American Old Time Song Lyrics: 33 The Arkansas Traveller
Theater, Music-Hall, Nostalgic, Irish & Historic Old Songs, Volume 33
THE ARKANSAS TRAVELLER.
This piece in intended to represent an Eastern man's experience among the
inhabitants of Arkansas, showing their hospitality and the mode of obtaining
it. Several years since, he was travelling the state to Little Rock, the capital.
In those days railroads had not been heard of, and the stage-lines were limited;
so, under the circumstances, he was obliged to travel the distance on foot. One
evening, about dusk, he came across a small log house, standing fifteen or
twenty yards from the road, and enclosed by a low rail fence of the most
primitive description. In the doorway sat a man, playing a violin; the tune was the
" then most popular air in that region-namely, "The Arkansas Traveller." he
kept repeating the first part of the tune over and over again, as he could not
play the second part. At the time the traveler reached the house it was raining
very hard, and he wil anxious to obtain shelter from the storm. The house
looked "like anything but a shelter, as it was covered with clapboards, and the
rain was leaking into every part of it. The old man's daughter Sarah appeared
to be getting supper, while a small boy was setting the table, and the old
lady cat in the doorway near her husband, admiring the music.
The stranger on coming up, said. "How do you do?" The man merely
glanced at him, and, continuing to play, replied, "I do as I please."
Stranger.-now long have you been living here?
Old Man.-D'ye see that mountain thar? Well, that was thar when I comehere.
Stranger.-Can I stay here to-night?
Old Man.-No! ye can't stay here.
Stranger.-How long will it take me to get to the next tavern?
Old Man.-Well, you'll not get thar at all if you stand thar foolin' with me
all night [Plays]
Stranger.- Well, how far do you call it to the next tavern?
Old Man.-I reckon it's upwards of some distance. [Plays as before.]
Stranger.-I am very dry-do you keep any spirits in your house?
Old Man-Do you think my house is haunted? They say thar's plenty down
in the graveyard. [Plays as before.]
Stranger.- How do they cross this river ahead?
Old-The ducks all swim across. [Plays as before.]
Stranger.- How far is it to the forks of the road?
Old Man.-I've been livin' here nigh on twenty years, and no road ain'
forked yit. [Plays as before.]
Stranger.-Give me some satisfaction, if you please, sir. Where does this
road go to?
old Man.-Well, it ain't moved a step since I've been here. [Plays as
Stranger.-Why don't you cover your house? It leaks.
Old Max.-'Cause it's rainin'.
Stranger.-Then a why don't you cover it when it's not raining?
Old Man.-'Cause it don't leak. [Plays as before.].
Stranger.-Why don't you play the second part of that tune?
Old Man.-If you're a better player than I am, you can play it yourself. I'll
bring the fiddle out to you-I don't want you in here! [Stranger plays the
second part of the tune]
Old Man.-Git over the fence, and come in and sit down-I didn't know you
could play. You can board here if you want to. Kick that dog off that stool,
and set down and play it over-I want to hear it agin. [Stranger plays the
second part again.]
Old Man.-Our supper is ready now; won't you have some with us?
Stranger.-If you please.
Old Man.-What will you take, tea or coffee?
Stranger.-A cup of tea, if you please.
Old Man.-Sall, git the grubbin'-hoe, and go dig some sassafras, quick!
[Old man plays the first part.]
Stranger.-(To the little boy.) Bub, give me a knife and fork, if you please.
Boy.-We hain't got no knives and folks, sir.
Stranger.-Then give me a spoon.
Boy.-We hain't got no spoons neither.
Stranger-Well, then, how do you do?
Boy.-Tolerable, thank you; how do you do, sir? [Old man plays the first
The stranger, finding such poor accommodations, and thinking his condition
could be bettered by leaving, soon departed, and at last succeeded in finding a tavern, with better fare. He has never had the courage to visit Arkansas since.