Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
139. Hobbie Noble

FOUL fa’ the breast first treason bred in!
  That Liddesdale may safely say,
For in it there was baith meat and drink,
  And corn unto our geldings gay.

We were stout-hearted men and true,
  As England it did often say;
But now we may turn our backs and fly,
  Since brave Noble is seld away.

Now Hobbie he was an English man,
  And born into Bewcastle dale,        10
But his misdeeds they were sae great,
  They banish’d him to Liddesdale.

At Kershope-foot the tryst was set,
  Kershope of the lily lee;
And there was traitour Sim o’ the Mains,        15
  With him a private companie.

Then Hobbie has graith’d his body weel,
  I wat wi’ baith good iron and steel;
And he has pull’d out his fringed grey,
  And there, brave Hobbie, he rade him weel.        20

Then Hobbie is down the water gane,
  Even as fast as he may drie;
Tho’ they shou’d a’ brusten and broken their hearts,
  Frae that riding-tryst he would not be.

‘Weel may ye be, my feiries five!
  And aye, what is your wills wi’ me?’
Then they cryd a’ wi’ ae consent:
  ‘Thou’rt welcome here, brave Noble, to me.

‘Wilt thou with us into England ride?
  And thy safe-warrand we will be,        30
If we get a horse worth a hundred punds,
  Upon his back that thou shalt be.’—

‘I dare not with you into England ride,
  The Land-sergeant has me at feid;
I know not what evil may betide        35
  For Peter of Whitfield his brother is dead.

‘And Antony Shiel he loves not me,
  For I gat twa drifts of his sheep;
The great Earl of Whitfield loves me not,
  For nae gear frae me he e’er could keep.        40

‘But will ye stay till the day gae down,
  Until the night come owre the grund,
And I’ll be a guide worth ony twa
  That may in Liddesdale be found.

‘Tho’ dark the night as pick and tar,
  I’ll guide ye owre yon hills sae hie,
And bring ye a’ in safety back,
  If you will be true and follow me.’

He has guided them owre moss and muir,
  O’er hill and houp, and mony a down,        50
Til they came to the Foulbogshiel,
  And there brave Noble he lighted down.

Then word is gane to the Land-sergeant,
  In Askerton where that he lay:
‘The deer that ye hae hunted sae lang        55
  Is seen into the Waste this day.’—

‘Then Hobbie Noble is that deer;
  I wat he carries the style fu’ hie!
Aft has he beat your slough-hounds back,
  And set yourselves at little eie.        60

‘Gar warn the bows of Hartlie-burn,
  See they sharp their arrows on the wa!
Warn Willeva and Spear Edom,
  And see the morn they meet me a’.

‘Gar meet me on the Rodric-haugh,
  And see it be by break o’ day;
And we will on to Conscouthart Green,
  For there, I think, we’ll get our prey.’

Then Hobbie Noble has dreamit a dream,
  In the Foulbogshiel where that he lay;        70
He thought his horse was aneath him shot,
  And he himself got hard away.

The cocks could craw, and the day could daw’,
  And I wat sae even down fell the rain;
Had Hobbie na waken’d at that time,        75
  In the Foulbogshiel he’d been ta’en or slain.

‘Get up, get up, my feiries five,
  For I wat here makes a fu’ ill day;
And the warst clock of this companie
  I hope shall cross the Waste this day.        80

Now Hobbie thought the gates were clear,
  But, ever alas! it was not sae;
They were beset wi’ cruel men and keen,
  That away brave Noble could not gae.

‘Yet follow me, my feiries five,
  And see of me ye keep good array;
And the worst clock of this companie
  I hope shall cross the Waste this day.’

There was heaps of men now Hobbie before,
  And other heaps was him behin’,        90
That had he been wight as Wallace was
  Away brave Noble he could not win.

Then Hobbie he had but a laddie’s sword,
  But he did more than a laddie’s deed;
Till in the midst of Conscouthart Green,        95
  He brake it o’er Jers-a-Wigham’s head.

Now they have ta’en brave Hobbie Noble,
  Wi’ his ain bowstring they band him sae;
And I wat his heart was neer sae sair
  As when his ain five band him on the brae.        100

They have ta’en him on for West Carlisle;
  They ask’d him if he kenn’d the way;
Whate’er he thought, yet little he said;
  He knew that gate as well as they.

They hae ta’en him up the Ricker-gate;
  The wives they cast their windows wide,
And ilka wife to anither can say,
  ‘That ’s the man loos’d Jock o’ the Side!’—

‘Fy on ye, women! why ca’ ye me man?
  For it ’s nae man that I’m used like;        110
I’m but like a forfoughen hound,
  Has been fighting in a dirty syke.’

Then they hae ta’en him up thro’ Carlisle town,
  And set him by the chimney-fire;
They gave brave Noble a wheat loaf to eat,        115
  And that was little his desire.

They gave him a wheaten loaf to eat
  And after that a can of beer;
Then they cried a’, wi’ ae consent,
  ‘Eat, brave Noble, and make good cheer!        120

‘Confess my lord’s horse, Hobbie,’ they say,
  ‘And the morn in Carlisle thou’se no dee.’—
‘How shall I confess them?’ Hobbie says,
  ‘For I never saw them with mine e’e.’

Then Hobbie has sworn a fu’ great aith,
  By the day that he was gotten or born,
He never had onything o’ my lord’s
  That either ate him grass or corn.

‘Now fare thee weel, sweet Mangerton!
  For I think again I’ll ne’er thee see;        130
I wad betray nae lad alive,
  For a’ the gowd in Christentie.

‘And fare thee well now, Liddesdale,
  Baith the hie land and the law!
Keep ye weel frae traitor Mains!        135
  For gowd and gear he’ll sell ye a’.

‘I’d rather be ca’d Hobbie Noble,
  In Carlisle, where he suffers for his faut,
Before I were ca’d the traitor Mains,
  That eats and drinks o’ the meal and maut.’        140
GLOSS:  seld] sold.  graith’d] clad in armour.  fringed] long-haired at fetlocks.  feiries] feres, comrades.  feid] fend.  pick] pitch.  houp] ‘hope,’ a hollow between two hills.  slough-hounds] sleuth-hounds.  eie] awe  clock] lame one, hobbler.  forfoughen] out-wearied.  syke] ditch.


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