’Twas when the moon in an autumn night
Threw shadows throughout the wood,
She heard some sounds; and with footsteps light,
Where no one could see, she stood.
She listened, and with an anxious ear,
To know who these there might be:
A youth was there with his mistress dear,
And the youth was Robin-a-Ree.
Silent and gloomy she wandered home,
And went to her bed apart,
No softening tear to her eye would come,
No sigh from her aching heart.
The balmy milk of a woman’s breast
Waxed curdled green and sour,
And Mary Lee was by all confessed
As changed from that fatal hour.
At times, when the moon gave little light,
She sat by the Solway side,
And thought, as she sat, of that happy night
When he swore by the Solway tide.
Far sweeter to her the roaring wind,
Than when it was solemn and low,
For the waters he swore by seemed to her mind
As resenting that broken vow.
Still darker and darker the cloud on her brow,
Yet paler her tearless cheek;
But no one her sorrow would ever know,
Nor word would she ever speak.
’Tis the story old, old, so often told,
To be told while time shall be,
Fair Catherine, the heiress of Ravenswold,
Is the wife of Robin-a-Ree.
It was on an angry winter night,
When Mary sat in her gloom,
There came to her door an ill-doing wight—–
Kildearn’s drunken groom:
He placed in her hand a gold-filled purse,
And spoke of love’s sacred flame;
And well she knew the unholy source
Whence the man and the money came.
“Awa and awa, thou crawling worm,
On whom thy horse will tread
Awa and awa, and tell Kildearn,
I accept his noble meed.”
She placed the purse in a cabinet old,
And locked it right carefullie,
“Lie there, lie there, thou ill-won gold.
Till needed thou shalt be.”
The years roll on, nor Robin-a-Ree
Can their onward progress stay,
The years roll on, and children three,
Have blessed his bridal day.
And Mary Lee is there to see,
As she sat in her lonely home,
Two of Kildearn’s children three,
Borne away to Kildearn’s tomb.
But none of these years work change on her:
As she seeks the lone greenwood,
She sees a man lying bleeding there,
While his horse beside him stood.
He called for help, where help there was none,
Tho’ Mary was standing near,
Who spoke in a solemn eldritch tone,
Words strange to the human ear:
“The hairy adder I dinna like,
When I the fell creature meet,
Neither like I the moon-baying tyke.
Nor the Meg-o’-moniefeet.
I canna thole the yellow-wamed ask,
Sae fearful a thing to see;
But mair than a’, and ower them a’,
I hate fause Robin-a-Ree.”