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.
 
81. Fair Mary of Wallington
 
 
I

WHEN we were silly sisters seven,
  —Sisters were so fair,—
Five of us were brave knights’ wives,
  And died in childbed lair.
 
II

Up then spake Fair Mary,
        5
  Marry wou’d she nane:
If ever she came in man’s bed,
  The same gate wad she gang.
 
III

‘Make no vows, Fair Mary,
  For fear they broken be;        10
Here’s been the Knight of Wallington,
  Asking good will of thee.’—
 
IV

‘If here’s been the knight, mother,
  Asking good will of me,
Within three quarters of a year        15
  You may come bury me.’
 
V

But when she came to Wallington,
  And into Wallington hall,
There she spy’d her [lord’s] mother,
  Walking about the wall.        20
 
VI

‘You’re welcome, welcome, daughter dear,
  To thy castle and thy bowers.’—
‘I thank you kindly, mother,
  I hope they’ll soon be yours.’
 
VII

She had not been in Wallington
        25
  Three quarters and a day,
Till upon the ground she could not walk,
  She was a weary prey.
 
VIII

She had not been in Wallington
  Three quarters and a night,        30
Till on the ground she could not walk,
  She was a weary wight.
 
IX

‘Is there ne’er a boy into this town,
  Who’ll win him hose and shoon,
That will run to fair Paddington,        35
  And bid my mother come?’
 
X

Up then spake a little boy,
  Near unto her a-kin:
‘Full oft I have your errands gone,
  But now I will it run.’        40
 
XI

Then she call’d her waiting-maid
  To bring up bread and wine:
‘Eat and drink, my bonny boy,
  Thou’ll ne’er eat more of mine.
 
XII

‘Give my respects to my mother,
        45
  She sits in her chair of stone,
And ask her how she likes the news,
  Of seven to have but one?
 
XIII

‘Give my respects to my mother,
  As she sits in her chair of oak,        50
And bid her come to my sickening,
  Or my merry lake-wake.
 
XIV

‘Give my love to my brothers
  William, Ralph, and John,
And to my sister Betty fair,        55
  And to her white as bone:
 
XV

‘And bid her keep her maidenhead,
  Be sure [to keep it lang:]
For if e’er she come into man’s bed,
  The same gate will she gang.’        60
 
XVI

Away this little boy is gone,
  As fast as he could run;
When he came where brigs were broke,
  He laid him down and swum.
 
XVII

When he saw the lady, he said,
        65
  ‘Lord may your keeper be!’—
‘What news, my pretty boy,
  Hast thou to tell to me?’—
 
XVIII

‘Your daughter Mary orders me,
  As you sit in a chair of stone,        70
To ask you how you like the news,
  Of seven to have but one?
 
XIX

‘Your daughter gives you her commands,
  As you sit in a chair of oak,
And bids you come to her sickening,        75
  Or her merry lake-wake.
 
XX

‘She gives command to her brothers
  William, Ralph, and John,
[And] to her sister Betty fair,
  And to her white as bone.        80
 
XXI

‘She bids her keep her maidenhead,
  Be sure [to keep it lang:]
For if e’er she come into man’s bed,
  The same gate will she gang.’
 
XXII

She kickt the table with her foot,
        85
  She kickt it with her knee,
The silver plate into the fire,
  So far she made it flee.
 
XXIII

Then she call’d her waiting-maid
  To bring her riding-hood,        90
So did she on her stable-groom
  To bring her riding-steed.
 
XXIV

‘Go saddle to me the black, the black,
  Go saddle to me the brown,
Go saddle to me the swiftest steed        95
  That e’er rid to Wallington!’
 
XXV

When they came to Wallington,
  And into Wallington hall,
There she spy’d her son Fenwick,
  Walking about the wall.        100
 
XXVI

‘God save you, my dearest son,
  Lord may your keeper be!
Tell me where is my daughter fair,
  That used to walk with thee?’
 
XXVII

He turn’d his head him round about,
        105
  The tears did fill his e’e:
‘’Tis a month,’ he said, ‘since Fair Mary
  Took her chambers from me.’
 
XXVIII

She went on [to her daughter’s chamber];
  And there were in the hall        110
Four and twenty ladies,
  Letting the tears down fall.
 
XXIX

Her daughter had a scope into
  Her cheek and eke her chin,
All to keep in her dear life        115
  Till her dear mother came.
 
XXX

‘Come take the rings off my fingers,
  The skin it is so white,
And give them to my mother dear,
  For she was all the wyte.        120
 
XXXI

‘Come take the rings off my fingers,
  The veins they are so red,
Give them to Sir William Fenwick,
  I’m sure his heart will bleed.’
 
XXXII

Then she took out a razor
        125
  That was both sharp and fine,
And out of her left side she has taken
  The heir of Wallington.
 
XXXIII

There is a race in Wallington,
  And that I rue full sare;        130
Tho’ the cradle it be full spread up,
  The bride-bed is left bare.
 
GLOSS:  lair] lying-in.  gate] way.  lake-wake] lyke-wake, corpse-watching.  scope] bandage, gag.  wyte] blame, cause of trouble.
 

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