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(learned from Charlie Brown in about 1970; also found in Alan Lomax)

(music to go here)

There was a wealthy old farmer who lived in the country nearby
He had an only daughter, on her I cast an eye
She was pretty and fair, the fairest one, indeed so very fair
There was none other in the country with her I could compare.

I asked her if she'd be willing for me to cross over the plain
She said she would be willing if I'd return again
She swore she would be true to me till cruel death proved unkind
We kissed, embraced, and parted; I left my girl behind.

Out in some Western city, boys, a town you all know well
Where everyone was friendly, and they showed me all around
Where money and work was plentiful, and the gals all treated me kind,
But the only object of my mind was the girl I left behind.

One day when I was a-walking down in the public square
The mail coach had just arrived, the post boy met me there
He gave to me a letter which made me understand
That the girl I'd left in Texas had married another man.

I turned myself all around about, not knowin' what else to do
I read down on a bit further, well knowin' those words were true
It's drinkin' I do give over, card playin' I do resign,
For the only girl that I ever did love was the girl I left behind.

Come, all you ramblin', gamblin' boys, and listen to what I'll tell,
If it won't do you no good, kind friends, I'm sure it'll do no ill;
If ever you court a fair maid, just marry her while you can,
For if you do cross over the plain, she'll marry another man.

(from miriam berg's folksong collection)