The Arkansas Traveller
Lyricist: Samuel Francis Smith Composer: (Mose Case ?) unknown
(published by Oliver Ditson & Co., Boston, ca. 1850)

This ‘song’ is the only piece in the collection that is not a real song: It is a dialoque - an antique American comedy routine - with music. The music has been adapted for several song versions, each with a different set of verses, but this was not done until the twentieth century.
Where and with whom the piece orginated is unknown. The music might be of folk orgin; its style is similar to many anonymous tunes of the Southern mountains.

The traveller reached the house. It was raining very hard, and he was anxious to obtain shelter from the storm; the house looked anything but a shelter, as it was covered with clapboards and the rain was leaking into 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 sat in the door near her husband, admiring the music.

The stranger on coming up, said: “How do you do?”
The man merely glanced at him an continuing to play; said: “I do as I please.”

Stranger: How long have you been living here?
Old Man: D’ye see that mountain there? Well that was there when I come here.
S.: Can I stay here tonight?
o.M.: No! ye can’t stay here.
S.: How long will it take me to get to the next Tavern?
o.M.: Well, you’ll not get thar at all if you stand thar foolin with me all night.

The music starts:

S.: Well, how far do you call it to the next Tavern?
o.M.: I reckon its upwards of some distance.
S.: I am very dry, do you keep any spirits in your house?
o.M.: Do you think my house is haunted? They say there’s plenty down in the Grave-yard.
S.: How do they cross this river ahead?
o.M.: The ducks all swim across.
S.: How far is it to the fork of the road?
o.M.: I’ve been living here nigh on twenty years and no road aint forked yit.
S.: Give me some satisfaction if you please sir; where does this road go to?
o.M.: Well, it hain’t moved a step since I’ve been here.

... etc.