Mudcat Café message #36746 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #6349   Message #36746
Posted By: Maelgwyn
01-Sep-98 - 09:49 PM
Thread Name: Cruel Sister
Subject: Lyr Add: THE CRUEL SISTER
I found six versions in Child which made mention of three sisters. Here's one of them. I don't have time right now, but I'll try and post the rest later. :)

There were three sisters lived in a bouir
Hech, hey, my Nannie O
And the youngest was the fairest flouir
And the swan swims bonnie O

“O sister, sister, gang down to yon sand
Hech, etc.
And see your father's ships coming to dry land.”
And the swan, etc.

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 sank, 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...

I've got a question about another version of the ballad that I found in child's notes. It starts out like this:

O it was eke a pheasant cock
Nor yet a pheasant hen
But O it was a lady fair
Came swimming down the stream

That's the first verse. Then a harper passes by, builds himself a harp, and then meets with

...a goodly company
Who asked him in to play.

And from her bones he drew such tones
As made their bones to ache
They sounded so like human groans
Their hearts began to quake.

Then come two more verses and in the latter of the two the harp begins to speak:

There sits the squire, my worthy sire
A-drinking himself drunk. . .

And that's it. Does anyone happen to know how it ends?

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 5-May-02.