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Black's Boys' and Girls' Library
TALES FROM SCOTTISH BALLADS
IN THE SAME SERIES
TALES OF KING ARTHUR by DOROTHY SENIOR
MIKE (A Public School Story) by P. G. WODEHOUSE
THE CAVEMEN, A TALE OF
THE TIME OF by STANLEY WATERLOO
WONDER TALES OF THE
ANCIENT WORLD by JAMES BAIKIE, D.D., F.R.A.S.
THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD by JOHN FINNEMORE
ROBINSON CRUSOE by DANIEL DEFOE
SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON Edited by G. E. MITTON
MOTHER GOOSE'S NURSERY RHYMES Edited by L. E. WALTER, M.B.E., B.Sc.
TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS by THOMAS HUGHES
IN THE YEAR OF WATERLOO }
FACE TO FACE WITH NAPOLEON } by O. V. CAINE
WITCH'S HOLLOW by A. W. BROOK
MUCKLE JOHN by FREDERICK WATSON
ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES
GRANNY'S WONDERFUL CHAIR by FRANCES BROWNE
BRITISH FAIRY AND FOLK TALES by W. J. GLOVER
THE ADVENTURES OF DON QUIXOTE by MIGUEL DE CERVANTES
COOK'S VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY
MR. MIDSHIPMAN EASY
TALES FROM HAKLUYT Selected by FRANK ELIAS
GREEK WONDER TALES }
OTTOMAN WONDER TALES } by LUCY M. GARNETT
THE HEROES }
THE WATER BABIES } by CHARLES KINGSLEY
BOOK OF CELTIC STORIES by ELIZ. W. GRIERSON
A GIRL'S ADVENTURES IN KOREA by AGNES HERBERT
_SIMILAR TO THE ABOVE_
CRANFORD. By Mrs. ELIZABETH GASKELL.
With 8 Illustrations in Colour
A. & C. BLACK, LTD., 4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W. 1
_New York_ THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
_Melbourne_ THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
_Toronto_ THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA
_Bombay Calcutta Madras_ MACMILLAN AND COMPANY, LTD.
[Illustration: "THIS VERY NIGHT WE WILL RIDE OVER INTO ETTRICK, AND LIFT
A WHEEN O' THEM." (P. 106)]
ELIZABETH W. GRIERSON
AUTHOR OF "THE BOOK OF CELTIC STORIES"
"THE BOOK OF EDINBURGH" ETC.
WITH FOUR FULL-PAGE
ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR FROM DRAWINGS BY
A. & C. BLACK, LTD.
4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W. 1
_Printed in Great Britain_
_First Edition ("Children's Tales from Scottish Ballads")
published in 1906._
_New Edition published in 1916._
_Reprinted and included in Boys' and Girls' Library in 1925._
_Reprinted in 1930._
MY TWO FIRESIDE CRITICS
A. S. G. AND J. B. G.
THE LOCHMABEN HARPER 1
THE LAIRD O' LOGIE 11
KINMONT WILLIE 32
THE GUDE WALLACE 63
THE WARLOCK O' OAKWOOD 81
MUCKLE-MOU'ED MEG 101
DICK O' THE COW 125
THE HEIR OF LINNE 143
BLACK AGNACE OF DUNBAR 161
THOMAS THE RHYMER 195
LORD SOULIS 214
THE BROWNIE OF BLEDNOCK 234
SIR PATRICK SPENS 244
YOUNG BEKIE 259
THE EARL OF MAR'S DAUGHTER 274
HYNDE HORN 291
THE GAY GOS-HAWK 310
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
FROM DRAWINGS BY ALLAN STEWART
"This very night we will ride over into
Ettrick, and lift a wheen o' them" _Frontispiece_
"My father eyed them keenly, his face
growing grave as he did so" 36
"''Tis a God's-penny,' cried the guests in amazement" 158
"When she approached he pulled off his
bonnet and louted low" 198
THE LOCHMABEN HARPER
"Oh, heard ye of a silly harper,
Wha lang lived in Lochmaben town,
How he did gang to fair England,
To steal King Henry's wanton brown?"
Once upon a time, there was an old man in Lochmaben, who made his
livelihood by going round the country playing on his harp. He was very
old, and very blind, and there was such a simple air about him, that
people were inclined to think that he had not all his wits, and they
always called him "The silly Lochmaben Harper."
