The Ballad of Tam Lin


“O I forbid you, maidens all, That wear gold in your hair, To come or go by Carterhaugh, For young Tam Lin is there.”-“The Ballad of Tam Lin,” Traditional.***Halfway through the forest the carriage stopped for no reason and wouldn’t budge an inch. Lady Astrid fanned herself as the coachman tried to get them going again. “What seems to be the problem?””Can’t say ma’am,” said the driver. “It’s like the wheels just don’t want to turn.””Wheels turn; it’s what they do. Why should we stop for no reason?””Reason is overrated,” said a voice. Lady Astrid screamed. There was a man in her carriage, a very young, very handsome, very well-dressed man, with his legs crossed and a rapier dangling in one hand. “How did you get in here?” she said.”Through the door,” said the strange man. “It’s a kind of moving panel over in the side here, makes getting in and getting out very convenient, you ought to try it if you haven’t yet. Now madam, this is a robbery: If it’s your first them then don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.” He held up a bag and pointed the tip of the sword at her. “Something the matter ma’am?” said the driver.”Not at all,” said the strange man. “It’s just a routine holdup. Stay where you are, unless you think the lady needs some ventilation. Now madam, your rings and bracelets and broaches.” Lady Astrid deposited her jewelry into the sack. She added some candid comments about the robber’s parentage, which he thought were a nice touch. “And the diamond. Don’t forget that.”She held the ring to her chest. “But it’s the symbol of my eternal fidelity and trust in my beloved husband!””Which is why I think it’s very insincere for you to still be wearing it.”Lady Astrid went white, but she dropped the ring into the bag. “I know you,” she said. “You’re the one they call Tam Lin. The duke warned us about you: a thieving, roguish fairy.”” I may be a thief, and I may be a rogue, and I may be a fairy, but…well, anyway, it was nice meeting you. Give my regards to the duke.”Tam Lin sprang out the carriage window and sprinted for the trees. Lady Astrid yelled out the window, “You forgot your sword!””Keep it,” said Tam Lin. “It’s only a stick.”She looked. A moment ago it had been a sword, but now it was, indeed, a stick. She gnashed her teeth, jumped from the carriage, pushed the driver aside, and ran after him, hoisting her skirts over the brambles. Though it was late October, the forest was still as bright and lively as the spring in Carterhaugh: flowers bloomed, trees were heavy with fruit, birds trilled, and sunlight slanted warm and golden through the boughs. It was disgustingly pleasant. Lady Astrid cast around in the weeds and the brush, but saw no sign of the escaped fairy. It was midday and the shadows were very small, but somehow he’d slipped away into them. “Tam Lin!” she shouted. “Tam Lin!””Yes?” said a voice right next to her. She jumped. Tam Lin sat on a low tree branch, eating an apple and twirling her wedding ring around his finger.”Give that back!” she said.”I’m not sure you understand precisely how robbery works.””You can keep the rest,” she said.”I can keep it all. It’s a tax for coming through my forest.” He jumped and landed right next to her, leaning in very close and sniffing her perfume. “Unless you’d care to pay the other toll?”Lady Astrid backed away. “You keep your hands off me.””What about my other parts?”She clutched her fan to her chest. “The stories say you only do that to young, virginal girls.””There are fewer and fewer young virgins every day, so I’m thinking of relaxing my standards. Come, come, we both know why you came this way. The duke put out a proclamation not a week ago warning everyone to stay away from Carterhaugh, and yet here you are.””It was the fastest way,” said Lady Astrid.”You’re coming by way of the glen. This forest detour adds two days on your trip for no reason. I know that Lord Astrid is in his eighties and deaf as a post so I can only imagine the bloom wore off that peach the moment it fell. And more importantly, you’re wearing green.”She looked at her dress. “So?”He touched her cheek. “You know what kind of woman wears green, don’t you?”She blushed. “I’d heard it was a color that fairies enjoy.””We do. Principally because it doesn’t show grass stains.”She threw herself on him and knocked him over. They landed in a patch of clover that he just happened to be standing in front of, and she rolled on top of him. “Well,” she said, catching her breath, “I had to make it look good, didn’t I?””And you look very good indeed.””I wanted to see if the stories were true,” Lady Astrid said, touching his face and running her hands over his chest.”What do you think?””I don’t know,” she said, “I haven’t verified the best parts yet. Help me out of my dress.”Back on the road, the coachman began to wonder how long he should wait before assuming that Lady Astrid was dead. It