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Child Waters

No: 63; variant: 63B

Source: a. Jamieson's Brown MS., fol. 22, taken down from Mrs Brown's recitation before 1783. b. A. Fraser Tytler's Brown MS., No 9, as recited by Mrs Brown in 1800.

  1. ‘I Warn ye all, ye gay ladies, That wear scarlet an brown, That ye dinna leave your father’s house, To follow young men frae town.’
  2. ‘O here am I, a lady gay, That wears scarlet an brown, Yet I will leave my father’s house, An follow Lord John frae the town.’
  3. Lord John stood in his stable-door, Said he was bound to ride; Burd Ellen stood in her bowr-door, Said she’d rin by his side.
  4. He’s pitten on his cork-heeld shoone, An fast awa rade he; She’s clade hersel in page array, An after him ran she.
  5. Till they came till a wan water, An folks do ca it clyde; Then he’s lookit oer his left shoulder, Says, Lady, can ye wide?
  6. ‘O I learnt it i my father house, An I learnt it for my weal, Wenneer I came to a wan water, To swim like ony eel.’
  7. But the firstin stap the lady stappit, The water came til her knee; ‘Ohon, alas’’ said the lady, ‘This water’s oer deep for me.’
  8. The nextin stap the lady stappit, The water came till her middle; An sighin says that gay lady, I’ve wat my gouden girdle
  9. The nextin stap the lady stappit, The water came till her pap; An the bairn that was in her twa sides For caul begane to quake.
  10. ‘Lye still, lye still, my ain dear babe, Ye work your mither wae; Your father rides on high horse-back, Cares little for us twae.’
  11. O about the midst o Clyden water There was a yeard-fast stane; He lightly turnd his horse about, An tooke her on him behin.
  12. ‘O tell me this now, good Lord John, An a word ye dinna lee, How far it is to your lodgin, Whare we this night maun be?’
  13. ‘O see you nae yon castle, Ellen, That shines sae fair to see? There is a lady in it, Ellen, Will sunder you an me.
  14. ‘There is a lady in that castle Will sunder you and I:’ ‘Betide me well, betide me wae, I sal go there an try.’
  15. ‘O my dogs sal eat the good white bread, An ye sal eat the bran; Then will ye sigh, an say, alas’ That ever I was a man’’
  16. ‘O I sal eat the good white bread, An your dogs sal eat the bran; An I hope to live an bless the day, That ever ye was a man.’
  17. ‘O my horse sal eat the good white meal, An ye sal eat the corn; Then will ye curse the heavy hour That ever your love was born.’
  18. ‘O I sal eat the good white meal, An your horse sal eat the corn; An I ay sall bless the happy hour That ever my love was born.’
  19. O four an twenty gay ladies Welcomd Lord John to the ha, But a fairer lady than them a’ Led his horse to the stable sta.
  20. An four an twenty gay ladies Welcomd Lord John to the green, But a fairer lady than them a’ At the manger stood alane.
  21. Whan bells were rung, an mass was sung, Ar a’ men boun to meat, Burd Ellen at a bye-table Amo the foot-men was set.
  22. ‘O eat an drink, my bonny boy, The white bread an the beer:’ ‘The never a bit can I eat or drink, My heart’s sae full of fear.’
  23. ‘O eat an drink, my bonny boy, The white bread an the wine:’ ‘O I canna eat nor drink, master, My heart’s sae full of pine.’
  24. But out it spake Lord John’s mother, An a wise woman was she: ‘Whare met ye wi that bonny boy, That looks sae sad on thee?
  25. ‘Sometimes his cheek is rosy red, An sometimes deadly wan; He’s liker a woman big wi bairn, Than a young lord’s serving man.’
  26. ‘O it makes me laugh, my mother dear, Sic words to hear frae thee; He is a squire’s ae dearest son, That for love has followd me.
  27. ‘Rise up, rise up, my bonny boy, Gi my horse corn an hay:’ ‘O that I will, my master dear, As quickly as I may.’
  28. She’s taen the hay under her arm, The corn intill her han, An she’s gane to the great stable, As fast as eer she can.
  29. ‘O room ye roun, my bonny broun steeds, O room ye near the wa; For the pain that strikes me thro my sides Full soon will gar me fa.’
  30. She’s leand her back against the wa; Strong travail seizd her on; An even amo the great horse feet Burd Ellen brought forth her son.
  31. Lord John’[s] mither intill her bowr Was sitting all alone, Whan, i the silence o the night, She heard fair Ellen’s moan.
  32. ‘Won up, won up, my son,’ she says, ‘Go se how a’ does fare; For I think I hear a woman’s groans, An a bairn greeting sair.’
  33. O hastily he gat him up, Stayd neither for hose nor shoone, An he’s doen him to the stable-door, Wi the clear light o the moon.
  34. He strack the door hard wi his foot, An sae has he wi his knee, An iron locks an iron bars Into the floor flung he: ‘Be not afraid, Burd Ellen,’ he says, ‘Ther’s nane come in but me.’
  35. Up he has taen his bonny young son, An gard wash him wi the milk; An up has he taen his fair lady, Gard row her in the silk.
  36. ‘Cheer up your heart, Burd Ellen,’ he says, ‘Look nae mair sad nor wae; For your marriage an your kirkin too Sal baith be in ae day.’