Child's Ballads/10

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Child's Collected Ballads by Francis James Child
The Twa Sisters, no. 10
"The Twa Sisters" is a murder ballad that recounts the tale of a girl drowned by her sister. At least twenty-two English variants exist under several names, including "Minnorie", "Binnorie," and "The Dreadful Wind and Rain". For more information, see Wikipedia: The Twa Sisters.

The Twa Sisters[edit]

THERE were two sisters, they went playing,
      Refrain: With a hie downe downe a downe-a
To see their father’s ships come sayling in.
      Refrain: With a hy downe downe a downe-a
And when they came unto the sea-brym,
The elder did push the younger in.
‘O sister, O sister, take me by the gowne,
And drawe me up upon the dry ground.’
‘O sister, O sister, that may not bee,
Till salt and oatmeale grow both of a tree.’
Somtymes she sanke, somtymes she swam,
Until she came unto the mill-dam.
The miller runne hastily downe the cliffe,
And up he betook her withouten her life.
What did he doe with her brest-bone?
He made him a violl to play thereupon.
What did he doe with her fingers so small?
He made him peggs to his violl withall.
What did he doe with her nose-ridge?
Unto his violl he made him a bridge.
What did he doe with her veynes so blew?
He made him strings to his violl thereto.
What did he doe with her eyes so bright?
Upon his violl he played at first sight.
What did he doe with her tongue so rough?
Unto the violl it spake enough.
What did he doe with her two shinnes?
Unto the violl they danc’d Moll Syms.
Then bespake the treble string,
‘O yonder is my father the king.’
Then bespake the second string,
‘O yonder sitts my mother the queen.’
And then bespake the strings all three,
‘O yonder is my sister that drowned mee.’
‘Now pay the miller for his payne,
And let him bee gone in the divel’s name.’






THERE was twa sisters in a bowr,
      Refrain: Edinburgh, Edinburgh
There was twa sisters in a bowr,
      Refrain: Stirling for ay
There was twa sisters in a bowr,
There came a knight to be their wooer.
      Refrain: Bonny Saint Johnston stands upon Tay
He courted the eldest wi glove an ring,
But he lovd the youngest above a’ thing.
He courted the eldest wi brotch an knife,
But lovd the youngest as his life.
The eldest she was vexed sair,
An much envi’d her sister fair.
Into her bowr she could not rest,
Wi grief an spite she almos brast.
Upon a morning fair an clear,
She cried upon her sister dear:
‘O sister, come to yon sea stran,
An see our father’s ships come to lan.’
She’s taen her by the milk-white han,
An led her down to yon sea stran.
The younges[t] stood upon a stane,
The eldest came an threw her in.
She tooke her by the middle sma,
An dashd her bonny back to the jaw.
‘O sister, sister, tak my han,
An Ise mack you heir to a’ my lan.
‘O sister, sister, tak my middle,
An yes get my goud and my gouden girdle.
‘O sister, sister, save my life,
An I swear Ise never be nae man’s wife.’
‘Foul fa the han that I should tacke,
It twin’d me an my wardles make.
‘Your cherry cheeks an yallow hair
Gars me gae maiden for evermair.’
Sometimes she sank, an sometimes she swam,
Till she came down yon bonny mill-dam.
O out it came the miller’s son,
An saw the fair maid swimmin in.
‘O father, father, draw your dam,
Here’s either a mermaid or a swan.’
The miller quickly drew the dam,
An there he found a drownd woman.
You coudna see her yallow hair
For gold and pearle that were so rare.
You coudna see her middle sma
For gouden girdle that was sae braw.
You coudna see her fingers white,
For gouden rings that was sae gryte.
An by there came a harper fine,
That harped to the king at dine.
        When he did look that lady upon,
He sighd and made a heavy moan.
He’s taen three locks o her yallow hair,
An wi them strung his harp sae fair.
The first tune he did play and sing,
Was, ‘Farewell to my father the king.’
The nextin tune that he playd syne,
Was, ‘Farewell to my mother the queen.’
The lasten tune that he playd then,
Was, ‘Wae to my sister, fair Ellen.’






