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.
 
140. Archie of Cawfield
 
 
I

AS I was a-walking mine alane,
  It was by the dawning of the day,
I heard twa brithers make their mane,
  And I listen’d weel what they did say.
 
II

The youngest to the eldest said:
        5
  ‘Blythe and merrie how can we be?
There were three brithren of us born,
  And ane of us is condemn’d to die.’—
 
III

‘An ye wad be merrie, an ye wad be sad,
  What the better wad billy Archie be?        10
Unless I had thirty men to mysell,
  And a’ to ride in my companie.
 
IV

‘Ten to hald the horses’ heads,
  And other ten the watch to be,
And ten to break up the strong prison        15
  Where billy Archie he does lie.
 
V

‘Had I but thirty well-wight men,
  Thirty o’ the best in Christiantie,
I wad go on to fair Dumfries,
  I wad loose my brother and set him free.’        20
 
VI

Then up and spak him mettled John Ha’
  (For leugh o’ Liddesdale crackit he):
‘An I had eleven men to mysell,
  It ’s aye the twalt man I wad be.’—
 
VII

Then up bespak him coarse Ca’field,
        25
  (I wot and little gude worth was he):
‘Thirty men is few anew,
  And a’ to ride in our companie.’
 
VIII

There was horsing, horsing in haste,
  And cracking of whips out owre the lee;        30
Until they cam to the Murraywhat,
  And they lighted there right speedilie.
 
IX

‘A smith! a smith!’ Dickie he cries,
  ‘A smith, a smith, right speedilie,
To turn back the caukers of our horses’ shoon!        35
  For it ’s unkensome we wad be.
 
X

‘There lives a smith on the water-side,
  Will shoe my little black mare for me;
And I’ve a crown in my pockét,
  And every groat of it I wad gie.’—        40
 
XI

‘The night is mirk, and it ’s very mirk,
  And by candle-light I canna weel see;
The night is mirk, and it ’s very pit mirk,
  And there will never a nail ca’ right for me.’—
 
XII

‘Shame fa’ you and your trade baith,
        45
  Canna beet a good fellow by your mystery;
But leeze me on thee, my little black mare,
  Thou ’s worth thy weight in gold to me.’
 
XIII

There was horsing, horsing in haste,
  And cracking of whips out owre the lee,        50
Until they came to the Bonshaw wood,
  Where they held their council privately.
 
XIV

Some says, ‘We’ll gang the Annan road;
  It is the better road,’ said they;
But up bespake then Dicky Ha’,        55
  The wisest of that company:
 
XV

Says, ‘Annan road ’s a public road,
  It ’s no the road that makes for me;
But we will through at the Hoddam ford,
  It is the better road,’ quo’ he.        60
 
XVI

There was horsing, horsing in haste,
  And crackin’ of whips out owre the lee;
Until they cam to Dumfries port,
  And they lighted there right speedilie.
 
XVII

‘There ’s five of us will hold the horse,
        65
  And other five will watchmen be:
But wha ’s the man among ye a’,
  Will gae to the tolbooth door wi’ me?’—
 
XVIII

O up then spak him mettled John Ha’,
  (For leugh o’ Liddesdale crackit he):        70
‘If it should cost my life this very night,
  I’ll gae to the tolbooth door wi’ thee.’—
 
XIX

‘Be of gude cheir, now, Archie, lad!
  Be of gude cheir, now, dear billie!
Work thou within, and we without,        75
  And the morn thou’se dine at Ca’field wi’ me!’
 
XX

O Jockie Ha’ stepp’d to the door,
  And he bended low back on his knee,
And he made the bolts that the door hang on,
  Loup frae the wa’ right wantonlie.        80
 
XXI

He took the prisoner on his back,
  And down the tolbooth stair cam he;
The black mare stood ready at the door,
  I wot a foot ne’er stirrèd she.
 
XXII

They laid the links out owre her neck,
        85
  And that was her gold twist to be;
And they cam doun thro’ Dumfries toun,
  And wow but they cam speedilie.
 
XXIII

The live-lang night these twelve men rade,
  And aye till they were right wearie,        90
Until they cam to the Murraywhat,
  And they lighted there right speedilie.
 
XXIV

‘A smith! a smith!’ then Dickie he cries,
  ‘A smith, a smith, right speedilie,
To file the irons frae my dear brither!        95
  For forward, forward we wad be.’—
 
XXV

They hadna filed a shackle of iron,
  A shackle of iron but barely three,
When out and spak young Simon brave:
  ‘O dinna you see what I do see?        100
 
XXVI

‘Lo! yonder comes Lieutenant Gordon,
  Wi’ a hundred men in his companie;
This night will be our lyke-wake night,
  The morn the day we a’ maun die.’—
 
XXVII

O there was mounting, mounting in haste,
        105
  And cracking of whips out owre the lee;
Until they cam to Annan water,
  And it was flowing like the sea.
 
XXVIII

‘My mare is young and very skeigh,
  And in o’ the weil she will drown me!’—        110
‘But ye’ll take mine, and I’ll take thine,
  And sune through the water we sall be.’
 
XXIX

Then up and spak him coarse Ca’field
  (I wot and little gude worth was he),
‘We had better lose ane than lose a’ the lave;        115
  We’ll lose the prisoner, we’ll gae free.’—
 
XXX

‘Shame fa’ you and your lands baith!
  Wad ye e’en your lands to your born billy?
But hey! bear up, my bonnie black mare,
  And yet thro’ the water we sall be.’—        120
 
XXXI

Now they did swim that wan water,
  And wow but they swam bonnilie!
Until they cam to the other side,
  And they wrang their cloathes right drunkily.
 
XXXII

‘Come thro’, come thro’, Lieutenant Gordon!
        125
  Come thro’ and drink some wine wi’ me!
For there is an ale-house here hard by,
  And it shall not cost thee ae penny.’—
 
XXXIII

‘Throw me my irons,’ quo’ Lieutenant Gordon;
  ‘I wot they cost me dear eneugh.’—        130
‘The shame a ma,’ quo’ mettled John Ha’,
  ‘They’ll be gude shackles to my pleugh.’—
 
XXXIV

‘Come thro’, come thro’, Lieutenant Gordon!
  Come thro’ and drink some wine wi’ me!
Yestreen I was your prisoner,        135
  But now this morning am I free.’
 
GLOSS:  billy] brother, comrade.  well-wight] stout, sturdy.  For leugh, etc.] He boasted to be of lower Liddesdale.  caukers] calkins.  unkensome] unknown.  beet] abet, aid.  mystery] craft.  leeze me on] commend me to.  port] gate.  tolbooth] gaol.  skeigh] shy.  weil] eddy.  lave] rest.  e’en] even, count as equal.  shame a ma] devil a bit.
 

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