The Beggarman 

Traditional, arr. Calhoun 2003, recorded on Telfer's Cows

Child #279, The Gaberlunzie Man, first printed in Ramsey's Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724. 
In similar versions of this story, the beggarman is a nobleman or king in disguise. But in this one, he surely is a beggar, because he knows how to rant and sing. 

A "lea" is a meadow. A change-up on the more common attitude in Scots folk song: "Maids, when you're young, never wed an old man." 

A beggarman cam o'er yon lea 
With many a "good day" and "good even to thee." 
Says, "Good wife, for your courtesy 
Will ye lodge a beggarman?" 

The night was cold, the man was wet 
And down beside the fire he sat 
And he cast his meal pack off his back 
And merrily ranted and sang 

"O," says the daughter, "were I as white 
As ever the snow lay on the dike, 
It's I would dress me ladylike 
And away with you I'd run." 

"O," said the beggar, "were ye as black 
As ever the crown of my father's hat 
Then ye should lie down at my back 
And away with you I'd run." 

And so the two made up the plot 
To rise two hours before the cock 
So quietly she shot the lock 
And through the fields they ran 

When the cock did crow, the old wife rose 
And at her leisure, put on her clothes 
And straight to the servant's chamber goes 
Asking for the beggarman 

But when she came where the poor man lay 
The straw was cold and he was away 
She clapped her hands, cried, "Well-a-day! 
Are any of our good things gone?" 

Some ran to the coffers, some ran to the chest 
But all was there and nothing missed 
She danced for joy crying "Praise be the blest, 
I've lodged an honest man!" 

"Since nothing's gone, that we can learn 
There's cows to milk and milk to churn 
Get young Peggy up and out to the barn 
And bid her come speedily on" 

The servant went where the daughter lay 
But the sheets were cold and she was away 
And straight to the old wife, she did say 
"She's away with the beggarman" 

"Fie, go ride! Fie, go run! 
And haste ye find these traitors again 
For she'll be burnt and he'll be slain 
The weariful beggarman!" 

Some rode on horseback, some ran on foot 
The old wife she went out of her wits 
They took her hands and bade her sit 
And ay, she cursed and banned. 

When years had passed, some two or three 
A beggarman came o'er you lea 
Seeking out for charity, 
"Will you lodge a beggarman?" 

"I never will lodge a beggar again 
I had one daughter and Peggy was her name 
But she ran away with a beggarman 
I know not where she's gone" 

"Old wife, old wife, well how would it be 
To see her comin' o'er yon lea 
And her with a baby on her knee 
And another one comin' on? 

"Yonder she's comin', to your bower 
In silk and satin, with many's the flower."
She raised up her hands and blessed the hour 
That she went with the beggarman.