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Francis James Child
Francis James Child, a-ponderin'


Child Book

Lessons learned while reading the ballad collection of Francis James Child.

by David Kessler

     Dear Francis,

     I just got back from the wars and so naturally I wanted to find out if my girlfriend had been faithful to me in my absence.  It's been a few years and I look different from when I left, so when I saw her waiting by the harbor I introduced myself to her as if I were a stranger and asked why she was there.
     She said she was waiting for her love to return from the wars, which was encouraging, but I needed to be sure, so I told her that I had served with her beau, had been with him as he died, and that his dying wish was for me to comfort and console her.
     I was so happy when she said that she could never be comforted by anyone now that her love was dead.  I was fully convinced that she had passed my test.  I revealed who I was and opened my arms to her.
     That's when she decked me!
     What the hell happened?

     Suddenly single

     Dear Suddenly single,

     The old "I saw your love die whispering your name and he wished that you would love me in his place" routine may be a time-honored test of fidelity, but it is not without risk.  For this reason it is recommended that the ruse be performed in such a manner that the lady in question sees through the disguise and so is not shocked too dearly.
     It may be too late for you at this point, but this episode can still serve as a warning to all other would-be Martin Guerres not to sucker your lady, lest you be sucker-punched!

     Francis J. Child

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