The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott

The Young Tamlane.

O I forbid ye, maidens a',

That wear gowd on your hair,

To come or gae by Carterhaugh;

For young Tamlane is there.

There's nane, that gaes by Carterhaugh,

But maun leave him a wad;

Either goud rings, or green mantles,

Or else their maidenheid.

But up then spake her, fair Janet,

The fairest o' a' her kin;

—“I'll come and gang to Carterhaugh,

And ask nae leave o' him.”—

Janet has kilted her green kirtle,

A little aboon her knee;

And she has braided her yellow hair,

A little aboon her bree.

And she's away to Carterhaugh,

And gaed beside the wood;

And there was sleeping young Tamlane,

And his steed beside him stood.

She pu'd the broom flower frae the bush,

And strewed it on's white hause bane;

And that was to be a witter true,

That maiden she had gane.

—“O where was ye, my milk white steed,

That I did love sae dear,

That wadna watch, and waken me,

When there was maiden here?”—

—“I stamped wi' my foot, master,

I gar'd my bridle ring;

But no kin' thing would waken ye,

Till she was past and gane.”—

—“And wae betide ye, my gray goshawk,

That I did love sae well;

That wadna watch, and waken me,

When my love was here hersell!”—

—“I clapped wi' my wings, master,

And ay my bells I rang;

And ay cried, “waken, waken, master,

Afore your true love gang.”—

—“But haste, and haste, my good white steed,

To come the maiden till;

Or a' the birds, in good green wood,

O' your flesh shall hae their fill.”—

—“Ye needna burst your good white steed,

By running o'er the howm;

Nae hare runs swifter o'er the lea,

Nor your love ran thro' the broom.”—

Fair Janet, in her green cleiding,

Returned upon the morn;

And she met her father's ae brother,

The laird of Abercorn.

—“I'll wager, I'll wager, I'll wager wi' you,

Five hunder merk and ten,

I'll maiden gang to Carterhaugh,

And maiden come again.”—

She princked hersell, and prin'd hersell,

By the ae light of the moon;

And she's away to Carterhaugh,

As fast as she could win.

And whan she cam to Carterhaugh,

She gaed beside the wall;

And there she fand his steed standing,

But away was himsell.

She hadna pu'd a red red rose,

A rose but barely three,

Till up and starts a wee wee man,

At Lady Janet's knee.

Says —“Why pu' ye the rose, Janet?

What gars ye break the tree?

Or why come ye to Carterhaugh,

Withoutten leave o' me!”—

Says —“Carterhaugh it is mine ain;

My daddie gave it me;

I'll come and gang to Carterhaugh,

And ask nae leave o' thee.”—

He's ta'en her by the milk-white hand,

And by the grass-green sleeve;

He's led her to the Fairy ground,

And spier'd at her nae leave.

When she came to her father's ha',

She looked pale and wan;

They thought she'd dried some sair sickness,

Or been wi' some leman.

She didna comb her yellow hair,

Nor make meikle o' her heid;

And ilka thing, that lady took,

Was like to be her deid.

Its four and twenty ladies fair

Were in her father's ha';

Whan in there came the fair Janet,

The flower amang them a'.

Four and twenty ladies fair

Were playing at the chess;

And out there came the fair Janet,

As green as any grass.

Out and spake an auld gray-headed knight,

Lay o'er the castle wa'—

—“And ever alas! for thee, Janet,

But we'll be blamed a'.”—

—“Now had your tongue, ye auld gray knight!

And an ill deid may ye die!

Father my bairn on whom I will,

I'll father nane on thee.”—

Out then spake her father dear,

And he spoke meek and mild —

—“And ever alas! my sweet Janet,

I fear ye gae with child.”—

—“And if I be with child, father,

Mysell maun bear the blame;

There's ne'er a knight, about your ha',

Shall hae the bairnie's name.

“If my love were an earthly knight,

As he's an elfin grey,

I wadna gie my ain true love

For nae lord that ye hae.”—

—“Is it to a man o' might, Janet,

Or is it to a man o' mean?

Or is it unto young Tamlane,

That's wi' the Fairies gane?”—

—“Twas down by Carterhaugh, father,

I walked beside the wa;

And there I saw a wee wee man,

The least that e'er I saw.

“His legs were skant a shathmont lang,

Yet umber was his thie;

Between his brows there was ae span,

And between his shoulders, thrie.

“He's ta'en and flung a meikle stane,

As far as I could see;

I could na, had I been Wallace wight,

Hae lifted it to my knee.

“O wee wee man, but ye be strang!

Where may thy dwelling be?”—

—“Its down beside yon bonny bower;

Fair lady, come and see.”—

“On we lap, and away we rade,

Down to a bonny green;

We lighted down to bait our steed,

And we saw the Fairy Queen.

“With four and twenty at her back,

Of ladies clad in green;

Tho' the King of Scotland had been there,

The worst might hae been his Queen.

