DESCRIPTION: Five London men with various disabilities, so well fitted that it appears their limbs are perfect, stop at a rural inn. They run up a huge tab. They remove their prostheses, are taken to be devils and persuaded to leave without paying the tab.
EARLIEST DATE: before 1863 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(3544))
LONG DESCRIPTION: Five London men with various disabilities -- glass eye, false teeth, club feet, wooden leg -- so well fitted that it appears their limbs are perfect, stop at a rural inn. They run up a huge tab and retire to a bedroom where they have the waiter help them remove their prostheses. He had never seen such before -- "they're pulling off legs and arms like fun" -- and takes them to be devils. A parson is called to pray them away, without effect. Finally a soldier, not affected by the display, offers to get rid of the devils if the innkeeper will give him a sovereign and forgive the guests their tab. "They laugh'd to think they'd nought to pay So they scre'd on their limbs & limped away"
KEYWORDS: trick ritual clergy injury
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Reeves-Sharp 101, "The Three Cripples" (1 text)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(3544), "The Five Cripples" ("Five cripples in London for a spree"), H. Such (London), 1849-1862; also Johnson Ballads 2501, "The Five Cripples"
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.