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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Richie DTStudy: Well Sold the Cow/Crafty Farmer-Child 283 (34) Lyr Add: SELLING THE COW (trad southern US) 31 Dec 13


Surely the most bizarre and suspect US version is from Folk-Songs of the Southern United States 1925. To see why, read my notes here:

[Selling the Cow] The Crafty Farmer [89]
(Child No. P83)
(Laws L1)

Known by the title "selling the cow," a secondary form of the child ballad. In the New World the farmer or miller is riplaced by a young South Carolina Negro, and the rent of the farm by a cow. The action takes place in Staunton, Virginia. Contributed by F. C. Gainer, Gilmer Co., West Virginia.

In Staunton there did dwell
A merchant by trade;
He had two niggers,
A man and a maid.

A South Carolina boy
He had for his man,
And for to do his business,
His name it was Fran.

He said to Fran early one morning,
"Franny, take the cow and drive her to the fair;
For she is in good order
And all we have to spare."

Fran took the cow
And drove her to the fair;
And on the way he met three men,
And sold the cow for three pounds ten.

They went into the tavern
All for to take a drink;
And there the farmers
Paid. him all the chink.[1]

Franny said to the landlad
This did he say:
"What shall I do
With all this money, pray?"

"I will sew it in your
Coat lining," said she;
"For on the highway
You robbed may be."

The highwayman sat behind,
Drinking of his wine;
Says he to himself,
"This money is all mine."

Fran got on his horse to go,
The highwayman also.

TheY rode till they came
To a long dark land;
"And. now, black boy,
I will tell you plain,

You must hand over your money
Without fear or strife,
Or I shall surely
Take your dear life."

Franny jumped off his horse
Without fear or doubt,
And from his coat lining
He pulled the money out,
And in the tall grass
He strewed it about.

The highwayman came
Down from his horse;
Little did he think
It was for his loss.

For a while he was picking
The money that was strewed;
Franny jumped on his horse
And away he rode.

The maid seeing Fran
Returning home,
Went to call her master
In another room.

'Why, Fran, has my cow
Turned into a horse?"
'O no, my good master,
I well sold your cow
But was robbed of the money
By a highwayman bold.

"And while he was putting
The money in his purse,
To make you amends
I came off with his horse."

The saddle-bags were taken off,
Axd out of them were told
Five thousand pounds
In silver and in gold.

"I swear, my good master,
I well sold your cow."
"As for a boy
You've done very rare;
One part of this money
You shall have for your share.

"But as for the villain,
You served him just right;
For you have put upon him
A South Carolina bite."

1 Chink = money.


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