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(learned from Ellen Faust in about 1965 and Ewan MacColl from his album)

(music to go here)

'Tis of a handsome female as you may understand.
Her mind bein' bent on travellin' into some foreign land,
She dressed herself in sailor clothes, or thus it did appear,
And she signed on with our captain to sail with him for a year.

The captain's wife, she bein' on board, she seemed in great joy
To see her husband had engaged such a handsome cabin boy,
And now and then she'd steal a kiss and she would've liked to toy,
But 'twas the captain found the secret of the handsome cabin boy.

Her cheeks were red and rosy, and her hair hung in its curls,
The sailors often smiled and said, He looks just like a girl,
But eating the captain's biscuits, their color didn't destroy,
And the waist did swell on pretty Nell, the handsome cabin boy.

'Twas in the Bay of Biscay our gallant ship did plow.
One night among the sailors was a fearful scurrying row.
They tumbled from their hammocks, for their sleep it did destroy,
And they swore about the moaning of the handsome cabin boy.

Oh, doctor, dear doctor, the cabin boy did cry.
My time has come, I am undone, and I must surely die.
The doctor came a-running and smiled at all the fun,
To think a sailor lad should have a daughter or a son.

The sailors when they heard the joke they all did stop and stare.
The child belonged to none of them, they solemnly did declare.
The captain's wife, she looked at him, and she said, I give you joy,
For it's either you or I betrayed the handsome cabin boy.

Then each man took his tot of rum, and drank success to trade,
And also to the cabin boy who was neither man nor maid.
Here's hopin' the wars don't come again our sailors to destroy,
And here's hopin' for a jolly lot more like the handsome cabin boy.

(from miriam berg's folksong collection)