Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
54. Lord Thomas and Fair Annet

LORD THOMAS and Fair Annet
  Sat all day on a hill;
When night was come, and sun was set,
  They had not talk’d their fill.

Lord Thomas said a word in jest,
  Fair Annet took it ill:
‘I’ll never wed a tocherless maid
  Against my ain friends’ will.’—

‘Gif ye’ll not wed a tocherless wife,
  A wife will ne’er wed ye:        10
Fare ye well now, Lord Thomas,
  It’s fare ye well a wee.’

O Annet she’s gane till her bower,
  Lord Thomas down the den;
And he’s come till his mither’s bower        15
  By the lee light o’ the moon.

‘O sleep ye, wake ye, mither?’ he says,
  ‘Or are ye the bower within?’—
‘I sleep right aft, I wake right aft;
  What want ye with me, son?        20

‘Where have ye been a’ night, Thomas?
  O’ wow, ye’ve tarried long!’—
‘I have been courtin’ Fair Annet,
  And she is frae me gone.

‘O rede, O rede, mither,’ he says,
  A gude rede gie to me:
O sall I tak’ the nut-brown bride,
  And let Fair Annet be?’—

‘The nut-brown bride has gold and gear,
  Fair Annet she’s got nane;        30
And the little beauty Fair Annet has
  O it will soon be gane.

‘It’s an’ ye wed the nut-brown bride,
  I’ll heap gold wi’ my hand;
But an’ ye wed her, Fair Annet,        35
  I’ll straik it wi’ a wand.

‘The nut-brown bride has sheep and kye,
  Fair Annet she’s got nane;
Son Thomas, for my bension
  Bring ye the brown bride hame.—        40

‘But alas, alas!’ says Lord Thomas,
  O fair is Annet’s face!’—
‘But what matter for that, son Thomas?
  She has nae ither grace.’—

‘Alas, alas!’ says Lord Thomas,
  ‘But white is Annet’s hand!’—
‘What matter for that, son Thomas?
  She has not a fur’ o’ land.’—

‘Sheep will die in cots, mither,
  And owsen die in byre;        50
And what is warldis wealth to me,
  An’ I getna my heart’s desire?’

And he has till his sister gane:
  ‘Now, sister, rede ye me;
O sall I marry the nut-brown bride        55
  And set Fair Annet free?’—

‘I’se rede ye tak’ Fair Annet, Thomas,
  And let the brown bride alane,
Lest ye should sigh and say Alas!
  What is this we brought hame?’—        60

‘No, I will tak’ my mither’s counsel,
  And marry me out of hand;
And I will tak’ the nut-brown bride;
  Fair Annet may leave the land.’

Up then rose Fair Annet’s father
  Twa hours or it were day,
And he is gone to Fair Annet,
  To the bower wherein she lay.

‘Rise up, rise up, Fair Annet,’ he says,
  ‘Pur on your silken sheen;        70
Ye are bidden come to St. Mary’s Kirk,
  To see a rich weddìn’.’…

‘My maids, gae to my dressing-room
  And dress to me my hair;
Where’er ye laid a plait before        75
  See ye lay ten times mair.

‘My maids gae to my dressing-room
  And dress to me my smock;
The one half is o’ the holland fine,
  The other o’ needle-work.’        80

At yae tett o’ her horse’s mane
  Was tied a silver bell,
And yae tift o’ the norland wind
  It gar’d them a’ to knell.

Four and twenty gay good knights
  Rade by Fair Annet’s side,
And four and twenty fair ladies
  As gin she had been a bride.

And when she came to Mary’s Kirk,
  She shimmer’d like the sun;        90
The belt that was about her waist
  Was a’ wi’ pearls bedone.

And when she came to Mary’s Kirk,
  And sat down in the deas,
The cleiding that Fair Annet had on        95
  Enlighten’d a’ that place.

She sat her by the nut-brown bride,
  And her e’en they were sae clear,
Lord Thomas he clean forgat the bride
  When Fair Annet drew near.        100

He had a rose into his hand,
  He gave it kisses three,
And reaching by the nut-brown bride,
  Laid it on Annet’s knee.

‘O wha is this, my father dear,
  Blinks in Lord Thomas’s e’e?’—
‘O this Lord Thomas’s first true-love
  Before he lovèd thee.’

Up then spake the nut-brown bride—
  She spake wi’ mickle spite:        110
‘And where gat ye the rose-water
  That washes thy face so white?’—

‘O I did get my rose-water
  Where ye will ne’er get nane,
For I did get that very rose-water        115
  Into my mither’s wame.’

The bride she drew a long bodkin
  Frae out her gay head-gear,
And strake Fair Annet to the heart,
  That word spak’ never mair.        120

‘O Christ thee save!’ Lord Thomas he said,
  ‘Methinks thou look’st wondrous wan;
Thou was used to look with as fresh a colour
  As ever the sun shined on.’

‘O art thou blind, Lord Thomas?’ she said,
  ‘Or canst thou not very well see?
Or dost thou not see my own heart’s blood
  Runs trickling down my knee?’

Lord Thomas he saw Fair Annet was pale,
  And marvellèd what mote be;        130
But when he saw her dear heart’s blood,
  All wood-wroth waxèd he.

He drew his dagger frae his side,
  That was so sharp and meet,
And drave it into the nut-brown bride,        135
  That fell dead at his feet.

‘Now stay for me, dear Annet,’ he said,
  ‘Now stay, my dear!’ he cried;
Then strake the dagger untill his heart,
  And fell dead by her side.        140
GLOSS:  shope] shaped, made.  tocherless] without a dowry.  lee] calm, pleasant.  rede] counsel.  straik] stroke, as one might smooth over the top of a bushel of corn to make it bare measure.  fur’] furrow.  owsen] oxen.  yae] each.  tett] tuft.  tift] puff, whiff.  bedone] adorned.  deas] daïs, pew.  cleiding] clothing.  wame] womb.  wood-wroth] mad with rage.


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