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Origins: The Charleston Merchant

DigiTrad:
THE BOATSMAN AND THE TAILOR
THE TROOPER AND THE TAILOR


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Charleston Merchant
The Jolly Boatswain (from Folk Songs of the Catskills)


DonD 06 Mar 04 - 04:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Mar 04 - 04:32 PM
Joe Offer 06 Mar 04 - 04:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Mar 04 - 04:50 PM
Joe Offer 06 Mar 04 - 05:34 PM
Joe Offer 06 Mar 04 - 05:35 PM
Joe Offer 06 Mar 04 - 05:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Mar 04 - 07:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Mar 04 - 10:17 PM
Stewart 07 Mar 04 - 04:08 PM
Stewart 07 Mar 04 - 04:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Mar 04 - 04:47 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Mar 04 - 04:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Mar 04 - 05:02 PM
DonD 07 Mar 04 - 07:54 PM
Joe Offer 07 Mar 04 - 09:49 PM
Stewie 08 Mar 04 - 05:03 PM
Stewie 08 Mar 04 - 06:27 PM
Stewie 08 Mar 04 - 07:51 PM
Malcolm Douglas 08 Mar 04 - 09:04 PM
Jim Dixon 13 Oct 14 - 10:27 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: DonD
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 04:06 PM

I've know this song for decades from the recording by Dyer-Bennett, and Google confirms the lyrics I know at the St. Olaf's College site, which describes it as a 'broadside ballad' but it's not on the DT that I can find.

I'm curious about its age, origin, etc. Does it refer to Charleston, South Carolina, or is there one in the British Isles? Do/did tailors have a reputation for lechery, being "ladies' men"? I recall that milkmen and plumbers were suggested as the look-alikes for many children, but I never heard anyone saying, "The baby doesn't look like my family; he looks like the tailor." Did You?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 04:32 PM

Perhaps better known as "The Boatsman and the Chest." The Trad. Ballad Index lists it as Roud 570 and Laws Q8. The Jolly Boatman, The Wealthy Merchant, and other titles have been used.


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Subject: ADD: The Charleston Merchant
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 04:46 PM

I don't suppose Stewart will mind if we steal lyrics form his Website at St. Olaf's, and we have standing permission to post the entries from the Traditional Ballad Index.
^^
THE CHARLESTON MERCHANT
Trad. 19th century broadside

There was a wealthy merchant
And in Charleston he did dwell.
He had a lovely woman,
And the tailor loved her well.

Come a rotty trotty trotty,
Come a rotty trotty tree.

She went to the tailor,
Said, "My husband's gone to sea,
And the while he is away,
Won't you come and stay with me?"

He hadn't been with her
But a half an hour or more
When along came her husband,
A-knocking at the door.

It woke up the tailor
In the middle of his sleep,
Crying, "Oh dear woman!
Where to shall I creep?"

She ran down the stairs
For to open up the door,
And there stood her husband
And several others more.

She gave him a hug
And she gave him a kiss
Saying, "Oh dear husband
What's the meaning, pray of this?"

I didn't come here
To disturb ye of your rest;
I'm going off to sea,
And I've come to get me chest."

In walked four men,
Big and strong.
They picked up the chest
And they toted it along.

They hadn't got more than
A quarter mile from town
When the weight of the chest
Made the sweat roll down.

They set it on the ground
For to take a moment's rest;
Says one to another,
"Say, the Devil's in that chest."

So they opened up the chest
Right there before them all,
And there laid the tailor,
Like a piggy in the straw.

"If I don't drown you,
Then Hell damn me,
'Cause I don't want you
Starting any tailor kids for me."

So they took him off to China
And they traded him for tea,
And that was the end of
The little Tailoree.


