Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 2 of 8 from 1860 edition

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" The following very popular ballad has been handĀ­ed down by tradition in its present imperfect state The affecting incident on which it is founded is well known. A lady, of the name of Helen Irving, or Bell, (for this is disputed by the two clans,) daughter of the Laird of Kirconnell, in Dumfries-shire, and celebrated for her beauty, was beloved by two gentlemen in the neighbourhood. The name of the favoured suitor was Adam Fleming of Kirkpatrick ; that of the other has escaped tradition: though it has been alleged that he was a Bell, of Blacket House. The addresses of the latter were, however, favoured by the friends of the lady, and the lovers were therefore obliged to meet in secret, and by night, in the churchyard of Kirconnell, a romantic spot, almost surrounded by the river Kirtle. During one of these private interviews, the jealous and despised lover suddenly appeared on the opposite bank of the stream, and levelled his carabine at the breast of his rival. Helen threw herself before her lover, reĀ­ceived in her bosom the bullet, and died in his arms.