Now Lochmaben is in Dumfriesshire, not very far from the English border,
and the old man sometimes took his harp and made long journeys into
England, playing at all the houses that he passed on the road.
Once when he returned from one of these journeys, he told everyone how
he had seen the English King, King Henry, who happened to be living at
that time at a castle in the north of England, and although he thought
the King a very fine-looking man indeed, he thought far more of a frisky
brown horse which his Majesty had been riding, and he had made up his
mind that some day it should be his.
All the people laughed loudly when they heard this, and looked at one
another and tapped their foreheads, and said, "Poor old man, his brain
is a little touched; he grows sillier, and sillier;" but the Harper only
smiled to himself, and went home to his cottage, where his wife was busy
making porridge for his supper.
"Wife," he said, setting down his harp in the corner of the room, "I am
going to steal the King of England's brown horse."
"Are you?" said his wife, and then she went on stirring the porridge.
She knew her husband better than the neighbours did, and she knew that
when he said a thing, he generally managed to do it.
The old man sat looking into the fire for a long time, and at last he
said, "I will need a horse with a foal, to help me: if I can find that,
I can do it."
"Tush!" said his wife, as she lifted the pan from the fire and poured
the boiling porridge carefully into two bowls; "if that is all that thou
needest, the brown horse is thine. Hast forgotten the old gray mare thou
left at home in the stable? Whilst thou wert gone, she bore a fine gray
"Ah!" said the old Harper, his eyes kindling. "Is she fond of her foal?"
"Fond of it, say you? I warrant bolts and bars would not keep her from
it. Ride thou away on the old mare, and I will keep the foal at home;
and I promise thee she will bring home the brown horse as straight as a
die, without thy aid, if thou desire it."
"Thou art a clever woman, Janet: thou thinkest of everything," said her
husband proudly, as she handed him his bowlful of porridge, and then sat
down to sup her own at the other side of the fire, chuckling to herself,
partly at her husband's words of praise, and partly at the simplicity of
the neighbours, who called him a silly old harper.
Next morning the old man went into the stable, and, taking a halter from
the wall, he hid it in his stocking; then he led out his old gray mare,
who neighed and whinnied in distress at having to leave her little foal
behind her. Indeed he had some difficulty in getting her to start, for
when he had mounted her, and turned her head along the Carlisle road,
she backed, and reared, and sidled, and made such a fuss, that quite a
crowd collected round her, crying, "Come and see the silly Harper of
Lochmaben start to bring home the King of England's brown horse."
At last the Harper got the mare to start, and he rode, and he rode,
playing on his harp all the time, until he came to the castle where the
King of England was. And, as luck would have it, who should come to the
gate, just as he arrived, but King Henry himself. Now his Majesty loved
music, and the old man really played very well, so he asked him to come
into the great hall of the castle, and let all the company hear him
At this invitation the Harper jumped joyously down from his horse, as if
to make haste to go in, and then he hesitated.
"Nay, but if it please your Majesty," he said humbly, "my old nag is
footsore and weary: mayhap there is a stall in your Majesty's stable
where she might rest the night."
Now the King loved all animals, and it pleased him that the old man
should be so mindful of his beast; and seeing one of the stablemen in
the distance, he turned his head and cried carelessly, "Here, sirrah!
Take this old man's nag, and put it in a stall in the stable where my
own brown horse stands, and see to it that it has a good supper of oats
and a comfortable litter of hay."
Then he led the Harper into the hall where all his nobles were, and I
need not tell you that the old man played his very best. He struck up
such a merry tune that before long everybody began to dance, and the
very servants came creeping to the door to listen. The cooks left their
pans, and the chambermaids their dusters, the butlers their pantries;
and, best of all, the stablemen came from the stables without
remembering to lock the doors.
After a time, when they had all grown weary of dancing, the clever old
man began to play such soft, soothing, quiet music, that everyone began
to nod, and at last fell fast asleep.
He played on for a time, till he was certain that no one was left awake,
then he laid down his harp, and slipped off his shoes, and stole
silently down the broad staircase, smiling to himself as he did so.
With noiseless footsteps he crept to the stable door, which, as he
expected, he found unlocked, and entered, and for one moment he stood
looking about him in wonder, for it was the most splendid stable he had
ever seen, with thirty horses standing side by side, in one long row.
