Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
80. The Heir of Linne

THE BONNY heir, and the well-faur’d heir,
  The weary heir o’ Linne—
Yonder he stands at his father’s yetts,
  And naebody bids him in.

‘O see for he gangs, and see for he stands,
  The unthrifty heir o’ Linne!
O see for he stands on the cauld causey,
  And nane bids him come in!’

His father and mother were dead him fro’,
  And so was the head o’ his kin;        10
To the cards and dice that he did run,
  Did neither cease nor blin.

To drink the wine that was so clear
  With all he would mak’ merrye;
And then bespake him John o’ the Scales,        15
  To the heir of Linne said he:

‘How doest thou, thou Lord of Linne
  Doest want or gold or fee?
Wilt thou not sell thy lands so broad
  To such a good fellow as me?’        20

He told the gold upon the board,
  Wanted never a bare pennye:
‘The gold is thine, the land is mine,
  The heir of Linne I will be.’

‘Here’s gold enow,’ saith the heir of Linne,
  ‘For me and my companye.’
He drank the wine that was so clear,
  And with all he made merrye.

Within three quarters of a year
  His gold it waxèd thin;        30
His merry men were from him gone,
  Bade him, ‘To the de’il ye’se gang!’

‘Now well-a-day!’ said the heir of Linne,
  ‘I have left not one pennye.
God be with my father!’ he said,        35
  ‘On his land he lived merrilye.’

His nourice at her window look’d,
  Beholding dale and down,
And she beheld this distress’d young man
  Come walking to the town.        40

‘O see for he gangs, and see for he stands,
  The weary heir o’ Linne!
O see for he stands on the cauld causey,
  And nane bids him come in!’—

‘Sing owre again that sang, nourice,
  The sang ye sung just now.’—
‘I never sung a sang i’ my life
  But I would sing owre to you.

‘Come here, come here, Willy,’ she said,
  ‘And rest yoursel’ wi’ me;        50
I hae seen you in better days,
  And in jovial companye.’—

‘Gie me a sheave o’ your bread, nourice,
  And a bottle o’ your wine,
And I will pay it you owre again        55
  When I am Lord of Linne.’—

‘Ye’se get a sheave o’ my bread, Willy,
  And a bottle o’ my wine;
But ye’ll pay me when the seas gang dry,
  For ye’ll ne’er be Lord o’ Linne.’        60

Then he turn’d him right and round about,
  As will a woman’s son,
And aff he set and bent his way
  And cam’ to the house o’ Linne.

But when he cam’ to that castle,
  They were set down to dine;
A score of nobles there he saw,
  Sat drinking at their wine.

Then some bade gie him beef and fish,
  And some but bane and fin,        70
And some bade gie him naething at a’,
  But let the palmer gang.

Then out it speaks him John o’ Scales,
  A saucy word spak’ he:
‘Put round the cup, give the beggar a sup,        75
  Let him fare on his way.’

Then out it speaks Sir Ned Magnew,
  Ane o’ young Willy’s kin:
‘This youth was ance a sprightly boy
  As ever lived in Linne.’        80

He turn’d him right and round about,
  As will a woman’s son,
Then minded him on a little wee key
  That his mother left to him.

His mother left him this little wee key
  A little before she deed;
And bade him keep this little wee key
  Till he was in maist need.

Then forth he went, these nobles left
  All drinking in the room;        90
Wi’ walking rod intill his hand
  He walk’d the castle roun’:

Till that he found a little door,
  And therein slipp’d the key;
And there he found three chests in fere        95
  Of the red and the white monie.

Back then through the nobles a’
  He went and did not blin,
Until he cam’ where John o’ the Scales
  Was seated [at the wine].        100

Then out and spake it John o’ Scales,
  He spake wi’ mock and jeer:
‘I’d gie a seat to the Lord o’ Linne
  If sae be that he were here.

‘When the lands o’ Linne a-selling were
  A’ men said they were free;
I will sell them twenty pound better cheap
  Nor ever I bought of thee.’—

‘I tak’ ye to witness, nobles a’!
  —He cast him a God’s pennye—        110
‘I will buy them twenty pound better cheap
  Nor ever he bought of me.’

He’s done him to the gaming-table,
  For it stood fair and clean;
And there he’s tould as much rich gold        115
  As free’d the lands o’ Linne.

He told the gold there over the board,
  Wanted never a broad pennye;
‘The gold is thine, the land is mine,
  Lord o’ Linne again I’ll be.’        120

‘Well-a-day!’ said John o’ the Scales’ wife,
  ‘Well-a-day, and woe is me!
Yesterday I was the Lady o’ Linne,
  And now I’m a naebodye!’

But ‘Fare thee well,’ said the heir of Linne,
  ‘Now John o’ the Scales!’ said he:
‘A curse light on me if ever again
  My lands be in jeopardye!’
GLOSS:  well-faur’d] well-favoured.  yetts] gates.  causey] causeway, pavement.  blin] stint, check.  sheave] slice.  in fere] together.  God’s pennye] earnest or luck-penny.


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