THE MUDDLETON
FIRE BRIGADE
by
Edward Kent (1907)
Now, if you'd like to die in some calm pokey spot
Muddleton Town is the best
You've only to go there and rent a small cot
And Muddleton Town does the rest

On the Surrey Hills, out of the shade, in the sun
Muddleton Town can be found
Population all told, is one-hundred-and-one
Now, the Muddleton one's underground.

THE BRIGADE

They'd a Fire-Brigade, which had never been called
Though longing to win renown
You must know that the engine was captained and manned
And the station house washed and sprinkled with sand
By the tradesmen of Muddleton Town

Now one night Captain Brown, who was craving for fame
(Yes, Brown was that Captain's name)
Ascended the watch-tower built over the roof
Of his zeal and courage this gives you a proof
And scanned the horizon for flame.

Then he looked through his glasses, and there, far ahead
No mistaking that tell-tale glare
He could see houses burning and falling about
Then he flung up his cap with a gratified shout
"Tis a Fire at last, that I'll swear."

THE CALL

Then he hurried below, rang a call for the others
Smith, Jones, Snooks, White, Green and the rest
Then he washed down the horses and gave them some oats
Sewed a button or two on the uniform coats
And polished the helmets with zest

Now while the brave Captain was putting things right
His men couldn't get on at all
They hurried their clothes on, inside out
For some of the members were much put about
Being quite unprepared for a call.

THE UNPREPARED

For instance, the flash-light photographer, Green
On taking a group was intent
He'd just got them posed with trouble and tact
Their grouping was fine, 'twas just exact
Then he murmured as out he went

"Please don't move, till I tell you
Kindly each keep your nose to the right."
Then to get the plates, to his dark-room goes down
When he hears the call, and bolts into the town
And the noses kept right all the night.

Jones, the hairdresser, was shaving a man
And had scraped one side with care
When he heard the call, left the shop in a whirl
And the customer had to propose to his girl
This side up with hair.

Snooks, the schoolmaster, was rendering Hamlet
To his class, at this he was deft
"To be or not to be?" read he
When he heard the call and sighed, 
"Ah me! Not to be." and left.

Smith with his kiddies was romping at see-saw
On a board o'er his garden wall
All the kids on one end and old Smith on the other
When he suddenly got the call
So he made for the station and leapt off the board
And the childen are now in the Accident Ward.

White was singing the 'Sands of Dee'
To his richest Aunt, so lament
For his eyes glanced round to see where she sat
And he'd got as far as "Call the cat___"
When he heard the call, and went.

And Robinson, expert at sleight-of-hand
Was just in the midst of his show
At a concert got up by the Rev. Boggs
To get funds to supply Fiji Islanders' dogs
Each with a little pink bow

He'd just borrowed somebody's gold watch and chain
And a threepenny bit from a brat
A five-pound note and a ring or two
Then placed the lot with much ado
Into the curate's hat

"Now, I'll make these things vanish, then reappear!"
He cried, when he gave a start
For he heard the call, and rushed off with a will
And the audience are patiently waiting there still
For the reappearance part.

THE RIDE

When the engine was manned, it dashed down the hill
In charge was brave Captain Brown
And they made direct for that glare in the sky
And shouted "Hi" to the passers-by
Before they knocked them down

Then they galloped round ridges and over bridges
And took sharp curves which shattered their nerves
Passed farms well stocked, they raced and rocked
By woods, o'er streams on shaky beams

Through fields and gates, passed grand estates
Up hills so steep, by lodge and keep
Then down inclines, passed Beer House signs
Which was something new for them to do
"On, on," roared Brown, "Before it's burnt down
Look, look we're getting near."
And as his men saw through the trees

The flames roar upwards fanned by the breeze
They gave a lusty cheer
Then at last they came to a stately pile
A mansion, vast and high
In the grounds beyond they spied a row
Of houses burning and the glow
Lit up the inky sky

"It's at the back," yelled Brown, "Alack
We must drive round these palings, you see
It's a bigger affair than I took it for, boys
We're first on the scene, won't our fame make a noise
It's a proud, proud day for me!"

Then he cried, "Stop, stop, we're near enough now
There's no way through these palings, I fear
But we won't climb over, for fear we might drop
We'll just shoot the water bang over the top
And I see there's a hydrant here." 

THE FIRE

So they turned on the water and screwed down the hose
For smartness their work was immense
Soon the engine was pumping and thudding its song
And a huge stream of water quite forty feet long
Was pouring clean over the fence

And as o'er the palings the torrent rushed forth
They heard a commotion and shout
Then a door in the fence, which they'd not seen of course
Flew open with sudden and violent force
And a gentleman came rushing out

Ran towards them, all splashing and dripping
Then yelled as he waded through pools
Wringing meanwhile from his evening dress coat
Enough water to float a round pond boat
"What's the meaning of all this, you fools?"

"Why, ain't there a fire in there, Sir?
Cried the Captain, "That's what we're about
I see houses a-falling and burning in there
And I fancy we've put some out!"

"And you've put the audience out as well," 
Yelled the gent, "Don't you know what's alight?
It's a set-piece of the fire in 'Frisco Town,
For this is the Crystal Palace, you clown
You darned fools, its Brocks Benefit Night!"
   
The end