I work-ed for a gentleman, I work-ed by the day
Down in a lit-tle garden, Close by the highway
Fal de ral ri; fal de ral lal lal li day!
I saw something dancing, I thought it was a hare -
Why don't you go and catch it and catch it in a snare?
I got up the next morning, a-seeking for my prey,
A keeper sat in an arbour-bush, close by the highway.
He hopped me off to prison, I suffered more and more,
For six long months, or better, my bed was made of straw.
I had a very large family at home, and all my neighbours say
They only had one half-peck loaf for eight long summer's day.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Journal of the Folk-Song Society 5 (1915) p.197
Sung by Mrs Joiner, Chiswell Green, Herts, Sept 9th 1914.
The notes by Lucy Broadwood in the Journal say:
Mrs. Joiner learned this song from her husband, with whom it was a favourite. The word cannot be very old. The tune, probably Celtic, is a good deal like one on pages 331 and 398 of Joyce's Old Irish Folk-Music and Songs, contributed by Captain Pratt, County Cork. It is interesting to see that the Irish air has more vigour in the rhythm than the English one, and that the Highland tune of a similar type, which is subjoined, far out-does the Irish in its energy and swing. Mrs MacLennan learned the "Oran do Bhoniparte" ("Song to Bonaparte"), from shepherds and ploughmen, etc., when a boy in his West Ross-shire home.The notes also explain the term 'arbour-bush' as follows:
In Herts the keepers still make seats with bended boughs, to use while watching in the woods. Miss Janet Broadwood saw one this year (1914), and Mrs Joiner she means such an "arbour-bush", and not "ambush", as might be supposed.
Roud: 2646 (Search Roud index at VWML)