They were all beautiful horses, but the finest of all, was King Henry's
favourite brown horse, which he always rode himself.
The old Harper knew it at once, and, quick as thought, he loosed it,
and, drawing the halter which he had brought with him out of his
stocking, he slipped it over its head.
Then he loosed his own old gray mare, and tied the end of the halter to
her tail, so that, wherever she went, the brown horse was bound to
follow. He chuckled to himself as he led the two animals out of the
stable and across the courtyard, to the great wrought-iron gate, and
when he had opened this, he let the gray mare go, giving her a good
smack on the ribs as he did so. And the old gray mare, remembering her
little foal shut up in the stable at home, took off at the gallop,
straight across country, over hedges, and ditches, and walls, and
fences, pulling the King's brown horse after her at such a rate that he
had never even a chance to bite her tail, as he had thought of doing at
first, when he was angry at being tied to it.
Although the mare was old, she was very fleet of foot, and before the
day broke she was standing with her companion before her master's
cottage at Lochmaben. Her stable door was locked, so she began to neigh
with all her might, and at last the noise awoke the Harper's wife.
Now the old couple had a little servant girl who slept in the attic, and
the old woman called to her sharply, "Get up at once, thou lazy wench!
dost thou not hear thy master and his mare at the door?"
The girl did as she was bid, and, dressing herself hastily, went to the
door and looked through the keyhole to see if it were really her master.
She saw no one there save the gray mare and a strange brown horse.
"Oh mistress, mistress, get up," she cried in astonishment, running into
the kitchen. "What do you think has happened? The gray mare has gotten a
"Hold thy clavers!" retorted the old woman; "methinks thou art blinded
by the moonlight, if thou knowest not the difference between a
full-grown horse and a two-months'-old foal. Go and look out again and
bring me word if 'tis not a brown horse which the mare has brought with
The girl ran to the door, and presently came back to say that she had
been mistaken, and that it was a brown horse, and that all the
neighbours were peeping out of their windows to see what the noise was
The old woman laughed as she rose and dressed herself, and went out with
the girl to help her to tie up the two horses.
"'Tis the silly old Harper of Lochmaben they call him," she said to
herself, "but I wonder how many of them would have had the wit to gain a
new horse so easily?"
Meanwhile at the English castle the Harper had stolen silently back to
the hall after he had let the horses loose, and, taking up his harp
again, he harped softly until the morning broke, and the sleeping men
round him began to awake.
The King and his nobles called loudly for breakfast, and the servants
crept hastily away, afraid lest it might come to be known that they had
left their work the evening before to listen to the stranger's music.
The cooks went back to their pans, and the chambermaids to their
dusters, and the stablemen and grooms trooped out of doors to look after
the horses; but presently they all came rushing back again,
helter-skelter, with pale faces, for the stable door had been left open,
and the King's favourite brown horse had been stolen, as well as the
Harper's old gray mare. For a long time no one dare tell the King, but
at last the head stableman ventured upstairs and broke the news to the
Master-of-the-Horse, and the Master-of-the-Horse told the Lord
Chamberlain, and the Lord Chamberlain told the King.
At first his Majesty was very angry, and threatened to dismiss all the
grooms, but his attention was soon diverted by the cunning old Harper,
who threw down his harp, and pretended to be in great distress.
"I am ruined, I am ruined!" he exclaimed, "for I lost the gray mare's
foal just before I left Scotland, and I looked to the price of it for
the rent, and now the old gray mare herself is gone, and how am I to
travel about and earn my daily bread without her?"
Now the King was very kind-hearted, and he was sorry for the poor old
man, for he believed every word of his story, so he clapped him on the
back, and bade him play some more of his wonderful music, and promised
to make up to him for his losses.
Then the wicked old Harper rejoiced, for he knew that his trick had
succeeded, and he picked up his harp again, and played so beautifully
that the King forgot all about the loss of his favourite horse.
All that day the Harper played to him, and on the morrow, when he would
set out for home, in spite of all his entreaties that he would stay
longer, he made his treasurer give him three times the value of his old
gray mare, in solid gold, because he said that, if his servants had
locked the stable door, the mare would not have been stolen, and,
besides that, he gave him the price of the foal, which the wicked old
man had said that he had lost. "For," said the King, "'tis a pity that
such a marvellous harper should lack the money to pay his rent."
