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The Broom of Cowdenknows

No: 217; variant: 217E

  1. THERE was a may, and a bonnie may, In the bught, milking the ewes, And by came a troop of gentlemen, And they rode by and by.
  2. ‘O I’ll give thee my milk-white steed, It cost me three hundred pound, If ye’ll go to yon sheep-bught, And bring yon fair maid doun.’
  3. ‘Your steed ye canna want, master, But pay to ane a fee; Fifty pound of good red gold, To be paid down to me.’
  4. ‘Come shew me the way, pretty may,’ he said, ‘For our steeds are quite gone wrong; Will you do to me such a courtesy As to shew us the near-hand way?’
  5. ‘O go ye doun to yon meadow, Where the people are mowing the hay; Go ye doun to yon meadow, And they’ll shew you the near-hand way.’
  6. But he’s taen her by the milk-white hand, And by the grass-green sleeve; He’s bowed her body to the ground, Of her kin he asked no leave.
  7. When he lifted her up again He’s gien her guineas three: ‘If I be na back gin three quarters o a year, Ye need neer think mair on me.’
  8. ‘O where hast thou been, bonnie may,’ he said, ‘O where hast thou been sae lang? O where hast thou been, bonnie may?’ he said, ‘Thou hast na been sae lang thy lane.’
  9. ‘O come to the door and see, father, O come to the door and see, And see such a weety and a windy night; There were nobody wi me.
  10. ‘But wae be to your herd, father, And an ill death may he die! For he left the ewes strayed owre the knowes, And he left naebody wi me.
  11. ‘But there came a tod to your bught, father, The like o him I neer saw; For or he had taen the bonnie lamb he took, Ye had as weel hae gien them a’.
  12. There came a tod to your bught, father, The like o him I neer did see; For aye when he spak he lifted up his hat, And he had a bonnie twinkling ee.’
  13. But when twenty weeks were come and gane, Aye, twenty weeks and three, This lassie began to spit and to spew, And to lang for the twinkling ee.
  14. It fell on a day, and a bonnie summer day, She was ca’ing out her father’s kye, And by came a troop of gentlemen, And they rode by and by.
  15. ‘O wha got the bairn wi thee, bonnie may? O wha got the bairn wi thee?’ . . . . . . . .
  16. She turned hersell right round about, She began to blush and think shame, And never a word this bonnie lassie spok But ‘I have a good-man at hame.’
  17. ‘Thou lie, thou lie, my bonnie may, Sae loud I hear thee lie! Do ye mind o the weety and windy night When I was in the ewe-bught wi thee?
  18. ‘Light off, light off, the gentlest of my men, And set her on behind, And ca out your kye, good father, yoursell, For she’ll never ca them out again.’
  19. He was the laird o twenty plough o land, Aye, twenty plough and three, And he’s taen awa the bonniest lass Was in a’ the south countrie.