an ebook published by Project Gutenberg Australia

Title: A Spring Cleaning
Author: Thos. E. Spencer
eBook No.: 2300881h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: 2023
Most recent update: 2023

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

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A Spring Cleaning

Thos. E, Spencer



Most of the sketches contained in this volume were published in the first edition of “How McDougall Topped the Score’ and other Sketches in Prose and Verse”—one exception being “Mrs. McSweeney on Slander,” which was originally written for “The Arrow” The author’s acknowledgments are due, and are hereby tendered to the proprietors of that journal for kind permission to re-publish. The other sketches contained in this book now appear for the first time.

                                        THE AUTHOR.
      Sydney 28/4/08.


Mrs. McSweeney’s Christmas
Mrs. McSweeney’s Bike
Mrs. McSweeney Has Her Fortune Told
Mrs. McSweeney’s Spring Cleaning
Mrs. McSweeney’s Twins
Mrs. McSweeney at Sea
Mrs. McSweeney at Home
Mrs. McSweeney’s Surprise Party
Mrs. McSweeney’s Photograph
Mrs. McSweeney About A Dog
Mrs. McSweeney On Clubs
Mrs. McSweeney’s Reconciliation
Mrs. McSweeney Does The Block
Mrs. McSweeney On Propriety
Mrs. McSweeney Goes Surf Bathing
Mrs. McSweeney On Home Rule
Mrs. McSweeney And The Green-Eyed Monster
Mrs. McSweeney on Slander
Mrs. McSweeney’s Lament— “The Geebung Taytotal Society


Mrs. McSweeney’s Christmas

“The great dhrawback to this climate,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she ushered Mrs. Tacitus into the drawing-room, “is that the hottest days all come in the summer, whin we could do without ’em, and the cold ones in the winter, whin we don’t want ’em. The man at the conservatory that the Government pays to look afther the weather just lets it do as it loikes, and thin we have cyclopses and torpedoes waltzing round the counthry, blowin’ people’s houses down and ruinin’ their complexions, till we have as many koinds of weather in a day as would make the whole four saysons and a bit over.”

“And how did you spend your Christmas?” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she seated herself on the couch, and made a mental note of the cut of Mrs. McSweeney’s new blouse.

“Don’t ask me!” said Mrs. McSweeney, “I’ve been that worried and upset, to say nothin’ of me trouble and expinse, that I don’t care if we didn’t have another Christmas fur the next six months! Afther all me bother, to have me cake all dough is enough to vex me if I was Saint Bridget herself. I shpared no expinse, and I put in nearly everything that could be put into a cake, and I was tould thin that all I wanted was a good slow fire. I put it in the oven to make shure before I lit the fire, and thin I only lit a shmall one, and no fire could be much slower nor that, unless it was out altogether.

“Me feelin’s will not allow me to tell you how I watched that cake, and me twins that throublesome that I was nigh disthracted. It never rose a bit, and afther wastin’ all the mornin’ I found it that heavy that you might have thought it was a fire brick. Pat seen it, and felt the weight ov it, and says that he’s considerin’ whether he’ll send it to the Mines Departmint to get it assayed, or make a grindstone av it. I thried to get hould of it, but he locked it up, and every person that has come to me house this wake Pat says, afther wishin’ thim the toime of day.

“‘Come into me worrkshop till I show ye the cake me ould woman made!’

“Thin away they go, and I hear him say,

“‘Phwat do ye think ov it? Fale the weight ov it!’

“Just the remark he used to say about one of me twins.

“‘Fale the weight of it,” says he, and thin I can hear them laugh, and they come in and say,

“‘Faith! it’s a foine cake ye made, Mrs. McSweeney.’

“One impudent puppy asked Pat how he was going to divide it.

“‘Sure,’ says he, ‘I suppose if we have to break it up, a couple of wedges and a hammer would do it.’

“But the son of a witch said:

“‘I don’t think anything wud do it except a charge of dianimite.’

“And there’s Mrs. Maloney a-sittin’ on her balkinny, and to everybody that passes she says:

“‘Good mornin’. It’s a foine mornin’ don’t ye think?’ says she. ‘Did ye hear about Mrs. McSweeney’s cake?’

“I furrumly belave that she put a gossoon that sells fruit up to throw me cake in me face. He knocked at me door yesterday mornin’, and he says, says he,

“‘Any peaches or apricots? A penny a dozen!’

“‘No!’ says I. ‘I don’t want yer peaches, and it’s loike yer chake to be knockin’ at paple’s doors widout bein’ asked.’

“‘Ah! go on,’ says he, ‘Yer cake’s all dough!’

“‘If you don’t git outer me gate,’ says I, ‘I’ll throw the bucket at ye.’

“‘I don’t care so long as you don’t throw yer cake,’ says he.

“We caught two rats in the thrap last night. They both had their front tathe broken. Pat said they’d been thrying to nibble me cake. It upset me that way that I lost me interest in the festive sayson. I’m thankful to say that the Christmas holidays is over, and barrin’ a slight attack of biliousniss and the shkin palin’ off me nose, I fale none the worse of it.

“We had a quoite day on Christmas, and nothin’ out of the common, except the puddin’ and the goose, which I bought for a young wan, and which Pat said I must have got out of the Ark, as it was the same goose that cackled when Nero was burnin’ and Rome played the fiddle. I didn’t belave a word of it, as I put it down to Pat’s awkwardness, he not bein’ used to carvin’ poultry. He said the legs was as tough as if the goose was a champion bicycle ridher, but he only said that becase I shcolded him for shpillin’ the gravy all over me best clane cloth, that caused a coldness between us all the rist of the day.

“But the picnic was the thing! Faith! We had a foine time at the picnic. It was on Boxing Day we had the picnic. We left the twins at home with Mrs. O’Reilly. I put on me white muslin, and the slaves were that thin that the sun burnt me arrums true it, though say nothin’ of the muskeeters. Pat had on a new soot, and a big basket full of all sorts of things to ate and dhrink, and we were to mate Mr. and Mrs. Regan at the Railway Stashion.

“Oh, the crowds that were there! What wid the crowds a-comin’ in and the crowds a-comin’ out, and the railway porthers takin’ the skin off me shins wid the portmantels, and the hate, and Pat upsettin’ the basket on the platform, and wantin’ to foight an old gintleman that throd on a mate pie with grane shpeckles and made it onsightly, besides awkward to carry, I was glad when we got to the Nashunel Park.

“We thried to find a shady place to have lunch, but all the shady places were taken up by a lot of people, wid no perliteness, mostly boys and girls that were carryin’ on that way that they ought to have been kept at home. We found a place at last, and Con Regan took the billy to get some hot wather; but he had a long way to go, and he forgot to take the tay and sugar wid him, so whin he got back the wather was too cold to make tay, and it was too hot to drink it cold, and me dying for a dhrink tha way that the sweat was pourin’ out of me.

“The lunch was lovely, except that the jam had got into the mate pie, and the gravy from the mate pie had got into the plum pudden, and the cork had come out of the pickle bottle, and the pickles was all mixed wid the bluemange. But, as Con Regan remarked, it had all to go one way, and as we were all hungry, it was very good.

“Pat had brought a couple of bottles of beer for himself and Con, and as we couldn’t get any tay, I had just a sup of the beer, which I’m not in the habit of, and between the sun and the beer, Pat said I had two chakes on me loike the loights of a Glabe Point thram, whoile he said me nose looked loike a Paddington thram.

“However, we gathered wild flowers in the afthernoon, and got home at noight all roight, and Pat was a bit grumpy because Con Regan asked me did I remimber the fun we had at the fair of Ballyragin. However, Con sung ‘Paddy Hagarthy’s Leather Breeches,’ and then I gave them a bit of a jig while Con whistled ‘The Wind that Shook the Barley,’ and we parted as good friends as ever, and after puttin’ some vaseline on me nose we wint to bed, and I dhreamed that I was dhrinkin’ tay out of a beer bottle in the Nashunel Park, and that all the sugar we had was mustard.”

And Mrs. McSweeney went out to make a cup of afternoon tea, while Mrs. Tacitus, glancing at Mrs. McSweeney’s new lace curtains, remarked sotto voce, “Two and eleven the pair.”


Mrs. McSweeney’s Bike

“The bane of middle loife,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she passed the sugar to Mrs. Tacitus, “is fat.”

“It is,” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she took two pieces of sugar, and noticed that Mrs. McSweeney was wearing a new collarette.

“But is there no cure for it?”

“Well,” replied Mrs. McSweeney, “it is a long toime since I turned me thoughts to the devilopmint of me figger. The bane of a perfect figger is fat, the remedy for fat is calesthanics, and the best calesthanics is the bike. Now, you know, me dear, silf praise is not me wakeness, but I may say that me physic is good, though me devilopmint is such that I find it hard to presarve me cemetery. I have heard lately that all the noicest people are takin’ to the bicycle, and shure am I that an exorcise that is fit for the King’s daughters—God bless him! — is not unbecomin’ to your humble servant. So I sat down the other wake and indoited a small billydoo to a firm in Sydney, asking for prices of a bicycle fit for a dacent female to ride. I resaved in reply a catalog, and to me surprise I was tould to sind the lingth of me leg and weight. The lingth of me leg I would reveal to no man, and I think it the height of impidence to ask it; and as for the lingth of me weight I did not know how to sind that, but shpeakin’ to Mrs. Jackson on the subject, she said it was me weight itself she required. I consulted me butcher, but he said that his scales would only weigh twenty-eight pound of mate at a toime, but the produce man weighed me, and found me corrict weight to be a thrifle over two hundred and ten pounds aver-de-poy.

“I was waited on soon afther by a smart young man, who said he came from the firm to see if he could git me ordher. I informed him, wid the stoyle of dignity I can ashume so well, that if the lingth of me leg was indispinsible I should renounce the idea. He tould me, however, it was of no consequince, so we come to turms. I got me machane the following day on toime paymint. Shure, it was a beautiful machane, and I pictured the look that would be on Mrs. Maloney’s face when she, would see me glidin’ gracefully down the sthrate. Sure, it was a proud day to me whin it was delivered at me residence, wid its nickel-plated handles and patent rheumatic toyres.

“I consulted wid me friend, Mrs. Jackson, as to me costhume, and she said that the devoided skirt was anasthetic, but that bloomers was the most rekerky (that’s Frinch, ye know). So I wint wid her to a shop in town, and ordhered a fine, light-blue bloomer costhume, thrimmed wid pink ribbins. Mrs. Jackson came to help me dress, and I was rather surprised whin she said I was finished.”

“‘Where’s the rist?’ says I.

“‘There is no rist,’ says she, ‘you’ve got ’em all on.’

“I felt as if there was something wantin’ about me lower extremities, but when I gazed at me profile in the glass it was not bad. Mrs. Jackson said that the bould outline of me limbs would dhrive Mrs. Moloney green wid envy, so I was satisfied. Her youngest boy, Antonius, was houldin’ me machane in front of the door, and I paused on me step to fasten me gloves, bekase I knew that Mrs. Moloney —bad cess to her —was papin’ through her balkinny blind. I then tuk me green parasol from Mrs. Jackson, and prepared to start. I whispered to Tony to hould her tight, and I tuk me sate.

“‘How do ye do it, Tony?’ says I.

“‘Jest put ye’re fate on the threddles, and let her go,’ says he.

“‘Hould on,’ says I, for I had dhropped me parasol.

“‘Now,’ says he, when I had got me parasol, ‘look out whin I give her a push.’

“‘Hould on a minute,’ says I.

“‘Hould on you,’ says he, and he started the machane rollin’.

“Just then I seen young Moloney, wid the red hair, standin’ forninst me, like a danger-signal.

“‘Git out o’ me road,’ says I.

“‘Be the holy post, ‘tis the missin’ link!’ says he.

“Jist as he shpoke me machane took a sudden turn, and before I could sthop I was layin’ on the broad of me back inside Mrs. Moloney’s gate, and me limbs and me machane was that way entangled, that if it hadn’t been that Pat at that moment came up the sthrate, I don’t belave that I’d ever have been able to perform the operation of exthrication. If I live to be a centurion I’ll never forgit the look on Pat’s face whin he sthopped in front of Moloney’s gate.

“‘Phwat blatherin’ nonsense is this?’ says he.

“‘Sure,’ says I, ‘help me up, and don’t sthand stharin’ like a pig in a fit.’



“Wid that he guv the machane a wrinch, and I thought one of me limbs was broke. He banged the machane in the gutter, and in a tone of acrimoniousness he said ‘Go indoors and dhress yerself.’

“‘Pat,’ says I, rising to me fate, ‘is that the way so shpake to yer own lawful, wedded woife when she’s in throuble, and the eyes of envy and malice upon her’ (for I seen Mrs. Moloney grinnin’ over the balkinny). Jest then, to let me know she was there, she says, ‘Will ye koindly shut me gate, Mrs. McSweeney, whin ye’ve gathered up yer machanes and things?’ Then she added, in a tone of satire: ‘Don’t ye think the Centennial Park ’ud be the best place to practice in?’

“‘What do you mane,’ says I, ‘by interferin’ wid yer betters?’

“‘Shut up!’ says Pat, in a tone of thunder. ‘I’ll have no more of this. I’m goin’ to put me fut down on ye, and kape it there! Get into the house this minit, and put on some clothes becomin’ a daycent famale woman.’

“I rose to me full hoight, and I says to Pat: ‘Pat,’ says I:—

    ‘Bridget McSweeney is me name,
    And Ireland is me nation,
    Sydney it is me dwellin’ place,

“Wid that he gev me a shove, and seizin’ me wid the grasp of a madman, he hurried me in a most unbecomin’ manner into me own door. Faith! it’s small assistance I get from Pat in me endayvours to kape up the thraditions of me ancesthry. Whin I tell him that me father’s great-uncle, on his mother’s side, lived in a castle, he only whistles.

