Telfer's Cows

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    Telfer's Cows

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I redid this as "Jamie Telfer in the Fair Dodhead" when I found a more authentic text than the one I based this on, which was redone by Sir Walter Scott. 
This version was recorded on Telfer's Cows. 

It fell about the Martinmas time 
When our border steeds get corn and hay 
The Captain of Bewcastle rode with his men 
To Tividale, to drive a prey. 

"What news, what news, my trusty guide?" 
"No news, no news, today for thee 
But if ye go to the Fair Dodhead 
There's many a fine milk-cow you'll see." 

And when they came to the Fair Dodhead 
They loosed the cows out one and all 
Jamie Telfer's wife and children wept 
While they ransacked the house as well. 

Now Jamie Telfer's heart was sore 
The tears were standing in his eye 
"Captain leave my family's cows 
Or else revenged on you I'll be." 

The captain turned around and laughed 
Said, "Man, there's nothing in your house 
But one old sword without a sheath 
Now, that would scarcely fell a mouse." 

The sun wasn't up, but the moon was down, 
In the sprinkling of new-fallen snow 
Jamie Telfer ran 10 miles on foot 
Between the Dodhead and the Stob's Hall. 

And when he came to the tower-gate 
He rang the bell and loud cried he 
Until out spoke old Gibby Elliot 
"Who's this that brings the fray to me?" 

"It's Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead 
I'm victim of a robbery; 
There's nothing left at the Fair Dodhead 
But a weeping wife and babies three." 

"Go seek your help at Branksome hall 
For help ye will get none from me 
Go seek succor where ye paid blackmail 
For man, ye never paid money to me." 

Jamie turned him round about 
And oh, the tear stood in his eye 
"I'll never pay rent to Elliot again 
For the all the help he gives to me." 

Then he ran on to his brother-in-law's 
He rang the bell and loud cried he 
Until up spoke him old Jock Grieve 
"Who's this that brings the fray to me" 

"It's Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead 
I'm victim of a robbery. 
And six poor calves stand in the stall 
All wondering where their mothers be" 

"Now that's bad news," said old Jock Grieve 
And ever my heart is sad for thee 
For I was married on the eldest sister 
You to the youngest of the three." 

Then he took out a bonny black 
Was right well fed with corn and hay 
And he's set Jamie Telfer on his back 
To the Catslockhill to take the fray." 

And when he came to the Catslockhill 
He rang the bell and loud cried he 
Until up spoke good William Wat 
"O who's this brings the fray to me." 

"It's Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead, 
I'm victim of a robbery 
The Captain o' Bewcastle has driven my cows 
For God's sake, rise and come with me." 

"Now that's bad news," said William Wat 
"And man, my heart is sad for thee. 
I never came by the Fair Dodhead 
But you gave meat and drink to me." 

He set his sons on coal-black steeds 
Himself upon a freckled grey 
And they are on with Jamie Telfer 
To Branksome Hall to take the fray. 

And when they came to Branksome Hall 
He rang the bell and loud cried he 
At last did answer old Buccleuch 
"Who's this that brings the fray to me?" 

"It's Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead, 
I'm victim of a robbery; 
There's nothing left in the Fair Dodhead 
But a weeping wife and babies three." 

"Now that's bad news," said the good old lord, 
And ever my heart is sad for thee! 
Go call on Willie Scott, my son 
And bid him come and speak to me." 

"Go rouse the clan," cried old Buccleuch, 
"Go warn the water, broad and wide 
Them that won't ride for Telfer's cows 
Shall never look me in the eye. 

"Get Wat o' Harden and his sons 
With them will Borthwick Water ride 
Get Gaudilands, and Allanhaugh 
And Gilmanscleugh, and Commonside 

They rode down the Frostylee, 
From the stream up to the plain 
Till they spied Jamie Telfer's cows 
All driven on by the captain's men. 

"Who drives these cows," cried Willie Scott 
"To make a laughing stock of me?" 
"I'm the Captain of Bewcastle, Willie, 
And I won't hide my name from thee." 

"Will ye let Telfer's cows go back? 
Will ye do it from regard for me? 
Or by my faith of my body, said Willie, 
I'll ply my mother's whip on thee." 

"I won't let the cows go back, 
Neither from thy love nor yet from fear 
But I will drive Jamie Telfer's cows 
In spite of every Scott that's here." 

Then Willie was stricken o'er the head 
And through his helmet to the brain 
And Harden cried for very rage 
When Willie on the ground lay slain. 

"Revenge! Revenge!" old Wat did cry 
Fie lads, lay on them cruelly! 
We'll never see Tiviot side again 
But Willie's death revenged shall be." 

John o Brigham there was slain 
And John o' Barlow, as I hear say 
And thirty more of the captain's men 
Lay bleeding on the ground that day 

The captain was run right through the crotch 
And broken was his right leg-bone 
If he had lived a hundred years, 
He'd never make love to a woman again 

"Have back the cows!" ‚ the captain cried 
"Some damn fine cows, I trust they be 
For if I live a hundred years 
Never will a fair lady smile on me." 

Then they rode on to the Stanegirthside 
They felled a tree and burst the door; 
They loosed out all the captain's cows 
And boldly drove them on before 

There sat and old wife before the fire 
A woman of the captain's kin 
Who dares let out the captain's cows 
Or answer to his men and him 

"It's I, Wat o' Harden loose the cows 
And I won't hide my name from thee 
And I will drive the captain's cows 
In scorn of all his men and he." 

When they came to the Fair Dodhead 
They were a welcome sight to see 
Jamie Telfer's ten milk-cows 
As well the captain's thirty and three 

And there was meat and drink for all 
And Telfer paid the rescue-fee 
And at the burial of Willie Scott 
I know was many a weeping eye.