The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167850   Message #4052910
Posted By: cnd
16-May-20 - 10:25 PM
Thread Name: Manly Wade Wellman
Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
"Old Devlins Was A-Waiting" had only two songs:
  - In the Pines - p. 69
  - "Old Devlins Was A-Waiting" - pp. 69, 74-75, 78

The first song, In the Pines, was referred to as Shiver In the Pines in this chapter, but has been covered in a previous post.

Old Devlins Was A-Waiting
"Old Devlins was a-waiting
By the lonesome river ford,
When he spied the Mackey captain
With a pistol and a sword...."

"Old Devlins, Old Devlins,
I know you mighty well,
You're six foot three of Satan,
Two hundred pounds of hell...."

"Old Devlins was ready,
He feared not beast or man,
He shot the sword and pistol
From the Mackey captain's, hand...."

"Old Devlins, Old Devlins,
Oh, won't you spare my life?
I've got three little children
And a kind and loving wife."

"God bless them little children,
And I'm sorry for your wife,
But turn your back and close your eyes,
I'm going to take your---"

"He killed the Mackey captain,
He went behind the hill,
Them Mackeys never caught him,
And I know they never will...."

"When there's no moon in heaven
And you hear the hound-dogs bark,
You can guess that it's Old Devlins
A-scrambling in the dark...."

"Up on the top of the mountain,
Away from the sins of this world,
Anse Hatfield's son, he laid down his gun
And dreamed about Ran McCoy's girl...."

One student at the fictional Flornoy College, named Rixon Pengraft, knew the song and wanted to sing it to mock and taunt Moon-Eye, because he knew what it was about and the implications of singing it. Eventually, the boys got in a fight over it, leading Moon-Eye to sing the song to summon Devil Anse Hatfield's ghost to rectify Rixon's bullying (and their disagreement over who got to date Anda Lee McCoy, an ancestor of "Old Ran" McCoy), and went on to allege that the cause of the dispute was the courtship of Roseanna McCoy and Jonce Hatfield. In the end, the dispute is settled and Moon-Eye was granted permission to date Anna Lee by his ancestors, who decide that enough blood has been spilled already.

This song is a representation of the process of oral transmission, with "Devil Anse" Hatfield becoming "Devlins" and McCoy becoming "Mackey," so the story goes.

Identifying the song is another issue. They refer to the song as "a song about killing a captain at a lonesome river ford," but still, the song seems to be mostly original verses of Wellman's creation. However, based on the subject matter, the description, and flow of the text, I think the song is based on The Banks of Sweet Dundee.