Then the cunning old Harper went home in triumph to Lochmaben, and the
good King never knew till the end of his life how terribly he had been
THE LAIRD O' LOGIE
"I will sing if ye will hearken,
If ye will hearken unto me;
The king has ta'en a poor prisoner,
The wanton laird o' young Logie."
It was Twelfth-night, and in the royal Palace of Holyrood a great masked
ball was being held, for the King, James VI., and his young wife, Anne
of Denmark, had been keeping Christmas there, and the old walls rang
with gaiety such as had not been since the ill-fated days of Mary
It was a merry scene; everyone was in fancy dress, and wore a mask, so
that even their dearest friends could not know them, and great was the
merriment caused by the efforts which some of the dancers made to guess
the names of their partners.
One couple in the throng, however, appeared to know and recognise each
other, for, as a tall slim maiden dressed as a nun, who had been dancing
with a stout old monk, passed a young man in the splendid dress of a
French noble, she dropped her handkerchief, and, as the young Frenchman
picked it up and gave it to her, she managed to exchange a whisper with
him, unnoticed by her elderly partner.
Ten minutes later she might have been seen, stealing cautiously down a
dark, narrow flight of stairs, that led to a little postern, which she
opened with a key which she drew from her girdle, and, closing it behind
her, stepped out on the stretch of short green turf, which ran along one
side of the quaint chapel. It was bright moonlight, but she stole behind
one of the buttresses that cast heavy shadows on the grass, and waited.
Nearly a quarter of an hour passed before another figure issued from the
same little postern and joined her. This time it was the young French
noble, his finery hidden by a guard's long cloak.
"Pardon me, sweetheart," he said, throwing aside his disguise and
putting his hand caressingly on her shoulder, "but 'tis not my fault
that thou art here before me. I had to dance a minuet with her Majesty
the Queen; she was anxious to show the court dames how 'tis done in
Denmark, and, as thou knowest, I have learned the Danish steps passably
well dancing it so often with thee. So I was called on, and Arthur
Seaton, and a mention was made of thee, but Gertrud Van Hollbell
volunteered to fill thy place."
"Gertrud is a good-natured wench, and I will tell her so; but did her
Majesty not notice my absence?"
"Nay, verily, she was so busy talking with me, and I gave her no time to
miss thee," said the young man, laughing, but his companion's face was
troubled. They had taken off their masks, and a stranger looking at them
would have taken them for what they seemed to be, a dark-haired,
black-eyed Frenchman, and a fair English nun. But Hugh Weymes of Logie
was a simple Scottish gentleman, in spite of his dress, and looks; and
the maiden, Mistress Margaret Twynlace, was a Dane, who had come over,
along with one or two others, as maid-in-waiting to the young Queen, who
had insisted on having some of her own countrywomen about her.
Mistress Margaret's fair hair, and fairer skin, so different from that
of the young Scotch ladies, had quite captivated young Weymes, and the
two had been openly betrothed.
They had plenty of chances of speaking to each other in the palace,
where Weymes was stationed in his capacity of gentleman of the King's
household, and the young man was somewhat at a loss to understand why
Margaret should have arranged a secret meeting which might bring them
both into trouble were it known, for Queen Anne was very strict, and
would have no lightsome maids about her, and were it to reach her ears
that Margaret had met a man in the dark, even although it was the man
she intended to marry, she would think nothing of packing her off to
Denmark at a day's notice.
Now, as this was the very last thing that Hugh wanted to happen, his
voice had a touch of reproach in it, as he began to point out the
trouble that might ensue if any prying servant should chance to see
them, or if Margaret's absence were noticed by the Queen.
But the girl hardly listened to him.
"What doth it matter whether I am sent home or not?" she said
passionately. "Thou canst join me there and Denmark is as fair as
Scotland; but it boots not to joke and laugh, for I have heavy news to
tell thee. Thou must fly for thy life. 'Tis known that thou hast had
dealings with my Lord of Bothwell, that traitor to the King, and thy
life is in danger."
The young man looked at her in surprise. "Nay, sweet Meg," he said, "but
methinks the Christmas junketing hath turned thy brain, for no man can
bring a word against me, and I stand high in his Majesty's favour.
