The Bloody Inn

The Bloody Inn (L’Auberge Sanglante)
Trad. French, Music: G Yacoub, Arr.: na-mara, Translation: P McNamara

A brave young soldier was travelling homewards from the war,
And as the night it was a-falling, a distant light he saw,
So, he made straight for the inn, and he knocked upon its door.

(And) as the clock drew close to seven, the soldier did enquire,
Asking of his new hostess, to dine beside the fire?
“Why yes, my handsome fellow, whatever you desire”.

And she’s called out to the housemaid, little Jeanneton
“Bring to me our finest dishes, each and every one
To feed this rich young fellow, to feed this rich man’s son”.

(And) as the clock drew close to nine, and tiredness did creep
The soldier asked his new hostess, “Have I a place to sleep?”
“Why yes, my handsome fellow, and I vow you’ll slumber deep”

And she has called out to the housemaid, little Jeanneton
“Escort our guest unto his bedroom, make speed girl now be gone
Take him up to the highest chamber, our most special one”

(And) all the while, the stairs they climbed, the maiden she stepped slow
And as the bedroom came in sight, inside she would not go
“But, my dear and kind young maiden, why weep and moan you so?”

“I’ll tell no lies my brave young soldier, to danger you are led
Your chamber holds the darkest secrets, look there beneath the bed”
And what he saw appalled him, cadavers long since dead

“What can I do, what must I do, to safely pass this night?”
“Take you one of these four corpses, in blankets wrap it tight
And just pray your trick stays hidden by the darkness of the night!”

And as the clock drew close to eleven, in terror the boy did stir
On hearing of his host and hostess climb the darkened stair
And with hammer and a rock they butchered what lay there.

But as the clock drew close to five, our soldier did arise
And with a knife from out the kitchen, his hosts he did surprise
“Return to me my riches - today you win no prize!”

And, so he’s called out to the housemaid, little Jeanneton,
“To you, I owe my own sweet life, this kindly deed you’ve done
But we can no longer stay here, it is time that we were gone”.

“So go and gather up all possessions that stand so dear to thee
And to the church we will repair and married we will be
But not before these villains hang high from the gallows tree”

In an isolated inn on a muleteer route at Peyrebeille in the Ardeche, it is alleged that Pierre and Marie Martin and their servant Jean Rochette, murdered and robbed visitors to their inn. Local neighbours were increasingly puzzled and suspicious of how wealthy these inn-keepers seemed to be and collectively concluded that all was not as it should be. The Martins and Rochette were later arrested and charged with the murder of Jean-Antoine Enjolras, a rich farmer found dead on October 26, 1831. As the case then built, they were accused in respect of 50 travellers said to have gone missing on this particular trail over a period of 20 or so years.

All three were guillotined on October 2nd 1833, a local festival day, with 30,000 people there to watch. As with a lot of such cases, there is a line of thought which argues that the Martins were simply the victims of petty local jealousies.

We have adapted the song from the work of Malicorne from their 1978 album with the lengthy name of “L’extraordinaire tour de France d’adelard rosseau, dit nivernais la clef des couers, compagnon charpentier du devoir”. We have had to make many changes from the original to make this powerful song work in English. Clearly, as with many folk ballads, there are moments when one has to suspend disbelief - in this case, it relates to the main protagonist’s apparent lack of a sense of smell!