The Elfin Knight
1: The Devil and the Maid
Versions from the Singing Tradition
1: The Devil and the Maid
As sung by John McDonald and his son Ronnie on Marshall's berryfield, Alyth, Angus
2: The Elfin Knight
From Duncan Johnstone and Martha (Peasie) Reid, Torwood, Dunkeld, Perthshire
(Archive version)
3: The Elfin Knight
From Duncan Johnstone and Martha (Peasie) Reid, Torwood, Dunkeld, Perthshire
(Collated version)
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As sung by Ronnie McDonald and his father John McDonald at Marshall's field, Alyth, Perthshire in August 1965. Recorded by Peter Shepheard.
PS: In August 1965 I was in the Blairgowrie area during the annual traveller gathering for the local berrypicking harvest. Not all the farms employed travellers, but those that did usually set aside a field for traveller camps and vans. I was camped on one of the main traveller sites at Marshall's field in Alyth. In the evening there was often singing around the camp fire and late one night a young traveller Ronnie McDonald came out with this ancient ballad [Spr 65.16.9]. The next morning I was introduced to Ronnie's father John McDonald who recorded several songs and ballads for me including his version of the same ballad [Spr 65.17.1]. Slight differences between their versions are indicated below the text.

There once was a fair maid went for a walk,
Blow, blow, blow ye wynds blow
She met a devil on the way.
The weary winds'll blow ma plaidie awa

Noo he says tae her, 'I will gie ye a task,
Blow, blow, blow ye wynds blow
Ye'll mak tae me a Holland sark,
Aye without either seam or needle work.
An the weary winds'll blow ma plaidie awa

'For ye'll wash it doun in yon draw well,
Where there never was water or a dew drop fell.'

'For ye'll dry it up with one blink o sun,
Blow, blow, blow ye wynds blow
If I do that task for you,
Surely you'll do one for me.
An the weary winds'll blow ma plaidie awa'

'For ye'll fetch to me three acres of land,
Aye atween the salt sea an the salt sea strand.'

'For you'll plough it up with a dooble ram's horn,
An ye'll harrow it ower wi a tree o blackthorn.'

'For ye'll sow it ower wi one pile o corn, [a pile = a grain
And ye'll ripe it up wi one blink o sun.' [ripe = ripen]

'For ye'll shear it down wi a peahen's feather,
And ye'll stook it up wi a stang o an ether.' [stang o an ether = tongue of an adder

'For ye'll yoke two sparrows in a matchbox,
And ye'll cart it home to your own farm yard.'

'For it's when you do that task for me,
Blow, blow, blow ye wynds blow
You come back an ye'll get your sark.'
The weary winds'll blow ma plaidie awa

Note: Ronnie sang 'Blow, blow' whereas his father used the older Scots form 'Blaw, blaw' and also pronounced wind as wynd. Occasionally the 'Weary wind' is replaced by 'Dreary wind'.

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