THERE were two sisters sat in a bour;
      Refrain: Binnorie, O Binnorie
There came a knight to be their wooer.
      Refrain: By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie
He courted the eldest with glove and ring,
But he loed the youngest aboon a’ thing.
He courted the eldest with broach and knife,
But he loed the youngest aboon his life.
The eldest she was vexed sair,
And sore envied her sister fair.
The eldest said to the youngest ane,
‘Will ye go and see our father’s ships come in?’
She’s taen her by the lilly hand,
And led her down to the river strand.
The youngest stude upon a stane,
The eldest came and pushed her in.
She took her by the middle sma,
And dashed her bonnie back to the jaw.
‘O sister, sister, reach your hand,
And ye shall be heir of half my land.’
‘O sister, I’ll not reach my hand,
And I’ll be heir of all your land.
‘Shame fa the hand that I should take,
It’s twin’d me and my world’s make.’
‘O sister, reach me but your glove,
And sweet William shall be your love.’
‘Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove,
And sweet William shall better be my love.
‘Your cherry cheeks and your yellow hair
Garrd me gang maiden evermair.’
Sometimes she sunk, and sometimes she swam,
Until she came to the miller’s dam.
‘O father, father, draw your dam,
There’s either a mermaid or a milk-white swan.’
The miller hasted and drew his dam,
And there he found a drowned woman.
You could not see her yellow hair,
For gowd and pearls that were sae rare.
You could na see her middle sma,
Her gowden girdle was sae bra.
A famous harper passing by,
The sweet pale face he chanced to spy.
And when he looked that ladye on,
He sighed and made a heavy moan.
He made a harp of her breast-bone,
Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.
The strings he framed of her yellow hair,
Whose notes made sad the listening ear.
He brought it to her father’s hall,
And there was the court assembled all.
He laid this harp upon a stone,
And straight it began to play alone.
‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
And yonder sits my mother, the queen.
‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
And by him my William, sweet and true.’
But the last tune that the harp playd then,
Was ‘Woe to my sister, false Helen!’






THERE lived three sisters in a bouer,
      Refrain: Edinbruch, Edinbruch
There lived three sisters in a bouer,
      Refrain: Stirling for aye
There lived three sisters in a bouer,
The youngest was the sweetest flowr.
      Refrain: Bonnie St Johnston stands upon Tay
There cam a knicht to see them a’,
And on the youngest his love did fa.
He brought the eldest ring and glove,
But the youngest was his ain true-love.
He brought the second sheath and knife,
But the youngest was to be his wife.
The eldest sister said to the youngest ane,
‘Will ye go and see our father’s ships come in?’
And as they walked by the linn,
The eldest dang the youngest in.
‘O sister, sister, tak my hand,
And ye’ll be heir to a’ my land.’
‘Foul fa the hand that I wad take,
To twin me o my warld’s make.’
‘O sister, sister, tak my glove,
And yese get Willie, my true-love.’
‘Sister, sister, I’ll na tak your glove,
For I’ll get Willie, your true-love.’
Aye she swittert, and aye she swam,
Till she cam to yon bonnie mill-dam.
The miller’s dochter cam out wi speed,
It was for water, to bake her bread.
‘O father, father, gae slack your dam;
There’s in’t a lady or a milk-white swan.’
* * * * *
They could na see her coal-black eyes
For her yellow locks hang oure her brees.
They could na see her weel-made middle
For her braid gowden girdle.
* * * * *
And by there cam an auld blind fiddler,
And took three tets o her bonnie yellow hair.
* * * * *
The first spring that the bonnie fiddle playd,
‘Hang my cruel sister, Alison,’ it said.






