Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
64. The Cruel Brother
 
 
I

THERE were three ladies play’d at the ba’,
  With a hey ho! and a lily gay!
By came a knight and he woo’d them a’
  As the primrose spreads so sweetly.
    Sing Annet, and Marret, and fair Maisrie,        5
    As the dew hangs i’ the wood, gay ladie!
 
II

The first ane she was clad in red:
‘O lady fair, Will you be my bride?’
 
III

The midmost ane was clad in green:
‘O lady fair, will you be my queen?’        10
 
IV

The youngest o’ them was clad in white:
‘O lady fair, be my heart’s delight!’—
 
V

‘Sir knight ere ye my favour win,
Ye maun get consent frae a’ my kin.
 
VI

‘Ye maun go ask my father, the King:
        15
Sae maun ye ask my mither, the Queen.
 
VII

‘Sae maun ye ask my sister Anne,
And dinna forget my brother John.’
 
VIII

He has sought her from her father, the King
And sae did he her mither, the Queen.        20
 
IX

He has sought her from her sister Anne:
But he has forgot her brither John.
 
X

Now when the wedding day was come,
The knight would take his bonny bride home.
 
XI

And many a lord and many a knight
        25
Came to behold that ladie bright.
 
XII

And there was nae man that did her see
But wish’d himself bridegroom to be.
 
XIII

Her father led her down the stair,
And her mither dear she kiss’d her there.        30
 
XIV

Her sister Anne led her thro’ the close,
And her brother John set her on her horse.
 
XV

She lean’d her o’er the saddle-bow,
To give him a kiss ere she did go.
 
XVI

He has ta’en a knife, baith lang and sharp,
        35
And stabb’d that bonny bride to the heart.
 
XVII

She hadna ridden half thro’ the town,
Until her heart’s blude stain’d her gown.
 
XVIII

‘Ride saftly up,’ said the best young man;
‘I think our bride come hooly on.’        40
 
XIX

‘Ride up, ride up,’ said the second man;
‘I think our bride looks pale and wan.’
 
XX

Up then comes the gay bridegroom,
And straight unto the bride he came.
 
XXI

‘Does your side-saddle sit awry?
        45
Or does your steed [go heavily]?’—
 
XXII

‘O lead me gently over yon stile,
For there would I sit and bleed awhile.
 
XXIII

‘O lead me gently up yon hill,
For there would I sit and make my will.’—        50
 
XXIV

‘O what will you leave to your father dear?’—
‘The milk-white steed that brought me here.’—
 
XXV

‘What will you leave to your mother dear?’—
‘My wedding shift that I do wear.’—
 
XXVI

‘What will you leave to your sister Anne?’—
        55
‘My silken snood and my golden fan.’—
 
XXVII

‘What will you leave to your brother John?’—
  With a hay ho! and a lily gay!
‘The gallows-tree to hang him on.’
  And the primrose spreads so sweetly.        60
    Sing Annet, and Marret, and fair Maisrie,
    And the dew hangs i’ the wood, gay ladie!
 
GLOSS:  hooly] slowly, softly.
 

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