Fiction > The Haunters and the Haunted > XXIV. Clerk Saunders
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Rhys, Ernest, ed. (1859–1946).  The Haunters and the Haunted.  1921.

XXIV. Clerk Saunders
 
“Border Minstrelsy”
 
CLERK SAUNDERS and May Margaret 
  Walked owre yon garden green; 
And sad and heavy was the love 
  That fell them twa between. 
  
And thro’ the dark, and thro’ the mirk,         5
  And thro’ the leaves o’ green, 
He cam that night to Margaret’s door, 
  And tirléd at the pin. 
  
“O wha is that at my bower door, 
  Sae weel my name does ken?”  10
“’Tis I, Clerk Saunders, your true love; 
  You’ll open and let me in?” 
  
“But in may come my seven bauld brithers, 
  Wi’ torches burning bright; 
They’ll say—‘We hae but ae sister,  15
  And behold she’s wi’ a knight!’” 
  
“Ye’ll tak my brand I bear in hand, 
  And wi’ the same ye’ll lift the pin; 
Then ye may swear, and save your aith, 
  That ye ne’er let Clerk Saunders in.  20
  
“Ye’ll tak the kerchief in your hand, 
  And wi’ the same tie up your een; 
Then ye may swear and save your aith, 
  Ye saw me na since yestere’en.” 
  
It was about the midnight hour,  25
  When they asleep were laid, 
When in and cam her seven brothers, 
  Wi’ torches burning red. 
  
When in and cam her seven brothers, 
  Wi’ torches burning bright;  30
They said, “We hae but ae sister, 
  And behold she’s wi’ a knight.” 
  
Then out and spak the first o’ them, 
  “We’ll awa’ and lat them be.” 
And out and spak the second o’ them,  35
  “His father has nae mair than he!” 
  
And out and spak the third o’ them, 
  “I wot they are lovers dear!” 
And out and spak the fourth o’ them, 
  “They hae lo’ed this mony a year!”  40
  
Then out and spak the fifth o’ them, 
  “It were sin true love to twain!” 
“’Twere shame,” out spak the sixth o’ them, 
  “To slay a sleeping man!” 
  
Then up and gat the seventh o’ them,  45
  And never a word spak he; 
But he has striped his bright brown brand 
  Through Saunders’ fair bodie. 
  
Clerk Saunders started, and Margaret she turned, 
  Into his arms as asleep she lay;  50
And sad and silent was the night, 
  That was atween thir twae. 
  
And they lay still and sleepit sound, 
  Till the day began to daw; 
And kindly to him she did say,  55
  “It is time, love, you were awa’.” 
  
But he lay still, and sleepit sound, 
  Till the sun began to sheen; 
She looked atween her and the wa’, 
  And dull, dull were his een.  60
  
She turned the blankets to the foot, 
  The sheets unto the wa’, 
And there she saw his bloody wound, 
  And her tears fast doun did fa’. 
  
Then in and cam her father dear,  65
  Said, “Let a’ your mournin’ be; 
I’ll carry the dead corpse to the clay 
  And then come back and comfort thee. 
  
“Hold your tongue, my daughter dear, 
  And let your mourning be;  70
I’ll wed you to a higher match 
  Than his father’s son could be.” 
  
“Gae comfort weel your seven sons, father, 
  For man sall ne’er comfort me; 
Ye’ll marry me wi’ the Queen o’ Heaven,  75
  For wedded I ne’er sall be!” 
  
The clinking bell gaed through the toun, 
  To carry the dead corse to the clay; 
And Clerk Saunders stood at Margaret’s window, 
  ’Twas an hour before the day.  80
  
“O are ye sleeping, Margaret?” he says. 
  “Or are ye waking presentlie? 
Gie me my faith and troth again, 
  I wot, true love, I gied to thee. 
  
“I canna rest, Margaret,” he says,  85
  “Doun in the grave where I must be, 
Till ye gie me my faith and troth again, 
  I wot, true love, I gied to thee.” 
  
“Your faith and troth ye sall never get, 
  Nor our true love sall never twin,  90
Until ye come within my bower, 
  And kiss me cheek and chin.” 
  
“My mouth it is full cold, Margaret, 
  It has the smell, now, of the ground; 
And if I kiss thy comely mouth,  95
  To the grave thou will be bound. 
  
“O, cocks are crawing a merry midnight, 
  I wot the wild-fowls are boding day; 
Gie me my faith and troth again, 
  And let me fare me on my way.” 100
  
“Thy faith and troth thou sall na get, 
  And our true love shall never twin, 
Until ye tell what comes of women, 
  I wot, who die in strong travailing.” 
  
“Their beds are made in the heavens high, 105
  Down at the foot of our good Lord’s knee, 
Weel set about wi’ gillyflowers; 
  I wot sweet company for to see. 
  
“O, cocks are crawing a merry midnight, 
  I wot the wild-fowl are boding day; 110
The psalms of heaven will soon be sung, 
  And I, ere now, will be missed away.” 
  
Then she has ta’en a crystal wand, 
  And she has stroken her troth thereon, 
She has given it him out at the shot-window, 115
  Wi’ mony a sigh and heavy groan. 
  
“I thank ye, Margaret; I thank ye, Margaret; 
  And aye I thank ye heartilie; 
Gin ever the dead come for the quick, 
  Be sure, Margaret, I’ll come for thee.” 120
  
It’s hosen, and shoon, and gown, alane, 
  She clam the wa’ and after him; 
Until she cam to the green forest, 
  And there she lost the sight o’ him. 
  
“Is there ony room at your head, Saunders, 125
  Is there ony room at your feet? 
Or ony room at your side, Saunders, 
  Where fain, fain, I wad sleep?” 
  
“There’s nae room at my head, Margaret, 
  There’s nae room at my feet; 130
My bed it is full lowly now: 
  ’Mang the hungry worms I sleep. 
  
“Cauld mould is my covering now, 
  But and my winding-sheet; 
The dew it falls nae sooner down, 135
  Than my resting-place is weet. 
  
“But plait a wand o’ the bonnie birk 
  And lay it on my breast; 
And shed a tear upon my grave, 
  And wish my saul gude rest. 140
  
“And fair Margaret, and rare Margaret, 
  And Margaret o’ veritie, 
Gin e’er ye love anither man, 
  Ne’er love him as ye did me.” 
  
Then up and crew the milk-white cock, 145
  And up and crew the gray; 
Her lover vanished in the air, 
  And she gaed weeping away. 

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