Dark was the night, cold blew the wind, and fast came down the rain,
When Betsy left her own true home ne'er to return again;
She left her father's dwelling house, she feared no wet or cold,
For she was young and fond of fun, 'twas love that made her bold.
At ten o'clock that very night beneath the old oak tree,
She promised James her own true love that with him she would be;
She did not fear the drenching rain, the tempest's threatening pour,
She threw her cloak around her neck and walked quickly from the door.
The night passed on and morning rose and Betsy came not home,
It grieved her parents more and more to know where she was gone.
Her mother arose, put on her clothes, and cried in actions wild:
"This country I will travel through to find my darling child."
For three long weary weeks she spent in searching this country 'round,
At length it proved to no avail for Betsy was not found;
And for to reach her lonely home so saddened with her trial,
And pressed with grief she then knelt down and broken-hearted died.
It was three weeks later the owner of this ground,
When Squire McCallion he went to search with all his hounds;
O'er hills, down dales they quickly rode with gallant company,
At length by chance they spied a fox down by the old oak tree.
The hounds began to sniff and snort and then to tear the clay,
'Twas more than all those whips could do to drive those hounds away.
The gentlemen then all gathered 'round and called for pick and spade;
They dug the ground and there they found that murdered missing maid.
The grave did show its horrid works, that was a shocking sight
To see the worms eat through her eyes that once was shining bright;
And in her side a knife was found to my sad grief and shame,
And on the knife this gentleman read Squire McCallion's name.
"I done the deed," McCallion cried, "my soul is food for hell,
Oh hide that cold corpse from my eyes and I the truth will tell;
It's true I've loved young Betsy the same as I did my life,
A thousand times I've told her that I'd make her my wife.
"And as she pleaded on her knees these words were said to me,
The devil whispered, "take her life and then you will go free";
The knife I cut my dinner with I plunged it through her breast,
'Twas with my staff I knocked her down, I need not tell the rest.
"And from that dreadful hour to this she appears before my eyes,
I think I sees her bleeding ghost and hears her dying cries."
He drew a pistol from his belt and he fired it through his breast;
Right where he fell they buried him no Christian grave had he,
For none was found to bless the ground down by the old oak tree.
Kenneth Peacock, 1965. Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, vol.2 p.628. Ottawa, National Museum of Canada.
Noted by Kenneth Peacock from Mike Kent, Cape Broyle, Newfoundland: July 1951.
This song appears to derive from an Irish broadside of the later 19th century; the tune is a form of the widespread Dives and Lazarus
There are two editions listed at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads
, but images aren't available online at the moment.
(Search Roud index at VWML)