The Ballad Of Rosie May



There are persons of sin who never win;

There are those who toil for naught;

There are those who practice vile things

And never do get caught.

The world has seen the good and the mean,

But the most righteous it ever saw,

Was the night in a room filled with gloom,

Rosie shot her preacher-Pa.

Rosie's daddy was a preacher man, hell-fire,

shoutin' kind,

He talked of heaven day and night, all sinners

were to find.

Oh, how she loved her daddy dear, though he often

smelled of rum;

'Twas better pounding pulpits than jumping

trains to bum.

Her cinnabar hair and porcelain face caused many

a coin to drop

Into her daddy's hat each time his preacher-

talk did stop.

He looked so grand in his fine coat, the cuffs

were made of lace;

Sweet Rosie May beamed silent, proud, a smile

lit her face.

She'd never known her Mama dear, just a picture

in a locket.

The one her Pa kept tucked away, deep inside

his pocket.

'Twas said while giving birth to her, angels

passing by

Had snatched her Mama's hand and vanished in

the sky.

Her Pa, he raised her sternly, but Rosie


He often told her late at night, she must obey

his word.

Years flew by and Rosie frowned, questioning

his good;

Something didn't seem quite right, just not the

way it should.

Suspicions were confirmed one eve while hiding

near the tent;

She saw her Pa a-kissin' hard, a woman known

'for rent.'

A brothel-queen for sure was she red hair like

Rosie May's.

Rosie snatched the locket and stood there

in a daze.

She didn't need to look inside, with eyes so

filled with tears;

The lady in her Pa's arms, ... her mother of

lost years!

Their features were identical, the charm,

the china face;

Now she understood why he'd warned her

'bout disgrace.

Off she ran and jumped aboard a West-bound

wagon train;

To hide her true identity and cover up

the pain.

Dusty days soon settled down, the hardship

trail was gone;

And Rosie grew up might fast to face her life

each dawn.

Not finding work in any town, what could a poor

girl do?

She walked into a preacher's tent to find if God

was true.

"Will He save my helpless soul, like Daddy

always said?

Or provide me with His love and my

daily bread?"

Head hung low, on bended knee, "Oh Lord keep me

from harm."

And as her prayer drifted off, a preacher touched

her arm.

A gentle stroke removed her tears, a hand caressed

her face;

His clothes were tailor-made, the cuffs of

fine French lace.

"Come, come my dear,' he softly cooed. "A child of

your beauty;

Together, you and I can serve the Lord with


She meekly rose and followed him, a sign from


A preacher-man to care for her, she wouldn't

ask Him, "Why?"

"It is His Will, of that I'm sure," she gasped with

sheer delight.

And so she thought, until he climbed into her bed

that night.

As days turned into weeks she learned her

fate so well;

Embracing men in slender arms, she headed

straight for Hell!

She did his bidding for his friends, then soon

the strangers came;

In time her bedding down with them

was just a waiting game.

Months passed by for Scarlet Rose, he name was

known back East;

The dapper gents paid preacher-man, while Rosie

laid the feast.

Her bed 'n board provided, she earned each

piece of lace,

A countenance of innocence became a hardened


"Oh Jesus!" Rosie cried one night, "Please send

my Pa, dear God!

To save me from my wicked life, he needn't spare

the rod."

"A shameless daughter I have been, he's repented

too, I'm sure.

If we could be together now our lives would be

so pure."

But late that night as Rosie lay so snug and deep

in bed,

She heard a voice that smelled of rum, it brushed

against her head.

"I like'em young," he whispered. Then suddenly

she saw,

The man who'd climbed into her arms, none other

than her Pa!

"I've heard of you sweet Scarlet Rose," he said

not yet aware.

"You're like my dear 'departed' wife, a scarlet

woman, fair."

"No! No!" cried Rose. "You wicked man! You drunken

preacher sod!

"It's not me that needs forgiveness, it's you who

needs the rod!"

Pushing him, she spun around and swung with

all her might,

"I am your daughter Rosie May, I saw you that

dark night!"

"Two women's lives you've ruined Pa, with your

lying, drunken way,

I know why Mama left you now, she had to pay

and pay!

She sinned herself away for you, to keep you in

fine clothes,

And had I never ran that night, my God, dear

heaven knows!"

"You'd used me for you gainful self, and chased

the others, too.

Well Papa, let me tell you now, I've got news

for you!"

From gartered leg, a dainty gun, she triggered off

a blast;

Her preacher-Pa with widened eyes ... his disbelief

it didn't last.

The bullet struck him in the chest, a wound so

deathly raw;

A gurgled sigh filled the room, she summoned

for the law.

Stunned, she sat and waited for 'ole Sheriff

Charlie Blue,

Knowing what she'd done was for

her Mama, too.

His death unquestioned by the judge, "'Twas self

defense," said Rosie May.

She hadn't really lied to him, it was quite true

in some sad way.

His body shipped back to the East, a preacher with

his Bible, dead;

And there beside his open grave, two Scarlet women

dressed in red!

There are persons of sin who never win;

There are those who toil for naught;

There are those who practice vile things

and never do get caught.

The world has seen the good and the mean,

but the most righteous it ever saw,

was the night in a room filled with gloom,

Rosie shot her preacher-Pa.