Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
141. Jamie Telfer in the Fair Dodhead
 
 
I

IT fell about the Martinmas tyde,
  When our Border steeds get corn and hay,
The Captain of Bewcastle bound him to ryde,
  And he ’s ower to Tividale to drive a prey.
 
II

The first ae guide that they met wi’,
        5
  It was high up in Hardhaughswire;
The second guide that they met wi’,
  It was laigh down in Borthwick water.
 
III

‘What tidings, what tidings, my trusty guide?’—
  ‘Nae tidings, nae tidings, I hae to thee;        10
But gin ye’ll gae to the fair Dodhead,
  Mony a cow’s cauf I’ll let thee see.’
 
IV

And when they cam to the fair Dodhead,
  Right hastily they clam the peel;
They loosed the kye out, ane and a’,        15
  And ranshackled the house right weel.
 
V

Now Jamie Telfer’s heart was sair,
  The tear aye rowing in his ee;
He pled wi’ the Captain to hae his gear,
  Or else revengèd he wad be.        20
 
VI

The Captain turned him round and leugh;
  Said—‘Man, there ’s naething in thy house,
But ae auld sword without a sheath,
  That hardly now would fell a mouse.’
 
VII

The sun wasna up, but the moon was down,
        25
  It was the gryming of a new-fa’n snaw,
Jamie Telfer has run ten myles a-foot,
  Between the Dodhead and the Stobs’s Ha’.
 
VIII

And when he cam to the fair tower-yate,
  He shouted loud, and cried weel hie,        30
Till out bespak auld Gibby Elliot—
  ‘Whae ’s this that brings the fraye to me?’—
 
IX

‘It’s I, Jamie Telfer in the fair Dodhead,
  And a harried man I think I be!
There ’s naething left at the fair Dodhead,        35
  But a waefu’ wife and bairnies three.’
 
X

‘Gae seek your succour at Branksome Ha’,
  For succour ye’se get nane frae me!
Gae seek your succour where ye paid black-mail,
  For, man, ye ne’er paid money to me.’—        40
 
XI

Jamie has turned him round about,
  I wat the tear blinded his ee—
‘I’ll ne’er pay mail to Elliot again,
  And the fair Dodhead I’ll never see.
 
XII

‘My hounds may a’ rin masterless,
        45
  My hawks may fly frae tree to tree,
My lord may grip my vassal lands,
  For there again maun I never be!’—
 
XIII

He has turn’d him to the Tiviot-side,
  E’en as fast as he could drie,        50
Till he cam to the Coultart Cleugh,
  And there he shouted baith loud and hie.
 
XIV

Then up bespak him auld Jock Grieve,
  ‘Whae ’s this that brings the fraye to me?’—
‘It ’s I, Jamie Telfer in the fair Dodhead,        55
  A harried man I trow I be.
 
XV

‘There ’s naething left in the fair Dodhead,
  But a greeting wife and bairnies three,
And sax poor ca’s stand in the sta’,
  A’ routing loud for their minnie.’—        60
 
XVI

‘Alack a wae!’ quo’ auld Jock Grieve,
  ‘Alack! my heart is sair for thee!
For I was married on the elder sister,
  And you on the youngest of a’ the three.’
 
XVII

Then he has ta’en out a bonny black,
        65
  Was right weel fed with corn and hay,
And he ’s set Jamie Telfer on his back,
  To the Catslockhill to tak the fraye.
 
XVIII

And whan he cam to the Catslockhill,
  He shouted loud, and cried weel hie,        70
Till out and spak him William’s Wat,
  ‘O whae ’s this brings the fraye to me?’—
 
XIX

‘It ’s I, Jamie Telfer in the fair Dodhead,
  A harried man I think I be!
The Captain of Bewcastle has driven my gear;        75
  For God’s sake rise, and succour me!’—
 
XX

‘Alas for wae!’ quoth William’s Wat,
  ‘Alack, for thee my heart is sair!
I never cam by the fair Dodhead,
  That ever I fand thy basket bare.’        80
 
XXI

He ’s set his twa sons on coal-black steeds,
  Himsell upon a freckled gray,
And they are on wi’ Jamie Telfer,
  To Branksome Ha’ to tak the fraye.
 
XXII

And when they cam to Branksome Ha’,
        85
  They shouted a’ baith loud and hie,
Till up and spak him auld Buccleuch,
  Said, ‘Whae ’s this brings the fraye to me?’—
 
XXIII

‘It ’s I, Jamie Telfer in the fair Dodhead,
  And a harried man I think I be!        90
There ’s nought left in the fair Dodhead,
  But a greeting wife and bairnies three.’—
 
XXIV

‘Alack for wae!’ quoth the gude auld lord,
  ‘And ever my heart is wae for thee!
But fye gar cry on Willie, my son,        95
  And see that he come to me speedilie!
 
XXV

‘Gar warn the water, braid and wide,
  Gar warn it sune and hastilie!
They that winna ride for Telfer’s kye,
  Let them never look in the face o’ me!        100
 
XXVI

‘Warn Wat o’ Harden, and his sons,
  Wi’ them will Borthwick Water ride;
Warn Gaudilands, and Allanhaugh,
  And Gilmanscleugh, and Commonside.
 
