Two Little Gentlemen from the Spring

4. Two Little Gentlemen from the Spring Mozella Longmire, Atmore, July 10, 1947

One little gentleman just from the spring*
To court your loving daughter Jane.
My daughter Jane, she’s most too young
To be controlled by anyone.
Get back, get back you sassy man
To the fairest in the land,
The fairest one that I can see
So come Miss (name) and walk with me Here come two little gentlemen just from the spring
To court your loving daughter Jane.
My daughter Jane, she’s most too young
To be controlled by anyone.
Oh let her be old, oh let her be young
It is a duty and it must by done.
Get back, get back you sassy man
To the fairest in the land,
The fairest one that I can see
So come Miss (name) and walk with me (Repeat 2nd verse with "three little gentlemen.")

*Pansy Richardson sang this song and called it "Two Gentlemen from Spain":

Here comes a gentleman out of Spain
To court your daughter, daughter Jane.
My daughter Jane she is too young
To be controlled by anyone.
Let her be old or let her be young
It is your duty, it must be done.
Go back go back you sassy old man
And choose the fairest in the land.
The fairest one that I can see
Is "Come Miss (name) and walk with me."

Directions: A group of players stand in one line and sing. Another group of players are the gentlemen. The gentlemen come up to the line, walking toward their chosen ones. On the last line the gentleman calls out a name and the one who is called goes back with him to the gentleman’s group. When everyone has been chosen from the line, the game is over.

Note: In this game and all others on Bullfrog Jumped the part of the "gentlemen" may be played by girls.


This is "Knights of Spain" in Newell (1883:39-45) and "Three Brethren out of Spain" in the Opies (#12, 1985:92-103), a game brought to the U.S. by its earliest European settlers and known throughout Europe as well. The Opies (p93) reckoned it well-known but "not wholly intelligible" (because of archaic language, etc.) when Ritson collected it in 1784. It was already in severe decline in the U.S. when Newell observed it, so the Arnold variants a half-century later would have been remarkable. In the first Arnold versions here, "spring" is likely a corruption of "Spain."

"It's theme is courtship; but courtship considered according to ancient ideas, as a mercantile negotiation." Newell describes various European versions, including an Icelandic one played by adults and Italian and Spanish versions where the negotiation was conducted by ambassadors. In later versions the bride managed the negotiations herself, representing "the whole affair as one of coquetry instead of bargaining." But in many versions, the mercenary spirit of the negotiation suggests diffusion of the game in Europe "far back into the Middle ages."

The mercenary courtship is articulated in a couplet, one found in many variants, yet omitted in the Alabama versions:

Let her be young or let her be old,
She must be sold for Spanish gold

Both Longmire and Richardson substitute essentially the same replacement:

Let her be old or let her be young
It is your duty, it must be done.

This is neither mercenary nor coquettish, and the mother rejects the offer without further negotiation. Halli (2004:171) prints this version of "Two Gentlemen" from the Arnold collection.