“On we lap, and away we rade,

Down to a bonny ha';

The roof was o' the beaten goud,

The floor was of chrystal a'.

“And there were dancing on the floor,

Fair ladies jimp and sma';

But, in the twinkling o' an eye,

They sainted clean awa'.

“And, in the twinkling of an eye,

The wee wee man was gane;

And he says, gin he binna won by me,

He'll ne'er be won by nane.”—

Janet's put on her green cleiding,

Whan near nine months were gane;

And she's awa to Carterhaugh,

To speak wi' young Tamlane.

And when she came to Carterhaugh,

She gaed beside the wall;

And there she saw the steed standing,

But away was himsell.

She hadna pu'd a double rose,

A rose but only twae,

When up and started young Tamlane,

Says —“Lady, thou pu's nae mae!

“Why pu' ye the rose, Janet,

Within this garden green?

And a' to kill the bonnie babe,

That we got us between.”—

—“The truth ye'll tell to me, Tamlane;

A word ye mauna lie;

Gin e'er ye was in haly chapel,

Or sained in Christentie.”—

—“The truth I'll tell to thee, Janet;

A word I winna lie;

A knight me got, and a lady me bore,

As well as they did thee.

“Roxburgh was my grandfather;

Took me with him to bide;

And, as we frae the hunting came,

This harm did me betide.

“Roxburgh was a hunting knight,

And loved hunting well;

And, on a cauld and frosty day,

Down frae my horse I fell.

“The Queen o' Fairies keppit me,

In yon green hill to dwell;

And I'm a fairy, lyth and limb;

Fair lady, view me well.

“And pleasant is the fairy land;

But, an eiry tale to tell!

Ay, at the end o' seven years,

We pay the teind to hell;

And I'm sae fair and fu' o' flesh,

I'm fear'd it be mysell.

“This night is Hallowe'en, Janet;

The morn is Hallowday;

And, gin ye dare your true love win,

Ye have nae time to stay.

“The night it is good Hallowe'en,

When fairy folk will ride;

And they, that wad their true love win,

At Miles Cross they maun bide.”—

—“But how shall I thee ken, Tamlane?

Or how shall I thee knaw?

Amang so many unearthly knights,

The like I never saw?”—

—“The first company that passes by,

Say na, and let them gae;

The next company that passes by,

Say na, and do right sae;

The third company that passes by,

Then I'll be ane o' thae.

“First let pass the black, Janet,

And syne let pass the brown;

But grip ye to the milk-white steed,

And pu' the rider down.

“For I ride on the milk-white steed,

And ay nearest the town;

Because I was a christened knight,

They gave me that renown.

“My right hand will be gloved, Janet,

My left hand will be bare;

And thae's the tokens I gie thee,

Nae doubt I will be there.

“They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,

An adder and a snake;

But had me fast, let me not pass,

Gin ye wad be my maik.

“They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,

An adder and an ask;

They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,

A bale that burns fast.

“They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,

A red hot gad o' iron;

But had me fast, let me not pass,

For I'll do you no harm.

“First, dip me in a stand o' milk,

And then in a stand o' water;

But had me fast, let me not pass,

I'll be your bairn's father.

“And next they'll shape me in your arms,

A toad, but and an eel;

But had me fast, nor let me gang,

As you do love me weel.

“They'll shape me in your arms, Janet,

A dove, but and a swan;

And last they'll shape me in your arms,

A mother-naked man:

Cast your green mantle over me —

I'll be mysell again.”—

Gloomy, gloomy, was the night,

And eiry was the way,

As fair Janet, in her green mantle,

To Miles Cross she did gae.

About the dead hour o' the night,

She heard the bridles ring;

And Janet was as glad o' that,

As any earthly thing!

And first gaed by the black black steed,

And then gaed by the brown;

But fast she gript the milk-white steed,

And pu'd the rider down.

She pu'd him frae the milk-white steed,

And loot the bridle fa';

— And up there raise an erlish cry —

—“He's won amang us a'!”—

They shaped him in fair Janet's arms,

An esk, but and an adder;

She held him fast in every shape,

To be her bairn's father.

They shaped him in her arms at last,

A mother-naked man;

She wrapt him in her green mantle,

And sae her true love wan.

Up then spake the Queen o' Fairies,

Out o' a bush o' broom —

—“She that has borrowed young Tamlane,

Has gotten a stately groom.”

Up then spake the Queen o' Fairies,

Out o' a bush of rye —

—“She's ta'en awa the bonniest knight,

In a' my companie.

“But, had I kenn'd, Tamlane,” she says,

“A lady wad borrowed thee —

I wad ta'en out thy twae gray een,

Put in twae een o' tree.

“Had I but kenn'd, Tamlane,” she says,

“Before ye came frae hame —

I wad ta'en out your heart o' flesh,

Put in a heart o' stane.

“Had I had but the wit yestreen,

That I hae coft the day —

I'd paid my kane seven times to hell,

Ere you'd been won away!”—

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00