“I’m still payin’ five shillins’ a wake to the collector. I’ve a bicycle to sell chape. It’s nearly all there, only some of the pieces that ought to be bint are shtraight, and those that ought to be shtraight are bint. But it’s a new machine, only used wanst.

“Ah!” sighed Mrs. McSweeney, after a pause, “‘Tis a quare wurruld, so it is. The only things you can depind on in it is the conthradictions of it.”

The last observation escaped the notice of Mrs. Tacitus, whose mind was concentrated on an effort to decipher the post-mark on a letter that was on Mrs. McSweeney’s mantelpiece.


Mrs. McSweeney Has Her Fortune Told

“I was passing on my way to the butcher’s,” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she sat in the easy chair and put her basket on the hearth-rug, “so I thought I’d pop in and see if you went.” And Mrs. Tacitus thought she could detect the smell of spirits.

“I did,” said Mrs. McSweeney, opening the window and quietly closing the door of the chiffonnier. “I did. I wint this mornin’, and she’s a wonder, so she is. ’Twas early whin I got there —about tin. There were three ladies there thin, and one of them was so frindly that we got quite confidential whin I tould her me throubles, she said I’d done the right thing to come, as the cards could tell some wonderful things. She said she come regular wanst a wake. She wint in before me.

“While I was waitin’, all alone by meself, I got as nervous as an old hen that’s lost her chicks. I could have got up and ran away, but while I was wondherin’ whether to shtop or to go, a gurrl came in and tould me it was my turn. I wint into a small room, and saw a dark woman sittin’ at a table.

“‘Sit down, Mrs.—’

“‘McSweeney,’ says I, ‘at your service.’

“‘Yes,’ says she, ‘I could have tould you yer name, if ye hadn’t interrupted.’

“Then she got some cards, and she says, ‘Will you shuffle them, Mrs. McSweeney?’

“So I took the cards and shuffled them, though me hands thrembled to that extent I could hardly hould thim. Then she spread thim in a row, and closed her eyes, and I looked at her across the table. Then she said in a solemn voice,

“‘Mrs. McSweeney,’ says she, ‘to show ye that I am no imposther I will revale to you some of the past. You can then judge of me correctness. Ye had onions for breakfast.’

“And sure enough I couldn’t deny it, although how she knew I never could find out. Then she said—

“‘You have a husband, and he is an Irishman.’

“‘Well,’ says I, bridlin’ up like, ‘and sure he’s none the worse for that.’

“‘I didn’t say he was,’ says she, ‘but am I right?’

“‘You are,’ says I, ‘although, bein’ a sthranger, I don’t know how ye can tell these things!’

“‘It’s on the cards,’ she says, solemnly. Thin she shuffled the cards, and laid thim out in little hapes.

“‘There’s throuble,’ she says, solemnly, ‘ye have an inimy.’

“‘That’s Mrs. Moloney,’ says I.

“‘It’s a female inimy,’ says she as she shuffled the cards again.

“Thin she tould me that I was born far away across the say, that I had had a lot of throuble, but that I had more throuble forninst me in the future. That I was in a delicate state of health, but I would be all right again whin me throuble was over. That me husband would make money, but he’d come to a sudden ind and lave me a widder. That me accomplishmints would athract a rich squather, and that I should make a thrip in a big ship across the say. That I should live as long as several of me ancesthry, and that I needn’t be afraid of anything bein’ the mather wid me so long as I kept up me health and strength. She said there was a dark man a-frettin’ out his soul fer me, and to beware of a fair woman wid a mole on her chake. She said there was money on the say fer me, and that if the ship didn’t go down, I’d git it.

“She charged me half-a-crown, and I come away moighty plazed. I felt a bit flustered whin I got home, and didn’t fale meself till I took a dhrop of whiskey wid a little wather in it. Perhaps you would loike a shmall taste yourself? It is not often I take it, but I foind it shtimulatin’ whin I do.”

Mrs. Tacitus said she couldn’t refuse the kind invitation of her friend, so Mrs. McSweeney closed the window and opened the door of the chiffonnier. Mrs. Tacitus pledged her friend with love and “best respects.” She then picked up her basket, and as she did so, remarked to herself that Mrs. McSweeney’s carpet was getting very shabby.


Mrs. McSweeney’s Spring Cleaning

“Faith! it must be nice to be a man,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she passed the biscuit barrel to Mrs. Tacitus, “wid nothin’ in the wurruld to do but go to yer wurruk in the mornin’ and come home agin at night to amuse yerself wid choppin’ wood and doin’ up the garden. A man’s loife rowls along as smooth as a pat of buther round a hot fryin’ pan, while a woman do be frettin’ and slavin’, washin’ and ironin’, wid shpring clanin’ thrown in, three or four times a year. ’Twould be good fer the men if they sometimes had to seek relaxation from the timptation of dissipation by ingagin’ in the occupation of domistication.”

And Mrs. McSweeney poured out a second cup of tea for herself and her friend, while Mrs. Tacitus quietly felt the texture of Mrs. McSweeney’s new tablecloth.

“Such a toime I’ve had since I saw you last. My limbs are that stiff I can’t sit down, and whin I do, I can’t get up again. I’ve been havin’ me spring clanins. On Monday last I sent fer Mrs. O’Reilly, who goes out clanin’ be the day, an’ I says to her,

“‘Mrs. O’Reilly,’ says I, ‘I am goin’ to go right through the house. We’ll take up the carpets and bate thim, and clane the house from top to bottom. We’ll wash the curtains, and clane the bidsteads, and wash the paint, and put everything noice and toidy.’

“So we put all the chairs in the hall, and the beds on the stairs, and threw the carpets out of the windy, and put the wardrobe on the balkinny, and were jist in the thick of it, and me wid a towel round me head to kape off the dirt, whin there came a ring at the bell.

“I said to Mrs. O’Reilly, ‘I’ll go to the door,’ and I wint, and an ugly gossoon was there, and asked me ‘did I want to buy a sewing machane?’

“‘I don’t,’ says I, as I banged the door in his face.

“Well, I tuk a bucket of wather in me hand, and had got half-way upstairs again, whin there came another ring at the bell.

“‘Bad luck to the bell!’ says I, and I put down the bucket on the stairs and opened the door again.

“‘Do yer want any pertaters?’ says a spalpeen wid a red head.

“‘I don’t,’ says I. ‘To the devil wid you and yer pertaties, ringin’ people’s bells!’

“‘Yer needn’t to shnap me head off,’ says he.

“‘Do ye call that thing a head?’ says I.

“‘It’s as good as yours,’ says he, ‘barrin’ the turban.’

“‘The phwat?’ says I.

“‘The turban,’ says he (alludin’ to the towel I had on). Then he added ‘Go and ask yer Missus does she want any pertaters; a bob a quarter. Take ’em in and show her.’

“‘Phwat do ye take me for?’ says I.

“‘I wouldn’t take yer at any price,’ says he.

“‘If yer don’t take yer fut out of me door,’ says I, ‘I’ll squaze yer toes off.’ So wid that the impident puppy purtended to sneeze in me face, and he wint away singin’ ‘Oh! Molly Reilly, I Love You.’

“So I wint into the kitchen to see if the fire was all right, and the bell rung again. So I sung out to Mrs. O’Reilly,

“‘Tell ’em over the balkinny that I don’t want any,’ and then the blessed bell rung again. She sung out again, ‘Bad luck to ye, will ye go away out of that?’ she says, ‘whin I tell ye we don’t want any.’ Wid that I heerd a millifluous voice inquire ‘Is Mrs. McSweeney in?’ and I thought I should have dhropped whin I recognised the voice of Father Roonan. So I shlipped into the dhrawin-room, and tuk the towel off me head, and opened the door to his reverence. Just as I was openin’ the door, I see Mrs. O’Reilly on the landin’ wid a big bundle of sheets and curtains and things, and I sung out, ‘Mind the bed!’ Father Roonan smoiled swately, and says ‘Phwat bed?’ says he, as he enthered and shuk hands wid me.



“Me warnin’ was too late, for the wurruds were scarcely out of me mouth, when Mrs. O’Reilly throd on the bed and turned head and heels over it, right foreninst his reverence, and landed wid her fate in the bucket of wather I had left standin’ on the stairs. She moight have recovered her balance, only the bed cum rollin’ afther her and knocked her over again, and then Mrs. O’Reilly and the bed and the bucket, and the bundle of washin’ all came rollin’ down the stairs, and you couldn’t tell which was the bed and which was the bucket, and which was the washin’ and which was Mrs. O’Reilly; but the bed got down first, and Mrs. O’Reilly turned a summerset over it, jest for all the wurruld like the clowns in the circus, and landed between two chairs, right at the fate of Father Roonan. I shut the door as soon as I could, and as I shut who should I see but Mrs. Moloney sittin’ on her balkinny and laughin’ fit to shake herself into a thousand pieces. I know me face was as red as the sun in a fog, and Father Roonan was laughin’ fit to burst as he helped me to straiten Mrs. O’Reilly, who was mixed up that way wid the chairs that we had a job to exthricate her. She wasn’t hurt, but she was dhrenched from top to bottom, and forgettin’ that the chairs was in the hall, I asked his reverence to sit down in the dhrawin’-room while I wint to get some dhry clothes for Mrs. O’Reilly. His reverence didn’t sthay long, as he had only called to pass the toime of day, and I made a cup of tay, and me and Mrs. O’Reilly was jest havin’ it in the kitchen whin the door bell rang again.

“‘Och!’ says I, ‘let thim ring. It’s not Father Roonan this time, any way.’ So we wint on wid our tay, and the bell rang again and again, till I thought they’d break the wire. So I jumped quite desperate up from me tay, and sayzin’ a dipper of wather in me hand, I wint to the door and opened it.

“‘Take that!’ says I, as I threw the wather. You may guess me falins whin I discovered, just in toime to be too late, that it was Pat! Didn’t he roar? Didn’t he swear? Oh! I thought he’d tear the house down wid langwidge not fit to repate, and he in a hurry to go and catch a thrain, and swearin’ all the whoile he was changin’ his shirt. But we finished the clanin’, and I locked the dhrawin’-room door and hid the kay, and forgot where I hid it, so that it won’t get disarranged. But, och! I’ll never forget the sight of Mrs. O’Reilly, and I’ll never see Father Roonan widout blushin’ at the remimbrance of it. Will you take another cup, Mrs. Tacitus?”

“No thank you, dear,” said Mrs. Tacitus, “I have done splendidly.” And Mrs. Tacitus kissed Mrs. McSweeney, and took her leave. As she passed out of the front gate one of Mrs. McSweeney’s boys came in. She smiled sweetly at the child, and noticed that his trousers were made from a pair of his father’s old ones.


Mrs. McSweeney’s Twins

“Take a glass of wine and a pace of cake, Mrs. Tacitus,” said Mrs. McSweeney, when Mrs. Tacitus had taken off her gloves and deposited her umbrella in the hall-stand. “’Tis the birthday of me twins.”

So Mrs. Tacitus took a glass of wine and a piece of cake, wished the dear children many happy returns of the day, and made a mental note of the fact that Mrs. McSweeney had a new hair buckle, which must have cost at least one and fourpence.

“God bless them!” said Mrs. McSweeney, “they’re good children, though I say it as shouldn’t, bein’ the mother of ’em both. But the throuble I’ve had wid them children you’d never belave. Me first throuble came in namin’ ’em. They was me first, and I niver properly knew the grate difficulty of choosin’ names fur children until those twins was born. I had often remarked and expatriated on the rediculosity of paple givin’ names to their helpless progenitors, that hang round their necks for the rist of their lives like a milestone. I have seen a man called ‘Samson,’ who wasn’t sthrong enough to lift a red herrin’ off a gridiron; and a man called ‘Solomon,’ who hadn’t got sinse enough to come in out of the rain. Such cases as these may be due to accident, but where a child, through no fault of his parents, has to go through loife wid such a name as Jones, it is the fault of his parents if he is called ‘Jack’ Jones. Others, again, may be due to unfortunate devilopments. Like Mrs. Jackson’s niece, who was christened ‘Wild Rose,’ and aftherwards married a clergyman named Bull, and became ‘Wild Bull.’ When the duty devolved upon me to choose names fer me twins, I made me moind up to be exthra careful. I consulted me friend, Mrs. Jackson, and afther I had gone through the History of England and Ireland, Moore’s Almanack and The Police News, some numbers of Comic Cuts and The Gardener’s Chronicle, I had a list as long as a pawnbroker’s conscience. I could have got some beautiful names from The Gardener’s Chronicle if they’d only been gurruls. Well, to make a long story short, I decided at last to call the ouldest of the twins Demetrius Angelus, and the youngest Reginald Augustus. I chose these names as bein’ quiet and gentale, and not too high-soundin’. Whin Pat cum home to lunch I tould him phwat I had decided, and expected him to be plazed wid me, but he wasn’t. He said the names wasn’t Irish enough, and he wanted the ouldest one called afther him.

“‘I always made up me moind,’ says he, ‘that if ever I had a son, and especially if he should happen to be an eldest son, that I’d call him Pat.’”

“‘You won’t if I know it,’ says I. ‘Sure, every gossoon is called Pat nowadays.’

“‘And maybe,’ says he, wid a shneer, ‘every Pat’s a gossoon?’

