The Deserter

If you, my honey, have ta'en king's money,
   Or read the articles of war,
You'll find a section, with this reflection,
   'Gainst all desertion there lies a bar.
Now Private Tytler, forgetting quite, sir,
   This truth, the soul of discipline,
Most undutifully, in the month of July,
   Set out for Woodhouse-lee to dine.

Tired, warm and late there, he reached the gate there,
   Whence issued out his brother dear.
But he was taken, ere hands were shaken,
   For at the moment there did appear,
Through greenwood prancing, with sabres glancing,
   Three mounted troopers, gallant men,
Whom when Pat did view, sir, without more ado, sir,
   Like bolt from bow-string, he sought the glen.

He took his station - in a plantation,
   And shrouded sat beneath the pine;
Peep'd down the valley - occasionally,
   Or humm'd a tune, or coin'd a rhyme.
But hunger first came, and the demon thirst came,
   And the cold damp ground it wet his rear;
And Pat would have sold, sir, ere he was an hour older,
   His birth-right for a pot of beer.

Flesh and blood no longer could strive against hunger,
   So he issued from his dark retreat;
And on the swift brook's margent, he was seiz'd by the Sergeant,
   Who strapped the traitor to the middle seat.
What his final fate's to be, I can't relate to thee;
   The court-martial will make that matter clear;
But I am told by Sergeant Scott, that the villain's to be shot,
   As a warning to every Carabineer.

Now listen all ye gallant yeomen,
   Unto the moral of my pen;
Ne'er leave your quarters, least you catch such tartars
   As Sergeant Whigham and his men.
But let us sing, God save the King, boys,
  And as for him whose spurs are gone,
Let's hope that, as it's bruited, the pains may be commuted,
   To seven years' transportation.

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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin