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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Binnorie"

Binnorie

And then they took out the princess and laid her on the bank.

Fair and beautiful she looked as she lay there. In her golden hair were pearls and precious stones; you could not see her waist for her golden girdle; and the golden fringe of her white dress came down over her lily feet. But she was drowned, drowned!

And as she lay there in her beauty a famous harper passed by the mill- dam of Binnorie, and saw her sweet pale face. And though he travelled on far away he never forgot that face, and after many days he came back to the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie. But then all he could find of her where they had put her to rest were her bones and her golden hair. So he made a harp out of her breast-bone and her hair, and travelled on up the hill from the mill-dam of Binnorie, till he came to the castle of the king her father.

That night they were all gathered in the castle hall to hear the great harper—king and queen, their daughter and son, Sir William and all their Court. And first the harper sang to his old harp, making them joy and be glad or sorrow and weep just as he liked. But while he sang he put the harp he had made that day on a stone in the hall. And presently it began to sing by itself, low and clear, and the harper stopped and all were hushed.

And this was what the harp sung:

"O yonder sits my father, the king,

Binnorie, O Binnorie;

And yonder sits my mother, the queen;

By the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie,

"And yonder stands my brother Hugh,

Binnorie, O Binnorie;

And by him, my William, false and true;

By the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie."

Then they all wondered, and the harper told them how he had seen the princess lying drowned on the bank near the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie, and how he had afterwards made this harp out of her hair and breast-bone. Just then the harp began singing again, and this was what it sang out loud and clear:

"And there sits my sister who drownèd me

By the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie."

And the harp snapped and broke, and never sang more.

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