THERE livd twa sisters in a bower,
      Refrain: Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch!
There lived twa sisters in a bower,
      Refrain: Stirling for aye!
The youngest o them O she was a flower!
      Refrain: Bonny Sanct Johnstoune that stands upon Tay!
There cam a squire frae the west,
He loed them baith, but the youngest best.
He gied the eldest a gay gold ring,
But he loed the youngest aboon a’ thing.
‘O sister, sister, will ye go to the sea?
Our father’s ships sail bonnilie.’
The youngest sat down upon a stane;
The eldest shot the youngest in.
‘O sister, sister, lend me your hand,
And you shall hae my gouden fan.
‘O sister, sister, save my life,
And ye shall be the squire’s wife.’
First she sank, and then she swam,
Untill she cam to Tweed mill-dam.
The millar’s daughter was baking bread,
She went for water, as she had need.
‘O father, father, in our mill-dam
There’s either a lady, or a milk-white swan.’
They could nae see her fingers small,
Wi diamond rings they were coverd all.
They could nae see her yellow hair,
Sae mony knots and platts were there.
They could nae see her lilly feet,
Her gowden fringes war sae deep.
Bye there cam a fiddler fair,
And he’s taen three taits o her yellow hair.






THERE was two ladies livd in a bower,
      Refrain: Hey with a gay and a grinding O
The youngest o them was the fairest flower
      Refrain: About a’ the bonny bows o London.
There was two ladies livd in a bower,
An wooer unto the youngest did go.
The oldest one to the youngest did say,
‘Will ye take a walk with me today,
      Refrain: And we’ll view the bonny bows o London.
‘Thou’ll set thy foot whare I set mine,
Thou’ll set thy foot upon this stane.’
‘I’ll set my foot where thou sets thine:’
The old sister dang the youngest in,
      Refrain: At, etc.
‘O sister dear, come tak my hand,
Take my life safe to dry land,’
      Refrain: At, etc.
‘It’s neer by my hand thy hand sall come in,
It’s neer by my hand thy hand sall come in,
      Refrain: At, etc.
‘It’s thy cherry cheeks and thy white briest bane
Gars me set a maid owre lang at hame.’
She clasped her hand[s] about a brume rute,
But her cruel sister she lowsed them out.
Sometimes she sank, and sometimes she swam,
Till she cam to the miller’s dam.
The miller’s bairns has muckle need,
They were bearing in water to bake some breid.
Says, ‘Father, dear father, in our mill-dam,
It’s either a fair maid or a milk-white swan.’
The miller he’s spared nae his hose nor his shoon
Till he brocht this lady till dry land.
I wad he saw na a bit o her feet,
Her silver slippers were made so neat.
I wad he saw na a bit o her skin,
For ribbons there was mony a ane.
He laid her on a brume buss to dry,
To see wha was the first wad pass her by.
Her ain father’s herd was the first man
That by this lady gay did gang.
He’s taen three links of her yellow hair,
And made it a string to his fiddle there.
He’s cut her fingers long and small
To be fiddle-pins that neer might fail.
The very first spring that the fiddle did play,
‘Hang my auld sister,’ I wad it did say.
‘For she drowned me in yonder sea,
God neer let her rest till she shall die,’
At the bonny bows o London.






THERE were three sisters lived in a bouir,
      Refrain: Hech, hey, my Nannie O
And the youngest was the fairest flouir.
      Refrain: And the swan swims bonnie O
‘O sister, sister, gang down to yon sand,
And see your father’s ships coming to dry land.’
O they have gane down to yonder sand,
To see their father’s ships coming to dry land.
‘Gae set your fit on yonder stane,
Till I tye up your silken goun.’
She set her fit on yonder stane,
And the auldest drave the youngest in.
‘O sister, sister, tak me by the hand,
And ye’ll get a’ my father’s land.
‘O sister, sister, tak me by the gluve,
An ye’ll get Willy, my true luve.’
She had a switch into her hand,
And ay she drave her frae the land.
O whiles she sunk, and whiles she swam,
Until she swam to the miller’s dam.
The miller’s daughter gade doun to Tweed,
To carry water to bake her bread.
‘O father, O father, what’s yon in the dam?
It’s either a maid or a milk-white swan.’
They have tane her out till yonder thorn,
And she has lain till Monday morn.
She hadna, hadna twa days lain,
Till by there came a harper fine.
He made a harp o her breast-bane,
That he might play forever thereon.






