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American Ballads and Folk Songs
CROSSING THE PLAINS*
(Air: "Caroline of Edinburgh")
Come, all you Calif ornians, I pray ope wide your ears, If you are going across the plains, with snotty mules and steers; Remember beans before you start, likewise dried beef and hamj Beware of ven'son, damn the stuff, it's oftentimes a ram.
You must buy two revolvers, a bowie-knife and belt, Says you, "Old feller, now stand off, or I will have your pelt," The greenhorn looks around about, but not a soul can see, Says he, "There's not a man in town but what's afraid of me."
You shouldn't shave, but cultivate your down, and let it grow, So when you do return, 'twill be as soft and white as snow; Your lovely Jane will be surprised, your ma'll begin to cook; The greenhorn to his mother'll say, "How savage I must look!"
"How do you like it overland?" his mother she will say.
"All right, excepting cooking, then the devil is to pay;
For some won't cook, and others can't, and then it's curse and damn,
The coffee pot's begun to leak, so has the frying pan."
It's always jaw about the teams, and how we ought to do, All hands get mad, and each one says, "I own as much as you." One of them says, "I'll buy or sell, I'm damned if I care which." Another says, "Let's buy him out, the lousy son of a bitch."
You calculate on sixty days to take you over the Plains,
But there you lack for bread and meat, for coffee and for brains;
Your sixty days are a hundred or more, your grub you've got to divide,
Your steers and mules are alkalied, so foot it—you cannot ride.
* Put's Original California Songster (1855), p. 13.