The Text is from Percy's Reliques (vol. ii., 1765: vol. iii., 1767). In the latter edition he also gives the English version of the ballad earlier in the same volume.
The Story.--This ballad, as it is one of the most beautiful, is also one of the most popular. It should be compared with Fair Margaret and Sweet William, in which the forlorn maid dies of grief, not by the hand of her rival.
A series of Norse ballads tell much the same tale, but in none is the 'friends' will' a crucial point. Chansons from Burgundy, Bretagne, Provence, and northern Italy, faintly echo the story.
Lord Thomas his mither says that Fair Annet has no 'gowd and gear'; yet later on we find that Annet's father can provide her with a horse shod with silver and gold, and four-and-twenty silver bells in his mane; she is attended by a large company, her cleading skinkles, and her belt is of pearl.
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET
Lord Thomas and Fair Annet
Sate a' day on a hill;
Whan night was cum, and sun was sett,
They had not talkt their fill.
Lord Thomas said a word in jest,
Fair Annet took it ill:
'A, I will nevir wed a wife
Against my ain friends' will.'
'Gif ye wull nevir wed a wife,
A wife wull neir wed yee':
Sae he is hame to tell his mither,
And knelt upon his knee.
'O rede, O rede, mither,' he says,
'A gude rede gie to mee:
O sall I tak the nut-browne bride,
And let Faire Annet bee?'
'The nut-browne bride haes gowd and gear,
Fair Annet she has gat nane;
And the little beauty Fair Annet haes,
O it wull soon be gane.'
And he has till his brother gane:
'Now, brother, rede ye mee;
A, sall I marrie the nut-browne bride,
And let Fair Annet bee?'
'The nut-browne bride has oxen, brother,
The nut-browne bride has kye:
I wad hae ye marrie the nut-browne bride,
And cast Fair Annet bye.'
'Her oxen may dye i' the house, billie,
And her kye into the byre,
And I sall hae nothing to mysell
Bot a fat fadge by the fyre.'
And he has till his sister gane:
'Now sister, rede ye mee;
O sall I marrie the nut-browne bride,
And set Fair Annet free?'
'I'se rede ye tak Fair Annet, Thomas,
And let the browne bride alane;
Lest ye sould sigh, and say, Alace,
What is this we brought hame!'
'No, I will tak my mither's counsel,
And marrie me owt o' hand;
And I will tak the nut-browne bride;
Fair Annet may leive the land.'
Up then rose Fair Annet's father,
Twa hours or it wer day,
And he is gane into the bower
Wherein Fair Annet lay.
'Rise up, rise up, Fair Annet,' he says,
'Put on your silken sheene;
Let us gae to St. Marie's kirke,
And see that rich weddeen.'
'My maides, gae to my dressing-roome,
And dress to me my hair;
Whaireir yee laid a plait before,
See yee lay ten times mair.
'My maides, gae to my dressing-room,
And dress to me my smock;
The one half is o' the holland fine,
The other o' needle-work.'
The horse Fair Annet rade upon,
He amblit like the wind;
Wi' siller he was shod before,
Wi' burning gowd behind.
Four and twanty siller bells
Wer a' tyed till his mane,
And yae tift o' the norland wind,
They tinkled ane by ane.
Four and twanty gay gude knichts
Rade by Fair Annet's side,
And four and twanty fair ladies,
As gin she had bin a bride.
And whan she cam to Marie's kirk,
She sat on Marie's stean:
The cleading that Fair Annet had on
It skinkled in their een.
And whan she cam into the kirk,
She shimmered like the sun;
The belt that was about her waist,
Was a' wi' pearles bedone.
She sat her by the nut-browne bride,
And her een they wer sae clear,
Lord Thomas he clean forgat the bride,
Whan Fair Annet drew near.
He had a rose into his hand,
He gae it kisses three,
And reaching by the nut-browne bride,
Laid it on Fair Annet's knee.
Up than spak the nut-browne bride,
She spak wi' meikle spite:
'And whair gat ye that rose-water,
That does mak yee sae white?'
'O I did get the rose-water
Whair ye wull neir get nane,
For I did get that very rose-water
Into my mither's wame.'
The bride she drew a long bodkin
Frae out her gay head-gear,
And strake Fair Annet unto the heart,
That word spak nevir mair.
Lord Thomas he saw Fair Annet wex pale,
And marvelit what mote bee;
But whan he saw her dear heart's blude,
A' wood-wroth wexed hee.
He drew his dagger, that was sae sharp,
That was sae sharp and meet,
And drave it into the nut-browne bride,
That fell deid at his feit.
'Now stay for me, dear Annet,' he sed,
'Now stay, my dear,' he cry'd;
Then strake the dagger untill his heart,
And fell deid by her side.
Lord Thomas was buried without kirk-wa',
Fair Annet within the quiere,
And o' the tane thair grew a birk,
The other a bonny briere.
And ay they grew, and ay they threw,
As they wad faine be neare;
And by this ye may ken right weil
They were twa luvers deare.