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John Thomson and the Turk

No: 266; variant: 266A

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. '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.'
  4. 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.'
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.'
  13. '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.'
  14. '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.'
  15. '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.'
  16. '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.
  17. '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.'
  18. 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.
  19. '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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. '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.'
  23. '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.'
  24. 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?'
  25. '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.
  26. '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.'
  27. 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!
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. '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.
  31. '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.'
  32. 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.