The Plumber's Revenge A Legend Of Madison Avenue
Canto I--The Death-Bed Oath
It was some thirty years ago,
An evening calm and red,
When a gold-haired stripling stood beside
His father's dying-bed.
"Attend, my son," the sick man said,
"Unto my dying tones,
And swear eternal vengeance to
The accursed race of Jones.
For why? Just nineteen years ago
A girl sat by my
With cheek of rose and breast of snow,
My peerless, promised bride.
A viper by the name of Jones
Came in between us twain;
With honeyed words he stole away
My loved Belinda Jane.
For he was rich and I was poor,
And poets all are stupid
Who feign the god of Love is not
Cupidity, but Cupid.
Perchance 'tis well, for had I wed
That maid of dark-brown curls,
You had not been, or been, instead
Of boy, a pair of girls.
Now listen to me, Walter Smith;
Hie to yon plumber bold,
An thou would'st ease my dying pang,
His 'prentice be enrolled.
For Jones has houses many on
The fashionable squares,
And thou, perchance, may'st be called in
To see to the repairs.
Think on thy father's ravished love.
Recall thy father's ills,
Remember this, the death-bed oath,
Then, make out Jones's bills."
Canto II--The Young Avenger
Young Walter's to the plumber gone.
A boy with smut on nose,
Furnace and carpet-sack in hand,
With the journeyman he goes.
Now grown a journeyman himself,
In grimy hand he gripes
A candle-end, and 'neath the sink
Explores the frozen pipes.
His furnace portable he lights
With smoking wads of news-
Papers, and smiles to see within
The pot the solder fuse.
He gives his fiat: "They are froze
Down about sixteen feet;
If you want water ere July
You must dig up the street."
"Practical Plumber" now is he,
As witnesseth his sign,
And ready now to undertake
Repairs in any line.
One day a housemaid, as he sat
At the receipt of biz,
Came crying, "Ho, Sir Smith, Sir Smith,
Sir Jones's pipes is friz."
He girt his apron round his loins,
His tools took from the shelf,
And to the journeyman he said,
"I'll see to this myself."
"Would," said he, as he drew the bill,
"My father were alive;
Ten pounds of solder at ten cents,
Canto III--The Traitor's Doom
The Jones had houses many on
The avenues and squares,
And hired the young Avenger Smith
To see to the repairs,
And Smith put faucets in, and cocks,
And meters, eke, and taps,
Connections, T-joints, sewer pipes,
Basins and water-traps;
He tore the walls and ripped the floors
To reach the pipes beyond,
And excavations in the street
And 'neath the side-walk yawned;
And daily as he entered up
The items in his book
The plumber's face wore a serene
And retrospective look.
And Jones would wring his hands and cry,
"Woe, woe, and utter woe!
Ah me! that taxes should be so high
And rents should be so low!"
Then he would give the Smith the house
As instalment on account
Of its repairs, and notes of hand
For the rest of the amount.
Canto IV--Avenged at Last
Now Smith had been for a dozen years
In the practical plumbing line,
And the bills of Smith did not grind slow,
And they ground extremely fine.
Terrace by terrace, house by house,
The lands of Jones he took,
And heavier still the balance was
Writ in that fatal book.
At last, no property nor cash
Had he, so he did fail,
And the avenging plumber locked
Him up in Ludlow Jail.
His heartless creditor he besought
For mercy in his need.
"Nay, nay, no mercy, lie and rot,"
Quoth he, "in jail, like Tweed.
For I have sworn avenged to be
On thee, thy kin and kith;
Rememberest thou Belinda Jane?
I am the son of Smith!!!"