“‘I didn’t mane it that way,’ says I, fer I cud see he was losin’ his timper. ‘And, indade, ye can’t help yer name. But they’re my children, and I’m goin’ to name them.’

“‘And maybe,’ says Pat, sthill flarin’ up —‘maybe they ain’t my children?’

“‘Phwat!’ says I, beginning to flare up to, ‘Can ye say such a thing as that to me? Look at the noses on ’em, the poor, dear lambs.’

“And he looked at the noses of ’em as they lay shlapin’ pacefully, side by side, and he was satisfied. Pat cud niver look at thim widout wantin to kiss thim, and he was bindin’ over to do it, and he not shaven fur three days. I didn’t want to wake thim, so I thried to blush and said, ‘Shure, ye can kiss me insthead.’ And sure enough he did. And thin he said ‘Well, we won’t fall out about it. Have yer own way. Only I would have loiked the eldest boy named afther his dad.’ So I gave him a hug, and it was settled.

“‘The names is roight enough,’ says he, afther a pause, ‘only they don’t sound very Irish.’

“‘And faith,’ says I, ‘isn’t McSweeney Irish enough fur anything?’

“‘Thrue for ye,’ says he.

“See how noice their initials will look when I mark them on their linen and things,’ says I, beginning to wroite them down.

‘There’s D. fur Demetrius, A. fur Angelus, and M. fur McSweeney,’ says Pat. That’s D.A.M. dam.’

“And thin Pat stharted to wroite down, too, and he says, mimickin’ loike —‘There’s R. for Reginald, A. fur Augustus, and M. fur McSweeney. That’s R.A.M. ram.’ And he stharted laughin’ till I thought that he’d take a fit.

“‘Oh!’ says he, ‘Ye’re a ganius at choosin’ names. Faith! we must wake ’em up now. Here,’ says he, between his lafture —‘Dam and Ram, wake up and see how noice ye’ll sound in yer bran new names.’

“‘Sure, Pat,’ says I, ‘Don’t make fun of me. I throid to do me best fur the dear darlins’, but I didn’t think of the initials. Lave off laughin’ at me, and ye can call them phwat you loike.’

“‘All right,’ says he, ‘that’s a bargain. I’ll lave off laughin’, and we’ll call them Pat and Mike.’

“So he kissed me again, and off he wint to his work, and that’s all I got fur all me throuble.

“Well, afther me unfortunate misthake in the choosin’ of me children’s names, I had to consint to the unavoidable, and let thim be christened Pat and Mike. Pat was moighty particular about the eldest one bein’ called afther him.

“‘Sure,’ says I to him, ‘there’s only about tin minutes difference betwixt them, and what does it mather?’

“‘I don’t care,’ says he, ‘if there was only tin siconds. Do you think I am goin’ to allow me eldest son to be done out of his pathrimonial rights?’

“‘Which is the eldest of them?’ says I.

“‘Divil a know I know,’ says he, scratchin’ his head and lookin’ at the two darlins’ as they lay in their cot. ‘Shure, they’re so much alike that I can’t tell the other from which; but they say a mother can always tell the difference.’

“‘Well, it’s lucky,’ says I, ‘that I kept tally of ’em. When the little darlins’ was born Mrs. O’Reilly put a red shawl round the eldest one, and so we knew him, although Mrs. Jackson said it was the youngest one. But as Mrs. O’Reilly offered to take her Bible oath that she was nearly sure she wasn’t mistaken, we put a green ribbin round the waste of the one that had the red shawl on. And that’s how we know him to be the oldest.’

“‘But where’s the green ribbin now?’ says Pat.

“‘Oh! I left it off,’ says I, ‘bekase the youngest one got a pimple on his nose, and whin I look at them I know he can’t be the oldest, and thin I guess the other one’s the oldest.’

“So we got Father Roonan to name thim, and we told him the names, which he said was highly euphonius, which partly reconciled me to me disappointmint.

“‘Which is to be Pat?’ says he.

“‘The oldest one,’ says Pat.

“‘And which is the oldest one?’ says Father Roonan.

“‘Faith!’ says I, ‘there’s one of ’em has a pimple on his nose.’

“‘I see him,’ says he. ‘I name you Pat.’”

“‘Hould on, Father dear!’ says I. ‘Is that the one wid the pimple?’

“‘It is,’ says he. ‘Look at it.’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘that’s the one that’s not the one.’

“‘What do you mane?’ asked Father Roonan. ‘Didn’t you tell me the one wid the pimple?’

“‘I meant,’ says I, ‘beggin’ yer riverence’s pardon, that when you got the one wid the pimple, that one wasn’t him.’

“‘Wasn’t who?’ says he, wid a twinkle in his eye.

“‘Wasn’t Pat, yer riverence.’

“‘Are we to understand,’ says his riverence, ‘That the one widout the pimple is to be called Pat?’

“‘That’s it,’ says Pat, ‘he’s the oldest of ’em.’

“‘Faith, I thought so,’ says his riverence, ‘from his likeness to his father.’

“Pat looked plazed, and the christenin’ was finished, and we all wint home as plazed as cud be, although I had to take a dhrop of whiskey, wid a little water in it, whin I got home, owing to the fright I got at Pat, junior, nearly losin’ his pathrimony. Well, we had a party in the evenin’, and had a great time, although I haven’t got time to tell ye all about it. About tin o’clock one of Pat’s friends cum in, and he says to him:—

“‘Come here till I show ye me oldest son, till ye see if he’s loike his father!’

“He told Mrs. O’Reilly to fetch little Pat, and whin she brought him, he says, ‘Shure, that’s not him, that’s the ugly gossoon wid the pimple. Bring the other one.’ So she brought the other one, and Pat, who had had a whiskey or two, yelled at the poor woman and says, ‘Bring the other one!’

“‘Shure, there’s only two of thim,’ says poor Mrs. O’Reilly.

“‘The divil’s curse to ye!’ says Pat. ‘I know there’s only two, but I want the other one!’

“‘This is the other one,’ says she. Wid that Mrs. Jackson brought the other one, and as I’m a livin’ sinner, they both had pimples on their noses! And now, if we were to be all skinned alive, we don’t know which is Pat and which is Mike. If we only knew which was the oldest, we’d know he was Pat, or if we could find out which was the youngest we’d know he wasn’t the oldest, and thin we could find out which was Pat. Meanwhile, Pat, senior, was ragin’ like a ravin’ lunatic, and me cryin’ me eyes out. I asked Father Roonan if they could be christened again, but he said he didn’t think that would settle it unless they were born again. What to do we didn’t know, and it was nigh being the cause of a separation, but at last we decided that as Mike got his pimple first, he’d be likely to lose it first and so whichever lost his pimple first should be Mike. Well, would you belave it, the very next Sunday mornin’ whin we got up, there wasn’t a thrace of a pimple on either of ’em. And so to the present toime we don’t rightly know which is Pat and which is Mike. It was only last night that I heard Mrs. Moloney shpakin’ to her next door neighbour from her balkinny, and she said, in a tone of sarcasm—

“‘I don’t thry to hould me head as high as some paple, but I know me eldest boy whin I say him. There’s a poor woman, not a mile away from here, that looks down on her bethers, and yet, when she sees her eldest son, she don’t know whether it’s him or his brother.’

“Take another glass of wine, Mrs. Tacitus?”

“Thank you, my dear, I will,” said Mrs. Tacitus, “and then I must be going.” So saying, she proceeded to put on her gloves, and decided in her own mind that the port wine had cost eighteen-pence per bottle.


Mrs. McSweeney at Sea

“’Tis a foine day, so it is,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she handed the plate of scones to Mrs. Tacitus.

“It is, indeed,” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she took two scones and made a mental note of the fact that Mrs. McSweeney’s skirt had been turned and dyed.

“How did you enjoy yourself on Saturday?”

“Enjoy meself, is it?” answered Mrs. McSweeney, with a slight suspicion of scorn in her voice. “Enjoy meself, did you say?”

Then stirring her tea in a pensive manner, and throwing the tea-cosy at the cat that was preparing to make a bed of her best antimacassar, she said:—

“It was a beautiful afthernoon, last Sathurday, whin I consinted, in a foolish moment, to go for a thrip to the Hawkesbury. Pat and I had an early lunch of pork chops and onions, and wid me best muslin, fresh ironed, and me new hat wid the roses, I felt quite happy and nautical as the sthame boat glided down the harbour, and the band (two fiddles, a cornet and a harp) played “A Loife on the Ocean Wave.’

“’Twas a great crowd there was on the boat, and as we approached the place they called the Heads, they were all laughing and talking as lively as young colts in a clover patch. There was a young gentleman near me that had two young ladies wid him, in a pair of white duck throusers and a blue coat wid a sthraw hat, pointin’ out the different places we come to. He looked so noice and nate, wid his waxed moustache, that I thought he must be a captain or left tenant at laste.

“‘That’s Pinchgut,’ says he, and he shmoiled till he showed a row of teeth as white as the dhriven shnow.

“‘And that’s Bradley’s Head, and yonder is Watson’s Bay.’ And he twirled his moustache until the two inds shtuck out like two mate skewers. Whin we come to the Heads the ship began to lift up and down, and I could hardly shtand, and the young gintleman smoiled and said—

“‘Oh! you’ll be all right, mam, whin ye get yer say legs on.’

“I thought his remark was rather rude, so I purtinded not to hear him, and looked over to where somebody said there was a sow and some pigs, but I didn’t see any. Just then a big wave sthruck the ship, and nearly knocked her over, and I says to Pat, ‘Hould me, Pat,’ says I, ‘I’m afraid I’ll fall.”

“‘Oh!’ says the young man wid the waxed moustache, grippin’ hold of a post, ‘It’ll be all right whin ye get yer say legs on. That’s the —eh —the loite ship,’ says he.

“Well, the ship began to rock about that way I thought me head ’ud shplit.

“‘Oh, Pat!’ says I, ‘for the love of Heaven,’ says I, ‘Ask the captain to kape the ship from wobbling.’

“Just thin I heard one of the young ladies say, ‘Oh! ain’t it just lovely?’ Her companion didn’t answer her, and I was just goin’ to give her a look of witherin’ sarcasm, whin the ship heaved agin —and so did I.

“‘Oh!’ says I, ‘I want to go ashore, Pat. I fale so bad. Ask the captain to let me go back.’

“Pat said the captain would only laugh at him, and said I wouldn’t be sick if I’d kape me mouth shut. Then the ship gave a bigger lurch than ever, and the young man wid the waxed moustache said, ‘Oh, it’ll be all roight whin ye get yer say legs —.’ But just thin he began to slither, and as he couldn’t rache the post, he went head furst into the harp, and the harp knocked over the cornet, and the cornet bumped into the only fiddler that was playin’, and thin all of thim fell on top of the other fiddler that was looking over the soide of the ship, that pale as if he’d seen the ghost of his grandmother in the wather. And thin they all scrambled to their fate, the young man in the waxed moustache was lanin’ on the side of the ship. His sthraw hat was missin’, the wax was all gone out of his moustache, his white duck pants was dirty, and he was all limp, and just looked as if he’d been washed out and never rinsed, and thin fell off the line into the mud, and somebody had picked him up and flung him on a fence to dhry.

“And all the toime the ship kept rollin’ about, this way and that way. She reminded me of Pat whin he comes home from a meetin’ of the Buffyloes. And there was the young min and the gurrls all gettin’ mixed, and shlitherin’ this way and the other if they was all on roller skates. Some was laughin’ and some was shcreamin’, some was groanin’, and everybody was holdin’ on to everybody else. Such a confusion I never heard since Dooley’s cow ran into the tinker’s shop in the market place in Sligo. I was throyin’ to kape me mouth shut, and Pat standin’ by, wid his hands in his pockets, a-shmokin’ his poipe as if nothin’ in the wurruld was the matter. I was so mad at the unconcarned look of him that I forgot meself and said, ‘Pat!’ It was all I said. But I’d opened me mouth, and I couldn’t shut it. The ship tipped up all to one side, and I found meself runnin’, and I couldn’t sthop till I sthopped wid me two arrums round the neck of the young man in the moustache, and I fale ashamed every toime I think of the state of his white duck pants —but I couldn’t help it.

“What loike is the Hawkesbury I don’t know. I remimber Pat takin’ me into a sthuffy place they called a cabin, and givin’ me some brandy and soda. I sat on the flure with me new ironed muslin, while a big woman in a red blouse made a convanience of me new hat. It seemed about tin years that I’d been lyin’ there whin Pat came and said we was back in the Harbour. He was rowlin’ about, and he said he had his say legs on and cudn’t get shot of ’em. And I was such a wreck you never saw; me muslin was shpoiled, me hat was ruined, me hair was down, and me false front that cost siven-and-six, I never seen from that day to this. The shtewardess had hair the same colour as mine, but Heaven forbid that I should have any suspicion of her, for she tinded me loike a mother. Pat had to get a cab to bring me home, and me cup of misery was overflowin’ whin I was layin’ on me bed, wid a bottle of o-de-colone in me hand, some vinegar and brown paper on me head, and a bottle of soda-water by me soide. The balkinny door was open to let the air in, and I heard Mrs. Moloney, from her balkinny, remark to some person in the sthrate:—

“‘Did you see Mrs. McSweeney since she wint to say? Oh! the sight she is! The sun has brought out all the freckles, and the salt wather has made her that limp that poor Mr. McSweeney had to carry her up and put her to bed. Poor man! ’Tis small wondher he has the lumbagy. You can’t wondher at him takin’ a dhrop now and again.’”

“Well, I must be going, dear,” said Mrs. Tacitus.

“And I must go and look afther that gurrul or she’ll burn the jint,” said Mrs. McSweeney as she preceded Mrs. Tacitus to the door.

