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Dick o the Broom (Dick o’ the Cow, Child#185) The victory of a wise fool, first noted in literature and as “Dick o the Cow” in 1596 From the singing of Robert Shortreed of Liddesdale, 1816, with additional verses from John Elliot of Reidheugh. Lord Scrupe (Scroope) was warden of the English West March. St Mary’s knot - triple knot, the horses were hamstrung.

lyrics

Now Liddesdale has lain long in,
There is no riding there at all;
Their horses are grown so lazy and fat,
They’re loath to stir out of the stall.
fal lal de ral la

Fair Johnie Armstrong to his brother did say,
“Willie, a-riding we will go
Let us away to Cumberland
Perhaps we’ll return with booty in tow.”

Then they came on to Hutton Hall,
They rode that proper place about;
But the laird he was the wiser man,
For he had left no cattle without.

For he had left no gear to steal,
Except six sheep upon a lea;
Says Johnie, “I’d rather in England die
Before those six sheep go to Liddesdale with me.”

“But who was that last man we met,
Brother, as we came over the hill?”
“Some men call him Dick o the Broom
They say that he is an innocent fool.”

“That fool has three as good cows of his own
As there are in all Cumberland, brother,” said he,
“Betide me life, betide me death,
These cows shall go to Liddesdale with me.”

Then they came on to the poor fool’s house,
And they have broken his walls so wide;
They’ve loosed out Dick o the Broom’s three cows,
& taken three coverlets from his wife’s bed.

Then on the morn, when the day was light,
The shouts and cries rose loud and high:
“O hold your tongue, my wife,” he says,
“And I shall bring more cows to thee”

Now Dickie’s gone to the good Lord Scroope,
And oh what a dreary fool was he:
“Hold your tongue, my fool,” he says,
“For I may not stand to jest with thee.”

“Shame fall all your jesting, my lord,” says Dick,
“For no such jesting agrees with me,
Liddesdale has been in my house this last night,
And they have taken my three cows from me.

“Now I may no longer in Cumberland dwell,
To be your poor fool and your loyal
Unless ye give me leave, my lord,
To go to Liddesdale and steal.”

“To give thee leave, my fool,” says Scroope,
“Thou speakest against mine honor and me;
“Unless thou give me thy oath and thy hand
That ye’ll steal from none but who stole from thee.”

“Here is my oath and my right hand,
My head shall hang on Hairibee
I’ll never cross Carlisle sands again,
If I steal from any but who stole from me”

Dickie took leave of lord and master,
And oh what a merry fool was he;
He’s bought a bridle and a pair of new spurs,
And packed them all up in his breeches’ thigh.

Then Dickie’s come on to Liddisdale,
Even as fast as he could flee;
Dickie’s come on to Puddinburn-house,
Where there were thirty Armstrongs and three.

“I’m come to complain of your man Fair Johnie,
And then of his brother Willie,’” says he;
‘How they have been in my house this last night,
And they have taken my three cows from me.”

“Ha!” says Fair Johnie, “We will him hang”;
“No,” says Willie, “We will him slay;”
Then up spoke another young Armstrong,
“We’ll give him a beating, and send him away.”

But up and spoke the good Laird’s Jock,
The best fella in all the company
“Sit thy ways down a little while, Dickie,
And a piece of thy own cow’s haunch I’Il give thee.”

But Dickie’s heart it grew so great
That never a bite was he able to eat.
And the only prayer that Dickie prayed there, was
“I wish I’d amends of my cows from thee”

Then it was the custom of Puddinburn,
And the house of Mangerton, all hail!
These that came not at the first call,
They got no more meat until the next meal.

The lads, that hungry and weary were,
Above the door-head flung the key;
Dickie he took good notice to that;
“Oh, There will be a booty for me.”

Dickie arose to take his leave,
And into his pocket he slipped the key
And into the stable Dickie has gone,
Where there stood thirty horse and three.

He’s tied them all up with St Mary’s knot,
All of their horses he tied but three,
He leaped on one, took another in hand
And away as fast as he could flee.

Then on the morn, when the day grew light,
The shouts and cries rose loud and high;
“Where is that fool?” Fair Johnie did cry;
‘”He’s taken the horse of my brother and me.”

“Ye would never be told,” says the good Laird’s Jock;
“Have ye not found my tales are real?
Ye never would out of England stay,
Till the crooked and blind and all would steal.”

