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    May Colvin

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May Colvin 
Child #4C,  Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight, from Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, 1776. Tune from The Scots Musical Museum . Recorded on Rhymer's Tower: Ballads of the Anglo-Scottish Border. 

O False Sir John a-wooing came 
To a maid of beauty fair, 
May Colvin was this lady’s name 
Her father’s only heir. 

He wooed her out, he wooed her in 
He wooed her night and day, 
Until he got this maid’s consent 
To mount, and to ride away. 

He went down to her father’s stable, 
Where all the steeds did stand, 
And he’s taken one of the finest steeds 
That was in her father’s land. 

He’s got on and she’s got on, 
And fast as they could flee, 
Until they came to a lonesome part, 
A rock by the side of the sea. 

“Leap off the steed, my May Colvin, 
For your bridal bed you see; 
Here I have drowned seven young ladies 
And the eighth one you shall be. 

“Cast off, cast off thy silken gown 
Deliver it to me 
For it looks too good and too costly 
To rot in the salty sea 

“Cast off, cast off thy Holland smock, 
Deliver it to me 
For it looks too good and too costly 
To rot in the sea with thee.” 

“O turn you about O false Sir John, 
And look to the leaf of the tree, 
For it never became a gentleman 
A naked woman to see.” 

He turned himself straight round about 
To look to the leaf of the tree, 
She twined her arms around his middle 
And threw him into the sea. 

“O help, O help my May Colvin, 
O help or else I’ll drown; 
I’ll take you home to your father’s gate, 
And set you down safe and sound.” 

“No help, no help, O false Sir John 
No help nor pity for thee 
Though seven young ladies you have drowned 
The eighth shall not be me.” 

So she went on her father’s steed, 
As swift as she could flee, 
And she was at her father’s gate 
Before the break of day. 

Up then spoke the pretty parrot, 
“May Colvin, where have you been? 
What has become of false Sir John 
That wooed you so late yestreen, 

He wooed you out, he woo’d you in, 
He wooed you night and day; 
Until he got your own consent 
For to mount and go away.” 

“O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot, 
And tell no tales on me; 
And your cup shall be of the flowered gold, 
Your cage from the root of a tree.” 

Up then spoke her father 
In the bed-chamber where he lay: 
“What ails the pretty parrot, 
That prattles so long before the day?” 

“There came a cat to my cage door 
It almost a-choked me, 
And I was calling on May Colvin 
To take the cat from me.”