XXVII

‘Ride by the gate at Priesthaughswire,
        105
  And warn the Currors o’ the Lee;
As ye cum down the Hermitage Slack,
  Warn doughty Willie o’ Gorrinberry.’
 
XXVIII

The Scotts they rade, the Scotts they ran,
  Sae starkly and sae steadilie!        110
And aye the ower-word o’ the thrang
  Was—‘Rise for Branksome readilie!’
 
XXIX

The gear was driven the Frostylee up,
  Frae the Frostylee unto the plain,
Whan Willie has look’d his men before,        115
  And saw the kye right fast drivand.
 
XXX

‘Whae drives thir kye?’ ’gan Willie say,
  ‘To make an outspeckle o’ me?’—
‘It ’s I, the Captain o’ Bewcastle, Willie;
  I winna layne my name for thee.’—        120
 
XXXI

‘O will ye let Telfer’s kye gae back?
  Or will ye do aught for regard o’ me?
Or, by the faith of my body,’ quo’ Willie Scott,
  ‘I’se ware my dame’s cauf skin on thee!’—
 
XXXII

‘I winna let the kye gae back,
        125
  Neither for thy love, nor yet thy fear;
But I will drive Jamie Telfer’s kye,
  In spite of every Scott that ’s here.’—
 
XXXIII

‘Set on them, lads!’ quo’ Willie than;
  ‘Fye, lads, set on them cruellie!        130
For ere they win to the Ritterford,
  Mony a toom saddle there sall be!’
 
XXXIV

Then till ’t they gaed wi’ heart and hand,
  The blows fell thick as bickering hail;
And mony a horse ran masterless,        135
  And mony a comely cheek was pale.
 
XXXV

But Willie was stricken ower the head,
  And thro’ the knapscap the sword has gane;
And Harden grat for very rage,
  Whan Willie on the grund lay slane.        140
 
XXXVI

But he ’s ta’en aff his gude steel cap,
  And thrice he ’s waved it in the air—
The Dinlay snaw was ne’er mair white
  Nor the lyart locks of Harden’s hair.
 
XXXVII

‘Revenge! revenge!’ auld Wat ’gan cry;
        145
  ‘Fye, lads, lay on them cruellie!
We’ll ne’er see Tiviot-side again,
  Or Willie’s death revenged sall be.’
 
XXXVIII

O mony a horse ran masterless,
  The splinter’d lances flew on hie;        150
But or they wan to the Kershope ford,
  The Scotts had gotten the victory.
 
XXXIX

John o’ Brigham there was slane,
  And John o’ Barlow, as I heard say;
And thirty mae o’ the Captain’s men        155
  Lay bleeding on the grund that day.
 
XL

The Captain was run through the thick of the thigh,
  And broken was his right leg-bane;
If he had lived this hundred years,
  He had never been loved by woman again.        160
 
XLI

‘Hae back the kye!’ the Captain said;
  ‘Dear kye, I trow, to some they be!
For gin I suld live a hundred years,
  There will ne’er fair lady smile on me.’
 
XLII

Then word is gane to the Captain’s bride,
        165
  Even in the bower where that she lay,
That her lord was prisoner in enemy’s land,
  Since into Tividale he had led the way.
 
XLIII

‘I wad lourd have had a winding-sheet,
  And helped to put it ower his head,        170
Ere he had been disgraced by the Border Scot,
  Whan he ower Liddel his men did lead!’
 
XLIV

There was a wild gallant amang us a’,
  His name was Watty wi’ the Wudspurs,
Cried—‘On for his house in Stanegirthside,        175
  If ony man will ride with us!’
 
XLV

When they cam to the Stanegirthside,
  They dang wi’ trees, and burst the door;
They loosed out a’ the Captain’s kye,
  And set them forth our lads before.        180
 
XLVI

There was an auld wyfe ayont the fire,
  A wee bit o’ the Captain’s kin—
‘Whae dar loose out the Captain’s kye
  Or answer to him and his men?’—
 
XLVII

‘It ’s I, Watty Wudspurs, loose the kye,
        185
  I winna layne my name frae thee!
And I will loose out the Captain’s kye,
  In scorn of a’ his men and he.’
 
XLVIII

Whan they cam to the fair Dodhead,
  They were a wellcum sight to see!        190
For instead of his ain ten milk kye,
  Jamie Telfer has gotten thirty and three.
 
XLIX

And he has paid the rescue shot,
  Baith wi’ gowd and white monie;
And at the burial o’ Willie Scott,        195
  I wat was mony a weeping e’e.
 
GLOSS:  laigh] low.  peel] stronghold, keep.  rowing] rolling.  gryming] sprinkling.  fraye] fright, alarm.  ca’s] calves.  minnie] mother.  warn the water] raise the cry a long the waterside.  outspeckle] laughing-stock.  layne] lie, falsen.  ware, &c.] spend, use my mother’s calf-skin whip.  toom] empty.  till ’t] to it.  knapscap] headpiece.  grat] wept.  lyart] grizzled.  lourd] liefer, rather.  wudspurs] hotspur, or madspur.
 

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