Gil Brenton

No: 5; variant: 5C

  1. WE were sisters, we were seven, We were the fairest under heaven.
  2. And it was a’ our seven years wark To sew our father’s seven sarks.
  3. And whan our seven years wark was done, We laid it out upo the green.
  4. We coost the lotties us amang, Wha wad to the greenwood gang.
  5. To pu the lily but and the rose, To strew witha’ our sisters’ bowers.
  6. . . . . . I was youngest, . . . . . my weer was hardest.
  7. And to the greenwood I bud gae, . . . . .
  8. There I met a handsome childe, . . . . .
  9. High-coled stockings and laigh-coled shoon, He bore him like a king’s son.
  10. An was I weel, or was I wae, He keepit me a’ the simmer day.
  11. An though I for my hame-gaun sich[t], He keepit me a’ the simmer night.
  12. He gae to me a gay gold ring, And bade me keep it aboon a’ thing.
  13. He gae to me a cuttie knife, And bade me keep it as my life:
  14. Three lauchters o his yellow hair, For fear we wad neer meet mair.
  15. Next there came shippes three, To carry a’ my bridal fee.
  16. Gowd were the beaks, the sails were silk, Wrought wi maids’ hands like milk.
  17. They came toom and light to me, But heavie went they waie frae me.
  18. They were fu o baken bread, They were fu of wine sae red.
  19. My dowry went a’ by the sea, But I gaed by the grenewode tree.
  20. An I sighed and made great mane, As thro the grenewode we rade our lane.
  21. An I ay siched an wiped my ee, That eer the grenewode I did see.
  22. ‘Is there water in your glove, Or win into your shoe? O[r] am I oer low a foot-page To rin by you, ladie?’
  23. ‘O there’s nae water in my glove, Nor win into my shoe; But I am maning for my mither Wha’s far awa frae me.’
  24. ‘Gin ye be a maiden fair, Meikle gude ye will get there.
  25. ‘If ye be a maiden but, Meikle sorrow will ye get.
  26. ‘For seven king’s daughters he hath wedded, But never wi ane o them has bedded.
  27. ‘He cuts the breasts frae their breast-bane, An sends them back unto their dame.
  28. ‘He sets their backs unto the saddle, An sends them back unto their father.
  29. ‘But be ye maiden or be ye nane, To the gowden chair ye draw right soon.
  30. ‘But be ye leman or be ye maiden, Sit nae down till ye be bidden.’
  31. Was she maiden or was she nane, To the gowden chair she drew right soon.
  32. Was she leman or was she maiden, She sat down ere she was bidden.
  33. Out then spake the lord’s mother; Says, ‘This is not a maiden fair.
  34. ‘In that chair nae leal maiden Eer sits down till they be bidden.’
  35. The Billie Blin then outspake he, As he stood by the fair ladie.
  36. ‘The bonnie may is tired wi riding, Gaurd her sit down ere she was bidden.’
  37. But on her waiting-maid she ca’d: ‘Fair ladie, what’s your will wi me?’ ‘O ye maun gie yere maidenheid This night to an unco lord for me.’
  38. ‘I hae been east, I hae been west, I hae been far beyond the sea, But ay, by grenewode or by bower, I hae keepit my virginitie.
  39. ‘But will it for my ladie plead, I’ll gie’t this night to an unco lord.’
  40. When bells were rung an vespers sung, An men in sleep were locked soun,
  41. Childe Branton and the waiting-maid Into the bridal bed were laid.
  42. ‘O lie thee down, my fair ladie, Here are a’ things meet for thee;
  43. ‘Here’s a bolster for yere head, Here is sheets an comelie weids.’
  44. ‘Now tell to me, ye Billie Blin, If this fair dame be a leal maiden.’
  45. ‘I wat she is as leal a wight As the moon shines on in a simmer night.
  46. ‘I wat she is as leal a may As the sun shines on in a simmer day.
  47. ‘But your bonnie bride’s in her bower, Dreeing the mither’s trying hour.’
  48. Then out o his bridal bed he sprang, An into his mither’s bower he ran.
  49. ‘O mither kind, O mither dear, This is nae a maiden fair.
  50. ‘The maiden I took to my bride Has a bairn atween her sides.
  51. ‘The maiden I took to my bower Is dreeing the mither’s trying hour.’
  52. Then to the chamber his mother flew, And to the wa the door she threw.
  53. She stapt at neither bolt nor ban, Till to that ladie’s bed she wan.
  54. Says, ‘Ladie fair, sae meek an mild, Wha is the father o yere child?’
  55. ‘O mither dear,’ said that ladie, ‘I canna tell gif I sud die.
  56. ‘We were sisters, we were seven, We were the fairest under heaven.
  57. ‘And it was a’ our seven years wark To sew our father’s seven sarks.
  58. ‘And whan our seven years wark was done, We laid it out upon the green.
  59. ‘We coost the lotties us amang, Wha wad to the greenwode gang;
  60. ‘To pu the lily but an the rose, To strew witha’ our sisters’ bowers.
  61. . . . . . ‘I was youngest, . . . . . my weer was hardest.
  62. ‘And to the greenwode I bu[d] gae. . . . .
  63. ‘There I met a handsome childe, . . . .
  64. ‘Wi laigh-coled stockings and high-coled shoon, He seemed to be some king’s son.
  65. ‘And was I weel or was I wae, He keepit me a’ the simmer day.
  66. ‘Though for my hame-gaun I oft sicht, He keepit me a’ the simmer night.
  67. ‘He gae to me a gay gold ring, An bade me keep it aboon a’ thing;
  68. ‘Three lauchters o he yellow hair, For fear that we suld neer meet mair.
  69. ‘O mither, if ye’ll believe nae me, Break up the coffer, an there ye’ll see.’
  70. An ay she coost, an ay she flang, Till her ain gowd ring came in her hand.
  71. And scarce aught i the coffer she left, Till she gat the knife wi the siller heft,
  72. Three lauchters o his yellow hair, Knotted wi ribbons dink and rare.
  73. She cried to her son, ‘Where is the ring Your father gave me at our wooing, An I gae you at your hunting?
  74. ‘What did ye wi the cuttie knife, I bade ye keep it as yere life?’
  75. ‘O haud yere tongue, my mither dear; I gae them to a lady fair.
  76. ‘I wad gie a’ my lands and rents, I had that ladie within my brents.
  77. ‘I wad gie a’ my lands an towers, I had that ladie within my bowers.’
  78. ‘Keep still yere lands, keep still yere rents; Ye hae that ladie within yere brents.
  79. ‘Keep still yere lands, keep still yere towers; Ye hae that lady within your bowers.’
  80. Then to his ladie fast ran he, An low he kneeled on his knee.
  81. ‘O tauk ye up my son,’ said he, ‘An, mither, tent my fair ladie.
  82. ‘O wash him purely i the milk, And lay him saftly in the silk.
  83. ‘An ye maun bed her very soft, For I maun kiss her wondrous oft.’
  84. It was weel written on his breast-bane Childe Branton was the father’s name.
  85. It was weel written on his right hand He was the heir o his daddie’s land.