Sung by: Almeda Riddle
Recorded on 5/10/62

Click here to listen to the original recording

(Mrs. Riddle: "You want that just as it is on the record,
      or just by memory?"
Dr. Wolf: "It doesn't matter."
Mrs. Riddle: "Well, I'm gonna leave this here for prompting . . . It isn't here, so I won't.")

[In each stanza, the last two lines are run together.]

"Well met, well met, my own true love.
Well met, well met," said he.
"Now, I could have married a king's daughter fair,
And I would but for love of thee.
I would have, but remembered thee."

"Now, if you could have married a king's daughter fair,
Then I'm sure that you're to blame,
For I am now married to a house carpenter,
And I think him a fine young man.
I proudly wear his name."

"Then if you'll just leave this house carpenter,
Come and go along with me.
I'll take you where the grass grows green
On the banks of the sweet Willy,
And pleasure we will see."

"Then if I do leave my house carpenter,
Come and go along with thee,
Just what have you got to maintain me on,
To keep me from poverty?
To keep me from penury?"

"Now seven ships on the ocean are sailing;
The eighth one brought me in.
I've a hundred and ten big nigger men,
And they'll come when you command.
They'll be under your command."

Then she picked up her sweet little baby,
And kisses gave it three.
Said, "Stay here at home with your father, my son,
And keep him company.
Oh, try to remember me."

Then she dressed herself in a scarlet dress;
Oh, she was beautiful to be seen.
She wrapped herself in a purple cloak;
She looked like a gypsy queen.
Oh, she looked like a gypsy queen.

Now they'd been out for about two weeks,
And I know it couldn't have been three,
And this little lady began to weep,
And she wept bitterly.
She wept most piteously.

"Oh, why do you weep, my love," he said,
"For gold, or silver, or store,
Or do you weep for the house carpenter
That we left on England's shore?
You'll see him nevermore."

"Oh, cursed be your gold," she cried,
"Twice cursed be your store.
I weep for my little son
That I left on England's shore.
Will I see him anymore?"

"Cheer up, cheer up, my love," he said.
"Cheer up, cheer up," said he,
"For as I live, you never will return.
I will keep you on the ocean with me,
And land you will never see."

Now, they'd sailed on for about three weeks;
I know it couldn't have been four.
The bottom of the ship sprang a leak,
And the ocean in did pour,
And the flames began to roar.

"Oh, cursed be a sailor's life.
Thrice cursed all men of the sea.
They're taking me from my house carpenter,
And now they're drowning me,
Or else they are burning me."

"And what are those hills, my love?" she said.
"They look as white as snow."
"Now that's the hills of Heaven, my pet,
Where your little son will go,
But Heaven we will never know."

"And what are those other hills?" she said.
"They look as black as night."
"Now that's just the hills of Hell, my pet,
Where you and I will unite,
Where you and I will unite."

Also found in Child, #243, "James Harris"; Randolph, Vol. I, #30, "The House Carpenter"; Brown, Vol. II, #40, "James Harris"; Belden, p. 79, "James Harris."

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection
Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
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