Someone hath been filling thy ears with old wives' tales."
"But I know thou art in danger," she persisted, wringing her hands in
despair when she saw how lightly he took the news. "I do not understand
all the court quarrels, for this land is not my land, but I know that my
Lord Bothwell hates the King, and that the King distrusts my Lord
Bothwell, and, knowing this, can I not see that there is danger in thy
having been seen talking to the Earl in a house in the Cowgate? and,
moreover, it is said that he gave thee a packet which thou art supposed
to have carried hither. Would that I could persuade thee to fly, to take
ship at Leith, and cross over to Denmark; my parents would harbour thee
till the storm blew past."
Margaret was in deadly earnest, but her lover only laughed again, and
assured her that she had been listening to idle tales. To him it seemed
incredible that he could get into any trouble because he had lately held
some intercourse with his father's old friend, the Earl of Bothwell, and
had, at his request, carried back a sealed packet to give to one of the
officials at the palace, on his return from a trip to France. It was
true that Lord Bothwell was in disfavour with the King, who suspected
him of plotting against his person, but Hugh believed that his royal
master was mistaken, and, as he had only been about the court a couple
of months or so, he had not yet learned how dangerous it was to hold
intercourse with men who were counted the King's enemies.
So he soothed Margaret's fears with playful words, promising to be more
discreet in the future, and keep aloof from the Earl, and in a short
time they were back in the ballroom, and he, at least, was dancing as
merrily as if there was no such word as treason.
For two or three weeks after the Twelfth-night ball, life at Holyrood
went on so quietly that Margaret Twynlace was inclined to think that her
lover had been right, and that she had put more meaning into the rumours
which she had heard than they were intended to convey, and, as she saw
him going quietly about his duties, apparently in as high favour as
before with the King, she shook off her load of anxiety, and tried to
forget that she had ever heard the Earl of Bothwell's name.
But without warning the blow fell. One morning, as she was seated in the
Queen's ante-chamber, busily engaged, along with the other maids, in
sewing a piece of tapestry which was to be hung, when finished, in the
Queen's bedroom, Lady Hamilton entered the room in haste, bearing dire
It had become known at the palace the evening before, that a plot had
been discovered, planned by the Earl of Bothwell, to seize the King and
keep him a prisoner, while the Earl was declared regent. As it was known
that young Hugh Weymes, one of the King's gentlemen, had been seen in
conversation with him some weeks before, he had been seized and his
boxes searched, and in them had been found a sealed packet, containing
letters to one of the King's councillors, who was now in France, asking
his assistance, and signed by Bothwell himself.
The gentleman had not returned - probably word had been sent to him of
his danger - but young Weymes had been promptly arrested, although he
disclaimed all knowledge of the contents of the packet, and had been
placed under the care of Sir John Carmichael, keeper of the King's
guard, until he could be tried.
"And there will only be one sentence for him," said the old lady grimly;
"it's beheaded he will be. 'Tis a pity, for he was a well-favoured
youth; but what else could he expect, meddling with such matters?" and
then she left the room, eager to find some fresh listeners to whom she
could tell her tale.
As the door closed behind her a sudden stillness fell over the little
room. No one spoke, although some of the girls glanced pityingly at
Margaret, who sat, as if turned to stone, with a still, white face, and
staring eyes. Gertrud Van Hollbell, her countrywoman and bosom friend,
rose at last, and went and put her arms round her.
"He is a favourite with the Queen, Margaret, and so art thou," she
whispered, "and after all it was not he who wrote the letter. If I were
in thy place, I would beg her Majesty, and she will beg the King, and he
will be pardoned."
But Margaret shook her head with a wan smile. She knew too well the
terrible danger in which her lover stood, and she rightly guessed that
the Queen would have no power to avert it.
At that moment the door opened, and the Queen herself entered, and all
the maidens stood up to receive her. She looked grave and sad, and her
eyes filled with tears as they fell on Margaret, who had been her
playmate when they were both children in far-away Denmark, and who was
her favourite maid-of-honour.
Seeing this, kind-hearted Gertrud gave her friend a little push. "See,"
she whispered, "she is sorry for thee; if thou go now and beg of her she
will grant thy request."
Slowly, as if in a dream, the girl stepped forward, and knelt at her
royal Mistress's feet, but the Queen laid her hand gently on her