Click to play (MIDI by Stewart)


Boatsman and the Chest, The [Laws Q8]

DESCRIPTION: The boatsman's wife is being visited by the tailor when he comes home unexpectedly. The tailor hides in a chest. Knowing its contents, the husband deliberately takes the chest back to his ship. He tells the tailor he abducted him to keep him from his wife
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1924 (Chappell)
KEYWORDS: infidelity punishment hiding abduction
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE) Canada(Newf) Britain(England) Ireland
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Laws Q8, "The Boatsman and the Chest"
Eddy 46, "Jolly Boatman" (1 text)
JHCoxIIA, #23, pp. 91-93, "The Wealthy Merchant" (1 text, 1 tune)
FSCatskills 138, "The Jolly Boatswain" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H604, pp. 505-506, "The Tailor in the Tea [Sea] Chest" (1 text, 1 tune)
Chappell-FSRA 52, "The Boatswain and the Chest" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gilbert, pp. 26-27, "The Sailor and the Tailor" (1 text)
JHJohnson, pp.71-73, "The Boatswain and the Tailor" (1 text)
DT 346, BOATTAIL TRPRTAIL*

Roud #570
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Will the Weaver" [Laws Q9] (plot)
cf. "The Major and the Weaver" [Laws Q10] (plot)
cf. "The Dog in the Closet (The Old Dyer)" [Laws Q11] (plot)
cf. "The Trooper and the Tailor" (plot)
cf. "The Little Cobbler" (plot)
cf. "The Cook's Choice" (plot)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Randy Tailor
Notes: In one version, the husband ships the chest (and the tailor) off to China. - PJS
This and similar songs are sometimes traced back to a story in Boccaccio (seventh day, second story: Gianella, Peronella, and her husband). But the story is really one of the basic themes of folktale, and doubtless predates Boccaccio as well as these songs. - RBW
File: LQ08

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2003 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 04:50 PM

In the DT as "The Boatsman and the Tailor." A different version from the one posted by Joe.


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Subject: ADD: The Sailor and the Tailor
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 05:34 PM

The Digital Tradition version of The Boatsman and the Tailor doesn't have source identification. I wonder where it came from.
The following is from Douglas Gilbert's Lost Chords: The Diverting Story of American Popular Songs (1942)
^^
THE SAILOR AND THE TAILOR

Oh, there was a jolly boatswain, in London he did dwell,
He had a charming wife and the tailor loved her well.
They had a merry time when the sailor was at sea,
They kissed and canoodled just as happy as could be.
    Chorus:
    Naw tee toodin naddin naddy naw tee toodin naddy ay,
    Naw tee toodin naddin naddy naw tee toodin naddy ay.

When the sailor came ashore he brought home his chest,
And he kept it at home till he sailed for the west.
So he waited with his mates till the turning of the tide,
Then he knocked on the door and the tailor had to hide.

Don't worry now my love, I will not disturb your rest,
But my ship's about to sail and I've come for my chest.
The weather being cold they were muffled to the chin;
They opened the door and they walked right in.

The sailors being stout and the sailors being strong,
They picked up the chest and they carried it along.
But they laid their burden down while they wiped away the sweat,
Says one to the other, "what the hell's in the chest?"

So they opened up the chest and there before them all,
Lay the tailor just as snug as a hog in a stall.
Says he now that I've got you I'll take you out to sea,
And I'll soon teach you how to make tailor boys for me.

from the singing of Jack Murphy.
(no tune)


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Subject: ADD Version: The Boatswain and the Tailor
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 05:35 PM

Here's another verion, from Bawdy Ballads and Lusty Lyrics (John Henry Johnson, 1935)
^^
The Boatswain and the Tailor

The boatswain he came home
In the middle of the night,
Put the poor tailor
In the hell of a fright.
"Hide me, O hide me!"
The tailor he did cry,
"For it is your husband,
To-night I have to die."

"There is an old chest
That is standing outside;
You may jump into that
And a-cunning you may lie."
O he drove on
With his breeches and his hose,
While she followed after
With the rest of his clothes.

She ran downstairs
And she opened the door.
She saw her husband
And her husband saw her.
She caught him by the waist
And she gived to him a kiss;
He says, "My loving woman,
What do you mean by this?

"I'm sorry, loving wife,
I've come for my chest;
I'm sorry, loving woman,
To disturb you from your rest.
Our ship she weighs anchor
All ready for to sail;
We're bounding away
With a prospering gale."

And in walked the boatswain
And five more so strong,
They picked up the chest
And they carried it along.
They lugged it along
To the end of the town,
And the weight of the chest
Caused the sweat to roll down.

Says one to the other,
"Let's lay him down to rest."
"O, no," says the other,
"For the devil's in the chest."
"O, no," cried the boatswain,
"You needn't for to fear,
For it is a scurvy tailor,
Now I've got him here."

They took the poor tailor
And they put him in the nook;
No one to touch him
In the longboat came up.
He opened the cover
In the view of them all;
He's just like a hawk
In the cobbler's stall.

