The Mystery Of Mister Smith by Robert William Service
For supper we had curried tripe. I washed the dishes, wound the clock; Then for awhile I smoked my pipe - Puff! Puff! We had no word of talk. The Misses sewed - a sober pair; Says I at last: "I need some air."
A don't know why I acted so; I had no thought, no plot, no plan. I did not really mean to go - I'm such a docile little man; But suddenly I felt that I Must change my life or I would die.
A sign I saw: A ROOM TO LET. It had a musty, dusty smell; It gloated gloom, it growled and yet Somehow I felt I liked it well. I paid the rent a month ahead: That night I smoked my pipe in bed.
From out my world I disappeared; My walk and talk changed over-night. I bought black glasses, grew a beard - Abysmally I dropped from sight; Old Tax Collector, Mister Smith Became a memory, a myth.
I see my wife in widow's weeds; She's gained in weight since I have gone. My pension serves her modest needs, She keeps the old apartment on; And living just a block away I meet her nearly every day.
I hope she doesn't mourn too much; She has a sad and worried look. One day we passed and chanced to touch, But as with sudden fear I shook, So blankly in my face she peered, I had to chuckle in my beard.
Oh, comfort is a blessed thing, But forty years of it I had. I never drank the wine of Spring, No moon has ever made me mad. I never clutched the skirts of Chance Nor daftly dallied with Romance.
And that is why I seek to save My soul before it is too late, To put between me and the grave A few years of fantastic fate: I've won to happiness because I've killed the man that once I was.
I've murdered Income Taxer Smith, And now I'm Johnny Jones to you. I have no home, no kin, no kith, I do the things I want to do. No matter though I've not a friend, I've won to freedom in the end.
Bohemian born, I guess, was I; And should my wife her widowhood By wedlock end I will not sigh, But pack my grip and go for good, To live in lands where laws are lax, And innocent of Income Tax.