Traditional song, recorded by Kate Bush during the sessions for her fifth album Hounds Of Love. It was eventually released as the B-side of the single Hounds Of Love in 1986.
The track was first released on CD as part of the This Woman's Work Anthology 1978-1990 box set. It was also included in the 1997 'EMI Centenary' re-release of Hounds Of Love.
'The Handsome Cabin Boy' was covered by Goodknight Productions.
'Tis of a pretty female
As you may understand.
Her mind being bent for rambling
Unto some foreign land,
She dressed herself in sailor's clothes,
Or so it does appear,
And she hired with a captain
To serve him for a year.
Her cheeks they were like roses
And her hair rolled in a curl.
The sailors often smiled and said
He looked just like a girl.
But eating of the captain's biscuit
Her colour did destroy,
And the waist did swell of pretty Nell,
The handsome cabin boy.
'Twas in the bay of Biscay
Our gallant ship did plow.
One night among the sailors
Was a fearful flurry and row.*
They tumbled from their hammocks
For their sleep it did destroy,
And they sworn about the groaning
Of the handsome cabin boy.
"Oh doctor, dear, oh doctor,"
The cabin boy did cry.
"My time has come, I am undone,
And I will surely die."
The doctor come a-runnin'
And a-smilin' at the fun.
To think a sailor lad should have
A daughter or a son.
The sailors when they saw the joke
They all did stand and stare.
The child belonged to none of them,
They solemnly did swear.
The captain's wife, she says to him,
"My dear, I wish you joy,
For 'tis either you or me's betrayed
The handsome cabin boy!"