Sir Aldingar

No: 59; variant: 59B

Source: Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, III, 51, 1803. Communicated to Scott by K. Williamson Burnet, of Monboddo, as written down from the recitation of an old woman, long in the service of the Arbuthnot family.

  1. The birds sang sweet as ony bell, The world had not their make; The queen she’s gone to her chamber, With Rodingham to talk.
  2. ‘I love you well, my queene, my dame, Bove land and rents so clear, And for the love of you, my queen, Would thole pain most severe.’
  3. ‘If well you love me, Rodingham, I’m sure so do I thee; I love you well as any man, Save the king’s fair bodye.’
  4. ‘I love you well, my queen, my dame, ‘Tis truth that I do tell; And for to lye a night with you, The salt seas I would sail.’
  5. ‘Away, away, O Rodingham’ You are both stark and stoor; Would you defile the king’s own bed, And make his queen a whore?
  6. ‘To-morrow you’d be taken sure, And like a traitor slain, And I’d be burned at a stake, Altho I be the queen.’
  7. All in an angry mood, Untill he met a leper-man, Just by the hard way-side.
  8. He intoxicate the leper-man, With liquors very sweet, And gave him more and more to drink, Until he fell asleep.
  9. He took him in his arms two, And carried him along, Till he came to the queen’s own bed, And there he laid him down.
  10. He then steppd out of the queen’s bower, As swift as any roe, Till he came to the very place Where the king himself did go.
  11. The king said unto Rodingham, What news have you to me? He said, Your queen’s a false woman, As I did plainly see.
  12. He hastend to the queen’s chamber, So costly and so fine, Until he came to the queen’s own bed, Where the leper-man was lain.
  13. He looked on the leper-man, Who lay on his queen’s bed; He lifted up the snaw-shite sheets, And thus he to him said.
  14. ‘Plooky, plooky are your cheeks, And plooky is your chin, And plooky are your armis twa, My bonny queen’s layne in.
  15. ‘Since she has lain into your arms, She shall not lye in mine; Since she has kissd your ugsome mouth, She never shall kiss mine.’
  16. In anger he went to the queen, Who fell upon her knee; He said, You false, unchaste woman, What’s this you’ve done to me?
  17. The queen then turnd herself about, The tear blinded her ee: ‘There’s not a knight in a’ your court Dare give that name to me.’
  18. He said, ‘Tis true that I do say; For I a proof did make; You shall be taken from my bower, And burned at a stake.
  19. ‘Perhaps I’ll take my word again, And may repent the same, If that you’ll get a Christian man To fight that Rodingham.’
  20. ‘Alass’ alass’’ then cried our queen, ‘Alas, and woe to me’ There’s not a man in all Scotland Will fight with him for me.’
  21. She breathed unto her messengers, Sent them south, east, and west; They could find none to fight with him, Nor enter the contest.
  22. She breathed on her messengers, She sent them to the north; And there they found Sir Hugh le Blond, To fight him he came forth.
  23. When unto him they did unfold The circumstance all right, He bade them go and tell the queen That for her he would fight.
  24. The day came on that was to do That dreadful tragedy; Sir hugh le Blond was not come up, To fight for our lady.
  25. ‘Put on the fire,’ the monster said, ‘It is twelve on the bell;’ ‘‘Tis scarcely ten, now,’ said the king, ‘I heard the clock mysell.’
  26. Before the hour the queen is brought, The burning to proceed; In a black velvet chair she’s set, A token for the dead.
  27. She saw the flames ascending high, The tears blinded her ee: ‘Where is the worthy knight,’ she said, ‘Who is to fight for me?’
  28. Then up and spak the king himsell: ‘My dearest, have no doubt, For yonder comes the man himsel, As bold as eer set out.’
  29. They then advanced to fight the duel, With swords of temperd steel; Till down the blood of Rodingham Came running to his heel.
  30. Sir Hugh took out a lusty sword, ‘Twas of the metal clear, And he has pierced Rodingham Till’s heart-blood did appear.
  31. ‘Confess your treachery, now,’ he said, ‘This day before you die;’ ‘I do confess my treachery, I shall no longer lye.
  32. ‘I like to wicked Haman am, This day I shall be slain:’ The queen was brought to her chamber, A good woman again.
  33. The queen then said unto the king, Arbattle’s near the sea; Give it unto the northern knight, That this day fought for me.
  34. Then said the king, Come here, Sir Knight, And drink a glass of wine, And, if Arbattle’s not enough, To it we’ll Fordoun join.