Dick and the Cock

While researching my novel about highwaymen (currently in the editing stage) I read a book about that most famous gentleman of the road, Dick Turpin.  I wanted to include something about him in my story, even though my characters are fictitious.  I decided to dramatise the story of Turpin’s arrest in a mock folk ballad – I’ve already posted an example of these; my novel contains a few of them, at various points in the plot. 

Here’s a sneak preview of the slightly bawdy song my characters sing during a night on the booze.  I hope you like it.

The Legend of Dick and the Cock

Everybody’s heard of Turpin, everybody’s heard of Dick;

The whole wide country knows him, as a robber he was slick.

But how they came to catch him and put him in the dock

Is a tale of mickle woe:  the story of the cock.

Dick was living as a farmer up in Yorkshire like a hick

When one day while out walking a squawking made him sick;

A rooster perching on a fence, regular as a clock,

Was making such a racket, Dick was in a state of shock.

He took aim at the rooster, and his pistol made a click

He shot a bullet through the brain of that cantankerous chick.

A girl was witness to the crime, she gathered up her frock

And ran to see the farmer crying, “Quick, he’s shot your cock!”

The bird’s owner was a cowman, name of Hall, thick as a brick;

When he heard what Turpin had done, he hastened to the nick.

“Arrest the villain, Constable; prepare your strongest lock.

I cannot let a man walk free who takes pot-shots at my cock.”

The Constable hurried to the scene, and gave the bird a kick.

He said, “Your cock’s dead, right enough, limp as a candle’s wick.

This cannot go unpunish-ed for other men to mock.”

He went direct to Turpin’s farm and gave the door a knock.

He said, “Will you come quietly or do I have to use my stick?”

Turpin, he stood still and sneered. “Oh go to hell,” said Dick.

“I only shot the bird,” he said, “‘cause I couldn’t find a rock,

Now I suggest you be my guest and make a chicken stock.”

They took him in for questions for to see what made him tick,

But Turpin was remorseless, with no conscience they could prick.

They strung him up in London Town, they hung him like a hock.

Of all his crimes, the worst of times: the day he shot Hall’s cock.

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