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58 Indiana University Publications, Folklore Series
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET (Child, No. 73)
Eight texts of this ballad have been recovered in Indiana under the following titles: "Lord Thomas," "The Brown Girl," "Fair Eleanor," "Lord Thomas's Wedding," and "Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor." All belong to the D group of Child, and tell substantially the same story. The hero is in a quandary as to which he shall wed, Fair Eleanor or the brown girl, and takes the problem to his mother. As the brown girl has house and land and Fair Eleanor has none, the advice of the mother is for him to marry the former. He dresses himself in gorgeous attire and with his attendants rides to the home of Fair Eleanor, whom he invites to his wedding. After his departure she asks her mother's advice about attending. The mother advises her to stay at home where she will be among friends, but Fair Eleanor is determined to go. She dresses in fine array, takes her maids with her, and goes to Lord Thomas's hall. He himself admits her, leads her through the hall, and gives her the seat of honor. During the festivities she comments scornfully upon the brown complexion of the bride-to-be. The brown girl overhears her, and stabs Fair Eleanor with a penknife. After a time Lord Thomas notices the pallor of the latter, inquires as to the reason for it, and is told that he must be blind not to see the heart's blood trickling down her knee. When he realizes what has happened, he draws his sword and cuts off the brown girl's head, throws it against the wall, and then uses the sword to kill himself. Dying, he requests that Fair Eleanor be buried in his arms and the brown girl at his feet.
For American texts, see Barry, No. 2; Belden, No. 4 (fragment); Brown, p. 9; Campbell and Sharp, No. 16; Hudson, No. 10; Hudson, Folksongs, p. 78; Journal, XVIII, 128; XIX, 235; XX, 254; XXVII, 71 (melody only) ; XXVIII, 152; XXIX, 159; XXXIX, 94; XLII, 262; Cox, p. 45; Pound, Ballads, p. 27; Barry, Eckstorm, and Smyth, p. 139; Davis, p. 240 (fifteen variants, including fragments) and p. 573 (airs); Greenleaf and Mansfield, p. 18; Mackenzie, Ballads, p. 20; McGill, p. 28; Sandburg, p. 157; Shoemaker, p. 155; Scarborough, Song Catcher, p. 106; Shearin, p. 3; Shearin and Combs, p. 8; Thomas, p. 88; Wyman and Brockway, Songs, p. 14; Flanders and Brown, p. 209; Fuson, p. 49; Mackenzie, p. 97; Folk-Iaore Journal, VII, 33; Smith and Rufty, American Anthology of Old-World Ballads, p. 17; PTFLS, X, 144; Henry, Folk-Songs from the Southern Highlands, p. 60; Henry, Songs Sung in the Southern Appalachians, p. 41; Neely, Tales and Songs of Southern Illinois, pp. 136-37; Cambiaire, East Tennessee and Western Virginia Mountain Ballads, pp. 34-36, 115-16.