As Mrs. Tacitus passed through the hall she sniffed, and as Mrs. McSweeney closed the door after her she murmured, “Hash!”


Mrs. McSweeney at Home

“Thry a ginger nut,” said Mrs. McSweeney.

“Thank you, my dear, I will,” said Mrs. Tacitus, helping herself to a handful of ginger-nuts, as she wondered where Mrs. McSweeney had got the new d’oyley.

“’Tis an age since I saw ye,” remarked Mrs. McSweeney, fanning herself with a serviette. “And I’ve been that worried wid me domestic and social jooties that I’m loike one av me own twins, and don’t know whether I’m meself or some other person. ’Twas last Monday was a fortnight since I wint into a dhraper’s shop to buy a box of hair-curlers, and to thry to match the loinin’ of a new dhress I was makin’ out of the one that got shpoiled on me thrip to the Hawkesbury, when who should be there but Mrs. Delaney, whose husband is working at the gas works —buyin’ a couple of yards of Torchon.

“‘Good day to you,’ says she, ‘and how’s the twins?’

“‘They are as well as can be,’ says I, ‘barrin’ that one has a slight influenzy, and the other has a black eye through fightin’ young Moloney. I haven’t sane ye for an age,’ says I.

“‘Why don’t ye come on me day at home?’ says she, and she gave me a card on which was printed:—



“I promised I would, and she bade me good-day. Now, this set me thinkin’, and as one moight as well be out of the wurruld as out of the fashion, I made up me moind that I’d have me day at home, too. So I got some cards printed, which said as follows:—



“So the first Wednesday in last wake I prepared to resave me guests. Not havin’ a gurrl nor a lady help, I got Mrs. O’Reilly to come round for the afthernoon. I wanted to manage the thing properly, for I knew that some of me friends would only come to see phwat they could see, and to pick holes in me arrangements; and so I made some tay, and some sandwiches, and got some cake and biscuits, and a couple of pounds of jam roll and some ice crame, and a little dhrop of spirits in a decanther in the dinin’-room in case anybody should fale inclined to “take a little wine for their stomachs’ ache,’ as the prophet says. I dhressed meself in me new o-de-neel muslin, wid the puffed slaves, and a pink belt wid a large silver buckle, wid yellow gloves, and takin’ me fan in one hand and me shmall cambric handkerchief in the other, I tuk me sate about two o’clock, and dhrapin’ me skirt to the best advantage, I waited fer me visitors.

“I had arranged wid Mrs. O’Reilly to look afther the things in the kitchen, and to admit me visitors. Mrs. Jackson ran over before dinner and did me hair, and tould me I looked charmin’, and that no one would take me to be the mother of twins. I sat waitin’ for about three-quarters of an hour, till me arrums and legs were that cramped that me carves seemed to be tied in a knot, and me not likin’ to move for fear I’d shpoil the dhrapin’ of me dhress, whin a ring comes to me door. I was all pins and needles as I sat listenin’ for Mrs. O’Reilly to come and open the door, and she clatherin’ the things about in the kitchen, and takin’ no notice of the bell, through bein’ deaf in one ear and not hearin’ very well with the other. Then the bell rang again, and I felt as if I was sittin’ on a hants’ nest, until I heard her comin’ along the hall. She poked her head into the door and said:—

“‘Have anybody come yet?’

“‘There’s been somebody ringin’ the bell this half-hour,’ says I. ‘Woipe that black off yer nose and open the door, and show them in, and be careful to denounce them in the way I tould ye.’ So she opened the door, and sthranin’ me ears to listen I heard somebody say,

“‘Do ye want a noice load of wood?’

“She said we didn’t, and shut the door.

“‘Mrs. O’Reilly,’ says I, ‘Would ye moind sittin’ in the doinin’-room until the visitors have all arrived, so that you can hear the bell?’

“She said, ‘Very well, mum,’ and she wint and sat in the doinin’-room, which is separated from the dhrawin-room by a pair of damascus curtains. The furst to arrive was Mrs. Jackson, and soon aftherwards came fat Mrs. O’Grady and her two daughters. Mrs. O’Reilly opened the door and denounced thim, and we chatted about the weather, and the children, and our husbands, and the neighbours, and things. Afther we had exhausted all the usual thropics of the day, I was fidgetted by seein’ Mrs. O’Reilly pokin’ her head through the curtains, and makin’ faces as if she was thryin’ to say somethin’ widout makin’ a noise. Not wishin’ to move for fear of spoilin’ me pose, and she not takin’ any notice of me frownin’ at her, and thinkin’ somethin’ might be wrong wid the twins, I said at last wid as much composion as I could ashume, ‘Do ye want to shpake to me, Mrs. O’Reilly?’

“‘I do,’ says she, ‘but I don’t want everybody to hear. Where do you kape the lump sugar?’

“Now, I didn’t want the O’Grady’s to know that I didn’t kape a servant regular, and that was the rayson why I was afther buyin’ Mrs. O’Reilly a cap wid muslin sthrings, and so I said, ‘Shure, you ought to know. It’s on the cheffoneer in the doinin’-room, behind the silver tay sit.’ There was no silver tay sit, but I said it to make Mrs. O’Grady woild, for she had never been in me doinin’-room and would know no bether, so I said ‘Behind the silver tay sit,’ in a low voice that I knew Mrs. O’Reilly wouldn’t hear; thin I added in a louder voice, ‘We’ll wait and say if any more ladies come before we serve the collation.’ Includin’ Mrs. Jackson, that you could hardly call a visitor, we had only four, and two of thim was bits of gurls, and I had provided for twinty. Well, we sat and yawned and looked at one another until me limbs was jumpin’ agin through sittin’ shtill, so I resolved to wait no longer.

“‘Bring up the collation, Mrs. O’Reilly,’ says I.

“Afther waitin’ some toime and gettin’ no response, I called again; and still, afther waitin’ a long toime and listenin’, I got no reply, so thryin’ to divert the oppressive silence that was hangin’ loike a wet blanket about us, I said, ‘Would either of you loike a taste of spirits?’

“‘It’s no use sayin’ one thing and manin’ another,’ said Mrs. Jackson, ‘I would.’

“‘And so would I,’ says Mrs. O’Grady, wid a sigh of relafe.

“So raisin’ me voice to its highest pitch, I shouted, ‘Mrs. O’Reilly!’ Shtill I could get no answer, and not bein’ able to shtand sittin’ in one position any longer, I jumped up at risk of shpoilin’ me pose, and dashed into the doinin’ room loike a volcano. The soight that met me gaze I’ll never forget as long as I remimber. There, ferninst me on the table, was the decanter full of nothin’ but emptiness. By the side of it was a glass and a sugar basin, and Mrs. O’Reilly not to be sane, except the chair that she’d been sittin’ in, and the two legs of her a-shtickin’ out from underneath the table. I pulled her out and propped her up wid her back agin the chimbley-pace, and her hair hangin’ down over her face, and her muslin cap hangin’ down loike a bib, when she blinked her eyes, and says:—

“‘Spasms! Mrs. McSweeney. Spasms!’

“‘Git up out av that, ye drunken baste!’ says I, ‘And git out av me house this minute, if not sooner!’



“She thried to get on her fate, and to assist her risin’ she caught the tablecloth, and before I could shtop it, away it came, and down, wid a crash, wint me decanter, the glass, the sugar basin, and a case of stuffed birds wid a glass shade that Pat won in a heart union, valued at twinty-foive shillins’; and Mrs. O’Reilly fell on her back, wid a stuffed parrakeet perched on her nose. Just at that very moment, whin I thought that the cup of me degradation was full up to its last gasp, and that it would burst me bosom, I seen Mrs. O’Grady poke her head through the cartains, and she says in a swate tone of bitter sarcasm, ‘Don’t bother, Mrs. McSweeney, we must be goin’ now, as we have to call and pass the toime of day wid Mrs. Moloney.’ I sat down and cried till you could have rung the tears from me o-de-neel, and whin I wint to change there was that vampire, Mrs. Moloney, biddin’ Mrs. O’Grady an’ her two daughters good-bye, and the whole of thim lookin’ over at me house and laughin’ as if they’d bust. On me nixt day at home I shall go to the gardens or somewhere to be out of the way. Mrs. O’Reilly niver darkens me door again.”

Mrs. McSweeney sighed, and Mrs. Tacitus sighed in sympathy.

Mrs. McSweeney ran out to see if the kettle was boiling over, and Mrs. Tacitus lifted a flower-pot that stood on the table, and was gratified to find that her suspicions were correct. It had been placed there to cover a hole in the table-cover.


Mrs. McSweeney’s Surprise Party

“It’s a beautiful day,” remarked Mrs. Tacitus, as she entered the dining-room, and noticed that three of Mrs. McSweeney’s Austrian chairs had been re-caned.

“It is indade a foine day,” answered Mrs. McSweeney. “It is weather loike this that makes one fale glad to be aloive. It minds me of the toime whin I was a gurrul, chasin’ the pigs out of the potato field on me father’s farrum at Ballyragin. Shure, thim was happy days, whin I had no social jooties to worry me, no twins and no shneerin’, shquintin’ neighbours acastin’ reflections on me from their balkinnies! Whin I think of thim days I am remoinded of the poet who said:—

      “‘I wish, I wish, but all in vain,
      I wish I was a maid again.
      But a maid again I’ll never be,
      Till pumpkin grows on apple tree.’

“But wait till I tell you all about me surproise party. Little did I think I’d ever live to see the day whin me friends would all assimble at me humble dwellin’ in the evenin’ and give me a shpontaneous surproise party. Thruly does the poet say that it is the unexpected that happens, and that at the toime whin we are not lookin’ for it.

“About a fortnight ago Mrs. Jackson came to see me one day, and she says, ‘Mrs. McSweeney, says she, ‘can ye kape a sacret?’

“‘Of course I can,’ says I. ‘Did ye ever know a woman that couldn’t?’

“‘Well, I don’t know that I did,’ she says. ‘I know I wouldn’t revale a sacret if I died, except to me most intimate friends.’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘And phwat’s the sacret ye have?’

“‘You won’t tell it?’ she says.

“‘No,’ says I.

“‘Well, then, we’re goin’ to give ye a surproise party.’

“‘And phwat’s that?’ says I.

“‘Why, a lot of yer friends are goin’ to come round some night and bring a lot of things to ate and dhrink, and we’re goin’ to have great toimes.’

“‘And whin is it to be?’ says I.

“‘On Thursday noight, about eight o’clock,’ she says.

“She had no sooner gone than in came Mrs. Regan —and she tould me the sacret. And then I heard it from Mrs. Delaney, and Mrs. Smith, and siveral others, and by Thursday noight I’d heard it from about fourteen of ’em, and they aiche made me promise not to say a wurrud about it. So whin Thursday noight came I had me dhrawin’-room all noice and toidy, and some fresh flowers in the vases, and afther Mrs. Jackson had done me hair, and I had put on me new white muslin, wid the green sash and pink fishoo, I tuk me sate on the sofy and a book, and lookin’ fur all the wurruld as if I expected nobody. I waited to be surproised. I didn’t have long to wait, for about eight o’clock I heard some whisperin’ and laughin’ outside, and a ring came to me bell. Pat had gone out, and so I opened the door, and they all walked in.

“‘We’ve come to have a party,’ says Mrs. Jackson.

“‘Well!’ says I, ‘I was never more surproised in me loife!’

“‘I’m so glad,’ said Mrs. Jackson. ‘I thought you would be.’

“‘And so did I,’ said Mrs. Regan.

“‘And so did we,’ added Mrs. Delaney and Mrs. Smith.

“They set out the pervisions in the doinin’-room, and we found that Mrs. Jackson had brought some biscuits, Mrs. Regan some bananas, Mrs. Delaney some biscuits, Mrs. Smith some bananas, Miss Delaney some bananas and her young man, and I thought I’d have doid with lafture whin we found that those that had not brought bananas had brought biscuits, and divil a thing had they got amongst sixteen of ’em but bananas and biscuits, and an odd young man or two. However, I tould thim not to moind, as I happened to have a little thing or two in the house. So thin they began to enjoy thimselves, and they took the couch and aisy chairs on to the verandah to make more room, and put all the other things in a corner, so as to have a dance, and Miss Delaney had her music wid her, and played and sang, ‘I Would I Were a Bird.’ Her young man sang ‘Will of the Wisp,’ and he had such a big voice that there wasn’t room enough for it in me dhrawin’-room, and ould Delaney and Con Regan wint outside, and whin he came to the part where he says, ‘Mark their fright’ I could hear the glasses in the doinin’-room jingle again. Thin they tuk the carpet up and put it in the hall, and had a dance; and thin we had supper, and ould Delaney proposed me health in bumpers wid tears in his eyes, and thin Con Regan proposed Pat’s health, and Miss Delaney’s young man proposed the ‘Chairman,’ Mr. Delaney, and Mr. Delaney responded and proposed the ‘Ladies.’ Mrs. Smith’s eldest son was asked to respond to the toast of the ‘Ladies,’ and he did so in the following way:—

“‘Ladies and gintlemen!’ says he. ‘I am goin’ to respond for the ladies, and propose the twins — God bless ’em — I mane both the ladies and the twins. What should we do widout ’em, gentlemen? I mane the ladies. They cook for us, and darn for us, and sing to us, and play to us, and sometimes they play the divil wid us. Whin I see them, sittin’ like two cherubs on the wash-house roof, a-shmokin’ brown paper and peltin’ banana skins at the Chinamen —I mane the twins — I think how proud Mrs. McSweeney must be of ’em. And I hope we may all be as fortunate as Mrs. McSweeney —I mane the ladies —and I hope that they may grow up to become great men —I mane the twins —and that we may all live long and die happy, for, as the song says, “They are the joy of our lives” —I mane the ladies.’

