“Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)”


A girl refuses to be courted by a stranger, saying she will wait for her love. The stranger counters that he may be slain, drowned, or unfaithful; she says she will be faithful anyway. He pulls out his locket, revealing him as her lost, and now rich, love


Eddy's version of this piece may be the only one of these disguised love songs in which the man admits what he is: A creep who sneaks up on his faithful true love.

The second Sam Henry version, "Green Garden," is marked as Laws N42 but with a question mark. I understand the editors' hesitation, but there are enough links to other texts of the song that I think we can list it here. It's not as if we need another Broken Token ballad....

Paul Stamler suggested filing Art Thieme's song "That's the Ticket" here. Since this index occasionally pretends to something resembling scholarship, I couldn't bring myself to do it. But if you want to see the essence of Broken Token absurdity, that song (on Thieme03) probably sums it up as well as is humanly possible. - RBW

The last three verses of Mary Cash's version on IRTravellers01 are the "Phoenix Island" verses from "O'Reilly from the County Leitrim": as a result, the suitor is finally rejected. Jim Carroll's notes to IRTravellers01 cite another version from Mary Delaney who "had the suitor even more fimly rejected:

For it's seven years brings an alteration,

And seven more brings a big change to me,

Oh, go home young man,

choose another sweetheart,

Your serving maid I'm not here to be."

Mary Delaney's "Phoenix Island" on IRTravellers01 is even more extreme (see notes to "O'Reilly from the County Leitrim," which generally ends unfavorably for the suitor). - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 17(180a), "The Loyal Sailor," J. Ferraby (Hull), 1803-1838; also Harding B 11(4354), Firth c.12(335), "Young and Single Sailor"


  • Mary Cash, "Lady in Her Father's Garden" (on IRTravellers01)
  • Cousin Emmy [Cynthia May Carver], "Pretty Fair Miss Out In the Garden" (Decca 24213, 1947; on ConstSor1)
  • Louise Foreacre, "Down in Grandma's Garden" (on Stonemans01)
  • Warde & Pat Ford, "The Soldier's Sweetheart" (AFS 4204 B1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
  • Sarah Hawkes, "Returning Sweetheart" (on Persis1)
  • Roscoe Holcomb, "Fair Miss in the Garden" (on Holcomb1) (on FOTM)
  • Maggie Murphy, "Seven Years Since I Had a Sweetheart" (on IRHardySons)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Pretty Fair Miss Out in the Garden" (on NLCR06)
  • Sarah Anne O'Neill, "Standing in Yon Flowery Garden" (on Voice10)
  • Mrs. William Towns, "A Fair Maid Walked in her Father's Garden" (on Ontario1)
  • Doug Wallin, "Pretty Fair Miss in a Garden" (on Wallins1)
  • Martin Young & Corbett Grigsby, "Pretty Fair Miss in the Garden" (on MMOKCD)


  1. Laws N42, "Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)"
  2. Belden, pp. 148-151, "A Sweetheart in the Army" (3 texts plus references to 2 more, 1 tube)
  3. Randolph 55, "The Maiden in the Garden" (3 texts plus 1 fragment and 1 excerpt, 2 tunes)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 97-99, "The Maiden in the Garden" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 55A)
  5. Eddy 51, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. BrownII 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden" (1 text)
  7. Chappell-FSRA 68, "Betty Fair Miss" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. BrownIII 12, "Madam, I Have Gold and Silver" (1 text, starting with "Wheel of Fortune" but ending with a "Ripest of Apples" verse and ending with a Riley stanza, from this or some other ballad of this type)
  9. Hudson 36, pp. 160-151, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text); also 37, pp. 151-152, "Annie Girl" (1 text, which conflates 2 verses of "The Drowsy Sleeper" [Laws M4], 2 or 3 of "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)" or "No, John, No: or similar, and 3 verses probably of this)
  10. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 260-264, "The True Sweetheart," "Pretty Fair Maid," "A Pretty Fair Damsel," "A Lily Fair Damsel," The True Sweetheart" (5 texts, mostly rather short; 4 tunes on pp.423-425); in addition, p. 265, "A Soldier Boy," opens with stanzas from this song, but the conclusion is "William Hall (The Brisk Young Farmer)" [Laws N30]
  11. SharpAp 98, "The Broken Token" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
  12. Creighton/Senior, pp. 134-139, "Broken Ring Song" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
  13. Creighton-NovaScotia 28, "Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Creighton-Maritime, p. 59, "Broken Ring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 24, "Broken Ring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Peacock, pp. 584-589, "Seven Years I Loved a Sailor" (3 texts, 3 tunes; the "C" text, "Flowery Garden," grafts the "Poison in a Glass of Wine" theme (cf. "Oxford City" [Laws P30]) as the ending)
  17. Fowke/MacMillan 65, "The Sailor's Return" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Mackenzie 63, "The Single Sailor" (2 texts)
  19. Leach, pp. 701-703, "A Sweetheart in the Army" (2 texts)
  20. OLochlainn 2, "A Lady Fair" (1 text, 1 tune)
  21. McBride 47, "The Lady Fair" (1 text, 1 tune)
  22. OBoyle, p. 34, "A Lady Fair" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
  23. Wyman-Brockway I, p. 88, "The Sweetheart in the Army" (1 text, 1 tune)
  24. Fuson, pp. 77-78, "Soldier, Won't You Marry Me?" (1 text, in which, despite the title, the soldier asks the girl to marry, not the reverse)
  25. Cambiaire, pp. 64-65, "The Soldier's Return (A Pretty Fair Maid)" (1 text)
  26. FSCatskills 22, "Johnny Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  27. McNeil-SFB1, pp. 80-81, "Miss Mary Belle" (1 text, 1 tune)
  28. Sandburg, pp. 68-69, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
  29. Ord, pp. 326-327, "The Brisk Young Sailor" (1 text)
  30. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 104-105, "The Young and Single Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  31. Abrahams/Foss, pp. 117-118, "A Pretty Fair Miss All in a Garden" (1 text, 1 tune); also pp. 222-223 (1 tune, partial text)
  32. JHCox 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts plus mention of 4 more; the "B" text includes stanzas from "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)")
  33. SHenry H471, p. 317, "The Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune); also probably H818, pp. 317-318, "Green Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
  34. MacSeegTrav 27, "The Sailor's Return" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  36. Roud #264
  37. BI, LN42


Alternate titles: “The Sailor's Return”; “The Single Sailor”; “The Single Soldier”; “John Riley (III)”; “Flowery Garden”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1822
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England,Scotland) Ireland Bahamas