by Edgar Albert Guest
Last night Pa said to Ma: "My dear, it's gettin' on to fall,
It's time I did a little job I do not like at all.
I wisht 'at I was rich enough to hire a man to do
The dirty work around this house an' clean up when he's through,
But since I'm not, I'm truly glad that I am strong an' stout,
An' ain't ashamed to go myself an' clean the furnace out."
Then after supper Pa put on his overalls an' said
He'd work down in the cellar till 'twas time to go to bed.
He started in to rattle an' to bang an' poke an' stir,
An' the dust began a-climbin' up through every register
Till Ma said: "Goodness gracious; go an' shut those things up tight
Or we'll all be suffocated an' the house will be a sight."
Then he carted out the ashes in a basket an' a pail,
An' from cellar door to alley he just left an ashy trail.
Then he pulled apart the chimney, an' 'twas full of something black,
An' he skinned most all his knuckles when he tried to put it back.
We could hear him talkin' awful, an' Ma looked at us an' said:
"I think it would be better if you children went to bed."
When he came up from the cellar there were ashes in his hair,
There were ashes in his eyebrows--but he didn't seem to care--
There were ashes in his mustache, there were ashes in his eyes,
An' we never would have known him if he'd took us by surprise.
"Well, I got it clean," he sputtered, and Ma said: "I guess that's true;
Once the dirt was in the furnace, but now most of it's on you."
Last updated January 14, 2019