“He sat down amid thremendous applause, and wavin’ of handkerchiefs, and ould Delaney said he was proud of him (for he was courtin’ Delaney’s youngest daughter.) And thin Con Regan started to sing ‘He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,’ whin I thought me heart was in me mouth, for I heard such a clather in the hall that it sounded loike as if a load of bricks had been tipped on the floor. I ran out to see phwat was the mather, and there I see Pat lyin’ on his face wid the hall-shtand on top of him.



“It sames he had come in and thripped over the dhrawin’-room carpet that was folded up in the hall, and in fallin’ had knocked over the hall-shtand, that had made a lump on the back of his head as big as a wather-melon. He was spacheless wid insensibility, and when Con Regan and Delaney carried him into the dhrawin’-room, and tuk his collar off, and he never opened his eyes to say a wurrud, I thought it would be widder’s weeds I’d be wantin, and me only afther buyin’ a new hat wid pink flowers the day before. They bathed his face wid wather, and rubbed his hands, and it was all no good, until Delaney said:—

“‘Do you think he cud take a dhrop of whiskey?’

“‘He couldn’t take whiskey the way he is,’ said Con Regan.

“‘You’re a liar!’ said Pat, as he opened his eyes.

“Well, we got him to bed afther a toime, although we had a job to perswade him to move, as he laid wid his head on Mrs. Regan’s lap, and she rubbin’ his hands, while Con poured the whiskey into him. When he was safe in bed, they all bid me goodnight, and it was three o’clock in the mornin’ before I was able to shut the front door, through the couch gettin’ shtuck in the enthrance, and me wid no one to give me a lift.

“Pat’s head was achin’ a bit the next mornin’. He said it was the knock he got. I think the whiskey had somethin’ to do wid it. I’d thought he’d be in a great timper, but he wasn’t. He said he’d take a knock loike it again every noight, if he could lay his head in Mrs. Regan’s lap and have the whiskey poured into him. It’s all over now, but it was a grand surproise party. Mrs. Moloney must have heard the music and the singin’ and the lafture, but I don’t think she knows of Pat’s bump. For three days afther the party, she sat on her balkinny wid her head rapped up, purtindin’ to have a cold in the head, and lookin’ about as happy as a pig wid the yellow janders. ’Tis surproisin’ the way some paple invy other paple’s good fortune. And must you go so soon, shure?”

“Yes dear,” replied Mrs. Tacitus.

She kissed Mrs. McSweeney, and, in passing, rubbed her finger on the chiffonnier to see whether it had any dust on it.


Mrs. McSweeney’s Photograph

“Ye’re just in time,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she removed the tea-cosy and poured out the tea. “Shure! a taste of shpirits in it ’ul do ye no harrum this afthernoon.”

“Only just a taste,” replied Mrs. Tacitus, as she noticed that Mrs. McSweeney had some new cups and saucers. “I hear you have had your photo taken.

“Yes,” replied Mrs. McSweeney. “In a momint of wakeness, and in response to the pressin’ solicitations of me innumerable friends, acquaintances, and others, I reluctantly consinted to get me photo tuk. Whin I say reluctantly, I don’t want you to misundersthand me. I am not ashamed of the linimints that Nature has given me, and if me shtoyle of beauty differs from phwat they call the classical, it is more in quantity than quality. It would ill become me to flather meself, but the truth is not flathery. I moind the toime whin I’d get heaps of flathery widout havin’ to do it meself, and even now, Pat is sometoimes jealous at the way the young fellows shtare whin we go out widout the twins, and me wid me new Sunday clothes on, and the combinations of colours that set off me proportions to the bist advantage. Me reluctance is caused by me modesty, which in the wurruds of the poet, would rather ‘under-rate the charms I have than claim the others that I have not got.’ Yet, though I say it meself, ye could foind many a wurse lookin’ face in Paddy’s Market on a Sathurday noight than Bridget McSweeney’s. So, as me friends samed so anxious, I thought it over, and the contimplation of the twins decoided me. I, therefore, made up me moind to conquer me natural modesty and timidity, and to hand the liniments down to me ancesthors. So I wint to a foinelookin’ place in George Sthrate, just between the Railway Station and the Circular Quay, and shpoke to a young lady that was a-sittin’ at a little desk:—

“‘Is this where you get your photo tuk?’ says I.

“‘It is,’ says she, shmoilin’ shwately.

“‘Phwat do ye charge,’ says I, ‘for a sthraight-out photo widout any flathery?’

“‘Siven-and-six a dozen fur cabinets,’ says she.

“‘I said photos,’ says I, calmly but severely, ‘not cabinets.’

“‘Well, it’s all the same,’ says the young lady, ‘Cabinets is the size of ’em.’

“So she showed me the soize, and I said I’d be tuk. She asked me to sit in the waitin’-room, and guv me some pictures to look at.

“‘A wonderful thing is photography,’ says she.

“‘It is,’ says I.

“‘Look at the X-rays,’ says she.

“‘Where are they?’ says I, lookin’ round the room.

“‘Oh! we haven’t them here,’ says she, shmoilin’, ‘but we have some pictures taken by them. Here is one. It is Mr. * ———’s hand.’

* The reader may here fill in the name of any prominent politician or local magnate.

“‘Is it now?’ says I. ‘Shure, nobody would think that was Mr. *———’s hand. It don’t look like it.’

“‘No,’ she says, ‘You see, when anybody shows your hand widout the rays, you only see phwat is on the surface. The X-rays shows phwat is underneath the surface.’

“‘Well,’ I says, examinin’ the picture again, ‘I don’t think the X-rays brings it all out. There is more in Mr. *———’s hand than you can see there.’ Then I added, afther a pause, ‘Do you think the X-rays would show you phwat eh has up his slave?

“‘I don’t know,’ says she.

“‘Well, then,’ says I, ‘I can tell you. The X-rays may be very good. You might be able to see through most men wid ’em. You might even see through *——— wid ’em in two or three looks, but ye’ll never see through * ——— wid ’em. And if, in addition to the X-rays, ye get all the Y-Z rays, ye’ll not be able to see phwat he has up his slave?’

“‘Phwat do you think he has?’ says she.

“‘Devil a know I know,’ says I, ‘but you may be sure that he has somethin’ else in his slave besides the loinin’. You moind me now!’

“Then she showed me into phwat she called the shtudy-oh, and as she shut the door I found meself all alone wid a man. He bowed politely, and in shpoite of me nervousness I did not forget to remimber me good breedin’, and I returned his politeness.

“‘Will you take a sate, mam?’ says he.

“‘I will,’ says I, ‘Thankin’ you koindly. It’s toirin’ shtandin’ afther washin’ all the mornin’ and a heavy wash too —four shirts, three blouses and a lot of coloured things, besides two pairs of blankets and a quilt, which I had to rince over again, through the loine breakin’.’

“‘How would you loike it?’ says he. ‘Full length, three-quarther, or the bust only?’

“‘Shure!’ says I to him, ‘Phwad ’ud be the good of takin’ me bust only?’

“He smoiled and said:—

“‘Oh! of course your face would be in wid it!’

“‘In wid phwat?’ says I.

“‘Wid the bust,’ says he.

“‘Well, I don’t want it in wid me bust,’ says I. ‘I want it where it is.’

“‘It’ll be all roight,’ says he, ‘Wait till I get me focus.’

“So he wint up to the thing he called his focus, which looked somethin’ loike a three-legged shtool wid a pair of bellows on top, and afther turnin’ it about, he says, ‘Now it’s all roight. Would you loike to look through it?’

“I said I would as he was so perloite, and he sat in a chair whoile I looked at him through the focus, and shure! I couldn’t belave me eyes, for he was upside down.’

“‘You’ve got your focus the wrong way up!’ says I.

“‘Oh! it’s all roight,’ says he, laughin’.

“‘And do you think,’ says I, ‘that I’m goin’ to sit in that chair and allow a man to look at ME upside down? No!’ says I, ‘I’d sooner let me ancestors go widout me liniments for ever and ever.’

“‘It’s always done that way,’ he says, ‘And it won’t take a minute, and you’ll be roight soid up whin its finished.’

“‘Well,’ says I, as a compromise, ‘Will ye shut your eyes whin yer look?’

“‘I will,’ says he.

“‘Well thin foire away,’ says I. ‘But moind, if I catch ye at any tricks, although I’m only a lone faymale, I’ll stuff you into your focus and throw you out of the window,’ I says, ‘And you’ll get thrampled under the fate of the omnibusses,’ says I,‘’till they won’t be able to tell which is you and which is the focus.’

“He got white and said that, ‘If I preferred it he would not look at all. He’d chance it.’ So he gave me a book to hould in one hand, a fan and a big bunch of flowers to hould in the other, and I sat down in the chair. He said:—

“‘Are you ready? Kape shtill!’

“And thin somethin’ gave a click, and he said it was all roight and I came away. I got me photos yesterday. I didn’t loike them much, because, although they’re not upsoide down, the big bunch of flowers is hidin’ me face. Pat says he thinks that’s an improvement, but he is no judge. Mrs. Jackson says it is more loike me than I am loike meself.

“I was walkin’ down past the place where I had me photo tuk this mornin’, and I saw they had one shtuck outside, and some boys was lookin’ at it.

“‘That’s Charley’s Aunt,’ says one.

“How he knew that me brother Barney had a boy called Charley, and he away in Ireland, and me only havin’ the news by the last mail, and only a few loines and fivepence to pay, I couldn’t say. It showed the loikeness, however, and I shmoiled at the boy, and said:—

“‘I’m glad you loike ’em!’

“‘Hulloh!’ says he, laughin’ to his friend.

“‘Phwat price?’

“‘Seven-and-six a dozen,’ says I.

“He laughed again, and I said:—

“So you knew me poor brother Barney, did you?’

“‘Oh!’ says he to his friend, ‘Come along; she’s got ’em!’

“‘Yes,’ says I, ‘I got ’em this mornin’; a dozen of ’em.’

“‘A dozen phwat?’ says he.

“‘Photos,’ says I.

“‘Rats!’ says he.

“Wid that I could see that he was only makin’ fun of me.

“‘Ye impident shpalpeen!’ says I, ‘How dare ye thry to make fun of yer bethers?’

“‘Oh! give us a rest!’ says he.

“‘I’ll give ye,’ says I, ‘A prod in the jaw wid me umbrella!’ says I.

“‘Ye’re Irish!’ says he.

“Wid that I made a poke at him, but he shlipped away, and the pint of me umbrella shtuck into a shtout gentleman’s waistcoat, which made him cough that way that his langwidge was not fit for a daycent woman to hear.

“And can I have this one?’ said Mrs. Tacitus.

“You can then, and welcome,” said Mrs. McSweeney.

And Mrs. Tacitus, vowing she would never part with it, kissed Mrs. McSweeney and went away resolving to post the photo to Mrs. Moloney that very night.


Mrs. McSweeney About a Dog

“Good afthernoon to yer,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she got out another cup and saucer for Mrs. Tacitus, “And how’s the neuralgy?”

“It is slightly better, thank you, dear,” replied Mrs. Tacitus, as she drew her chair up to the table, noticing at the same time that Mrs. McSweeney’s blouse had a rent under the armpit.

“I have been that worried since I seen ye last,” continued Mrs. McSweeney, as she sweetened Mrs. Tacitus’ tea, “That me nerves is like a ball of woosted that the cat’s been playin’ wid. It was all about a dog, a dog that you wouldn’t give a threepenny-bit for, if there wasn’t another dog in the wurruld, even for breedin’ purposes. I had had a heavy wash last Monday, and the copper fire, conthrary, and the smuts blowin’ that way that it would vex a saint, and me limbs achin’ as if I’d been thrashed wid a bamboo. So I laid down to take forty winks afther lunch. I’d hardly got into me first doze whin Mrs. O’Reilly shouted to tell me I was wanted in the back yard. Whin I got out I saw a polaceman, lookin’ over the fence.

“‘Is yer dog registered, Mrs. McSweeney?’ says he.

“‘Faith! Divil a dog have I at all,’ says I.

“‘Phwat’s that?’ says he, pointin’ to a corner of the yard.

“‘That’s a dog,’ says I, ‘by the look of it.’

“‘Well, is it registered?’ says he.

“‘How do I know?’ says I, ‘Shure, it’s no dog of mine.

“‘Oh! we’re used to that,’ says he, as he made a note in his book.

“So I got the clothes-prop, and I gave the dog a prod, and I says, ‘Whisht! Git out of that!’ And thin I found it was that thafe of a dog that belongs to Mrs. Moloney. I knew him at once, for, by the token, he lost part of his tail, through the butcher at the corner throwin’ a knife at him whin he was walkin’ off wid a sthring of sausages. Pat says he’s a rough-haired black and white fox terrier, wid a bit of the blood-hound in him. Anyway, whin I prodded him with the clothes-prop, he dodged through a hole in the fince into the nixt yard, and I wint back to me nap. I thought no more about it till the nixt day, whin I was served wid a summons to attind the polace court to answer to a charge of not registherin’ a dog. I consulted Pat, and wanted him to go, but he said he couldn’t neglict his work.

“‘But phwat am I to say?’ says I.

“‘Oh!’ he says. ‘You can plade all sorts of things. Say the dog wasn’t yours, or that it was under age, or that it was dead, or anything like that. You can plade as many things as you loike, and the more ye plade the hardher will it be fur thim to prove it. So I attinded the court. There was a big crowd there, and there was somebody there from everyone of the six houses in our terrace. Jobson, the publican at the corner, was the first one called.

