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(Duke:) Here come three dukes a-riding, a-riding, a-riding,
Here come three dukes a-riding,
Ransam, tansam, tism, tee.

Pray what is your good will Sir, (etc)

My will is for to marry, (etc)

Pray, whom will you marry? (etc)

You're all too black and brown for me, (etc)

We're quite as white as you Sir, (etc)

You're all as stiff as pokers, (etc)

We can bend as well as you, Sir (etc).

Go through the kitchen and through the hall,
And take the fairest of them all.
The fairest one that I can see
Is [Jemima Spriggins] so come to me.

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Source: Lucy Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland. 1893, English County Songs, Leadenhall Press, London

Lucy Broadwood wrote:

In this choosing game one child, representing the duke, advances towards a line of children who hold hands and walk backwards and forwards in front of him. He names the child he wishes for, who takes his hand and joins him in his song. In most versions, the duke sings the "Go through the kitchen," &c. to the tune of "Nancy Dawson," better known as "Here we go round the mulberry bush." The game goes on until all the children and won over to the duke's side. The above tune is that sung in many counties to these wordsl a version is given in the Hon. E. M. Plunket's Merrie Games in Rhyme. A very elaborate version of the game is sent from Masham, Yorkshire, in which the whole thing is gone through, first with one duke, then with two, and lastly with three. After choosing the child by name, the dialogue, "I will buy thee a watch and chain" (See "I will give you the keys of Heaven", Cheshire), is gone through, as far as the offers are concerned, the chosen child replying "No" to each.

Roud: 730 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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