THERE were three sisters lived in a hall,
      Refrain: Hey with the gay and the grandeur O
And there came a lord to court them all.
      Refrain: At the bonnie bows o London town.
He courted the eldest with a penknife,
And he vowed that he would take her life.
He courted the youngest with a glove,
And he said that he’d be her true love.
‘O sister, O sister, will you go and take a walk,
And see our father’s ships how they float?
‘O lean your foot upon the stone,
And wash your hand in that sea-foam.’
She leaned her foot upon the stone,
But her eldest sister has tumbled her down.
‘O sister, sister, give me your hand,
And I’ll make you lady of all my land.’
‘O I’ll not lend to you my hand,
But I’ll be lady of your land.’
‘O sister, sister, give me your glove,
And I’ll make you lady of my true love.’
‘It’s I’ll not lend to you my glove,
But I’ll be lady of your true love.’
Sometimes she sank, and sometimes she swam,
Until she came to a miller’s dam.
The miller’s daughter was coming out wi speed,
For water for to bake some bread.
‘O father, father, stop the dam,
For it’s either a lady or a milk-white swan.’
He dragged her out unto the shore,
And stripped her of all she wore.
By cam a fiddler, and he was fair,
And he buskit his bow in her bonnie yellow hair.
By cam her father’s harper, and he was fine,
he made a harp o her bonny breast-bone.
When they came to her father’s court,
The harp [and fiddle these words] spoke:
‘O God bless my father the king,
And I wish the same to my mother the queen.
‘My sister Jane she tumbled me in,
. . . . .
* * * * *






THERE war twa sisters lived in a bouer,
      Refrain: Binnorie and Binnorie
There cam a squire to court them baith.
      Refrain: At the bonnie mill-streams o Binnorie
He courted the eldest with Jewels and rings,
But he lovd the youngest the best of all things.
He courted the eldest with a penknife,
He lovd the youngest as dear as his life.
It fell ance upon a day
That these twa sisters hae gane astray.
It was for to meet their father’s ships that had come in.
. . . . .
As they walked up the linn,
The eldest dang the youngest in.
‘O sister, sister, tak my hand,
And ye’ll hae Lud John and aw his land.’
With a silver wand she pushd her in,
. . . . .
‘O sister, sister, tak my glove,
And ye sall hae my ain true love.’
The miller’s dochter cam out wi speed.
It was for a water to bake her bread.
‘O father, father, gae slack your dam;
There’s either a white fish or a swan.’
* * * * *
Bye cam a blind fiddler that way,
And he took three tets o her bonnie yellow hair.
And the first spring that he playd,
It said, ‘It was my sister threw me in.’






THERE were two ladies playing ball,
      Refrain: Hey, ho, my Nannie O
A great lord came to court them all.
      Refrain: The swan she does swim bonnie O
He gave to the first a golden ring,
He gave to the second a far better thing.
* * * * *
He made a harp of her breast-bone
. . . . .
He set it down upon a stone,
And it began to play its lone.






‘O SISTER, sister, gie me your hand,
      Refrain: Binnorie and Binnorie
And I’ll give the half of my fallow-land,
      Refrain: By the bonnie mill-dams of Binnorie.’
* * * * *
The first time the bonnie fiddle played,
‘Hang my sister, Alison,’ it said,
      Refrain: ‘At the bonnie mill-dams of Binnorie.’