“‘You are charged,’ says the clerk of the court, ‘wid havin’ an unregistered dog on yer premises. How do ye plade?’

“‘The dog wasn’t mine, yer Washup.’

“‘Swear Constable Finnigan,’ says the clerk.

“So Constable Finnigan stated that he saw a dog in Jobson’s yard. It was a fox terrier.

“‘Have ye got yer receipt?’ says the clerk.

“‘No!’ says Jobson. ‘I tell ye the dog—’

“‘Tin shillin’s, and four-and-tinpence costs,’ says his Washup.

“‘But—’ says Jobson.

“‘Livy and disthress,’ says his Washup. ‘Nixt case!’

Mrs. Smith was charged nixt. On bein’ charged, she said:—

“‘Plaze yer Washup, I don’t own no dog.’

“‘Swear Constable Finnigan,’ says the clerk.

“Constable Finnigan stated that he saw a dog in defindint’s yard. It was a rough-coated terrier, wid a shtumpy tail.

“‘Where’s yer husband?’ says his Washup.

“‘He’s up at the Macquarie fossickin’,’ says Mrs. Smith, ‘And I’ve five children, and we haven’t had a bite of feed in the house this two days.’

“‘Tin shillin’s and four-and-tinpence costs,’ says his Washup.

“‘But plaze yer Washup,’ says Mrs. Smith, burstin’ into tears.

“‘Livy and disthress,’ says his Washup, blowin’ his nose. ‘Nixt case!’

“The nixt one called was Miss Tomkins, who said she never had a dog, and couldn’t abear the soight of one. Constable Finnigan said he saw a dog in her yard on the day mintioned. It was a cross between a fox terrier and a blood-hound.

“‘Tin shillin’s and four-and-tinpence costs. Nixt case!’

“Mrs. Mulligan was nixt called. She had the same defince. Constable Finnigan stated that he saw a dog in the yard; it was a—

“‘Tin shillin’s and costs!’ says his Washup. ‘Nixt case!’

“‘Bridget McSweeney!’ says the clerk.

“‘I’m here,’ says I.

“‘How do ye plade?’ says he.

“I plade,’ says I, ‘That it was Moloney’s dog, and if it wasn’t Moloney’s dog it wasn’t mine, and if it was it was not six months old, and if it was it died of old age twelve months ago nixt Anniversary Day, and if it didn’t it wasn’t there, and if it was there it was registhered. Now!’ says I, ‘Put that in your poipe and schmoke it!’

“‘Can ye prove it was registhered?’ says he.

“‘Can ye prove it wasn’t?’ says I.

“‘You mustn’t spake loike that to the coort,’ says his Washup. ‘Call Constable Finnigan.’

“‘But, yer Woshup!’ says I, ‘I’m a daycent married—’

“‘Silence!’ shouted the clerk of the court, and Constable Finnigan was sworn. He stated that on the day in quistion he saw in the defindant’s yard a full-bred blood-hound wid a shtumpy tail.

“‘Tin shillin’s and costs!’ says his Washup.

“‘I’m a daycent married woman,’ says I, ‘and have enough to do lookin’ afther me twins and me house wurruk widout kapin’ an apology for a dog wid no tail to shpake of.’

“‘Livy and disthress,’ says his Woshup. ‘Nixt case! Nixt case!’

“But I came away thin, and whin we got outside the coort, we found that it was Mrs. Moloney’s dog that was in Jobson’s yard, and he threw it over the fince whin the polaceman had gone, and Mrs. Smith threw a boot at it, and it ran through the fince into Miss Tomkins. Whin the polaceman called there she hunted it out of her back gate, and whoile the officer was writin’ in his book it run into Mrs. Mulligan’s yard. She dhrove it into my yard, and I prodded it wid the clothes-prop, and it wint into Jones’ yard, and whoile we was talkin’ out comes Jones, and said he had been foined too, and all for Moloney’s dog. And of course Mrs. Moloney hadn’t been summoned at all. I seen Mrs. Smith at the distance, and I wint and shpoke to her. I said, ‘I’d loike to have the combin’ of the hair of that hard-hearted wretch for foinin’ you, and yer children hungry.’

“‘Ah! Mrs. McSweeney,’ says she, ‘Don’t abuse the good man. He has to administher the law, and if the law’s an ass he can’t help it. God bless him! He sint a polaceman out wid a sovereign, and a message that I was to pay the foine and kape the change. If he administhers law and justice wid one hand he dispenses charity and mercy wid the other. God bless him!’

“So I came home. I forgave his Washup, but I’m kapin’ me eye open for Mrs. Moloney’s dog. ’Tis for that I kape the broom on the kitchen table, a bucket of wather near the front door, and a brick undher me pillow. If I catch him in me yard agin I’ll give him such a batin’ that he won’t shtop runnin’ and shqualin’ till he falls over the South Head and encumbers the Pacific Ocean wid his carcase.”

“No more, thank you!’ said Mrs. Tacitus, as Mrs. McSweeney reached for her cup. “I must be going now.” And she brushed the crumbs from her lap, kissed Mrs. McSweeney, and took her departure, wondering as she went up the street what had become of the vase that used to stand on Mrs. McSweeney’s side table.


Mrs. McSweeney On Clubs

“You’re not looking well, Mrs. McSweeney,” remarked Mrs. Tacitus, as she took her seat in the kitchen, where Mrs. McSweeney was busy making pastry. “Don’t mention it, dear; I don’t mind sitting in the kitchen,” she continued, as she speculated as to the price of Mrs. McSweeney’s new preserving pan.

“I’ve been purty well, barrin’ a sinkin’ falin’ due to the worry of me domestic affairs,” replied Mrs. McSweeney, in answer to the first remark of Mrs. Tacitus. “Whin Pat won the three hundred pounds in the swape I thought me luck was in, but I never shpeculated on the way he’d alther. I don’t know phwat’s comin’ over him, for iver since that toime he’s been as big in the head as a newly elected mimber of Parlymint, and he is gettin’ no bether every day.

“First he bought a watch, and thin a chain. Nixt he wasted his money in a lot of dingle-um-dangle-ums, to hang at the ind of the chain. A wake or two afther that he must buy a ring for his little finger, no less. The nixt thing he did was to shave off his beard, and as he lift nothin’ but a moustache he reminded me of the man that used to shtand outside the fotygraffer’s shop, sayin’, ‘This stoyle fourpince,’ wid a big hat. Thin he’d want hot wather two or three toimes a wake, and it ’ud be, ‘Where’s me razor? Where’s me shtrop? and where’s me shavin’ pot?’ to say nothin’ of the way he’d schrub me whin he had about two days’ growth on. Thin he tuk to wearin’ starched shirts every day, which I’m sure I wouldn’t loike to do this hot weather, havin’ as many as four in the wash in one wake.

“This was all bad enough, but I lost me patience one night last wake. I wint to bed early, and was just in me first slape —that I call me beauty slape— bein’ phwat I rely on for me complexion. I’d had a late supper —just a shlice of roast pork wid some cucumber and onions, a bit of toasted cheese and a couple of bananas, and I was dhramin’ a shwate dhrame. I thought I was a flyin’-fox, and that I was flyin’ about from tree to tree, dhressed in a pink mervelow and a green sunshade, whin I seen Mrs. Moloney shtandin’ under one of the trees wid an air of vindictiveness and a gun. I thried to schrame, but me tongue was tied up by the roots, for I thought that ivery minit would be me nixt. She pointed the gun at me, and says, ‘I’ll taiche you to be puttin’ yerself above yer naybours,’ says she. Just then she fired, wid a noise loike a thunderclap, and I woke up and found meself alone in me bed aclaspin’ the bedpost wid the shweat oozin’ from every pore.

“Before I had time to calm me falins’ and collect me scathered sinses, I heard a noise at the front door. I listened, and there was a-schrapin’, and thin a bump, and thin more schrapin’ and more bumpin’. Thin there was a pause, durin’ which I could here me heart thumpin’ agin me ribs loike a billy-goat agin a barn door, and thin I heard Pat say to himself loike, ‘Who the blazes has shifted the kay-hole?’ So whin I knew it was him, I just shlipped down in me wrapper wid the transparent yoke, and opened the door.

“‘Is that you, Biddy?’ says he.

“‘It is,’ says I. ‘Phwat do ye mane by comin’ home this time of noight, makin’ a noise and frightenin’ the naybours?’

“‘Who the blazes has shifted the kay-hole?’ says he.

“‘I wondher you’re not ashamed to be sane in the moonlight,’ says I, ‘the way ye are.’

“‘Shure!’ says he, ‘I’m all roight, Biddy, me ould gal, Bid. But I’ve dhropped me kay, and somebody’s shifted the kay-hole.’

“He wouldn’t come in till he found his kay; so, as there was nobody about, I just shtepped out on to the verandah to look for it. It was a foine night, and the moon was shoinin’ bright, as the poet says, and jist as I shtipped out, Pat says:—

“‘Whist!’ says he, ‘There it is agin!’ And he wint down on his hands and knees on me flower bed.

“‘There’s phwat?’ says I.

“‘Begorra! I’ve got it,’ says he. Thin he added, ‘No, I ain’t.’

“‘Got phwat?’ says I, wid me wrapper flyin’ in the breeze.

“‘There it is again!’ he says, reachin’ out and breakin’ me polyanthus.

“‘Don’t ye see it,’ he says.

“So I wint to see phwat he was grabbin’ at and hoppin’ around afther, and if he wasn’t chasin’ the shadow of the branch of a tree that was wavin’ in the moonlight. Wid considherable throuble and inconvanience, owin’ to me bare fate, I got him up, whin he thried to shteady himself by the handle of the door, and pulled it to; and there I was, in nothin’ but me wrapper wid the transparent yoke, out on the verandah, and the wind that cold that I thought I’d get me death, and me fate freezin’ wid the joo. I’ll not tell you exactly phwat I said to him, fur I was a bit mixed, more by token, because I heard the twins begin to sing out fer me at the same minute. The only thing Pat did was to sit on the gas mater, wid his hat all on one side. Whin I remonsthrated he only laughed and sang:—

      ‘We are the bhoys that make the noise
      In the Royal Artilleree!’



“‘I heard some paple comin’ up the sthrate, and just then Pat sthruck a match fur me to foind the kay, and me the way I was. However, I got the kay, and wint to bed, and left him to follow. I thought he’d never get up, fur ivery shtep he came up he shlipped down two. Whin at lingth he did get upshtairs, I says to him:—

“‘And pray, phwat sort of place have ye been in till this hour in the mornin’?’

“‘At me club,’ says he.

“‘And phwat’s a club?’ says I.

“‘It’s a place,’ says he, ‘Where men go to polish up their intellecks, by friction wid other intellecks, where they injy a quiet game at shnooker and poker wid kindred shpirits, or discuss the ivints of the day; and where they don’t get interrupted by any blatherin’ faymales.’

“‘The more’s the pity,’ says I, ‘That they haven’t somebody to help them to kape sthraight.’

“‘If it wasn’t for the wimin,’ says he, ‘the min ’ud be always sthraight.’

“‘If it wasn’t for the wimin,’ says I, ‘And you wid yer clubs and yer intellecks, and these sort of things in yer pocket,’ says I, as I produced to his gaze the fotygraff of a faymale, wid hardly anythin’ on, that he’d dhropped out of his coat pocket.

“‘Is that a woman?’ says I.

“‘It looks loike one,’ says he.

“‘Tell me where to foind her?’ says I, clinchin’ me fists.

“‘Oh! it’s only off a packashigaritz,’ says he.

“‘I don’t belave a word of it,’ says I. But he wint on singin’:—

      ‘We are the bhoys that make the noise
      In the Royal Artilleree!’

“‘Will ye hould yer whist?’ says I, ‘And not be wakin’ the terrace,’ says I, ‘And thry to lave off shtaggerin’, and shtand sthraight.’

“‘The divil’s cure to ye!’ says he, ‘Do ye think I want any help to kape sthraight?’

“And wid that he thried to shteady himself by the bedpost, but missed it, and sat down on the box wid me new hat in wid the ostrich feathers.

“‘You’ll be the ruin’ of me hat!’ says I.

“‘And your blatherin’, blistherin’ hat-pin ’ul be the ruin uv me!’ says he. ‘Pull it out quick before I blade to death!’

“I pulled it out, but faith! it sobered him up a bit, and afther a severe shtruggle wid his boots, he pulled thim off, flung thim into the four corners of the room, and wint to bed.

“My opinion is that if clubs are places where they sind men home at all hours in the mornin’, to lose their kay-holes, and dhrop their latch-kays, disthurbin’ the shlape of their wives, and singin’ out at the top of their voices, and Mrs. Moloney’s balkinny door wide open, so that she couldn’t be off hearin’, to say nothin’ of the risk of rheumatics and lumbago, and brazen faymales givin’ their fotygraffs wid scarcely anything on, to the husbands of virtuous women, it’s a great shame, and ought to be brought before the Arbitration Court under the Act for the Protiction of Daycent Married Faymales.”

And Mrs. McSweeney handed Mrs. Tacitus a jam tart, hot from the oven, while Mrs. Tacitus noticed that the kitchen floor covering, which Mrs. McSweeney had described as “linoleum,” was only oilcloth, worth about tenpence a yard.


Mrs. McSweeney’s Reconciliation

“I didn’t know you could sing so nicely, dear,” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she entered the sitting-room where Mrs. McSweeney sat and sang as she plied her needle.

