Deserter

 

Verse 1

I'm a rich merchant's son who'd both honour and fame,
And I dwelt in the city called Oxford by name;
Till my parents turned from me and bid me to go,
To seek for a master, which proved my overthrow.

Verse 2

A-drinking, a-drinking, a-drinking went I,
Till a recruiting party came beating down by;
They 'listed me and treated me, until I did not know,
That to the King's barracks they had forced me to go.

Verse 3

The first time I deserted I thought myself free,
But my cruel comrades informed on me;
I was quickly followed after and brought back with speed,
I was handcuffed and guarded, heavily ironed indeed.

Verse 4

The second time I deserted I thought myself free,
Until my cruel sweetheart informed on me;
They came to the house and soon took me away,
To the prison, where heavily ironed I lay.

Verse 5

The third time I deserted I thought myself free,
Until my cruel brother informed on me;
Again they came for me and knocked at the door,
And ironed me safe and to prison me bore.

Verse 6

Court martial, court martial they held upon me -
Three hundred lasses and three score and three;
May the Lord have mercy for such cruelty,
Oh, now the King's duty falls heavy on me.

Verse 7

The fourth time I deserted I thought myself free,
But my cruel father informed on me;
I was soon followed after and was not forgot,
And the sentence passed on me was for to be shot.

Verse 8

Now the day being come and his coffin all fixed,
King George he came by in his carriage and six;
When the coffin he saw he cried, 'Let him go free,
For he'll make a good soldier in his [own] country.