O WAS it eke a pheasant cock,
Or eke a pheasant hen,
Or was it the bodye of a fair ladye,
Come swimming down the stream?
O it was not a pheasant cock,
Nor eke a pheasant hen,
But it was the bodye of a fair ladye
Came swimming down the stream.
* * * * *
And what did he do with her fair bodye?
      Refrain: Fal the lal the lal laral lody
He made it a case for his melodye.
      Refrain: Fal, etc.
And what did he do with her legs so strong?
He made them a stand for his violon.
And what did he do with her hair so fine?
He made of it strings for his violine.
And what did he do with her arms so long?
He made them bows for his violon.
And what did he do with her nose so thin?
He made it a bridge for his violin.
And what did he do with her eyes so bright?
He made them spectacles to put to his sight.
And what did he do with her petty toes?
He made them a nosegay to put to his nose.





THERE lived twa sisters in yonder ha,
      Refrain: Bin’orie O an Bin’orie
They hadna but ae lad atween them twa,
      Refrain: He’s the bonnie miller lad o Bin’orie.
It fell oot upon a day,
The auldest ane to the youngest did say,
      Refrain: At the bonnie mill-dams o Bin’orie,
‘O sister, O sister, will ye go to the dams,
To hear the blackbird thrashin oer his songs?
      Refrain: At the,’ etc.
‘O sister, O sister, will ye go to the dams,
To see oor father’s fish-boats come safe to dry lan?
      Refrain: An the bonnie miller lad o Binorie.’
They hadna been an oor at the dams,
Till they heard the blackbird thrashin oer his tune,
      Refrain: At the, etc.
They hadna been an oor at the dams
Till they saw their father’s fish-boats come safe to dry lan,
      Refrain: Bat they sawna the bonnie miller laddie.
They stood baith up upon a stane,
An the eldest ane dang the youngest in,
      Refrain: I the, etc.
She swam up, an she swam doon,
An she swam back to her sister again,
      Refrain: I the, etc.
‘O sister, O sister, len me your han,
An yes be heir to my true love,
      Refrain: He’s the bonnie miller lad o Binorie.’
‘It was not for that love at I dang you in,
But ye was fair and I was din,
And yes droon i the dams o Binorie.’
The miller’s daughter she cam oot,
For water to wash her father’s hans,
Frae the, etc.
‘O father, O father, ye will fish your dams,
An ye’ll get a white fish or a swan,
I the,’ etc.
They fished up and they fished doon,
But they got nothing but a droonet woman,
I the, etc.
Some o them kent by her skin sae fair,
But weel kent he by her bonnie yallow hair
She’s the bonnie miller’s lass o Binorie.
Some o them kent by her goons o silk,
But weel kent he by her middle sae jimp,
She’s the bonnie miller’s lass o Binorie.
Mony ane was at her oot-takin,
But mony ane mair at her green grave makin,
At the bonny mill-dams o Binorie.






THERE were twa sisters livd in a bouir,
      Refrain: Binnorie, O Binnorie
Their father was a baron of pouir.
      Refrain: By the bonnie mildams of Binnorie
The youngest was meek, and fair as the may
Whan she springs in the east wi the gowden day.
The eldest austerne as the winter cauld,
Ferce was her saul, and her seiming was bauld.
A gallant squire can sweet Isabel to wooe;
Her sister had naething to luve I trow.
But filld was she wi dolour and ire,
To see that to her the comlie squire
Preferd the debonair Isabel:
Their hevin of luve of spyte was her hell.
Till ae ein she to her sister can say,
‘Sweit sister, cum let us wauk and play.’
They wauked up, and they wauked down,
Sweit sang the birdis in the vallie loun.
Whan they cam to the roaring lin,
She drave unweiting Isabel in.
‘O sister, sister, tak my hand,
And ye sall hae my silver fan.
‘O sister, sister, tak my middle,
And ye sall hae my gowden girdle.’
Sumtimes she sank, sumtimes she swam,
Till she cam to the miller’s dam.
The miller’s dochtor was out that ein,
And saw her rowing down the streim.
‘O father deir, in your mil-dam
There is either a lady or a milk-white swan!’
Twa days were gane, whan to her deir
Her wraith at deid of nicht cold appeir.
‘My luve, my deir, how can ye sleip,
Whan your Isabel lyes in the deip!
‘My deir, how can ye sleip bot pain
Whan she by her cruel sister is slain!’
Up raise he sune, in frichtfu mude:
‘Busk ye, my meiny, and seik the flude.’
They socht her up and they socht her doun,
And spyd at last her glisterin gown.
They raisd her wi richt meidle care;
Pale was her cheik and grein was her hair.





