—— folk family and jam


“A wager, a wager with you, my pretty maid,
Here's five hundred pound to your ten,
That a maid you shall go to yon merry green broom,
But a maid you shall no more return.”

“A wager, a wager with you, kind sir,
With your five hundred pound to my ten,
That a maid I will go to yon merry green broom,
And a maid I will boldly return.”

Now when that she came to this merry green broom,
Found her true love was fast in a sleep,
With a fine finished rose, and a new suit of clothes,
And a bunch of green broom at his feet.

Then three time she went from the crown of his head,
And three times from the sole of his feet.
And three times she kissed his red rosy cheeks,
As he lay fast in a sleep.

Then she took a gold ring from off of her hand,
And put that on his right thumb,
And that was to let her true love to know
That she had been there and was gone.

As soon as he awoke from his drowsy, drowsy sleep,
And found his true love had been there and gone,
It was then he remembered upon the cost,
When he thought of the wager that he'd lost.

Three times he called for his horse and his man,
The horse he'd once bought so dear,
Saying, “Why didn't you wake me out of my sleep,
When my lady, my true love, was here?

 “Three times did I call to you, master, me dear,
And three times did I blow with my horn,
But out of your sleep I couldn't you awake
Till your lady, your true love, was gone.

 “Oh, had I been awake when my true love was here,
Of her I would have my will;
If not, the pretty birds in this merry green broom
With her blood they should have all had their fill.”

From  Tom

If you have just made a wager, and there is the amazing sum of five hundred pounds plus someone's maidenhead at stake, you don't just sit down and go to sleep when the time comes for the decision.  There must be some story behind it.
The implication is that the girl has magic powers (three times three) - or perhaps she is a witch - and has induced his sleep.  In this version (see the last two lines) the lover seems to be a nasty bit of work.  In another version it is his horse and his hawk that he calls, and it is his horse who is rebuked for not having woken its master, and the horse that answers. 
What is the merry green broom?  Broom is either a shrub (like gorse without the prickles) or simply a heath-like area. 
The ring obviously has some significance.

It is a version of the Broomfield Wager, Child 43.  Recorded by for example AL Lloyd, almost exactly in this version.
Has also been recorded by others.