Sung by: Almeda Riddle
Recorded on 5/14/70

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“Well met, well met, my own true love.
We are well met,” said he.
“I could have been married, and to the king’s daughter fair,
And I would, but remembered thee.
I would but for love of thee.”

“Now, if you could have married this king’s daughter fair,
Then I’m sure you’re much to blame,
For I am well married to the house carpenter,
And I think him a fine young man,
And I proudly wear his name.”

“And if you will leave your house carpenter,
And come and go along with me,
It’s, I’ll take you where the grass grows green
On the banks of the sweet Willie,
And pleasure we will see.”

And if I do leave my house carpenter,
And come and go along with thee,
What have you got to maintain me on,
And keep me from poverty,
To keep me from penury?”

“It’s seven ships on the ocean a-sail,
And the eighth one brought me in.
I’ve a hundred and ten brave sailor men,
And they’ll come when you command,
For they’ll be under your command.”

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

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

Now they’d been sailing for about two weeks,
And I’m sure it was not three,
When this little lady began for to weep,
And she wept bitterly.
She wept most piteously.

And it’s, “Why do you weep, my dear,” he said,
“For gold or silver or store?
Or do you weep for the house carpenter
That we left on England’s shore?
You will see him nevermore.”

And it’s “Cursed be your gold and your silver;
Cursed be your store.
I’m weeping for my own little son
That I left on England’s shore.
Will I see him evermore?”

“Cheer up, cheer up, my dear,” he said.
“Cheer up, cheer up,” said he,
“For, as I live, you never shall return.
I will keep you here with me,
And land you will never see.”

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

“Oh, cursed be ye sailor men,
And cursed ye men of the sea.
You’ve taken me from my house carpenter,
And now you’re burning me,
Or else you’re drownding me.

“And what are those hills, my love,” she said,
“They look as white as snow.”
“That is the hills of Heaven, my pet,
Where your little one will go,
But Heaven we will never know.”

“And what are those other hills,” she cried,
“They look black as night.”
“That is 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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