Gypsum Davy is based on a Tennessee variant of Child 200, one of the most widespread of all the classic ballads, the one about the lady absconding with the gipsy, or gypsies, possibly under a spell. Collected in 1916 by Cecil Sharp, this one appears in his English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians as The Gypsy Laddie. Here, the lady seems set for life with the gypsies, but other versions end less happily.
It was late last night when the lord come home, enquiring for his lady
Servants they were heard to cry, "She's gone with the Gypsum Davy":
Rattle to my Gypsum, Gypsum, Rattle to my Gypsum Davy
Rattle to my Gypsum, Gypsum, Rattle to my Gypsum Davy.
"Go saddle to me the bonny brown steed, for the grey was never so speedy
I'll ride and I'll ride til the broad daylight, til I overtake my lady":
He rode and he rode till he come to the town, and he rode till he come to the valley
There he spied his lady fair, cold and wet and weary:
"It's come go back my dearest dear, and it's come go back my honey
Come go back my dearest dear, never shall you want for money":
"I won't go back my dearest dear, and I can't go back my honey
Won't go back my dearest dear, for you nor for all your money":
"Oh, how can you leave your house and lands, how can you leave your baby?
How can you leave your own wedded lord to go with the Gypsum Davy?":
"I'll forsake my house and lands, I'll forsake my baby
I'll forsake my own wedded lord to go with the Gypsum Davy":
"Then give to me your snow-white gloves, made of Spanish leather
Give to me your lily-white hand and bid farewell forever":
She's pulled off her snow-white gloves, made of Spanish leather
Given to him her lily-white hand, and the ring from off her finger:
"Oh, once I had a house and lands, feather bed and money
Now I've come to an old straw pad, and the gypsies are dancing round me":