The Twa Sisters

No: 10; variant: 10C

  1. THERE were two sisters sat in a bour; Binnorie, O Binnorie There came a knight to be their wooer. By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie
  2. He courted the eldest with glove and ring, But he loed the youngest aboon a’ thing.
  3. He courted the eldest with broach and knife, But he loed the youngest aboon his life.
  4. The eldest she was vexed sair, And sore envied her sister fair.
  5. The eldest said to the youngest ane, ‘Will ye go and see our father’s ships come in?’
  6. She’s taen her by the lilly hand, And led her down to the river strand.
  7. The youngest stude upon a stane, The eldest came and pushed her in.
  8. She took her by the middle sma, And dashed her bonnie back to the jaw.
  9. ‘O sister, sister, reach your hand, And ye shall be heir of half my land.’
  10. ‘O sister, I’ll not reach my hand, And I’ll be heir of all your land.
  11. ‘Shame fa the hand that I should take, It’s twin’d me and my world’s make.’
  12. ‘O sister, reach me but your glove, And sweet William shall be your love.’
  13. ‘Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove, And sweet William shall better be my love.
  14. ‘Your cherry cheeks and your yellow hair Garrd me gang maiden evermair.’
  15. Sometimes she sunk, and sometimes she swam, Until she came to the miller’s dam.
  16. ‘O father, father, draw your dam, There’s either a mermaid or a milk-white swan.’
  17. The miller hasted and drew his dam, And there he found a drowned woman.
  18. You could not see her yellow hair, For gowd and pearls that were sae rare.
  19. You could na see her middle sma, Her gowden girdle was sae bra.
  20. A famous harper passing by, The sweet pale face he chanced to spy.
  21. And when he looked that ladye on, He sighed and made a heavy moan.
  22. He made a harp of her breast-bone, Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.
  23. The strings he framed of her yellow hair, Whose notes made sad the listening ear.
  24. He brought it to her father’s hall, And there was the court assembled all.
  25. He laid this harp upon a stone, And straight it began to play alone.
  26. ‘O yonder sits my father, the king, And yonder sits my mother, the queen.
  27. ‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh, And by him my William, sweet and true.’
  28. But the last tune that the harp playd then, Was ‘Woe to my sister, false Helen!’