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Reiver 2 ??Who WAS the 'Brown Girl' (35) RE: ??Who WAS the 'Brown Girl' 09 Jun 10


My source dates Child #295, version A, of 'The Brown Girl' as 'before 1788.' And version B as 'taken down about 1894... from a blacksmith, parish of Thrushleton, Devon.' No date is given for 'Brown Robin,' and 'Brown Adam' is listed as 'No. 14 of the 15 ballads furnished William Tyler by Mrs. Brown [!] in 1783.' There is a fragment of a version B called 'Broun Edom,' also a smith, with no date given.

In version A of 'Brown Adam' he has gone 'to the good greenwood to hunt some venison.' In his absence, his lady is approached by a 'fa'se knight' who offers her 'a gay gold ring' if she will grant him 'love for love.' She replies:

'I loo Brown Adam well,' she says,
    I wot sae he does me;
   An' I woud na gi' Brown Adam's love
    Foe nae fa'se knight I see.'

A persistent bloke, the false kinght offers her "a purse of gold, Was a' fu' to the string." She tells him:

'I loo Brown Adam well,' she says,
    'An I ken sae does he me;
An I wouldna be your light leman
    Formair than ye coud gie.'

The false knight draws his 'lang, lang bran' and threatens to run her through with it if she won't submit. She worries that 'Brown Adam tarrys lang, but suddenly he appears and orders the kinght to put down his sword and also his bow or he'll require 'a better pledge, Four fingers o' his right han'.' Fortunately, for the faint of heart, the song ends abruptly at that point and we're left to wonder if the threat is carried out, while the ballad retains its PG rating.


Reiver 2


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