The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'The Five Shilling Fee'


The Five Shilling Fee.

My Mither was wae, for my faither was deed,
Au' they threatened to tak' oor auld hoose o'er oor heid ;
Her earnings grew scanty, and meal had got dear ;
The auldest o' five, I could whiles see a tear
When she cam' hame at nicht glisten hard in her een,
Half hid as it didna jist want to be seen.
I spak' nae a word, but my wee heart wad ache,
And I wished I was big for my puir mither's sake.

There were farmers around wanted herds for their kye,
And mither had said she had ane that wad try,
I mind hoo I trembled, half fear and half joy
When a farmer ca'd in jist to look at the boy,
He bade me stan' up ; said he thocht I was wee ;
But my frank, honest face, he said, pleased his e'e ;
He wad tak' me and try me ae half-year an' see
For a pair o' new shoon and a five shilling fee.

We were prood to hear tell o't, a bargain was struck,
And he left me a saxpence o' earls for luck ;
My jacket an' trousers were patched for the day,
And my mither conveyed me a lang mile away,
Wi' threat'nings and warnings 'gainst a' kinds o' crime,
And rules she laid down I thocht hard at the time ;
If the kye should gae wrang I was never tae lee,
Though they send me awa', baith my shoon an' my fee.

Sae I fell tae my wark, an' I pleased richt weel,
A word or a wave and I plied hand and heel;
But my troubles cam" on, for the fences were bad,
An' the midsummer fleas made the cattle rin mad,
And in cauld blasty weather sair drenched wi' the rain,
Whiles wee thochts o' leavin' wad steal o'er my brain;
But with courage I dashed aye the tear fae my e'e
When I thocht o' my shoon an' my five shilling fee.

An' Martinmas brought me my lang wished-for store,
And proudly I counted it twenty times o'er,
Noo years hae fled by in a joyful train,
But I never experienced sic raptures again.
The sailor just safe through the wild breakers steered,
Proud Waterloo's victor when Blucher appeared,
Ne'er felt as I felt when I placed on the knee
Of a fond-hearted mother my five shilling fee.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: RB.m.143(025)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Five Shilling Fee'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland