The Twa Sisters, or The Cruel Sister

Language: Scots

There was twa sisters in a bow’r,
Edinburgh, Edinburgh
There was twa sisters in a bow’r
Stirling for ay
There came a knight to be their wooer.
Bonie Saint Johnston stands upon Tay

He courted the eldest wi’ glove and ring
But he lovd the youngest above a' thing.

He courted the eldest wi’ brotch an knife
But he lov’d the youngest as his life.

The eldest she was vexed sair,
An much envi’d her sister fair.

Into her bow’r 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’ stood upon a stane,
The eldest cam an’ threw her in.

She tooke her by the middle sma’
An’ dashed her bonny back to the jaw.

"O sister, sister, tak my han’,
An I’se mack you heir to a’ my lan’.

"O sister, sister, tak’ my middle,
An’ ye’s get my goud and my gouden girdle.

O sister, sister, save my life,
An’ I swear I’se nair 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 to yon bonny mill-dam.

O out it came the miller's son
An’ saw the fair maiden 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 drown’d womàn.

You cou’dna see her yallow hair
For gold and pearle that were so rare.

You cou’dna see her middle sma’
For gouden girdle that was sae braw.

You cou’dna see her fingers white
For gouden rings that were sae gryte.

An’ by ther came this harper fine
That harped to the king at dine.

When he did look that lady upon
He sigh’d and made a heavy moan.

[He made a harp of her breast-bone
Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone]

He's taen three locks o’ her yallow hair
An wi' them strung his harp sae fair.

[But as he laid it upon a stane
The harp began to play alane.]

The first tune he did play and sing
Was, Farewell to my father the king.

The nextin tune that he play’d syne
Was, Farewell to my mother the queen.

The lasten tune he play’d then,
Was, Wae to my sister, fair Ellen.

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