The Lochmaben Harper
No: 192; variant: 192E
- THERE was a jolly harper-man,
That harped aye frae toun to toun;
A wager he made, with two knights he laid
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown.
- Sir Roger he wagered five ploughs o land,
Sir Charles wagered five thousand pound,
And John he’s taen the deed in hand,
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown.
- He’s taen his harp into his hand,
And he gaed harping thro the toun,
And as the king in his palace sat,
His ear was touched wi the soun.
- ‘Come in, come in, ye harper-man,
Some o your harping let me hear;’
‘Indeed, my liege, and by your grace,
I’d rather hae stabling to my mare.’
- ‘Ye’ll gang to yon outer court,
That stands a little below the toun;
Ye’ll find a stable snug and neat,
Where stands my stately Wanton Brown.’
- He’s down him to the outer court,
That stood a little below the toun;
There found a stable snug and neat,
For stately stood the Wanton Brown.
- Then he has fixd a good strong cord
Unto his grey mare’s bridle-rein,
And tied it unto that steed’s tail,
Syne shut the stable-door behin.
- Then he harped on, and he carped on,
Till all were fast asleep;
Then down thro bower and ha he’s gone,
Even on his hands and feet.
- He’s to yon stable snug and neat,
That lay a little below the toun;
For there he placed his ain grey mare,
Alang wi Henry’s Wanton Brown.
- ‘Ye’ll do you down thro mire and moss,
Thro mony bog and lairy hole;
But never miss your Wanton slack;
Ye’ll gang to Mayblane, to your foal.’
- As soon’s the door he had unshut,
The mare gaed prancing frae the town,
An at her bridle-rein was tied
Henry’s statey Wanton Brown.
- Then she did rin thro mire an moss,
Thro mony bog an miery hole;
But never missed her Wanton slack
Till she reachd Mayblane, to her foal.
- When the king awaked from sleep
He to the harper-man did say,
O waken ye, waken ye, jolly John,
We’ve fairly slept till it is day.
- ‘Win up, win up, ye harper-man,
Some mair o harping ye’ll gie me:’
He said, My liege, wi a’ my heart,
But first my gude grey mare maun see.
- Then forth he ran, and in he came,
Dropping mony a feigned tear:
‘Some rogue[s] hae broke the outer court,
An stown awa my gude grey mare.’
- ‘Then by my sooth,’ the king replied,
‘If there’s been rogues into the toun,
I fear, as well as your grey mare,
Awa is my stately Wanton Brown.’
- ‘My loss is great,’ the harper said,
‘My loss is twice as great, I fear;
In Scotland I lost a gude grey steed,
An here I’ve lost a gude grey mare.’
- ‘Come on, come on, ye harper-man,
Some o your music lat me hear;
Well paid ye’se be, John, for the same,
An likewise for your gude grey mare.’
- When that John his money received,
Then he went harping frae the toun,
But little did King Henry ken
He’d stown awa his Wanton Brown.
- The knights then lay ower castle-wa,
An they beheld baith dale an down,
An saw the jolly harper-man
Come harping on to Striveling toun.
- Then, ‘By my sooth,’ Sir Roger said,
‘Are ye returned back to toun?
Idoubt my lad ye hae ill sped
Of stealing o the Wanton Brown.’
- ‘I hae been into fair England,
An even into Lunan toun,
An in King Henry’s outer court,
An stown awa the Wanton Brown.’
- ‘Ye lie, ye lie,’ Sir Charles he said,
‘An aye sae loud’s I hear ye lie;
Twall armed men, in armour bright,
They guard the stable night and day.’
- ‘But I did harp them all asleep,
An managed my business cunninglie;
If ye make light o what I say,
Come to my stable an ye’ll see.
- ‘My music pleasd the king sae well
Mair o my harping he wishd to hear;
An for the same he paid me well,
And also for my gude grey mare.’
- Then he drew out a gude lang purse,
Well stored wi gowd an white monie,
An in a short time after this
The Wanton Brown he lat them see.
- Sir Roger produced his ploughs o land,
Sir Charles produced his thousand pounds,
Then back to Henry, the English king,
Restored the stately Wanton Brown.