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Lord Dernwentwater

No: 208; variant: 208F

  1. THE king has written a broad letter, And seald it with his hand, And sent it on to Lord Arnwaters, To read and understand.
  2. Now he has sent it by no boy, No boy, nor yet a slave, But one of England’s fairest knights, The one that he would have.
  3. When first he on the letter lookd, Then he began to smile; But ere he read it to an end, The tears did trickling fall.
  4. He calld upon his saddle-groom To saddle his milk-white steed, ‘For I unto London must go, For me there is much need.’
  5. Out then speaks his gay lady, In child-bed where she lay: ‘Make your will, make your will, my knight, For fear ye rue the day.’
  6. ‘I’ll leave unto my eldest son My houses and my lands; I’ll leave unto my youngest son Full forty thousand pounds.
  7. ‘I’ll leave unto my gay lady, And to my loving wife, The second part of my estate, To maintain a lady’s life.’
  8. He kissd her on the pillow soft, In child-bed where she lay, And bade farewell, neer to return, Unto his lady gay.
  9. He put his foot in the stirup, His nose began to bleed; The ring from ‘s finger burst in two When he mounted on his steed.
  10. He had not rode a mile or two Till his horse stumbled down; ‘A token good,’ said Lord Arnwaters, ‘I’ll never reach London town.’
  11. But when into Westminster Hall, Amongst the nobles all, ‘A traitor, a traitor, Lord Arnwaters, A traitor,’ they did him call.
  12. ‘A traitor? a traitor how call ye me? And a traitor how can I be For keeping seven thousand valiant men To fight for brave Jamie?’
  13. Up then came a brave old man, With a broad ax in his hand: ‘Your life, your life, Lord Arnwaters, Your life’s at my command.’
  14. ‘My life, my life, my brave old man, My life I’ll give to thee, And the coat of green that’s on my back You shall have for your fee.
  15. ‘There’s fifty pounds in one pocket, Pray deal’t among the poor; There’s fifty and four in the other pocket, Pray deal’t from door to door.
  16. ‘There’s one thing more I have to say, This day before I die; To beg the lords and nobles all To be kind to my lady.’