`HOW brent's your brow, my Lady Elspat!
How golden yallow is your hair!
Of all the maids of fair Scotland,
There's nane like Lady Elspat fair.'
`Perform your vows, Sweet William,' she says,
`The vows which ye ha made to me,
An at the back o my mother's castle
This night I'll surely meet wi thee.'
But wae be to her brother's page,
Who heard the words this twa did say!
He's told them to her lady mother,
Who wrought Sweet William mieckle wae.
For she has taen him Sweet William,
An she's gard bind him wi his bow-string
Till the red bluide o his fair body
Frae ilka nail o his hand did spring.
O it fell once upon a time
That the Lord Justice came to town;
Out has she taen him Sweet William,
Brought him before Lord Justice boun.
`An what is the crime, now, madame,' he says,
`Has been committed by this young man?'
`O he has broken my bonny castel,
That was well biggit with lime and stane.
`An he has broken my bonny coffers,
That was well banded wi aiken ban,
An he has stoln my rich jewels;
I wot he has them every one.'
Then out it spake her Lady Elspat,
As she sat by Lord Justice knee;
`Now ye hae taul your tale, mother,
I pray, Lord Justice, you'l now hear me.
`He has na broken her bonny castel,
That was well biggit wi lime and stane,
Nor has he stoln her rich jewels,
For I wot she has them every one.
`But tho he was my first true love,
An tho I had sworn to be his bride,
Cause he had not a great estate,
She would this way our loves divide.'
An out it spake the Lord Justice,
I wot the tear was in his ee;
`I see nae fault in this young man,
Sae loose his bans, an set him free.
`Take back your love, Lady Elspat,
An my best blessing you baith upon!
For gin he be your first true love,
He is my eldest sister's son.
`There is a steed in my stable
Cost me baith gold and white money;
Ye's get as mieckle o my free lan
As he'll ride about in a summer's day.'
Version from Child