THERE were twa sisters in a bower,
      Refrain: Hey wi the gay and the grinding
And ae king’s son has courted them baith.
      Refrain: At the bonny bonny bows o London
He courted the youngest wi broach and ring,
He courted the eldest wi some other thing.
It fell ance upon a day
The eldest to the youngest did say,
‘Will ye gae to yon Tweed mill-dam,
And see our father’s ships come to land?’
They baith stood up upon a stane,
The eldest dang the youngest in.
She swimmed up, sae did she down,
Till she came to the Tweed mill-dam.
The miller’s servant he came out,
And saw the lady floating about.
‘O master, master, set your mill,
There is a fish, or a milk-white swan.’
They could not ken her yellow hair,
[For] the scales o gowd that were laid there.
They could not ken her fingers sae white,
The rings o gowd they were sae bright.
They could not ken her middle sae jimp,
The stays o gowd were so well laced.
They could not ken her foot sae fair,
The shoes o gowd they were so rare.
Her father’s fiddler he came by,
Upstarted her ghaist before his eye.
‘Ye’ll take a lock o my yellow hair,
Ye’ll make a string to your fiddle there.
‘Ye’ll take a lith o my little finger bane,
And ye’ll make a pin to your fiddle then.’
He’s taen a lock o her yellow hair,
And made a string to his fiddle there.
He’s taen a lith o her little finger bane,
And he’s made a pin to his fiddle then.
The firstand spring the fiddle did play,
Said, ‘Ye’ll drown my sister, as she’s dune me.’






THERE were twa ladies in a bower,
      Refrain: Hey my bonnie Nannie O
The old was black and the young ane fair.
      Refrain: And the swan swims bonnie O
Once it happened on a day
The auld ane to the young did say,
The auld ane to the young did say,
‘Will you gae to the green and play?’
‘O sister, sister, I daurna gang,
For fear I file my silver shoon.’
It was not to the green they gaed,
But it was to the water of Tweed.
She bowed her back and she’s taen her on,
And she’s tumbled her in Tweed mill-dam.
‘O sister, O sister, O tak my hand,
And I’ll mak you heir of a’ my land.’
‘O sister, O sister, I’ll no take your hand,
And I’ll be heir of a’ your land.’
‘O sister, O sister, O tak my thumb,
And I’ll give you my true-love John.’
‘O sister, O sister, I’ll no tak your thumb,
And I will get your true-love John.’
Aye she swattered and aye she swam,
Until she came to the mouth of the dam.
The miller’s daughter went out to Tweed,
To get some water to bake her bread.
In again she quickly ran:
‘Here’s a lady or a swan in our mill-dam.’
Out went the miller and his man
And took the lady out of the dam.
They laid her on the brae to dry;
Her father’s fiddler then rode by.
When he this lady did come near,
Her ghost to him then did appear.
‘When you go to my father the king,
You’ll tell him to burn my sister Jean.
‘When you go to my father’s gate,
You’ll play a spring for fair Ellen’s sake.
‘You’ll tak three links of my yellow hair,
And play a spring for evermair.’