was getting Ankara bayan escort dark, and the woods certainly seemed perilous. He heard what sounded an awful lot like wildcats screeching in the bushes.”Ohhhhhhh!” said Lady Astrid. Tam Lin concurred. They lay concealed by the tall grass, Lady Astrid’s cloak spread out under them. Her dress was hanging from a tree branch, and the rest of her clothes had probably landed somewhere near the shore of the stream. He repositioned himself a little and slid back inside her, her thighs closing tightly around his body and her hips rolling up to meet his. There was a wavelike motion to their two bodies moving in tandem. He let her set the pace for a little while, reacting when she bucked underneath him and then only going half as fast as he could. She was sweating and flushed and hoarse, but he still looked immaculate. He never looked anything less than immaculate unless he wanted to.They looked into each other’s eyes, unblinking, and Tam Lin laid a kiss on her gasping lips every few seconds, a tiny touch of his mouth against hers, sucking in her panting breaths. She dragged her nails over his back. He responded by pushing into her harder, and she practically gushed in return, growing so wet that she overflowed. “Oh God!” she screamed. “Oh my God!””I’m not really comfortable with titles like that,” he said. “But I appreciate the—MMPH!”She grabbed his head and forced it to hers, tongue sliding into his mouth. Her body bent and she reached down to cup his backside, one cheek in each hand, as it gyrated and pumped up and down. “I’m going to, I’m going to—ohhhhhh!” Lady Astrid screamed again. Tam Lin thought she was a little verbose, but he guessed when your husband is stone deaf you don’t really worry about such things. Back on the road, the coachman locked himself inside the carriage for fear that the wildcats might accost him. They sounded quite fierce.Lady Astrid was up on her hands and knees now, Tam Lin behind her, tracing the length of her back with one fingertip before following the curve down her hip and to the underside, glancing over her naked thighs and then to the place where they meet. She seemed to have lost her voice for a bit, which Tam Lin decided was probably a good thing, as she was about to get a whole lot more worked up and he wasn’t sure a racket was such a good idea this time of night. He began a steady back and forth, his hips bouncing off of her backside every time he went in, and as he reached under and cupped her breasts with both hands he increased his pace, each thrust just a little bit faster than the one before, each push just a little bit harder. Her arms went weak and she lay facedown with her backside arched in the air. Her cunt overflowed, running down her thighs, “Oh God!” screamed Lady Astrid, sounding hoarse.”Yes?” said Tam Lin.”Fill me!”And he was, pumping streams into her, a hot, satisfying gush, one after another. He bit his lip and furrowed his brow as hard as he could. She kept shaking for a long time, and when he finally pulled out he fell backwards into the grass, with a sigh. He was looking up at the stars. He thought they looked better from Carterhaugh than anywhere else in the world. Not that he ever really went anywhere else than Carterhaugh anymore. But then, why would he, if there was no better place?He was reflecting on the moon when he noticed that Lady Astrid had retrieved most of her clothes (she was still missing one glove, her hat, and a layer of bloomers) and was heading back toward the road. He (still naked) caught up with her, sliding his arms around her waist and kissing her ear. “Off so soon, my turtledove?” he said.”Get off me,” she said, pushing him.”Excuse me?” he said.”You’ve made me late,” said Lady Astrid.”I sure as hell hope not, I’m not cut out to be a father. Anyway, it’s hardly my fault. You’re the one who kept insisting on more. I believe your exact words were ‘Oh yes, Jesus Christ, Lord in Heaven, more, more, more…'””I never said any such thing.””I may have been wrong on the precise number of ‘mores’, but the gist is still—”She stuck her fan in his face. “I. Never. Said. Any. Such. Thing. You robbed me and I went looking for you and did not find you. Got it?”He paused. “On further reflection, that does correspond to my recollection.”She left. Tam Lin watched her go. “I feel rather used,” he said out loud. Then he smiled. “Life is good.” When he found his pants (third branch up), Lady Astrid’s ring was still in the pocket. “Life is very, very good,” he said, and deposited the ring in the hollow trunk of an oak tree. With the others.