Once upon a time there were two king's daughters lived in a bower near the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie. And Sir William came wooing the eldest and won her love and plighted troth with glove and with ring. But after a time he looked upon the youngest, with her cherry cheeks and golden hair, and his love grew towards her till he cared no longer for the eldest one. So she hated her sister for taking away Sir William's love, and day by day her hate grew upon her, and she plotted and she planned how to get rid of her.
So one fine morning, fair and clear, she said to her sister, "Let us go and see our father's boats come in at the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie." So they went there hand in hand. And when they got to the river's bank the youngest got upon a stone to watch for the coming of the boats. And her sister, coming behind her, caught her round the waist and dashed her into the rushing mill-stream of Binnorie.
"O sister, sister, reach me your hand!" she cried, as she floated away, "and you shall have half of all I've got or shall get."
"No, sister, I'll reach you no hand of mine, for I am the heir to all your land. Shame on me if I touch the hand that has come 'twixt me and my own heart's love."
"O sister, O sister, then reach me your glove!" she cried, as she floated further away, "and you shall have your William again."
"Sink on," cried the cruel princess, "no hand or glove of mine you'll touch. Sweet William will be all mine when you are sunk beneath the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie." And she turned and went home to the king's castle.
And the princess floated down the mill-stream, sometimes swimming and sometimes sinking, till she came near the mill. Now the miller's daughter was cooking that day, and needed water for her cooking. And as she went to draw it from the stream, she saw something floating towards the mill-dam, and she called out, "Father! father! draw your dam. There's something white—a merry maid or a milk-white swan— coming down the stream." So the miller hastened to the dam and stopped the heavy cruel mill-wheels.