"O, now, Mr. Tailor,
What brought you here?
O, now, Mr. Tailor,
You needn't for to fear,
For I will press on you
And send you off to sea;
No longer you'll stay home
A-cuckolding of me."

(no tune)


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Subject: ADD Version: The Jolly Boatswain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 05:48 PM

It's called "The Jolly Boatswain" in Cazden/Haufrecht/Studer Folk Songs of the Catskills, which also has a related song, The Trooper and the Tailor, which is in the Digital Tradition.
^^
The Jolly Boatswain
(as sung by George Edwards)

1. There was a jolly boatswain in our town did dwell,
He had a loving wife, and the boatswain loved her well.
    Refrain:
    Fal di roddy, too-la roddy,
    Fal di roddy, too-la ray.
2. As she went a-walking up and down the street,
The handsome little tailor she chanced for to meet.
She says, "My dearest husband has gone off to sea,
If you've no other place, you can lodge along with me!"
(Refrain)

3. He went home with her to lie that night,
When the husband put the couple in a devil of a fright;
About ten o'clock at night they heard a rap at the door,
This little tailor boy couldn't sleep no more.
(Refrain)

4. So they got right up, being half asleep;
Says he to her, "Where the devil will I creep?"
They got right up, being half undressed,
Saying, "I know of no place, only over in the chest."
(Refrain)

5. She put him in the chest amongst a lot of things,
And she ran downstairs for to let her husband in;
She ran downstairs, she unbolted the door,
And there stood her husband and seven sailors more.
(Refrain)

6. She hugged him, she kissed him, she gave him a caress,
Says she, "My dearest husband, what's the meaning of all this?"
"I haven't come to rob you, nor 'sturb you from your rest,
But I'm bound for the sea, and I've come for my chest."
(Refrain)

7. He goes upstairs with his seven sailors strong,
[They] grabbed right aholt and they yanked it right along.
(Refrain)

8. They hadn't gotten more than halfway to town
Fore the heft of the chest caused the sweat to run down;
They went a little further and they sat them down to rest,
Says one to the other, "What the devil's in the chest?"
(Refrain)

9. They sot down the chest and they lifted the lid:
There sat the tailor lad a-scratching on his head.
(Refrain)

10. Says, "I'll take you down to Chiny, I'll trade you for tea,
If I don't punish you, might the Devil punish me!"
(Refrain)

11. So he took him down to Chiny and traded him for tea,
And they had enough tea for to hold your company!
(Refrain)
Note that the tune is for the second verse. You have to make your own adapatation for the two-line verses.

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 07:29 PM

Not the same, but reminiscent of "The Chester Merchant," about adultery, the shopkeeper brought into the woman's room in a chest, etc. Bodleian Ballads, Douce Balleds 4(3), no information but the type font suggests ca. 1780-1820. The first part (of four) is as far as I read (tales told many times).


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Subject: Tune Add: THE BOATSMAN AND THE TAILOR
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Mar 04 - 10:17 PM

The DT text (Boatsman and the Tailor) was noted by Cecil Sharp from Charles Neville at East Coker, Somerset, 2 September 1908. Whoever provided it ("JY") didn't bother to acknowledge either singer or collector, and neglected to mention that the refrain is repeated. The typing is pretty accurate, though, with only a few small mistakes. The Trooper and the Tailor (Roud 311), though there are similarities, is generally considered a quite separate song.

Here is the tune for the DT example:

X:1
T:THE BOATSMAN AND THE TAILOR
S:Charles Neville, East Coker, Somerset, 2 September 1908.
Z:Noted by Cecil Sharp
B:Maud Karpeles (ed), Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs, OUP 1974, II, 1-2.
N:Roud 570, Laws Q8
L:1/8
Q:1/4=100
M:4/4
K:G
A|ADDA A2 BA|GFEF (3(G/A/G/)F
w:It was of an old boats-man in Do-ver he did dwell___
GE|DDDE F2 ED|GFGE A3
w:And he had a lit-tle wife and he lov-ed her so well
d|(dA)Ac c2 dB|AGAB c2
w:But when_ the old boats-man he got out of the way,
(BA)|dAAB (AG)ED|GAGF E2
w:His_ fro-lic-some young wife_ with some tai-lor she would lie,
FE|DEFG A2 d2|AGE=F D2
w:To my ral-ly dal-ly day do, ral-ly dal-ly day,
^FE|DEFG A2 Hd2|AGE=F D3|]
w:To my ral-ly dal-ly day do, ral-ly dal-ly day.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Stewart
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 04:08 PM