***A few hours later Tam Lin sat in the highest branches of the highest tree and watched the moon. There was something strange about it tonight. For one thing, he didn’t think it should be full yet. For another, it was Escort bayan Ankara a shade of pale yellow that looked very unhealthy to him. And yet nothing in the forest seemed out of place, nothing unusual had occurred lately, and no omens had appeared. Maybe the moon was just having an off night. It happens to people from time to time, so why not moons?Above him, two doves nestled their heads against each other. On the branch above them, an owl perched, waiting for them to move. Tam Lin frowned. Well, that seems like an omen, he thought. Then again, to the owl it just seems like dinner. Can’t go reading omens into every little thing, even if this tree is oozing sap that looks remarkably like blood. Maybe that was just a trick of the light from this bad moon? There was nothing, he was sure, that could disturb the peace and perfection of Carterhaugh, even on a night like this. Nothing except…A cold wind blew. The moon shimmered. Tam Lin almost fell out of his tree. Oh no, he thought. Oh no, oh no, oh no. Oh my—! he thought, and then stopped, as fairies have nothing sacred to swear by, so he simply settled for “Oh my!” He clamored down the branches, the wind plucking at his hair and clothes. It was a terribly cold wind, and it blew from the direction of the moon, chilling his bones. He got almost to the ground before she caught up with him, and Tam Lin, thinking fast, landed in a kneeling position rather than on his feet. “Your majesty!” he said, bowing as low as he could.”Tam Lin,” said the Queen of Fairies. “I’ve come to see you.” She was very tall, and very pale, and where she stood the ground froze. Her words were punctuated by little puffs of chilling fog from her pale white lips. The moon hung behind her head, as it always did, and its cold, pale light made Tam Lin’s teeth chatter. “I’m m-m-most honored.””Are you enjoying your domain?” said the Queen.”Carterhaugh is very…bountiful, this time of year.” He paused. “Well, lovely to see you again, do stop by anytime, always a pleasure.””It’s almost Hallo’ween,” said the Queen.Tam Lin’s heart turned to ice. “How about that? Time flies. I think I’ll be keeping out of the festivities this year if it’s all the same.””It’s been seven years,” said the Queen of Fairies. She touched a stray lock of Tam Lin’s hair and he gasped in pain. “And here it seems like it was only yesterday. In fact, I think it was. Are you sure your calendar isn’t just a bit off, my queen?””The court will meet here that night, Tam Lin,” said the Queen. “All of us, here, in Carterhaugh.””Lovely,” said Tam Lin, his voice as dark as mud. The moonshine hurt his eyes. The Queen smiled, and when she did birds screamed and dropped from the trees, dead. She rose up, and the moon rose up with her, and when Tam Lin looked up they were both secure in the sky again. But he felt her eyes on him. He hid in a cave by the stream and rubbed his hands over his arms and chest, trying to warm himself, his mind racing all the while. “A seven-year Hallo’ween,” he said. “I’m doomed.”***”Tam Lin!” shouted Sir Guyon. He crashed into the brush, sword in hand. “Tam Lin!” “Normally it’s only very charming ladies who scream my name that loud.” Tam Lin’s voice came from the bushes, but it was never the same bush twice. “Come out and fight me, coward!” said Sir Guyon.”I don’t think you quite understand how cowardice works, sir knight,” said Tam Lin.”Where have you taken my wife?””A better question would be: where haven’t I taken her? By the river, on the hill, in the field…””The devil’s in your mouth!””Actually, right now it’s in hers,” said Tam Lin, from his hiding place in the barrow under the hill. Lady Guyon’s head bobbed in his lap.”I demand satisfaction!” said Sir Guyon.”That’s a coincidence: So does she.” Lady Guyon giggled and Tam Lin put a finger to his lips, shushing her. He stretched out, hands behind his head, and let Lady Guyon take him fully into her mouth. The little barrow was soon full of the obscene noise of her slurping on him. She teased the head of him by running her tongue around the rim, then opened wide and swallowed the rest, tickling the underside of the shaft with her tongue.”I will give you until the count of five!” said Sir Guyon.”That’s a good timetable. I can support that,” said Tam Lin.”One!” Lady Guyon slid Tam Lin in and out of her pursed lips, bobbing again. She rolled her eyes and made a moaning sound that sent a hum down to his base.”Two!” Lady Guyon pushed him down her throat, suppressing the urge to gag and sucking her lips as tightly as possible around him.”Three!” Tam Lin laced his fingers through her dark hair and pushed against her mouth, gently but firmly, sliding over her pillowy lips. He pinched his brow, concentrating. This would be a lot easier without that big ox’s voice distracting me, he thought. But what would Bayan escort Ankara be the challenge in that?”Four!” said Sir Guyon.Lady Guyon opened wide, letting him grind against her lips. He felt something jerk and trigger inside of him, and his grip tightened.”Five!” said Sir Guyon.”Ahhhhh!” said Tam Lin.”Mmmm!” said Lady Guyon.There