A Border Foray.

The winter winds were blawing cauld,1
It was St. Martin’s tide,2
When the Captain of Bewcastle vowed3
A foray he would ride,4
To drive a prey from Teviotdale,5
In spite of friend or foe ;6
He mustered all his merry men,7
And blithely forth did go.8
They crossed the river, climbed the brae,9
They emptied many a byre,10
They drove the cattle on before,11
Then set the stacks on fire,12
When they came to the lone Dodhead,13
Jamie Telfer he did pray14
That they would spare his lowly hame,15
But they drove his kye away.16
His stable doors were one and all17
From off the hinges flung,18
His best steeds they were ta’en away,19
The rest were all hamstrung.20
Then Jamie Telfer vowed revenge,21
As through the falling snaw22
He ran on foot ten miles or more23
To Gibbie Elliot’s Ha’.24
Wha brings the fray ?’ auld Gibbie cried,25
Wha brings the fray to me ?’26
It’s Jamie Telfer o’ the Dodhead,27
A harried man I be ;28
There’s naething at the lone Dodhead,29
There’s naething left to me30
But a burned-down house, a waefu’ wife,31
And wailing bairns three.’32
Seek succour where you pay blackmail,33
For that you ne’er paid me ;34
Gae ask for help at Branxsome Ha’,35
For nane you’ll get frae me.’36
I hae paid blackmail,’ then Jamie cried,37
I hae paid blackmail to thee,38
But ne’er to an Elliot I’ll pay again39
Until the day I dee.’40
He hied him now to Coultard clough,41
O’er moorland, moss, and lea.42
Wha brings the fray ?’ cried auld Jock Grieve,43
Wha brings the fray to me ?’44
It’s Jamie Telfer o’ the Dodhead,45
A harried man I be ;46
There’s naething at the Dodhead left47
But wife and bairns three.’48
A sturdy tyke was auld Jock Grieve,49
Wha many a fray had seen ;50
And though his locks were thin and grey,51
His eye was clear and keen.52
He set his twa sons on coal-black steeds,53
Himself upon his dappled grey,54
While eager on a borrowed steed55
Jamie Telfer led the way.56
And soon they got to Branxsome Ha’57
And shouted loud and clear.58
Wha brings the fray ?’ cried auld Buccleuch,59
Wha dares the fray bring here ?’60
It’s Jamie Telfer o’ the Dodhead,61
A harried man I be ;62
There’s naething at the Dodhead left63
But wife and bairns three.’64
Alack-a-day !’ cried auld Buccleuch,65
My heart is wae for thee ;66
But haste thee, warn Willie, my son,67
And bid him come to me.68
Gae saddle his horse, call out his men,69
Drink deep o’ my blood-red wine ;70
If he’ll nae ride for Telfer’s kye71
Will Scott’s nae son o’ mine.72
Warn Wat o’ Harden and his sons,73
And Scott o’ common-side ;74
While Gilmans cleuch and Gouldie lands75
Alang wi’ them will ride.76
And so will Borthwick-water bold,77
And Armstrong o’ the Park ;78
Twa better and twa braver men79
Ne’er rode forth in the dark.80
I saw them on their stirrups stand,81
And strike wi’ might and main,82
When belted Howard’s steel-capped men83
Assailed the Scotts in vain.84
Warn big Jock Johnston and his men,85
And Kerr o’ Linhope Vale ;86
The Southern loons shall rue their raid87
On bonny Teviotdale.88
But I, wha never flinched the fray,89
Nor feared the face o’ man,90
Bowed doon by age, the bold Buecleuch91
Nae mair can lead the van.’92
The mist hung heavy on the brae,93
The morning air was chill,94
When they o’ertook the reiving band95
Near Redcliffs lonely hill.96
The first to speak was auld Jock Grieve,97
Wha shonted, ‘ Reiving loon !98
Release ye Jamie Telfer’s kye99
Or dread the reiver’s doom,’100
The Captain, turning fiercely round,101
Cried, ‘ Dotard, cease thy din,102
Or, though thy head is bald and grey,103
I’ll cleave it to the chin.104
Dismount thee from that dappled steed,105
For it shall go with me.’106
But Jock, wha drew his burly brand,107
Said, ‘ That we have yet to see.’108
Then up spoke Jock Grieve’s eldest son—109
A gallart bold was he110
My father sits his dappled steed111
Right well, as you may see.112
And if his head is somewhat grey,113
There’s dark pows here enow ;114
The steed which bears an honest man115
Shall never carry you.’116
The wintry sun rose fierce and red,117
Fiercely the fray begun,118
But high he shone above their heads119
Before their work was done.120
When stark and stiff upon the sod121
Within the lonely glen122
The Captain of Beweastle lay123
With thirty of his men.124
And near to them with many more125
Before the fight was won126
Lay Buccleuch’s winsome Willie Scott127
And Jock Grieve’s eldest son.128
So now they did the spoil divide129
From reiving hands set free,130
And Telfer for his ten milch kye131
Drove hame just thirty-three.132
A tear-drop fell from Harden’s eye133
On Willie’s bloody bier ;134
We’ve got back Telfer’s kye,’ he said,135
And paid for them right dear.’136
Between the burn-side and the brae137
Their graves may yet be seen,138
And men still call the eerie spot139
The reivers’ bloody green.140
For when the sun did melt the snaw,141
’Twas ever after said,142
The water clear of Redcliff burn143
For three lang days ran red.144
And oft mid mists of early morn145
A horn is heard to sound,146
While fleeting forms are seen to glide147
The lonely hillside round.148
And shepherds hear the angry cries149
Of fierce contending men,150
And wisely shun, as well they may,151
The wild moss troopers’ glen.152