; variant: 192A

  1. HEARD ye eer of the silly blind harper, That long livd in Lochmaben town, How he wad gang to fair England, To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown? Sing, Faden dilly and faden dilly Sing, Faden dilly and deedle dan
  2. But first he gaed to his gude wife, Wi a’ the speed that he coud thole; ‘This wark,’ quo he, ‘will never work Without a mare that has a foal.’
  3. Quo she, Thou has a gude gray mare, That’al rin oer hills baith law and hie; Gae tak the gray mare in thy hand, And leave the foal at hame wi me.
  4. ‘And tak a halter in thy hose, And o thy purpose dinna fail; But wap it oer the Wanton’s nose, And tie her to the gray mare’s tail.
  5. ‘Syne ca her out at yon back geate, Oer moss and muir and ilka dale; For she’ll neer let the Wanton bite Till she come hame to her ain foal.’
  6. So he is up to England gane, Even as fast as he can hie, Till he came to King Henry’s geate; And wha was there but King Henry?
  7. ‘Come in,’ quo he, ‘Thou silly blind harper, And of thy harping let me hear;’ ‘O, by my sooth,’ quo the silly blind harper, ‘I’d rather hae stabling for my mare.’
  8. The king he looks oer his left shoulder, And says unto his stable-groom, Gae tak the silly poor harper’s mare, And tie her side my Wanton Brown.
  9. And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit, Till a’ the lords had fitted the floor; They thought the music was sae sweet, And they forgot the stable-door.
  10. And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit, Till a’ the nobles were sound asleep; Than quietly he took aff his shoon, And safly down the stair did creep.
  11. Syne to the stable-door he hies, Wi tread as light as light coud be, And when he opned and gaed in, There he fand thirty gude steads and three.
  12. He took the halter frae his hose, And of his purpose did na fail; He slipt it oer the Wanton’s nose, And tied it to his gray mare’s tail.
  13. He ca’d her out at yon back geate, Oer moss and muir and ilka dale, And she loot neer the Wanton bite, But held her still gaun at her tail.
  14. The gray mare was right swift o fit, And did na fail to find the way, For she was at Lochmaben geate Fu lang three hours ere ‘twas day.
  15. When she came to the harper’s door, There she gave mony a nicher and sneer; ‘Rise,’ quo the wife, ‘Thou lazey lass, Let in thy master and his mare.’
  16. Then up she rose, pat on her claes, And lookit out through the lock-hole; ‘O, by my sooth,’ then quoth the lass, ‘Our mare has gotten a braw big foal!’
  17. ‘Come had thy peace, thou foolish lass, The moon’s but glancing in thy eye; I’ll wad my hail fee against a groat, It’s bigger than eer our foal will be.’
  18. The neighbours too that heard the noise Cried to the wife to put hir in; ‘By my sooth,’ then quo the wife, ‘She’s better than ever he rade on.’
  19. But on the morn, at fair day light, When they had ended a’ thier chear, King Henry’s Wanton Brown was stawn, And eke the poor old harper’s mare.
  20. ‘Allace! allace!’ says the silly blind harper, ‘Allace, allace, that I came here! In Scotland I’ve tint a braw cowte-foal, In England they’ve stawn my gude gray mare.’
  21. ‘Come had thy tongue, thou silly blind harper, And of thy allacing let me be; For thou shalt get a better mare, And weel paid shall thy cowte-foal be.’