‘Faith! I’m loike a canary this mornin’, and I’m singin’ bekase me heart is overflowin’ wid the milk of human koindness that way that it’s oozin’ out ov me.”

“Why, what has happened?” enquired Mrs. Tacitus, as she noticed that Mrs. McSweeney was darning Pat’s white socks with brown cotton.

“Thruly,” says Mrs. McSweeney, “Does the poet say:—

“‘One touch of nature makes the whole wurruld kin,
And often makes us fale phwat fools we’ve bin.’

“There is a toide in the affairs of men and women, if you can only take it on the hop, that lades to the most unexpected demonsthrations of the ould sayin’ that ‘every cloud has a silver loinin’, as everyone can see for himself if he’ll only take the throuble to git behind it.

“Little did I think a wake ago that I’d ever have to relate the evints that I am now about to relate, but a merciful Providence rules over all, and I’m glad to say that the inmity of the past is dissolved in the swate frindship of the prisint. I fale as happy as a flea in a stockin’, for I’m at pace wid the whole of mankoind and everybody else, barrin’ Mrs. O’Reilly, who is not worth mentionin’, she bein’ a shnake in the grass, wid a smooth face and a mischief-makin’ tongue.

“I had been down the road one day last wake, to lave Pat’s boots to be half-soled and haled, and a patch put on the soide, whin I seen a chubby-faced little boy walkin’ along the road, wid a basket of pertaters on his arrum, and a big chunk of wathermelon in his hand. He was crossin’ the road and lookin’ behoind him at two dogs foightin’, and I was admirin’ his rosy chakes and chubby bare legs, and thinkin’ that it was a shame to thrust him out by himself, and no one wid him, whin a butcher’s cart come tarin’ round the corner, and before I could schrame, the horse was on top of the little child, and thin the poor little fellow lay all sthill and white, wid his pertaters all over the road, and the cart was gone.

“I ran and picked the poor child up, and another woman felt him and said he wasn’t dead, and she picked up his hat and gathered up the pertaters, and a girl come and said she knew where he lived. It was only just round the corner, and I carried him home. I found that his mother was out washin’, and nobody at home but his little sisther about tin years old, and we put the poor little lad on the bed, and found a big bruise on his head, but no bones broken. It broke me heart entoirely to see him lyin’ there so shtill and white and as limp as a piece of wet paper, that me mother’s falins’ rose in me throat, and brought the tears to me eyes at the sight of him. I chafed his hands and legs and blew in his face, and offered up a prayer to the Blessed Virgin that the dear little innocent might not die on our hands. While I was chafin’ and cryin’ and prayin’, and thinkin’ phwat else I could do, the other lady plastered the lump on his head wid vinegar and brown paper and things, and by and by we had the satisfaction to see him open his big blue eyes and looked at us. I’ll never forget the falins’ I felt when I found that he was shtill aloive and that he wasn’t dead. ’Twas a tremenduous relafe off me moind. Just as he opened his eyes, his mother come runnin’ in, and was besoide herself wid thankin’ me and the other lady for our koindness to her poor little boy.

“Up to that toime I had been so busy wid the child that I had taken no notice of the other lady; but I turned round thin, and I thought I’d dhrop whin I saw that it was me mortal inimy, Mrs. Moloney. The recognition was shpontaneously instantaneous on both sides at once. I was covered wid mortification from head to foot. She made a sort of a bow of recognition, and not to be outdone by her in perliteness, I did the same. Then she bowed a little lower, and so did I. Now the room was only a shmall one, and I couldn’t see behoind me. Neither could Mrs. Moloney. In thryin’ to bow lower I bumped up agin a box or a piece of furniture behoind me. So did Mrs. Moloney. The bump caused me to lose me balance, and I butted forward for all the wurruld like a goat. So did Mrs. Moloney. In buttin’ forward I butted Mrs. Moloney wid such force that I sat down wid considerable violence and velocity. So did Mrs. Moloney; and the double concussion shook the whole house. I was not much hurt, and I was that amused at seein’ her sittin’ forninst me, especially afther the upset I’d had wid the child, that I could not presarve me dignity, and I burst out larfin’. So did Mrs. Moloney. I felt mad wid meself, but I couldn’t help it. I throid to smother it, and was just gettin’ the bether of it, whin that blessed darlin’ wid the chubby legs and blue eyes, and the roses comin’ back to his chakes, sat up on the bed and shouted:—

“‘Oh! Mumma, look! The two ladies are goin’ to play cock-fightin’!”

“Well, I roared again. So did Mrs. Moloney. I larfed till me soides ached wid larfin’, and the tears run down me chakes. I got that helpless that I rowled on the floor. So did Mrs. Moloney. At length, when we could larf no more, we picked ourselves up, and the boy’s mother would make us have a cup of tay before we wint. I throid to be dignified once more, but it was no use. Every toime I caught Mrs. Moloney’s eye I shmoiled. So did Mrs. Moloney. She looked so good-humoured whin she shmoiled, that I said at last:—

“‘Mrs. Moloney,’ says I, ‘Phwat did I ever do to make you so cool to me?’

“‘Mrs. McSweeney,’ says she, ‘I will not decave you. I thought it was unkoind in you to tell Mrs. O’Reilly that I was no bether than I should be.’

“‘If I was to die this minit,’ says I, ‘I never said such a thing.’

“‘You didn’t?’ says she.

“‘No,’ says I, ‘But I felt hurt whin she tould me that you said that I was proud, and thought meself above me neighbours.’

“‘Did she tell you that?’ says she.

“She did?’ says I.

“‘Thin,’ says she, ‘She is a viper. I only said you ought to be proud, for you was so much superior to your neighbours.’

“So afther this explanation we shook hands and come home together, and as we parted at the door, I resolved to have no more to do wid Mrs. O’Reilly. So did Mrs. Moloney. And now Mrs. Moloney and me are frinds. I pass the toime of day to her from me balkinny, and she does the same to me. I pop over to her gate and have a chat, and she pops over to mine. I wint yisterday and had afthernoon tay wid her, and she is comin’ to-day to have the same wid me. She made her boy apologise for turnin’ off me gas at the mayther, and tyin’ shtrings to me knocker, and I’m the happiest woman in the whole wide wurruld this day. And so is Mrs. Moloney.

“‘Shure, ye’re not goin’?’ said Mrs. McSweeney, as Mrs. Tacitus commenced to put on her hat.

But Mrs. Tacitus explained that she had an engagement with her dentist, who was going to ease her top plate, and as she shook the dust of Mrs. McSweeney’s linoleum off her feet on the gravel path, she remarked that some people were like members of Parliament. You never knew to-day what they would do to-morrow.


Mrs. McSweeney Does the Block

“’Tis quoite a sthranger ye are,” exclaimed Mrs. McSweeney, as she placed a chair in front of the fire for Mrs. Tacitus. “And where have you been this long time?”

“I had no girl,” replied Mrs. Tacitus, as she took her seat and noticed that Mrs. McSweeney’s slipper had a hole in the toe. “Have you been keeping well?”

“Faith! I’m as happy as a new-made polaceman. Since me reconciliation wid Mrs. Moloney I fale that the sunshine of pace and thranquility is castin’ its blessed shade upon me, and removin’ from me path the avilanches of doubt and inmity in which I used to be steeped. I’m a new woman.

“I don’t wish you to undhershtand from that, that I’ve forgotten phwat’s due to me sects. Glory be to Providence I know me place. Women who want to be min may thry to revolutionize the equilibrium of the social phwat-do-you-call-it and turn the sexes upside down, but they will get no help from me. Whin I say I’m a new woman, I mane that me bosom has evicted the falins’ of acrimoniousness that used to dwell therein, and has become the tiniment of pace and thranquility, and is swellin’ wid love and affection to that extent that me corset won’t meet on me. The more I come to know Mrs. Moloney, the more thankful I am to the little darlint wid the chubby legs, that was the manes of bringin’ us together, and the greater is me falin’ of contimptousness fur that degraded craythur, Mrs. O’Reilly.

“A thrue frind is loike a beacon foire, that blazes the brightest on the darkest noight. A false frind is loike a rush-light on a stick, whose flame is extinguished wid the first puff of wind. The threachery of a false frind is loike a nadle in a sofy cushion. It pricks you whin you laste expict it, and sometimes in the tindherest part. An inimy who bethrays an inimy may be forgiven, but a frind who is false is like a rotten crutch that breaks the first toime you lane on it. A man or woman who will bethray a frind would bethray their counthry, and couldn’t be thrusted to carry a bone to a dog.

“Mrs. Moloney popped over to me the day before yesterday just as I was washin’ some pertaties to cook fur Pat’s dinner, as he will always make me cook thim in their jackets, because, he says, it kapes the goodness in and sames more homely, and she says to me:—

“‘Where are you goin’ to this afthernoon?’ says she.

“‘I wasn’t thinkin’ of goin’ anywhere,’ says I.

“‘Phwat do ye say if we come and do the block?’ says she.

“‘I’d loike it of all the wurruld,’ says I, ‘But faith! I’ve nothin’ to wear.’

“‘Oh!’ says she, ‘You’ll be all roight. I’ll call for you at three o’clock, and moind you are ready.’

“So she did me hair fur me, whoile I was makin’ some pancakes, so as to save toime, and afther I had washed up the dinner things I got ready. I put on me new tan shoes and me open-work shtockins’, and a new pink muslin skirt, cut full behind; a white blouse, and me dark-green Princess Maude cape wid a red frill round the back. Me Tommy Shanther hat was a beauty. It was covered wid flowers on the top and underneath the brim, and thrimmed wid airyfane and tool rosettes, wid loops of coloured shtraw, and a twist of net near the edge caught down wid fancy pins. I had just put on me light tan gloves and me green parasol, whin Mrs. Moloney tapped at me door. Whin she seen me I thought it would take her breath away.

“‘I loike you,’ says she, ‘Wid your nothin’ to wear! Why, you look as smart as the woife of a Jew money-lender, or a Labour Mimber of Parliamint.’

“So we tuk the thram to King-street, and then we did the block. We looked at the shops, and we passed remarks on the dhresses of the ladies, and as the young civil servants and bank clerks, wid the big walkin’-shticks and large shirt cuffs, walked past us, I noticed more than one admoirin’ glance thrown towards me. We were lookin’ in a shop windher, admoirin’ the pictures, whin there was a young man in a straw hat and a black moustache and an eye-glass, lookin’ over our shoulders, and I’ll never forget the way he apologised whin somebody in the crowd pushed him up against us. We told him perlitely not to mention it, and he raised his hat and bowed, and we saw him no more. As it was nearly time to be gettin’ home, Mrs. Moloney wint into a shop to buy some fruit, and in a minute she comes runnin’ out as pale as death, and she says:—

“‘Mrs. McSweeney,’ says she, ‘I’ve lost me purse!’

“‘Perhaps ye left it at home?’ says I.

“‘I don’t think so,’ she says. ‘But, anyway, lind me a shillin’ till I pay fur the fruit.’

“I felt in me pocket, and it was impty! I couldn’t restrain the conthrol of me feelins’ as I remumbered that there was in it four and ninepence in silver, fourpence in copper, three throuser buttons, a darnin’ nadle, and the resate for the last month’s rint.

“‘Thieves! Robbers! Murder!’ I shouted, as fast as me lungs could carry me. A polaceman came up, and he says:—

“‘Here! Move on, and don’t be obsthructin’ the footpath.’

“‘Do you know who you are shpakin’ to,’ says I, ‘Wid your move on?’

“‘I guess I know what YOU are,’ says he.

“‘If you look at me in that tone of voice,’ says I, ‘I’ll take your number.’

“‘Gwanawayouterthat!’ says he, as he gave me a push.

“I wouldn’t demane meself to say any more to him, but we had to walk home, seein’ that we had no money. Nixt toime I do the block, I’m goin’ to kape me eye open fur that young man wid the black moustache, and if I see him, he’ll think the wurruld’s at an ind, and that the ruins are all on top of him. I’ll make it that worrum for him that he’ll be glad to ’sake the cold shades of obliviousness to give his moustache time to grow, and his eyes to rayshume their normal tint. Will ye take another pace of jam roll?”

“Thank you, I will,” said Mrs. Tacitus, helping herself to a piece of jam roll and a couple of tarts, and remarking to herself that Mrs. McSweeney’s new fringe net was a couple of shades darker than her hair.


Mrs. McSweeney on Propriety

“Take the aisy chair, Mrs. Moloney,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she ushered Mrs. Moloney into the drawing-room, and placed a cushion on the best arm-chair.

“Shure, it’s toired ye must be afther your long walk into town, to say nothin’ of the pushin’ and dhrivin’ at the sale, and the sthruggle at the bargain counther.”

“It’s a bit fatigued I am, thin,” said Mrs. Moloney, as she sank into the arm-chair and removed her hat-pins. “Did Mrs. Tacitus call to-day?”

“Indade, she didn’t then,” replied Mrs. McSweeney, with a toss of her head. “It’s poor and humble I am, Mrs. Moloney, although, thank Heaven, I have always a cup of tay and a bite for a frind. But humble as I am I know me spear, and what is joo to meself and me sects! If I have my way Mrs. Tacitus will not darken my door agin, for though above want and livin’ on a terrace of houses left her by her late husband, she has lost the sinse of propriety.

“It has always been my aim, Mrs. Moloney, although it is meself that says it, to live and conduct meself wid such propriety that no man or woman of either sects can pint the finger of schorn at me. Mrs. Tacitus has forfeited the reshpict joo to her sects by lettin’ her vanity get the bether of her discretion in such a way as to make propriety hide her face to consale her blushes.

