Fair Eleanor and the brown girl


Verse 1

Come riddle me, mother,' Lord Thomas he said,
'Come riddle me all as one,
Whether I shall have fair Eleanor,
Or bring the brown girl home?'

Verse 2

'The brown girl she has got riches and land,
Fair Eleanor she has got none,
And this I think to my blessing,
Bring me the brown girl home.'

Verse 3

Lord Thomas he rode to fair Eleanor's bower,
And boldly the bell did ring;
There was none so willing as fair Eleanor
To let Lord Thomas in.

Verse 4

'What news? What news? Lord Thomas!' she said,
'What news hast thou brought to me?'
'I have come to invite thee to my wedding,
And that is bad news for thee.'

Verse 5

Come riddle me mother; come riddle me,
Come, riddle me all as one;
Whether better I go to Lord Thomas's wedding,
Or better I stay at home?'

Verse 6

'There are many of your friends, dear daughter,
And many of your foes;
And this I think to my blessing,
To Lord Thomas's wedding don't go.'

Verse 7

'If there be many of my friends, mother,
And many of my foes,
If it ends my life, or spares my breath,
To Lord Thomas's wedding I'll go.'

Verse 8

Then she dressed herself all in milk white,
Her merry men all in green,
And every town that she went through,
They took her to be some queen.

Verse 9

Then she rode till she came to Lord Thomas's bower,
And boldly the bell did ring;
There was none so willing as Lord Thomas,
To let fair Eleanor in.

Verse 10

He caught hold of her lily white hand,
And led her to the hall,
He set her above his own bride,
And above all the gay ladies all.

Verse 11

'Is this your fair bride, Lord Thomas?' she said,
'I'm sure she looks wondrous brown,
When thou could'st have had me. As fair a lady,
As ever trod foot to the ground.'

Verse 12

'Despise her not,' Lord Thomas he said,
'Despise her not unto me,
For better I love thy little finger,
Than I do her whole body.'

Verse 13

The brown girl had a little penknife,
That cut both keen and sharp,
And between fair Eleanor's long and short rib,
She plunged it into her heart.

Verse 14

'O what is the matter?' Lord Thomas he said,
'I think you look wondrous wan;
When once thou had'st as fresh a colour,
As ever the sun shone on.'

Verse 15

'O art thou blind, Lord Thomas?' she said,
'Or can'st thou not very well see?
The brown girl has pricked my tender heart,
And the blood trickles down my knee.'

Verse 16

Then off he cut his own bride's head,
And dashed it against the wall;
He leaned his sword upon the ground,
And on the point did fall.

Verse 17

'O dig me a grave,' Lord Thomas he cried,
'Both long, and wide, and deep;
And lay fair Eleanor at my right side,
And the brown girl at my feet.'

Verse 18

Lord Tomas was buried beneath the church wall,
Fair Eleanor in the Choir;
Out of fair Eleanor there grew a red rose,
And out of Lord Thomas a briar.

Verse 19

They grew and they grew to the Chancel top,
Till they could not grow any higher,
And there they knit in a true lover's knot,
For all the people to admire.