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Lady Maisry

No: 65; variant: 65C

  1. BEN came to her father dear, Stepping upon the floor; Says, It’s told me, my daughter Janet, That you’re now become a whore.
  2. ‘A whore, father, a whore, father? That’s what I’ll never be, Tho I am with bairn to an English lord, That first did marry me.’
  3. Soon after spoke her bower-woman, And sorely did she cry: ‘Oh woe is me, my lady fair, That ever I saw this day!
  4. ‘For your father’s to the fire, Janet, Your brother’s to the whin, Even to kindle a bold bonefire,
  5. ‘Where will I get a bonnie boy, Will win gold to his fee, That will run on to fair England For my good lord to me?’
  6. ‘Oh here am I, your waiting-boy, Would win gold to my fee, And will carry any message for you, By land or yet by sea.’
  7. And when he fand the bridges broke, He bent his bow and swam, But when he fand the grass growing, He slacked it and ran.
  8. And when he came to that lord’s gate, Stopt not to knock nor call, But set his bent bow to his breast, And lightly lap the wall.
  9. And ere the porter was at the gate The boy was in the hall, And in that noble lord’s presence He on his knee did fall.
  10. ‘O is my biggins broken?’ he said, ‘Or is my towers won? Or is my lady lighter yet, Of daughter of or son?’
  11. ‘Your biggins are not broken,’ he said, ‘Nor is your towers won, Nor is your lady lighter yet, Of daughter or of son; But if you stay a little time Her life it will be gone.
  12. ‘For her father’s gone to the fire, Her brother to the whin, Even to kindle a bold bonfire, To burn her body in.’
  13. ‘Go saddle for me in haste,’ he cried, ‘A brace of horses soon; Go saddle for me the swiftest steeds That ever rode to a town.’
  14. The first steed that he rade on, For he was as jet black, He rode him far, and very far, But he fell down in a slack.
  15. The next steed that he rode on, For he was a berry brown; He bore him far, and very far, But at the last fell down.
  16. The next steed that he rode on, He was as milk so white; Fair fall the mare that foaled the foal Took him to Janet’s lyke!
  17. But boots and spurs, all as he was, Into the fire he lap, Took ae kiss of her comely mouth, While her body gave a crack.
  18. ‘O who has been so bold,’ he said, ‘This bonfire to set on? Or who has been so bold,’ he cried, ‘My true-love for to burn?’
  19. Her father cried, I’ve been so bold This bonefire to put on; Her brother cried, We’ve been so bold Her body for to burn.
  20. ‘Oh I shall hang for you, Janet, Your father and your brother; And I shall burn for you, Janet, Your sister and your mother.
  21. ‘Oh I shall make many bed empty, And many shed be thin, And many a wife to be a widow, And many one want their son.
  22. ‘Then I shall take a cloak of cloth, A staff made of the wand, And the boy who did your errand run Shall be heir of my land.’