THERE dwelt twa sisters in a bower,
      Refrain: Oh and ohone, and ohone and aree!
And the youngest she was the fairest flower.
      Refrain: On the banks of the Banna, ohone and aree!
There cam a knight to court the twa,
But on the youngest his love did fa.
He courted the eldest with ring and wi glove,
But he gave the youngest all his love.
He courted the eldest with brooch and wi knife,
But he loved the youngest as his life.
‘O sister, O sister, will ye come to the stream,
To see our father’s ships come in?’
The youngest stood upon a stane,
Her sister came and pusht her in.
‘O sister, O sister, come reach me your hand,
And ye shall hae all our father’s land.
‘O sister, O sister, come reach me your glove,
And you shall hae William to be your true love.’
‘I did not put you in with the design
Just for to pull you out again.’
Some time she sank, some time she swam,
Until she came to a miller’s dam.
The miller’s daughter dwelt on the Tweed,
She went for water to bake her bread.
‘O faither, faither, come drag me your dam,
For there’s aither a lady in’t, or a milk-white swan.’
The miller went, and he dragd his dam,
And he brought her fair body to lan.
They couldna see her waist sae sma
For the goud and silk about it a’.
They couldna see her yallow hair
For the pearls and jewels that were there.
Then up and spak her ghaist sae green,
‘Do ye no ken the king’s dochter Jean?
‘Tak my respects to my father the king,
And likewise to my mother the queen.
‘Tak my respects to my true love William,
Tell him I deid for the love of him.
‘Carry him a lock of my yallow hair,
To bind his heart for evermair.’






THERE was a king of the north countree,
      Refrain: Bow down, bow down, bow down
There was a king of the north countree,
And he had daughters one, two, three.
      Refrain: I’ll be true to my love, and my love’ll be true to me
To the eldest he gave a beaver hat,
And the youngest she thought much of that.
To the youngest he gave a gay gold chain,
And the eldest she thought much of the same.
These sisters were walking on the bryn,
And the elder pushed the younger in.
‘Oh sister, oh sister, oh lend me your hand,
And I will give you both houses and land.’
‘I’ll neither give you my hand nor glove,
Unless you give me your true love.’
Away she sank, away she swam,
Until she came to a miller’s dam.
The miller and daughter stood at the door,
And watched her floating down the shore.
‘Oh father, oh father, I see a white swan,
Or else it is a fair woman.’
The miller he took up his long crook,
And the maiden up from the stream he took.
‘I’ll give to thee this gay gold chain,
If you’ll take me back to my father again.’
The miller he took the gay gold chain,
And he pushed her into the water again.
The miller was hanged on his high gate
For drowning our poor sister Kate.
The cat’s behind the buttery shelf,
If you want any more, you may sing it yourself.






* * * *
‘O FATHER, father, swims a swan,’
This story I’ll vent to thee
‘O father, father, swims a swan,
Unless it be some dead woman.’
      Refrain: I’ll prove true to my true love,
If my love prove true to me
The miller he held out his long fish hook,
And hooked this fair maid from the brook.
She offered the miller a gold ring stane
To throw her into the river again.
Down she sunk, and away she swam,
Until she came to her father’s brook.
The miller was hung at his mill-gate,
For drowning of my sister Kate.






SISTER, dear sister, where shall we go play?’
      Refrain: Cold blows the wind, and the wind blows low
‘We shall go to the salt sea’s brim.’
      Refrain: And the wind blows cheerily around us, high ho






THERE was a man lived in the mist,
      Refrain: Bow down, bow down
He loved his youngest daughter best.
      Refrain: The bow is bent to me,
So you be true to your own true love,
And I’ll be true to thee.
These two sisters went out to swim;
The oldest pushed the youngest in.
First she sank and then she swam,
First she sank and then she swam.
The miller, with his rake and hook,
He caught her by the petticoat.
* * * * *






