The Two Sisters
Traditional, arr. Calhoun, recorded on Telfer's Cows. (Child #10)
Well-known throughout Northern Europe, with many wonderful versions. John Jacob Niles sang, 'he gave the youngest a beaver hat, and the eldest sister thought hard of that." It was the custom that the eldest sister should marry first. I met a woman in Minnesota whose older relatives sang it in Danish as they did chores.
Two sisters lived in yonder glen,
Minorie O Minorie;
One man came a-wooing both of them,
By the bonnie mill dams of Minorie.
He courted the eldest with glove and ring,
But he loved the youngest above all things.
He courted the eldest with all his land,
But he courted the youngest with his right hand.
Upon a morning fair and clear,
The eldest came to her sister dear.
Sister will ye go to the broom?
To hear the blackbirds change their tune.
They walked up and down in the broom,
And thrice the blackbirds changed their tune.
She took her by the lily hand,
And led her down to the river strand.
She took her by the middle small,
And dashed her bonnie back to the jaw
In the deep mill dams o' Minorie
She swam up and she swam down,
Until she came to her sister again.
Sister, sister reach your hand,
Ye shall be heir of half my land.
Sister, I'll not reach my hand,
But I shall be heir of all your land.
Sister, reach me but your glove,
And Sweet William shall be your love.
Sister I'll not reach my glove,
Sweet William shall be my love.
The miller's daughter came to the dam,
For water to wash her father's hands.
Father, father fish ye the dam,
There's either a mermaid or a swan.
Has drowned in the dams o' Minorie.
The miller hasted to draw his dam,
And there he found a drowned woman.
And all among her yellow hair,
A string of pearls was twisted rare.
There's many saw her drawn from the pool,
As many more came to her burial.