Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight
No: 4; variant: 4D
- O HEARD ye of a bloody knight,
Lived in the south country?
For he has betrayed eight ladies fair
And drowned them in the sea.
- Then next he went to May Collin,
She was her father’s heir,
The greatest beauty in the land,
I solemnly declare.
- ‘I am a knight of wealth and might,
Of townlands twenty-three;
And you’ll be lady of them all,
If you will go with me.’
- ‘Excuse me, then, Sir John,’ she says;
‘To wed I am too young;
Without I have my parents’ leave,
With you I darena gang.’
- ‘Your parents’ leave you soon shall have,
In that they will agree;
For I have made a solemn vow
This night you’ll go with me.’
- From below his arm he pulled a charm,
And stuck it in her sleeve,
And he has made her go with him,
Without her parents’ leave.
- Of gold and silver she has got
With her twelve hundred pound,
And the swiftest steed her father had
She has taen to ride upon.
- So privily they went along,
They made no stop or stay,
Till they came to the fatal place
That they call Bunion Bay.
- It being in a lonely place,
And no house there was nigh,
The fatal rocks were long and steep,
And none could hear her cry.
- ‘Light down,’ he said, ‘Fair May Collin,
Light down and speak with me,
For here I’ve drowned eight ladies fair,
And the ninth one you shall be.’
- ‘Is this your bowers and lofty towers,
So beautiful and gay?
Or is it for my gold,’ she said,
‘You take my life away?’
- ‘Strip off,’ he says, ‘Thy jewels fine,
So costly and so brave,
For they are too costly and too fine
To throw in the sea wave.’
- ‘Take all I have my life to save,
O good Sir John, I pray;
Let it neer be said you killed a maid
Upon her wedding day.’
- ‘Strip off,’ he says, ‘Thy Holland smock,
That’s bordered with the lawn,
For it’s too costly and too fine
To rot in the sea sand.’
- ‘O turn about, Sir John,’ she said,
‘Your back about to me,
For it never was comely for a man
A naked woman to see.’
- But as he turned him round about,
She threw him in the sea,
Saying, ‘Lie you there, you false Sir John,
Where you thought to lay me.
- ‘O lie you there, you traitor false,
Where you thought to lay me,
For though you stripped me to the skin,
Your clothes you’ve got with thee.’
- Her jewels fine she did put on,
So costly, rich and brave,
And then with speed she mounts his steed,
So well she did behave.
- That lady fair being void of fear,
Her steed being swift and free,
And she has reached her father’s gate
Before the clock struck three.
- Then first she called the stable groom,
He was her waiting man;
Soon as he heard his lady’s voice
He stood with cap in hand.
- ‘Where have you been, fair May Collin?
Who owns this dapple grey?’
‘It is a found one,’ she replied,
‘That I got on the way.’
- Then out bespoke the wily parrot
Unto fair May Collin:
‘What have you done with false Sir John,
That went with you yestreen?’
- ‘O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot,
And talk no more to me,
And where you had a meal a day
O now you shall have three.’
- Then up bespoke her father dear,
From his chamber where he lay:
‘What aileth thee, my pretty Poll,
That you chat so long or day?’
- The cat she came to my cage-door,
The thief I could not see,
And I called to fair May Collin,
To take the cat from me.’
- Then first she told her father dear
The deed that she had done,
And next she told her mother dear
Concerning false Sir John.
- ‘If this be true, fair May Collin,
That you have told to me,
Before I either eat or drink
This false Sir John I’ll see.’
- Away they went with one consent,
At dawning of the day,
Until they came to Carline Sands,
And there his body lay.
- His body tall, by that great fall,
By the waves tossed to and fro,
The diamond ring that he had on
Was broke in pieces two.
- And they have taken up his corpse
To yonder pleasant green,
And there they have buried false Sir John,
For fear he should be seen.