THE STRANGER AND THE CRONE
Tom wrote most of this cautionary tale way back in 1970 when he was 15, only adding the last verse in 99 when Derek Magee from Slide rejuvenated the song with a stomping fiddle break. Moral: Don’t jump to conclusions about men who dress in black.
Rain had fallen sudden causing trembling and dark
Flashing like a shadow through the trees
The droplets dripped like echoes, running rolling down the bark
Making circles on the road like fallen leaves
Old woman in her apron standing by a horse's side
A man so tall and grave upon its back
Dressed from boot to bonnet all in black
"Do you know a place where I may hide?"
"Prithy, Noble sire you must tell me your intent
For you charge me with a strange and heavy load.
I can see your steed is tired, all his energy is spent
But who can you be feared of on this road?"
He answered her again, with his head held high with pride
Though fear and pain were written on his face,
And she saw that he was weary of the chase
"Good woman - Do you know a place where I may hide?"
So asking no more questions then she took the bridle hold
And led him quickly on between the trees
But the ground was soft and muddy and the horse's legs did fold
And he sank down to the ground upon his knees
And as the horse so faltered they heard hooves come thundering nigh
And she saw that hunted look come on his face
And her stick up high above her she did raise
And brought it down with all her might upon his eyes.
Then through the brush came crashing a full hand of angry men
All bristling with staff and spear and sword
"Good Captain!" cried the woman, "Here's your enemy of the King"
Is there anything by way of a reward?"
The men dismounted quickly, with many a shout and curse
And dragged the stranger from his fallen steed
Then they stabbed him through the heart how he did bleed!
"Hold your tongue or you'll be treated far far worse"
The old woman saw her danger and her treacherous mistake
And her heart was filled with terror for her life
While off the stricken stranger his possessions they did take
His cloak and money belt and jewelled knife
Then suddenly they turned upon the cowering old crone
And struck her to ground where she did lay
Then laughing at her fate they rode away
Leaving her to whimper and to groan.
She lay a long while, winded, then she painfully did rise
and crawled across to where the stranger lay
His life was ebbed so quickly, but he opened both his eyes,
She leaned in close to catch what he might say
We are near the house of Anderson, from whence my father came
I would fain be buried with my kin
Then that woman knoew such anquish for her sin
For Anderson had been her maiden name.