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!!!"