Joe, you're perfectly welcome to copy the version from my web site, although St. Olaf College would probably disown it if they knew it was there (much too bawdy and unclassical for their taste!). Anyway, I got this version from SingOut! Vol. 38#3 (Nov/Dec/Jan '93/94). The following introduction was with it: "Former board member Sam Hinton lobbied for the inclusion of this traditional song, which he noted is "probably a broadside printed in the latter part of the 19th Century." The theme has been rather popular; Stith Tliompson's Motif Index of Polk Literature (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press) lists several sources in his chapter on "Deceptions," among them Italy, Japan and India, the motif being "husband carries off box containing hidden paramour." There's an almost identical printed version, but without a chorus, that goes under the title of "The Boatswain and the Tailor," found in John Henry Johson's Bawdy Ballads & Lusty Lyrics (Drake Horse, NY. 1950). [Thanks to Holly Tannen for help with the above info.] Even armed with this alternate title, the song hasn't turned up in our vast collection. Florence Brunnings' Folk Song Index (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1981) lists two printed and one recorded source, and since Richard Dyer-Bennet Sings Olden Ballads from the '50s is probably no longer available, you can hear Sam Hinton sing it on Music Access."

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Stewart
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 04:17 PM

And the tune I have is different from the one Joe posted. It's on my web page HERE, or just the midi file HERE

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 04:47 PM

Anyone have the "19th c. broadside"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 04:57 PM

At  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The bold boatswain of Dover


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 05:02 PM

I tried 'boatswain' but that doesn't pull it up, just Thomas and Nancy et al. Bold it is! Thanks, Malcolm.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: DonD
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 07:54 PM

Thanks all. Just what I wanted, and more. Unlike those monkeys, 'Catters see all, hear all, and tell all!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 09:49 PM

I tried to find a listing for the Dyer-Bennet recording. What title did he use for the song?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 05:03 PM

Bandoggs (Nic Jones, Pete & Chris Coe, Tony Rose) recorded this under the title of 'The Tailor in the Tea Chest'. They noted: '"The Tailor ..." alias chapter one in the Lapsang Souchong story - or "How Earl Grey first hitched a lift to China" is our usual starting song. We have Roy Palmer to thank for this novel variation on the unfortunate tailor theme'. As it is on the Leader Tradition label (LTRA 504), the album is possibly in the clutches of the dreaded Bulmer. Leader Tradition seems to have been a subsidiary of 'Transatlantic' - 'Al O'Donnell 2' was another album issued under this banner. Does Bulmer have the rights to these as well as to Leader/Trailer'?

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 06:27 PM

I found the answer to my question above. Bulmer does own the rights to the Transatlantic issues (11 in toto). They are referred to in the quote below as 'Trailer', but the sleeves of the two that I have handy have 'The Leader Tradition'.


Bandoggs, From The Devil To A Stranger, etc., and other early albums were released by Trailer, which was owned by Bill Leader. (Hence also the 'Leader' brand of albums from that period).
But Transatlantic were the distributors for Trailer and for about 11 records – 'Trailer' records were recorded on Transatlantic with the catalogue number beginning LTRA. The copyrights stayed with Trailer.

When Trailer went bust, the copyrights passed to Highway Records. Highway actually re-issued a select few of the recordings (Bandoggs,Nic Jones etc) before they too either went under or sold up. Celtic Music then bought the rights to the entire 'Trailer-Leader' back catalogue and the rest we know about — The music was sentenced to life imprisonment in dusty vaults or possibly even burnt at the stake.



The above is from THIS PAGE

--Stewie.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE TAILOR IN THE TEA-CHEST
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 07:51 PM

Below is my transcription from the Bandoggs record. I am unable to decipher the adjective before 'husband' in the fifth stanza.