There dwelt twa sisters in a bower,
      Refrain: Benorie, O Benorie
The youngest o them was the fairest flower.
      Refrain: In the merry milldams o Benorie
There cam a wooer them to woo,
. . . . .
. . . . .
He’s gien the eldest o them a broach and a real,
Because that she loved her sister weel.
      Refrain: At etc.’p
He’s gien the eldest a gay penknife,
He loved the youngest as dear as his life.
      Refrain: At etc.
‘O sister, O sister, will ye go oer yon glen,
And see my father’s ships coming in?’
      Refrain: At etc.
‘O sister dear, I darena gang,
Because I’m feard ye throw me in.’
      Refrain: The etc.
‘O set your foot on yon sea stane,
And was yeer hands in the sea foam.’
      Refrain: At etc.
She set her foot on yon sea stane,
To wash her hands in the sea foam.
      Refrain: At etc.
. . . . .
But the eldest has thrown the youngest in.
      Refrain: The etc.
‘O sister, O sister, lend me your hand,
And ye’se get William and a’ his land.’
At etc.
The miller’s daughter cam out clad in red,
Seeking water to bake her bread.
At etc.
‘O father, O father, gae fish yeer mill-dam,
There’s either a lady or a milk-[white] swan.’
In etc.
The miller cam out wi his lang cleek,
And he cleekit the lady out by the feet.
From the bonny milldam, etc.
Ye wadna kend her pretty feet,
The American leather was sae neat.
In etc.
Ye wadna kend her pretty legs,
The silken stockings were so neat tied.
In etc.
Ye wadna kend her pretty waist,
The silken stays were sae neatly laced.
In etc.
Ye wadna kend her pretty face,
It was sae prettily preend oer wi lace.
In etc.
Ye wadna kend her yellow hair,
It was sae besmeared wi dust and glar.
In etc.
By cam her father’s fiddler fine,
And that lady’s spirit spake to him.
From etc.
She bad him take three taits o her hair,
And make them three strings to his fiddle sae rare.
At etc.
‘Take two of my fingers, sae lang and sae white,
And make them pins to your fiddle sae neat.’
At etc.
The ae first spring that the fiddle played
Was, Cursed be Sir John, my ain true-love.
At etc.
The next spring that the fiddle playd
Was, Burn burd Hellen, she threw me in.
The etc.






Ther were three ladies playing at the ba,
      Refrain: Norham, down by Norham
And there cam a knight to view them a’.
      Refrain: By the bonnie mill-dams o Norham
He courted the aldest wi diamonds and rings,
But he loved the youngest abune a’ things.
* * * * *
‘Oh sister, oh sister, lend me your hand,
And pull my poor body unto dry land.
‘Oh sister, oh sister, lend me your glove,
And you shall have my own true love!’
Oot cam the miller’s daughter upon Tweed,
To carry in water to bake her bread.
‘Oh father, oh father, there’s a fish in your dam;
It either is a lady or a milk-white swan.’
Oot cam the miller’s man upon Tweed,
And there he spied a lady lying dead.
He could not catch her by the waist,
For her silken stays they were tight laced.
But he did catch her by the hand,
And pulled her poor body unto dry land.
He took three taets o her bonnie yellow hair,
To make harp strings they were so rare.
The very first tune that the bonnie harp played
Was The aldest has cuisten the youngest away.






I see a lady in the dam,
      Refrain: Binnorie, oh Binnorie
She shenes as sweet as ony swan.
      Refrain: I the bonny milldams o Binnorie






There was a king lived in the North Country,
      Refrain: Hey down down dery down
There was a king lived in the North Country,
      Refrain: And the bough it was bent to me
There was a king lived in the North Country,
And he had daughters one, two, three.
      Refrain: I’ll prove true to my love,
If my love will prove true to me.
* * * * *
He gave the eldest a gay gold ring,
But he gave the younger a better thing.
He bought the younger a beaver hat;
The eldest she thought much of that.
‘Oh sister, oh sister, let us go run,
To see the ships come sailing along!’
And when they got to the sea-side brim,
The eldest pushed the younger in.
‘Oh sister, oh sister, lend me your hand,
I’ll make you heir of my house and land.’
‘I’ll neither lend you my hand nor my glove,
Unless you grant me your true-love.’
Then down she sunk and away she swam,
Untill she came to the miller’s mill-dam.
The miller’s daughter sat at the mill-door,
As fair as never was seen before.
‘Oh father, oh father, there swims a swan,
Or else the body of a dead woman.’
The miller he ran with his fishing hook,
To pull the fair maid out o the brook.
‘Wee’ll hang the miller upon the mill-gate,
For drowning of my sister Kate.’