John Thomson and the Turk
No: 266; variant: 266A
- John Thomson fought against the Turks
Three years into a far country,
And all that time, and something more,
Was absent from his gay lady.
- But it fell ance upon a time,
As this young chieftain sat alane,
He spied his lady in rich array,
As she walkd oer a rural plain.
- ‘What brought you here, my lady gay,
So far awa from your own country?
I’ve thought lang, and very lang,
And all for your fair face to see.’
- For some days she did with him stay,
Till it fell ance upon a day,
‘Farewell for a time,’ she said,
‘For now i must bound home away.’
- He’s gien to her a jewel fine,
Was set with pearl and precious stone;
Says, My love, beware fo these savages bold,
That’s on your way as ye go home.
- Ye’ll take the road, my lady fair,
That leads you fair across the lee;
That keeps you from wild Hind Soldan,
And likewise from base Violentrie.
- With heavy heart these two did part,
And minted as she would go home;
Hind Soldan by the Greeks was slain,
But to base Violentrie she’s gone.
- When a twelvemonth had expired,
John Thomson he thought wondrous lang,
And he has written a broad letter,
And seald it well with his own hand.
- He sent it along with a small vessel
That there was quickly going to sea,
And sent it on to fair Scotland,
To see about his gay ladie.
- But the answer he received again,
The lines did grieve his heart right sair;
None of her friends there had her seen
For a twelvemonth and something mair.
- Then he put on a palmer’s weed,
And took a pikestaff in his hand;
To Violentrie’s castle he hied,
But slowly, slowly he did gang.
- When within the hall he came,
He joukd and couchd out-oer his tree:
‘If ye be lady of this hall,
Some of your good bountieth give me.’
- ‘What news, what news, palmer?’ she said,
‘And from what countrie came ye?’
‘I’m lately come from Grecian plains,
Where lys some of the Scots army.’
- ‘If ye be come from Grecian plains,
Some more news I will ask of thee;
Of one of the chieftains that lies there,
If he have lately seen his gay ladie.’
- ‘It is twelve months and something more
Since we did part in yonder plain;
And now this knight has begun to fear
One of his foes he has her taen.’
- ‘He has not taen me by force nor might,
It was all by my own free will;
He may tarry in the fight,
For here I mean to tarry still.
- ‘And if John Thomson ye do see,
Tell him I wish him silent sleep;
His head was not so cozelie
Nor yet so well as lies at my feet.’
- With that he threw [aff] his strange disguise,
Laid by the mask that he had on;
Said, Hide me now, my ladie fair,
For Violentrie will soon be home.
- ‘For the love I bare thee once,
I’ll strive to hide you if I can;’
Then put him down to a dark cellar,
Where there lay mony a new slain man.
- But he hadna in the cellar been
Not an hour but barely three,
Till hideous was the sound he heard;
Then in at the gates came Violentrie.
- Says, I wish you well, my lady fair,
It’s time for us to sit and dine;
Come, serve me with the good white bread,
And likewise with the claret wine.
- ‘That Scots chieftain, our mortal foe,
So oft from field has made us flee,
Ten thousand sequins this day I’d give
That I his face could only see.’
- ‘Of that same gift would ye give me,
If I could bring him unto thee?
I fairly hold you at your word;
Come ben, John Thomson, to my lord.’
- Then from the vault John Thomson came,
Wringing his hands most piteouslie;
‘What would ye do,’ the Turk he cried,
‘If ye had me, as I have thee?’
- ‘If I had you, as ye have me,
I’ll tell you what I’d do to thee;
I’d hang you up in good greenwood,
And cause your own hand wile the tree.
- ‘I meant to stick you with my knife,
For kissing my beloved wife;’
‘But that same weed ye’ve shaped for me,
It quickly shall be sewed for thee.’
- Then to the wood they both are gone,
John Thomson clamb from tree to tree;
And aye he sighd, and said, Ohon!
Here comes the day that I must die!
- He tied a ribbon on every branch,
Put up a flag his men might see;
But little did his false foe ken
He meant them any injurie.
- He set his horn to his mouth,
And he has blawn baith loud and shrill;
And then three thousand armed men
Came tripping all out-oer the hill.
- ‘Deliver us our chief!’ they all did cry,
‘It’s by our hand that ye must die!’
‘Here is your chief,’ the Turk replied,
With that fell on his bended knee.
- ‘O mercy, mercy, good fellows all,
Mercy I pray you’ll grant to me!’
‘Such mercy as ye meant to give,
Such mercy we shall give to thee.’
- This Turk they in his castle burnt,
That stood upon yon hill so hie;
John Thomson’s gay lady they took,
And hangd her on yon greenwood tree.