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Child Waters

No: 63; variant: 63J

  1. THE knight stands in his stable-door, Says he, I will gae ride; A lady stands in her bower-door, Says, I’ll ride by your side.
  2. ‘Ye shall not follow me, Burd Helen, Except ye do this deed; That is, to saddle to me my horse, And bridle to me my steed, And every town that ye come to, A liesh o hounds to lead.’
  3. ‘I will saddle to you your horse, Sae will I bridle your steed; And every town that we come to, A liesh o hounds I’ll lead.’
  4. Take warning a’, ye maidens fair, That wear scarlet and brown; In virtue leave your lammas beds, To follow knights frae town.
  5. ‘My dogs shall eat the white bread, Helen, And you the dust and bran; And you will sigh, and say, alas! That eer our loves began.’
  6. ‘Your dogs may eat the gude white bread, And I the dust and bran; Yet will I sing, and say, well’s me, That eer our loves began.’
  7. ‘My horse shall drink the gude red wine, And you the water wan; And then you’ll sigh, and say, alas! That eer our loves began.’
  8. ‘Your horse may drink the gude red wine, And I the water wan; But yet I’ll sing, and say, well’s me, That eer our loves began.’
  9. Then Willie lap on his white steed, And straight awa did ride; Burd Helen, drest in men’s array, She walked by his side.
  10. But he was neer sae lack a knight As ance woud bid her ride, And she was neer sae mean a may As ance woud bid him bide.
  11. Sweet Willie rade, Burd Helen ran, A livelang summer’s tide, Until she came to wan water, For a’ men ca’s it Clyde.
  12. The first an step that she wade in, She wadit to the knee; ‘Ohon, alas!’ said that fair maid, ‘This water’s nae for me!’
  13. The next an step that she wade in, She wadit to the pap; The babe within her sides twa, Cauld water gart it quack.
  14. ‘Lie still, lie still, my bonny bairn, For a’ this winna dee; Your father rides on high horseback, Minds neither you nor me.’
  15. In the midst of Clyde’s water, There stands a yird-fast stone; There he leant him ower his saddle-bow, And set that lady on, And brought her to the other side, Then set her down again.
  16. ‘O see ye not yon goodly towers, And gowd towers stand sae hie? There is a lady in yonder bower Will sinder you and me.’
  17. ‘I wish nae ill to your lady, She neer wishd nane to me; But I wish the maid maist o your love That drees far mair for thee.
  18. ‘I wish nae ill to your lady, She neer comes in my thought; But I wish the maid maist o your love That dearest hae you bought.’
  19. Four an twenty gay ladies Led Willie thro bower and ha; But the fairest lady amo them a’ Led his horse to the sta.
  20. Four an twenty gay ladies Were a’ at dinner set; Burd Helen sat at a by-table, A bit she coudna eat.
  21. Out it spake her Dow Isbel, A skilly dame was she: ‘O whare got ye this fine foot-page Ye’ve brought alang wi thee?
  22. ‘Sometimes his colour waxes red, Sometimes it waxes wan; He is liker a woman big wi bairn Nor be a waiting man.’
  23. ‘Win up, win up, my boy,’ he says, ‘At my bidding to be, And gang and supper my gude steed, See he be litterd tee.’
  24. Then she is into stable gane, Shut tee the door wi a pin, And even amang Willie’s horse feet Brought hame her bonny young son.
  25. When day was gane, and night was come, And a’ man bound for bed, Sweet Willie and Dow Isbel In ae chamber were laid.
  26. They hadna been well lien down, Nor yet well faen asleep, Till up it wakens Sweet Willie, And stood at Dow Isbel’s feet.
  27. ‘I dreamd a dreary dream this night, I wish it may be for guid; Some rogue hae broke my stable-door, And stown awa my steed.
  28. ‘Win up, win up now, Dow Isbel, At my bidding to be, And ye’ll gae to my stable-door, See that be true or lie.’
  29. When she gaed to the stable-door, She heard a grievous groan; She thought she heard a bairn greet, But and a woman’s moan.
  30. ‘When I was in my bigly bower, I wore but what I would; This night I’m lighter ‘mang Willie’s horse feet, I fear I’ll die for cold.
  31. ‘When I was in my bigly bower, I wore gold to my tae; This night I’m lighter mang Willie’s horse feet, And fear I’ll die or day.
  32. ‘When I was in my bigly bower, I wore scarlet and green; This night I’m lighter mang Willie’s horse feet, And fear I’ll die my lane.’
  33. Dow Isbel now came tripping hame, As fast as gang coud she; ‘I thought your page was not a man, Ye brought alang wi thee.
  34. ‘As I gaed to your stable, Willie, I heard a grievous groan; I thought I heard a bairn greet, But and a woman’s moan.
  35. ‘She said, when in her bigly bower, She wore but what she would; But this night is lighter mang your horse feet, And fears she’ll die for cold.
  36. ‘She said, when in her bigly bower, She wore gold to her tae; But this night is lighter mang your horse feet, And fears she’ll die or day.
  37. ‘Win up, win up, now Sweet Willie, At my bidding to be, And speak some comfort to the maid, That’s dreed sae much for thee.’
  38. He is to the stable door gane, As fast as gang coud he; ‘O open, O open, Burd Helen,’ he says, ‘Ye’ll open the door to me.’
  39. ‘That was never my mother’s custom, And hope it’s never be mine, A knight into her companie, When she drees a’ her pine.’
  40. ‘O open the door, Burd Helen,’ he says, ‘O open the door to me; For as my sword hangs by my gair, I’ll gar it gang in three.’
  41. ‘How can I open, how shall I open, How can I open to thee, When lying amang your great steed’s feet, Your young son on my knee?’
  42. He hit the door then wi his foot, Sae did he wi his knee, Till doors o deal, and locks o steel, In splinders gart he flee.
  43. ‘An asking, asking, Sweet Willie, An asking ye’ll grant me; The warst in bower in a’ your towers, For thy young son and me.’
  44. ‘Your asking’s nae sae great, Burd Helen, But granted it shall be; The best in bower in a’ my towers, For my young son and thee.’
  45. ‘An asking, asking, sweet Willie, An asking ye’ll grant me; The warst an woman about your bowers, To wait on him and me.’
  46. ‘The best an woman about my bowers, To wait on him and thee, And that’s my sister Dow Isbel, And a gude woman is she.
  47. ‘Ye will take up my little young son, And wash him wi the milk; And ye’ll take up my gay lady, And row her in the silk.
  48. ‘Be favourable to my lady, Be favourable, if ye may; Her kirking and her fair wedding Shall baith stand on ae day.
  49. ‘There is not here a woman living But her shall be my bride, And all is for the fair speeches I got frae her at Clyde.’