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The Crafty Maid's Policy / The King and the Fair Maid

[ Roud 1624 ; Ballad Index Pea214 ; VWML HAM/5/32/23 ; Bodleian Roud 1624 ; trad. arr. Frankie Armstrong / Gudrun Walther, Sandra Steinort]

Frank Purslow printed The Crafty Maid's Policy in his 1968 EFDS book The Wanton Seed. The text is from Marina Russell of Upwey, Dorset, as collected by H.E.D. Hammond in January/February 1907, augmented by a broadside from Disley, Seven Dials, London [VWML HAM/5/32/23] .

Frankie Armstrong sang The Crafty Maid's Policy in 1972 on her Topic LP Lovely on the Water. It was also included in 2002 on the 4 CD Topic compilation, The Acoustic Folk Box, and in 2009 on Topic's 70th anniversary anthology, Three Score and Ten. A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

As a prose tale this joke has been current at least since the days of Beaumont and Fletcher. Versified into a song, it had probably been circulating for a long time before Disley of St Giles, London, printed it on a broadside c. 1860. H.E.D. Hammond heard it sung to this tune by a grand singer, Mrs Russell of Upwey, Dorset in 1907. Mrs Russell has affection for songs about girl tricksters, and on the some same occasion she sang the ace and deuce of crafty maid songs, The Broomfield Hill.

Martin Carthy sang The Crafty Maid's Policy at the Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1979. This BBC recording was released in 2013 on his digital download album Live in Sidmouth 1979.

Mick Ryan and Pete Harris sang The Crafty Maid's Policy on their 2001 WildGoose CD The Long Road. They noted:

This version of an early 19th century London broadside ballad was collected by Hammond from the famous Mrs Marina Russell of Upwey in Dorset.

Gudrun Walther and Sandra Steinort of Cara wrote their own version of this tale which they called The King and the Fair Maid. Cara recorded it in 2004 for their album In Colour and performed it live on their DVD In Full Swing. This video shows them at the Folk im Schlosshof concert in Bongeld in 2008:

Son of John's The Maid and the King on his 2016 CD Autumn's Hymn is quite another song, written by Jacob Johnson.

Lyrics

Frankie Armstrong sings The Crafty Maid's Policy

Come listen awhile and I'll sing you a song
Of three merry gentlemen riding along.
They met a fair maid, unto her did say,
“We'll afraid this cold morning we'll do you some harm.”

“Oh no, kind sir,“ said the maid, “You're mistaken
To think this cold morning will do me some harm.
There's one thing I crave that lies twixt your legs;
If you give me that, it will keep me warm.”

“Then since you do crave it, my dear, you shall have it,
If you'll come with me to yonder green tree.
Then since you do crave it, my dear, you shall have it,
I'll make these two gentlemen witness to be.”

So the gentlemen lighted and straightway she mounted,
And looking the gentlemen hard in the face,
Saying, “You knew not my meaning, you wrong understood me.”
And along she went galloping down the long lane.

“Oh gentlemen, lend me one of your horses,
That I may ride after her down the long lane.
If I overtake her, I'll warrant I'll make her
Return unto me my own horse again.”

But soon as this fair maid she saw him a-coming,
She instantly then took a pistol in hand,
Saying, “Doubt not my skill but you I would kill,
I'll have you stand back or you were a dead man.”

“Oh, why do you spend your time here in talking?
Oh, why do you spend your time here in vain?
Come give her a guinea it's what she deserves
And I'll warrant they'll give you your horse back again.”

“Oh no, kind sir, you're vastly mistaken,
If it is his loss, well, it is my gain.
And your were a witness that he give it to me.“
And away she went galloping over the plain.

Martin Carthy sings The Crafty Maid's Policy

If you'll gather around then I'll sing you a song
Of three merry gentlemen riding along.
Oh, they met little Joan, unto her they did say,
“I'm afraid this cold morning we'll do you some harm.”

“Oh no, gentlemen, you are wrong I'm afraid
If you think this cold morning will do me some harm.
One thing I desire it's between your legs;
If you give me that, it will keep me warm.”

So he jumped off his horse and she mounted it quick,
Looking the riders straight in the face.
She says, “You knew not my meaning, you misunderstand me.”
It was your horse I was needing, not anything else.”

Cara sing The King and the Fair Maid

It was on a beautiful evening in May
   Fa la la …
When a lady was walking a lonesome way
   Fa la la …

The king and his soldiers came riding along,
They'd been away from home so long.

Chorus (after every other verse):
She was young and fair,
The birds were singing in the air.

They suddenly stopped when they spied the maid.
“Why are you walking alone so late?”

“I'm on my way from my grandmother's home.”
He said, “This is a dangerous place to roam!”

“So come with me to my castle grand,”
He smiled at her and he kissed her hand.

“There's one condition before I agree,
There's something between your legs I'd like to see.”

The king he blushed and dismounted his horse,
He wanted to take the lady by force.

She jumped upon his horse so quick,
He soon realised her insidious trick.

“Farewell, dear king, you're generous and fine,
What's been between your legs is now between mine!”

Final chorus:
And then she went away,
Over the hills and far away.