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about

I learned this one straight from The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, with no edits to the text and only minor variations to the melody. Often in these songs - where the woman manages to trick the unfaithful lover into marrying her or sharing responsibility for their child - she's a lady of wealth and status, and often above her male counterpart. I like that both she and her child's father seem to be "regular" people.

lyrics

Down in Sandbank fields, two sailors they were walking,
Their pockets were both lined with gold.
And as together they were talking,
A fair maid there they did behold.
With a little basket standing by her,
As she sat down to take her ease.
To carry it for her, one of them offered;
The answer was: “Sir, if you please.”

One of these sailors, he picked up the basket;
“There’s eggs in the basket, please take care;
And if by chance you should outwalk me,
At the halfway house, please leave them there.”
Behold these sailors they did outwalk her;
The halfway house they did pass by.
This pretty damsel she laughed at their fancy,
And on these sailors she kept her eye.

When these two sailors came unto an alehouse,
There they did call for a pint of wine.
Saying: “Landlord, oh, landlord, what fools in this nation,
This young maid from her eggs we’ve twined.”
“Oh, landlord, oh, landlord, bring us some bacon,
We’ve got these eggs and we’ll have some dressed.”
Behold these sailors were much mistaken,
As you shall say when you hear the rest.

Twas then the landlord he went up to the basket,
Expecting of some eggs to find.
He said, ‘Young man, oh, young man, you’re much mistaken,
Instead of eggs, sure, I’ve found a child.”
Then one of them sat down to weeping,
The other said: “It’s not worthwhile.
Here’s fifty guineas I’ll give to the baby,
If any woman will take the child.”

This pretty damsel she sat by the fire,
She had a shawl drawn o’er her face.
She said: “I’ll take it and I’ll kindly use it,
When first I see that the money is paid.”
One of these sailors, he threw down the money,
Great favor to the babe was shown.
“Since it is so, then let’s be friendly,
For this child it is mine and it’s your own.”

“Don’t you remember dancing with Nancy,
As long ago as last Easter day?”
“Oh, yes, I do, and she pleased my fancy,
So now the fiddler I have paid.”
This young sailor went up to the basket,
He looked at the babe, his heart full sore.
“Since it is so, may we all be contented,
But I’ll be damned if I like eggs anymore.”

credits

from The Fairest Flower of Womankind, released April 28, 2017
Vocals: Lindsay Straw

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Lindsay Straw Boston, Massachusetts

Boston-based traditional folk singer, guitarist & bouzouki player.

"Hearken(s) back to more innocent times, of Greenwich Village and pure folk." - The Living Tradition

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