The original Abdul Abulbul Amir was written by Percy French.
It told the comic, melodramatic tale of two soldiers, Abdul Abulbul Amir and Ivan Skavinski Skivar. in this song, Abdul and Ivan return to fight another dual.
The two men were so desperate to protect their honour that they fought a dual and killed each other over the trivial matter of one of them stepping on the other’s toe.
American music hall singer Frank Crumit loved the comedy of the song so much that he wrote three sequels: The Return of Abdul Abulbul Amir, The Grandson Of Abdul Abulbul Amir, and Minnie Skavinsky Skavar.
In the Return of Abdul Abulbul Amir, the singer tells how he was out walking one night when he heard someone call out Abdul’s name.
To his amazement, he finds that he has stumbled on the graves of the two famous combatants.
He then sees that Ivan has come back from the dead to apologise to Abdul for causing the fight.
Abdul follows Ivan’s lead and is very gracious, insisting it was his fault. In their eagerness to take the blame, they fall out all over again and fight another dual and suffer the same fate as before.
Now Abdul Abulbul I knew to be dead.
The story had spread near and far,
How he lost his life while plunging his knife
Into Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
Casting shadows suffusely, and then
I discovered that I was standing close by
The tombs of those two famous men.
Then in the tombs shadows there rose from a grave
The form of a Russian Hussar,
And my skin nearly peeled, as he stood there revealed.
It was Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
‘Twas he who was calling, I hardly dared breathe
My heart ‘most stopped beating from fear.
When out of a grave, in need of a shave
Arose Abdul Abulbul Amir.
“Well, wouldst speak with me Ivan?”, quoth Abdul quite low,
“I wouldst”, replied Ivan quite clear.
“That quarrel we had, ’twas all to the bad
Friend Abdul Abulbul Amir”.
“I’ve lain here for ages with that on my mind
And that’s why I called you tonight.”
“Well, I’m in the same state,” quoth Abdul the great
“Twas foolish for we two to fight.”
“Oh friend, thou art blameless”, cried Ivan in haste,
“The fault lies in my hands alone.”
But Abdul said “Nay, ’twas never that way.
The fault was no one’s but mine own.”
“Well, dost think I’m a coward?” quoth Ivan Skavar.
“Step forth and I’ll slice off thine ear.”
“Oh, son of a cat, you’ll never do that.”
Quoth Abdul Abulbul Amir.
So once more they battled and fought as before.
The multitudes came from afar,
And lauded with cheers these bold buccaneers
This Turk, and this Russian Hussar.
The ghost of the Tzar on a fiery black steed
Came rushing to witness the fray,
While the Sultan sat there in his royal gold chair
It was just like a scene from a play.
And I heard a blood-curdling scream.
I opened my eyes and to my surprise,
I found it was only a dream.