“But lend me thy bay,” Fair Johnie did say,
“There’s no horse loose in the stable but he;
And I’ll either fetch Dick o’ the Broom again,
Or the day is come that he shall die.’

He took the Laird’s Jock’s jack on his back,
A two-handed sword to hang by his thigh;
He put the steel cap on his head,
And galloped on to follow Dickie.

Then Dickie was not a mile off the town,
A mile and a mile and barely three,
When he was o’ertaken by Fair Johnie Armstrong,
Hand for hand on Cannonbie lea.

“Abide thee, bide, now, Dickie, then,
The day is come that thou must die.”
Dickie says over his shoulder, “Fair Johnie,
Has thou any more in thy company?”

Fair Johnie took up his two-handed sword,
Thought well to slay the innocent fool;
But the powers above were more than he,
He ran but the poor fool’s jerkin through.

Together they ran, and ever they blew,
Till the fool took his two-handed sword away,
Dickie couldn’t get to him with the blade of the sword,
But struck with the pommel under the eye.

Thus Dickie has felled Fair Johnie Armstrong,
The prettiest man in the south country;
“Gracious mercy,” then Dickie did say,
“I had but two horses, thou hast made me three.”

When Fair Johnie wakened out of his dream,
Stripped of his jack and steel cap was he:
Says, “The Devil go in thy company, Dickie,
I never shall fight with a fool after thee.”

Then Dickie came home to the good Lord Scroope,
But oh what an angry man was he:
“Now Dickie, I neither shall eat meat nor drink,
Until high hanged thou shall be!’

“The shame speed the liars, my Lord,” says Dick,
“This was not the promise ye made to me,
For I’d never gone to Liddesdale to steal,
Had I not got my leave from thee.”

“But what made thee steal the Laird’s Jock’s horse?
& rascal what made thou steal him,” says he,
“For long might thou in Cumberland dwell
Before the Laird’s Jock had stolen from thee.”

“I gave my oath and my right hand
To steal from none but who stole from me,
I won the horse from Fair Johnie Armstrong,
Hand for hand on Cannonbie lea.

“There is the jack he wore on his back,
This two-handed sword hung low by his thigh,
There is the steel cap was on his head,
I brought all these tokens to let ye see.”

“If this be true thou tells to me;
And I think thou dares not tell a lie—
I’ll give thee twenty pounds for the horse,
Well counted out on thy cloak-lap shall be.

“And I’ll give thee one of my best milk-cows,
To maintain thy wife and thy children three,
And that may be as good, I think,
As any two of thine might be.”

“The shame speed the liars, my lord!” says Dick,
“Think ye always to make a fool of me?
I’ll either have thirty pound for the good horse,
Or else he’s to Mattan Fair with me.”

He gave him thirty pound for the good horse,
All in gold and good money,
And he gave him one of his best milk-cows,
To maintain his wife and his children three.

Then Dickie came down through Carlisle town,
Even as fast as he could flee:
The first of men that he met with,
Was Lord Scrupe’s brother, Bailiff Glozenburrie.

“Well be ye met, my good Ralph Scrupe!”
“Welcome, my brother’s fool!” says he;
“Where did thou get Fair Johnie Armstrong’s horse?”
“Where did I get him but steal him,” says Dickie.

“I’ll give thee fifteen pound for the good horse, well counted out on thy cloak-lap shall be
And I’ll give thee one of my best milk-cows to maintain thy wife and thy children three.”

“The shame speed the liars, my lord!” says Dick,
“Think ye always to make a fool of me?
I’ll either have thirty pound for the good horse,
Or else he’s to Mattan fair with me.”

He gave him thirty pound for the good horse,
All in gold and good money;
And he gave him one of his best milk-cows,
To maintain his wife and his children three.

Then Dickie leapt a leap full high,
And oh what a loud laugh laughed he:
‘”I wish the neck of this horse were broken,
If one of the others were better than he!”

Then Dickie came home to his wife again,
Judge ye how the poor fool had sped;
He gave her three score of English pounds
For the three old coverlets taken off her bed.


“Here, take thee these two cows as good,
I think, as all thy three might be;
And yet here is a white-footed nag;
I trust he will carry both thee and me.

“But we may no longer in Cumberland dwell;
The Armstrongs they would hang me sure.”
So Dickie took leave at lord and master,
To dwell in peace at Burgh under Stanemuir.

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