Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight

No: 4; variant: 4D

  1. O HEARD ye of a bloody knight, Lived in the south country? For he has betrayed eight ladies fair And drowned them in the sea.
  2. Then next he went to May Collin, She was her father’s heir, The greatest beauty in the land, I solemnly declare.
  3. ‘I am a knight of wealth and might, Of townlands twenty-three; And you’ll be lady of them all, If you will go with me.’
  4. ‘Excuse me, then, Sir John,’ she says; ‘To wed I am too young; Without I have my parents’ leave, With you I darena gang.’
  5. ‘Your parents’ leave you soon shall have, In that they will agree; For I have made a solemn vow This night you’ll go with me.’
  6. From below his arm he pulled a charm, And stuck it in her sleeve, And he has made her go with him, Without her parents’ leave.
  7. Of gold and silver she has got With her twelve hundred pound, And the swiftest steed her father had She has taen to ride upon.
  8. So privily they went along, They made no stop or stay, Till they came to the fatal place That they call Bunion Bay.
  9. It being in a lonely place, And no house there was nigh, The fatal rocks were long and steep, And none could hear her cry.
  10. ‘Light down,’ he said, ‘Fair May Collin, Light down and speak with me, For here I’ve drowned eight ladies fair, And the ninth one you shall be.’
  11. ‘Is this your bowers and lofty towers, So beautiful and gay? Or is it for my gold,’ she said, ‘You take my life away?’
  12. ‘Strip off,’ he says, ‘Thy jewels fine, So costly and so brave, For they are too costly and too fine To throw in the sea wave.’
  13. ‘Take all I have my life to save, O good Sir John, I pray; Let it neer be said you killed a maid Upon her wedding day.’
  14. ‘Strip off,’ he says, ‘Thy Holland smock, That’s bordered with the lawn, For it’s too costly and too fine To rot in the sea sand.’
  15. ‘O turn about, Sir John,’ she said, ‘Your back about to me, For it never was comely for a man A naked woman to see.’
  16. But as he turned him round about, She threw him in the sea, Saying, ‘Lie you there, you false Sir John, Where you thought to lay me.
  17. ‘O lie you there, you traitor false, Where you thought to lay me, For though you stripped me to the skin, Your clothes you’ve got with thee.’
  18. Her jewels fine she did put on, So costly, rich and brave, And then with speed she mounts his steed, So well she did behave.
  19. That lady fair being void of fear, Her steed being swift and free, And she has reached her father’s gate Before the clock struck three.
  20. Then first she called the stable groom, He was her waiting man; Soon as he heard his lady’s voice He stood with cap in hand.
  21. ‘Where have you been, fair May Collin? Who owns this dapple grey?’ ‘It is a found one,’ she replied, ‘That I got on the way.’
  22. Then out bespoke the wily parrot Unto fair May Collin: ‘What have you done with false Sir John, That went with you yestreen?’
  23. ‘O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot, And talk no more to me, And where you had a meal a day O now you shall have three.’
  24. Then up bespoke her father dear, From his chamber where he lay: ‘What aileth thee, my pretty Poll, That you chat so long or day?’
  25. The cat she came to my cage-door, The thief I could not see, And I called to fair May Collin, To take the cat from me.’
  26. Then first she told her father dear The deed that she had done, And next she told her mother dear Concerning false Sir John.
  27. ‘If this be true, fair May Collin, That you have told to me, Before I either eat or drink This false Sir John I’ll see.’
  28. Away they went with one consent, At dawning of the day, Until they came to Carline Sands, And there his body lay.
  29. His body tall, by that great fall, By the waves tossed to and fro, The diamond ring that he had on Was broke in pieces two.
  30. And they have taken up his corpse To yonder pleasant green, And there they have buried false Sir John, For fear he should be seen.