Ballad: Jamie Telfer
(Child, vol. vi. Early Edition.)
It fell about the Martinmas tyde,
When our Border steeds get corn and hay
The captain of Bewcastle hath bound him to ryde,
And he’s ower to Tividale to drive a prey.
The first ae guide that they met wi’,
It was high up Hardhaughswire;
The second guide that we met wi’,
It was laigh down in Borthwick water.
“What tidings, what tidings, my trusty guide?”
“Nae tidings, nae tidings, I hae to thee;
But, gin ye’ll gae to the fair Dodhead,
Mony a cow’s cauf I’ll let thee see.”
And whan they cam to the fair Dodhead,
Right hastily they clam the peel;
They loosed the kye out, ane and a’,
And ranshackled the house right weel.
Now Jamie Telfer’s heart was sair,
The tear aye rowing in his e’e;
He pled wi’ the captain to hae his gear,
Or else revenged he wad be.
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 wad fell a mouse!”
The sun was na up, but the moon was down,
It was the gryming o’ a new fa’n snaw,
Jamie Telfer has run three myles a-foot,
Between the Dodhead and the Stobs’s Ha’
And whan he cam to the fair tower yate,
He shouted loud, and cried weel hie,
Till out bespak auld Gibby Elliot—
“Wha’s this that brings the fraye to me?”
“It’s I, Jamie Telfer o’ the fair
And a harried man I think I be!
There’s naething left at the fair Dodhead,
But a waefu’ wife and bairnies three.
“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.”
Jamie has turned him round about,
I wat the tear blinded his e’e—
“I’ll ne’er pay mail to Elliot again,
And the fair Dodhead I’ll never see!
“My hounds may a’ rin masterless,
My hawks may fly frae tree to tree;
My lord may grip my vassal lands,
For there again maun I never be.”
He has turned him to the Tiviot side,
E’en as fast as he could drie,
Till he came to the Coultart Cleugh
And there he shouted baith loud and hie.
Then up bespak him auld Jock Grieve—
“Wha’s this that brings the fray to me?”
“It’s I, Jamie Telfer o’ the fair Dodhead,
A harried man I trow I be.
“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.”
“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.”
Then he has ta’en out a bonny black,
Was right weel fed wi’ corn and hay,
And he’s set Jamie Telfer on his back,
To the Catslockhill to tak’ the fray.