was a moment of silence.”Well?” said Sir Guyon.”Well, it was good for me,” said Tam Lin. “What about you?”Lady Guyon giggled. Sir Guyon huffed. “What was good?” he said.”Nothing, nothing,” said Tam Lin. He waited until Lady Guyon had licked her lips, then kissed her and whispered “Now remember, you were magicked the whole time. You don’t remember a thing.”She nodded and he kissed her hand, sliding her wedding ring off as he did. Lady Guyon stumbled out of the trees, weaved over to where her husband was hacking up a thorn bush with his sword, and executed a perfect swoon right into his arms. Tam Lin spun her ring around his finger as he watched him carry her away. He sighed. His heart really wasn’t in it today. He climbed up into the oak tree and stowed the ring in the hollow. The tree stirred. “Hello, Tam Lin,” it said.”Hello, Old Oak.””Up to no good?””No good is up to me, that’s for certain,” he said. “It’s almost Hallo’ween.””I know. I feel it in my trunk.””It’s a seven-year Hallo’ween. You know what that means.””Ah,” said the tree. “The Tithe.””Yes, the Tithe,” said Tam Lin, chin in hand. “The Queen means for it to be me. She as much as said so last night. What am I going to do?”The tree thought. “You could break the curse.”Tam Lin perked up. “Of course! That would solve everything.””What would you have to do?””All I need is for a good-hearted, virtuous, steadfast woman to fall completely in love with me.” He smiled. Then he frowned. “I’m doomed.””I thought all women love you?” said the tree.”Of course they love me,” said Tam Lin. “But I don’t think any of them, you know, LOVE me.” He pondered. “What about the Queen?” said the tree. “She’s a woman. Just work your charms on her and get her to pick someone else for the Tithe.””She’s not like other women,” said Tam Lin. “You could freeze beer between her tits. I tried it once. Even if I got between her legs I’d be liable to freeze off my —””Root.””You can say that again.””Root.””No, Oak, it’s a figure of speech.””I’m talking about my roots. Someone is traipsing around them right now.”Tam Lin peered through the branches. “Is it Sir Guyon?””Not unless he’s in the mood to pick flowers.”Tam Lin slid down the trunk. There was a woman in a green cloak picking the roses that grew around the base of Old Oak. She paused before plucking a pair of buds growing from one stem.”Ah,” he said, “looks like I have some flower picking of my own to do. My lucky day. Of course, they’re all lucky days for me. And yet I never get tired of it. Is that strange?”The woman was moving on. Tam Lin dropped to the ground and went after her. He saw no reason for his impending death to spoil the moment.***It was a warm day, but Janet wrapped her mantle around herself tighter. It was her best green cloak and she wanted for it to be as visible as possible. She’d crossed over into Carterhaugh half an hour ago and she was beginning to think that this was taking an inordinately long time, so she set on the flowers hoping that perhaps that would get his attention. It seemed to work. “I don’t mind if you take my flowers,” said a voice, “but I’m going to have to ask for something in repayment. Everything you have on you will do.”Janet tossed her hair back. “The flowers aren’t yours, Tam Lin,” she said.A very handsome man appeared from behind a rock too small to hide him. He smiled and sat on a stump. “How did you know it was me?” “You’re predictable.””Have we met?””Never once,” she said, walking by the stump. “That’s how predictable you are.””Then I’ve never robbed you, and I’m afraid it’s only polite. You did come into Carterhaugh without my permission, after all.””Carterhaugh isn’t yours, it’s mine,” said Janet. “Why are you pointing a stick at me?”Tam Lin looked down. “You don’t see a sword?””No, and with you around I don’t expect I ever will.” “Interesting,” said Tam Lin, tossing the stick aside. “What do you mean, Carterhaugh is yours?””My father gave it to me as a birthday present.” She sat by the stream, skipping stones.”Ah!” said Tam Lin. “So you’re the duke’s daughter. And even though your father gave express command that no one should come here, here you are. And you’re wearing green to boot.””I like green,” said Janet. “It matches my eyes. I came to the forest because it’s mine. I put up with you being here because I’ve never had occasion to visit until now. But I think you’re wearing out your welcome.”Tam Lin whispered in her ear. “We both know the real reason you’re here. It’s because Lady Astrid has a big mouth.” He leaned in further. “And she also has a very big—””Excuse me?!””—carriage. Enormous. But very comfortable. I’ve been inside it, you know.””Louse,” said Janet. Tam Lin transformed into a louse and hopped onto her breast. She swatted him.”That could have killed me,” said Tam Lin, turning back into a man.”What,” said Janet, “my breast?””That too.

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