THE TAILOR IN THE TEA-CHEST

Oh there was a tarry sailor and he in this town did dwell
He had a handsome wife and she loved the tailor well

Refrain:
Toor-an-addy fol the laddie
Toor?an-addy fol the lee

'Oh, I say this very night you must come and visit me
For me husband's off to China to buy himself some tea'
(Refrain)

Oh they were not long a-courtin' by the tollin' of the clock
When a bootin' at the hall door came as loud as it could knock
(Refrain)

'Oh now where shall I run too, oh now where shall I hide?'
'In my husband's tea-chest a-close to the bedside'
(Refrain)

She run quickly down the stairs and she opened up the door
There stands her dandy husband and nine sailors more
(Refrain)

Oh she run into his arms and she's pressed him with a kiss
'Husband, dear oh husband, what's the meaning of all this?'
(Refrain)

'Oh I haven't come to rob you or disturb you of your rest
But I cannot go to China without me tea-chest
(Refrain)

So four of these good sailor lads, they bein' so stout and strong
They picked up the tea-chest and they carried it along
(Refrain)

And they hadn't got as far as a mile out of the town
The weight of the tea-chest it made the sweat come down
(Refrain)

Oh it's then one of the sailor lads he turned round to the rest
'I wonder what the devil is a-kickin' in the chest?'
(Refrain)

So they took out the key and they opened up the chest
And there lay the randy tailor like a pigeon in its nest
(Refrain)

'Will we take him out to China, will we trade him in for tea?
Or will we leave him in old England to raise a family?'
(Refrain)

So they took him out to China and they traded him for tea
And he made a fine supply for the whole ship's company
(Refrain)

Come all you randy tailors a warning take by this
When you go a-courtin' never hide in a tea-chest
(Refrain)

Source:   transcription from Bandoggs 'Same' The Leader Tradition LP LTRA 504 [1978].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Charleston Merchant
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Mar 04 - 09:04 PM

The missing word is "dandy". Although the immediate source was Roy Palmer's book Love is Pleasing (Cambridge University Press, 1974, 63) the song was taken from Sam Henry's collection, and appears in Huntington, Herrmann and Moulden, Sam Henry's Songs of the People, University of Georgia Press, 1990, 505-506, no. H604). The source was Joe M'Conaghy, Bushmills, [1935].

Various alterations have been made to the traditional text, including the substitution of "randy" for the original "dandy" and the changing of the first-person narrative of the first half of the song to the third person. The "me"s and elided final "g"s are artefacts of Pete Coe's singing voice and don't appear in Henry's published text.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE GAME COCK (from Colcannon)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 10:27 PM

This seems to be another member of this song family.
This is my transcription from the recording at Spotify.


THE GAME COCK
As sung by Colcannon on "Some Foreign Land" (1991)

There once was a merchant near Dublin did dwell.
He had a fine daughter; he loved her right well.
She'd wisdom, great beauty which none could excel,
    And her husband he was a bold trooper.
There was an old tailor who lived nearby.
On this pretty damsel he soon cast an eye.
"Ten guineas I'll give if with you I can lie,
    For your husband is bound to stand duty."
The trooper went out and then before long,
They hopped into bed so the music begun.
They hopped into bed and begun for to fun(?)
    And never once thought of the trooper.

CHORUS: Fa-diddle-larry-larry-lay.
Fa-diddle-larry-laddie-I-do.

The trooper returned in the dead hour of night.
He knocked on the door, which caused them great fright.
"Oh, hide me! Oh, hide me!" the tailor he cried,
    "For I hear the bold rap of the trooper."
"There's an old rustic cupboard behind the door.
'Tis there you may hide both safe and secure.
I will run down and I'll open the door,
    And I'll welcome my husband the trooper." CHORUS

She opened the door and the trooper walked in.
With kisses and compliments she did begin.
"Now for your old kisses I don't give a pin.
    Just light me a fire," says the trooper.
"O husband, O husband, there's no fire stuff,
But if you'll come to bed, you'll be quite warm enough."
"There is an old cupboard behind the door.
    I'll burn it tonight," says the trooper. CHORUS

"O husband, O husband, now grant my desire.
That cupboard's too good to be burned on the fire.
Besides, there I keep my game cock I admire."
    "Show me your game cock," says the trooper.
He went to the cupboard and opened the door,
And there was the tailor both safe and secure.
He gave him a clout in the midst(?) of the floor.
    "Is this your game cock?" says the trooper.
He grabbed the old tailor who let out a roar.
He kicked him about; he went over and o'er,
Out on the stairs and out of the door.
    "I've cooked your game cock," says the trooper. CHORUS


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