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The Laidley Worm THE King is gone from Bamborough Castle, Long may the Princess mourn; Long may She stand on the castle wall, Looking for his return. It fell out on a day the King Brought the Queen with him home; And all the lords in our country To welcome them did come. "Oh! welcome, father" the lady cried, "Unto our halls and bowers; And so are you, my stepmother, For all that's here is yours" A lord said, wondering while she spake, "This Princess of the north Surpasses all of female kind In beauty and in worth." The envious Queen replied at last, "Ye might have excepted me In a few hours I will her bring Down to a low degree. "I will liken her to a Laidley worm, That warps about the stone And not till Childy Wynd comes back Shall she again be won." The Princess stood at her bower door Laughing; who could her blame? But e'er the next day's sun went down A long worm she became. For seven miles east and seven miles west And seven miles north and south No blade of grass or corn could grow So venomous was her mouth. Word went east and word went west, And over the sea did go; The Child of Wynd got wit of it, Which filled his heart with woe. He called straight his merry men all, They thirty were and three I wish were at Spindleston, This desperate worm to see. "We have no time now here to waste, Hence quickly let us sail; My only sister Margaret Something, I fear, doth ail." They built a ship without delay, With masts of the rowan-tree, With flutt'ring sails of silk so fine, And set her on the sea. The Queen looked out of her bower window To see what she could see; There she espied a gallant ship Sailing upon the sea When she beheld the silken sails Full glancing in the sun, To sink the ship she sent away Her witch wives every one. Their spells were vain; the hags returned To the Queen in sorrowful mood, Crying that "Witches have no power Where there is rowan-tree wood" The worm leapt up, the worm leapt down, She plaited round the stane, And aye as the ship came to the land, She banged it off again. The Child then ran out of her reach The ship on Budle sand; And jumping into the shallow sea, Securely got to land. And now he drew his berry-brown sword And laid it on her head And swore if she did harm to him, That he would strike her dead. "Oh, quit thy sword and bend thy bow, And give me kisses three If I'm not won e'er the sun go doon, Won I shall never be.'' He quitted his sword, and bent his bow, He gave her kisses three; She crept into a hole a worm, But out stept a lady. He has taken his mantle from him about, And it he wrapt her in And they are up t' Bamborough Castle, As fast as they could win. Her absence and her serpent shape The King had long deplored; He now rejoiced to See them both Again to him restored The Queen they wanted, whom they found All pale and sore afraid, Because she knew her power must yield To Childy Wynd's, who said: "Woe be to thee, thou wicked witch, An ill death mayst thou dee As thou my sister has lik'ned, So lik'ned shalt thou be. "I will tutn you into a toad, That on the ground doth wend And won, won shalt thou never be Till this world hath an end." Now on the ground near Ida's tower She crawls a loathsome toad, And venom spits on every maid She meets upon the road. From Songs of Northern England, Stokoe Child #34 RG apr00
Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!