Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics:
Lord Thomas and Fair Elender or the Brown Girl

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Lord Thomas and Fair Elender or the Brown Girl

Lord Thomas and Fair Elender or the Brown Girl

Lord Thomas was a gay forester
And the lodge-keeper of the king's deer
Fair Elender was as fair a woman
Lord Thomas he loved her well

"Come rail it over, dear mother," he said
"Come rail it over again
Whether I must marry fair Elender
Or bring the brown girl home"

"The brown girl she got houses and land
Fair Elender she got none
And therefore I charge you with my blessing
Go bring the brown girl home"

He went till he came to fair Elender's court
So loudly twirled at the pin
There was none so ready as fair Elender herself
To let Lord Thomas in

"What news, what news, Lord Thomas?" she said
"What news brings you today?"
"Bad news brings I, fair Elender," he says
"Bad news I bring to thee
I come to ask you to my wedding
And I think that is bad news for thee"

"Come rail it over, dear mother," she says
"Come rail it over again
If I must go to Lord Thomas's wedding
"Or if I must stay at home"

"Many may be your friends, daughter
But thousands are your foe
And therefore I charge you with my blessing
To Lord Thomas's wedding don't go"
"Yes, many may be my friends, mother
And thousands are my foes
But betide to my life, betide to my death,
To Lord Thomas's wedding I'll go"

She dressed herself in rich array
Her merry men all in green
And every town that they went through
They took her to be some queen

When she came to Lord Thomas's court
So loudly she twirled at the pin
There was none as ready as Lord Thomas himself
To let fair Elender in

He took her by the lily-white hand
And led her through the hall
He placed her in the noblest chair
Among the ladies all

"Is this your bride, Lord Thomas?" she said
"She looks most wonderful brown
You might have had as fair a woman
As every trod England's ground"

"Despise her not, fair Elender," he said
"Despise her not to me
Much better do I like your little finger
Than I do her whole body"

The brown girl had a little penknife
It was both long and sharp
Betwixt the long ribs and the short
She pierced fair Elender's heart

"Oh, what's the matter?" Lord Thomas said
"You look so pale and wan
You used to have so fair a color
As ever the sun shone on."

"Are you blind, Lord Thomas?" she said
"Or can't you very well see
And can't you see my own heart's blood
As it trickles down to my knee?"

Lord Thomas he has a sword by his side
It was both long and small
He cut the brown girl's head from her shoulders
And kicked it against the wall

He set the hilt against the ground
And the point against his heart
There was never three lovers that ever met
More sooner they did part

"Now dig me a grave," Lord Thomas, he said
"And dig it both wide and deep
And lay fair Elender by my side
And the brown girl at my feet"
Child #73
from Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf "Ballads and Sea Songs of
Newfoundland"  with the incomplete penultimate verse put in from
Child.  One version of this ballad gets around the color problem
(really complexion, not race) by capitalizing "Brown" thus making
it the girl's name.
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