The Broomfield Wager

Cyril Poacher, our source for this "pub" version of a most venerable ballad, was a regular at the Saturday night sing-songs in The Ship Inn, at Blaxhall in Suffolk. The somewhat garbled nature of the story line is heightened by the mysterious "Hold the wheel" chorus, apparently the result of a misunderstanding of "had his will" by a visiting (and presumably inebriated) yachtsman. It stuck.

O wager, 0 wager, 0 wager I'll lay you,
I'll lay you five thousands to your one
That a maiden I will go to the merry broom field
And a maiden I'm sure I will return.
     That a maiden I will go to the merry broom field
     And a maiden I'm sure Iwill return - Hold the Wheel!

And then did this young maid get on a bay hobby's back,
All for to ride to that green broom (that green broom),
And when she got there, she found her own true love
Lying in that merry green broom fast asleep.

Nine times did she walk round the crown of his head,
Nine times round the soles of his feet,
Nine times did she say, "Awake, master,
For your own true love is standing nearby."

And when she had done all that she dare do,
She stepped behind that bunch of green broom (that green broom)
All for to hear what her own true love would say
When he awoke out of his domestic sleep.

He said, "If I'd been awake instead of being asleep,
My will I would have done toward thee,
Your blood, it would have been spilled for those small birds to drink,
And your flesh it would have been fort heir food."

"You hard-hearted young man, how could you say so?
Your heart it must be hard as any stone,
For to murder the one that loved you so well
Far better than the ground that you stand on.

"Nine times of this bell did I ring, master,
Nine times of this whip did I crack,
Nine times did I say, 'Awake, master,
For your own true love is standing nearby.'"

© Golden Hind Music