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Annie and the Falcon

A lady rode in a carriage fine with her guardian at her side,
And beside them both rode a man of ice who would take her for his bride.
The lady wept and trembled, the lady boldly said,
“I will not have the man of ice to share my wedding bed.”

Then Lord Duncan lifted up his hand and gave her many a blow,
And the man of ice sat smiling to see her salt tears flow.
Again the lady boldly said, “I will not be his wife,
And before that I would marry him, I'd take my own sweet life.”

The wind surged like an ocean across the midnight moor,
And they heard the sound of hoofbeats like waves upon the shore,
Then they heard the crack of a pistol and a horse's frightened neigh.
“Now stand ye and deliver!” the highwayman did say.

Lord Duncan shook and trembled, and the man of ice turned gray,
For the voice of the highwayman was bold and his laughter bright and fey,
But the lady ceased her weeping, and dried her tears away,
For the voice of the highwayman was sweet and warm as a summer's day.

They stepped out of the carriage while he searched it for their gold,
But he knew not of her dowry, down in the secret hold.
He took the lady in his arms and kissed the earl's fair daughter,
And the wind blew out his midnight cloak and it billowed all about her.

“My dowry's in the carriage, there's gold and emeralds too.
You can have it all,” she whispered, “if you take me hence with you.”
“The kisses I have stolen are gold enough for me,
And I care not for your dowry if you come away with me.”
Then the highwayman to the man of ice said, “Give your gold to me.
Likewise give me your diamond brooch, and take off your finery.”
He took Lord Duncan's ruby ring, he took his chain of gold,
And he left him with the man of ice standing naked in the road.

He led the lady back to the carriage, said “My lad Will shall drive,
And those two fools for their cruelty may be glad they're left alive.”
Then the highwayman in the darkness sat, and the lady laid her down,
And pillowed her head of silken gold on his breeches of velvet brown.

“Whatever it is you ask of me, I'll gladly do,” she said,
“Far better that you than the man of ice should have my maidenhead.”
“I've never ravished any maid, but if you'll come willingly,
I'll teach you all I know of love, and that right tenderly.”

She said, “They call me Annie, and from London town I came.
If you will be my own true love, come and tell to me your name.”
“My name I dare not tell you you, 'tis 'The Falcon' I go by.
If King Charlie knew my own true name, on the gallows I would die.”

The carriage stopped at a secret cave down in a rocky glen.
And he's taken out her dowry and hidden it therein.
He said, “I've left your dowry in this cave among the trees,
And if ever I should leave you, come and spend it as you please.”

Then Willie took the carriage and drove it clean away,
And the Falcon mounted his black horse, the stallion Runagate.
And Annie rode in the Falcon's arms, with wind and darkness round,
'Till they came to his home, the Eyrie, hid in a grassy mound.

He laid her on his velvet bed and opened her silken gown,
And there he beheld the fairest maid that ever laid her down.
And in the velvet darkness, and the silken candlelight,
He made her glad she ran away with the Falcon in the night.

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

When they had been together for three months and one day,
He said to her, “It is not fit, let us marry straightaway.
I'll be a merry merchant man, and you may be my bride,
And with God's grace on the highway, I never more shall ride.”

They've taken a house in Yorkshire, and a merchant he became.
He called him Robin Farleigh, it was his own true name.
And not a man suspected that he was the Falcon, bold, 
Or that all his silk and velvet goods were bought with stolen gold.

It was on a Friday morning, early on their wedding day,
That Willie crept through the window and took him clean away.
He went to find Lord Duncan, and the man of ice as well,
Saying, “Now you'll take the Falcon, for his name to you I'll tell.”
The Falcon looked out the window, as they dressed for the wedding ball,
And he saw a troop of soldiers surround the garden wall.
“Lie down, my pretty Annie, on the velvet coverlet.
There's a troop of soldiers coming, but I may save you yet.”

He bound her hands above her, and chained them to the wall.
“I see Lord Duncan coming to dance at our wedding ball.
And if you're my companion, you'll hang along with me,
But if you are my prisoner, they'll only set you free.

“Farewell, farewell, my darling,” he kissed his weeping bride.
Then Willie burst through the chamber door with Lord Duncan at his side.
Lord Duncan raised his pistol.  “You must come along with me.”
And they bound the hands of the Falcon, and set his lady free.

“Willie, my lad, Willie, I taught you all my trade,
And I never thought the day would come that I would be betrayed.”
Said Will, “You've taken the fairest maid that ever a lad did spy,
And you've cast off your apprentice, and now I'll see you die.”
They led the Falcon down the stairs and into the great ballroom.
And the wedding guests stood all amazed to see the fettered groom.
“This bridegroom Robin Farleigh,” Lord Duncan loud did say,
“Is no one but the Falcon, and he shall hang today.”

Then Lord Duncan lifted up his cane and gave him many a blow.
And Annie watched in terror to see his red blood flow.
The wedding guests stood all amazed and dared not do a thing,
For all about on every hand stood soldiers of the king.

They threw Robin on the carriage floor, so weak he could not stand,
And Annie sat on the carriage seat, and dared not take his hand.
They traveled back to London, and to Newgate he was borne,
And word went out that the Falcon would hang upon the morn.

Then Lord Duncan went to the man of ice to see what he would say.
But since the dowry was stolen, he ordered him away.
Said he, “This fair young maiden had once my heart beguiled,
But now I will not have her because she is with child.”

Then Annie rose at midnight and took Lord Duncan's gun.
She crept out of the window.  Through the moonlight she did run.
She ran out to the stables, where Runagate was kept,
And she galloped through the cobbled streets while all of London slept.

She rode to Newgate Prison and knocked upon the door.
And when the gaoler opened it, he found her weeping sore.
She said, “Take me to the Falcon's cell, that I might say goodbye.
For I would give him one last kiss before that he must die.”

They took her to the Falcon's cell where he lay upon the floor.
He shook and trembled with fever; his stripes were raw and sore.
“It's oh, my love you must arise, it's time we were away.”
And she reached beneath her petticoat, where Lord Duncan's pistol lay.

Then Annie called to the gaoler, and they ordered him aside.
She pulled the Falcon onto his horse, and away they both did ride.
They rode back to the Eyrie, within the grassy mound,
And she led him to his velvet bed, and there she laid him down.

And for a week she tended him, with all her love and care.
And when he opened up his eyes, he saw her smiling there.
“It's Annie, oh, my Annie, 'tis you have saved my life.
And there's not a girl in all the world that's like my own true wife.”

They took her dowry down to the docks, where the ships do sail away.
And they set sail for America, upon that very day.
And there they settled happily, Robin Farleigh and his bride,
And for all his life, on the highway he never more did ride.

                       Karen Deal Robinson
                       July 2, 1988

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copyright 2009 by Karen Deal Robinson

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