“It was this way: —As you are aware, Mrs. Moloney, the late political contist was productive of great excitement. There was a male committee and a famale committee. Pat was chairman of the male committee, which was how I come to know all about it, and Mrs. Tacitus was chairwoman of the faymale committee. Whin the eliction was over, and our mimber got in on the top of a pole, he decoided to give a dinner to the most prominent of his supporters.

“He invited Pat, who supported him because he was an Irishman, Mr. Thompson (who is thryin’ to get his son on the thramway), Mr. Jones (who wants a billet in the post-office), Mr. Simpson (who is thryin’ to get into the Government Printin’ Office), Mr. Tracey (who is thryin’ to get the conthract for the supply of red tape to the Government institutions), and about a dozen more aqually disintherested elictors.

“He also invited Mrs. Tacitus, and you’d niver belave it, but she wint! One solitary faymale to about twinty males! The wake before the dinner our mimber sent for Mr. Tracey, and he says to him, says he,

“‘I think I’ll be able to get ye that conthract for red tape,’ he says, ‘But I’d loike to get up a tistimonial,’ says he, ‘to Mrs. Tacitus.’ ‘Will you head it?’ says he.

“So Mr. Tracey said he’d head it wid a guinea, and he did; and thin wint home and added tin guineas to his tinder for red tape.

“And Mr. Tracey wint to Mr. Thompson, and he says,

“‘If you don’t want to ruin the prospects of your son,’ says he, ‘Ye’ll have to give tin shillins’ to a testimonial to Mrs. Tacitus. The mimber’s moind is bint on it,’ he says.

“So Mr. Thompson, afther some persuadin’, wint and borrowed tin shillins’, and gave it to Mr. Tracey, and thin wint home and threw a boot at his youngest boy for shtandin’ on the doorstep.

“Thin Mr. Tracey wint to Mr. Jones, and he says:—

“‘I want tin shillins’ for a tistimonial to Mrs. Tacitus.’

“‘But,’ says Jones, ‘I haven’t tin shillins’ to me name.’

“‘If you don’t give it,’ says Tracey, ‘the post-office is a sealed book to ye.’

“So Jones wint and pawned his watch to git the tin shillins’, and sould the ticket to git a dhrink.

“By the same logical argumints to the rest of the committee the testimonial was bought, and the night for the prisintation arrived.



“The dinner was given at a fashionable resterong, and Pat says it was a beautiful dinner, except that the turkey was tough, and that the whiskey was off afther the first round. Whin dinner was announced, all the min shtud in a loine, and Mrs. Tacitus walked in, wid a shmoile on her face, on the arm of the mimber and a long train. All the time the dinner was on she sat on the mimber’s right hand, and as soon as it was over, the mimber rose and said he had a plazin’ jooty to perform.

“‘I have,’ said he, ‘to prisint a voluntary offerin’ of our love to Mrs. Tacitus,’ he says. ‘I love Mrs. Tacitus,’ he says. ‘We all love Mrs. Tacitus.’

“‘Hear! Hear!’ says Mr. Tracey.

“‘Silence!’ says the mimber, lookin’ at him with a tone of severity. ‘And I have much pleasure in claspin’ on her fair arrum,’ he says, ‘this bangle, the shpontaneous gift of her frinds and admoirers,’ he says.

“And he fastened on the bangle, squazin’ her hand as he did it, and sat down amid considerable jinglin’ of impty glasses.

“‘Will you say a few wurruds, my dear Mr. Tracey?’ said the mimber, whin the applause had died away.

“So Mr. Tracey said he was delighted to be present at the prisintation to Mrs. Tacitus, whom they all loved, and he throd on the toe of Mr. Jones, who sat nixt to him, and said in an undhertone, ‘Pass the whiskey!’

“Thin the mimber said he would like Mr. Jones to say a few wurruds, and Mr. Jones said he was plazed to be prisint to do honour to Mrs. Tacitus, whom they was all so fond of. And he sat down and pinched the knee of Mr. Thompson, and said, ‘Pass the whiskey!’

Thin the mimber asked Mr. Thompson to say a few wurruds, and Mr. Thompson said he was delighted to assist in doin’ honour to Mrs. Tacitus, whom they all loved, and said, ‘Pass the whiskey!’

“And the mimber asked each of the others to say a few wurruds, and they each said how they was burstin’ wid deloight to be prisint on the prisint occasion to take part in the prisintation of a prisint to Mrs. Tacitus, whom they was all so fond of.

“As aiche one sat down his concloodin’ remarks was, ‘Pass the whiskey,’ but whin the whiskey was passed divil a dhrop was there barrin’ the impty bottle.

“Thin the mimber returned thanks for Mrs. Tacitus. He said how plazed she was, and how proud she was to be so loved by them all, and to resave the free and shpontaneous offerin’ of their affection. Thin he tould her again how fond they all was of her, and rayshumed his sate.

“Thin come the harminy. Mr. Thompson sang ‘The Soldier’s Tear,’ and

Pat says he didn’t sing it bad, barrin’ havin’ to lave out the top notes owin’ to a could on his chist.

“Thin there was loud calls for a song from the mimber, and afther clearin’ his voice, and thryin’ two or three kays till he got the roight one, he sang a new song called, ‘Put Me in My Little Bed,’ which was received wid great applause, especially as he was accompanied by Mrs. Tacitus on a mouthorgan, wid variations.

“Pat sang ‘Oft in the Shtilly Noight,’ but wandhered into ‘The Groves of Blarney’ in the second verse, and couldn’t for the life of him foind his way back into the ‘Shtilly Noight.’

“Then Mrs. Tacitus played the ‘Ould Folks at Home’ on the banjo, that the mimber prisinted her wid some time ago, and that bein’ an insthrument calkerlated to show off a bangle, and make the imitation diamonds shparkle, was a great success.

“Thin Mr. Tracey said to the mimber, ‘Will you pass the whiskey?’ he says. But the mimber didn’t hear him, and proposed that they should all jine in singin’ ‘She’s a Jolly Good Fellow,’ and ‘So Say All of Us,’ and they cheered agin and agin.

“‘One for the mimber,’ says Mr. Thompson, who is thryin’ to get his son on the thramway; and they cheered agin.

“‘One for the mimber’s wife,’ said Tracey, who couldn’t get anybody to pass the whiskey.

“But the mimber said he thought it was time to go, and so they separated, as it was nigh closin’ time, and they was all dhry. Pat and the rist of the committee wint round to the club, and the mimber tuk Mrs. Tacitus home in a cab.

“And where was the mimber’s wife, that she wasn’t there?” said Mrs. Moloney.

“Oh!” replied Mrs. McSweeney, in a tone of sarcasm, “She was sint to Melbourne for a holiday fer the benefit of her health.”

“Oh, indade!” said Mrs. Moloney, winking significantly at Mrs. McSweeney.

“Yes, indade!” replied Mrs. McSweeney, winking slowly but effectively at Mrs. Moloney.

“It may be all roight,” she added, after a pause.

“I hope and thrust it is, but, Mrs. Moloney, it is not propriety, and I belave in propriety, and therefore Mrs. Tacitus is no longer a frind of mine.”


Mrs. McSweeney Goes Surf Bathing

“Come in,” said Mrs. McSweeney, in response to a soft rap at the door. “Come in. You’ll excuse me for not openin’ it, but I’m shtiff. Me shouldhers is blisthered, and me limbs is burnt till they’re quite raw, so they are.”

“Phwat’s happened to you?” said Mrs. Maloney in a tone of commiseration.

“Oh! ’twas glorious,” said Mrs. McSweeney, “’twas glorious! I’ll be all right when I’m bether. It takes a little time to get tanned, but some of thim that are saysoned are the most beautiful shades of brown you ever saw. Mrs. Maloney, were ye ever a mermaid?”

“The saints be praised, I wasn’t,” said Mrs. Maloney,

‘‘Thin ye should go surf bathin’,” said Mrs. McSweeney, “and ye’ll know phwat it’s like. Oh! ’tis beautiful. There’s a gentleman frind of Pat’s that dhrives a lorry wid a rid moustache, and he asked Pat and me to go surf bathin’ wid himself and his wife. I’ve taken a cottage at Manly,’ says he, ‘for a week. We’d be plazed to see yoursilf and Mrs. McSweeney at any time,’ says he, ‘and we’ll go surf bathin’,’ says he. ‘Nobody’s anybody now if they don’t pathronise the briney.’ Well, the long and the short of it was we accepted his invitation and we wint. I was a bit surprised when I heard that males and females bathed together in pure promiscuousness, but you know one must sometimes sacrifice one’s feelin’s for fashion, I consulted Mrs. Jackson as to the most suitable costhume to wear, and she made certain suggestions which I improved on, I wanted somethin’ athractive and quiet, made in a way that would not outrage me proverbial sinse of modesty. I wint to the sale at Dimity’s, and bought a rimnant of green taffenet voile, and made mesilf a tailor-made costhume. It reached from me neck to me ankles, for I says to mesilf, ‘If I err,’ says I, ‘it shall be on the side of propriety.’

‘The skirt was of magenta, wid rid flounces, and the body thrimmed wid light blue braid. I got a basket hat, wid a pink bow to save me complexion, and I thought that I’d be able to hould me own wid the bist of ’em. Actin’ on the advice of Mrs. Grub (that was the wife of the gintleman that druv the throlly) I assumed me costhume at her risidence, and throwin’ a wrapper over me I proceeded to the bache in a shtate of agitation and a pair of shlippers.

“We left our shlippers and wrappers in the ladies’ dhressin’ room, and I’ll niver forget the sinsation I caused whin we emerged.

“There were thousands of people there, and ivery eye was focussed on me. I couldn’t walk very quick, for the sand tickled me toes, but wid all the dignity I could ashume, I approached the wather,

“The crowd was thick, and we had to walk through it, min and women in all sorts of scanty costhumes bein’ mixed wid indiscrimination.

“’Twas a proud woman I was whin I felt that me new costhume was athractin’ attintion, The min gazed at me wid looks of admiration, and the women wid glances of invy, so I knew it was a success.

“‘Ah, look at this!’ said a young man wid an eyeglass and a cigarette in his mouth, ‘By jove,’ he says, ‘’tis the very latest thing in bathin’ costhumes. Is it a man or a woman or phwat?’ he says. ‘I give it up’ says his companion.

“I gave them a glance of contimptuosity over me shouldher, and proceeded on me way.

“Pat and Mr. Grub was waitin’ for us near the wather, and from the cursory glance I got of Mr. Grub I could see that he was the most beautiful shade of terra-cotta you ever saw.

“The scene was beyant description. Behind me, on the bache, was crowds of min, women and childhren, all gazin’ at me. Some was sittin’ in chairs, some was standing and some promenadin’, but I filt that ivery eye in the crowd was on me. I have passed through some thryin’ moments, Mrs. Maloney, but on this occasion the cup of me embarrassment was filled to the dregs. But I bore it wid me usual silf-composure.

“In the wather forninst me were crowds of males and females of both sexes, and various degrees of age and figure, all jumpin’ and screechin’ and bobbin’ about. There was millions of thim, and the breakers was tumblin’ thim about that way that you couldn’t tell who the various limbs belonged to.

“I was woke from me reflections by the voice of Pat.

“‘When ye’ve quite done makin’ a public exhibition of yersilf,’ says he, ‘and posin’ for the binifit of the multitood,’ he says, ‘perhaps ye’ll come into the wather.’ And he tuk me be the hand to lade me to it. Just thin there came a great big wall of wather rushin’ towards us. The min jumped, the women schramed, and the wather cum rushin’ on, and in shpite of me sthruggles I got both me feet wet. I felt cold shivers run from me toes to the nape of me neck.

“‘Phwat are you schramin’ at?’ says Pat, ‘Is it afraid ye are of the wather?’

“‘Come on, Mrs. McSweeney,’ said Mr. Grub, ‘ye’ll find it delightful when ye get used to it.’

“‘Yes, come on,’ says Mrs. Grub; ‘watch us.’ And she tuk her husband’s hand, and they waded in and bobbed up and down in the breakers, and she seemed to enjoy it,

“‘Oh, Pat!’ I says, ‘sure it’s wet I’ll get if I go in there.’

“‘Well,’ he says, ‘phwat did you expect to get? Did ye think ye were goin’ surf bathin’ in a bally flyin’ machine?’

“Wid that he dhragged me forward towards the say.

“‘Oh, Pat!’ I says, and me wid the wather nearly to me knees, ‘me beautiful costhume ull get wet, and if it does it’s ruined it’ull be.’

“‘Come on,’ he says, ‘don’t ye see the people are laughin’ at you?’ And wid that he dhragged me agin.

“Phwat followed, Mrs. Maloney, would take a patent phonograph to describe it, A big lump of wather like a wall came rushin’ towards us. The bottom looked like green glass, and the top like the icing on a weddin’ cake.

‘“Jump!’ says Pat.

“But whin I thried to jump, the wather caught me by the lower exthremities, and before I could sing out Blue Murder, as was me intintion, I was rowlin’ over in the sand wid a big part of the Pacific Ocean on top of me.

“‘Get up,’ says Pat

“‘I can’t,’ says I, shpakin’ as well as the salt wather would allow me, ‘I’m dhrownded.’

“But he only laughed, and says, ‘Dhrownded be—’

“I niver heard the finish of it, for another wall of wather cum along. First it lifted me up, thin it sat me down sudden, and thin it rowled me in the sand, till you couldn’t tell me from a bunch of sayweed.

“‘Now,’ says Pat, ‘sit shtill,’ he says, ‘till you get your wind,’ and I was glad to sit shtill, although the wather was nearly up to me waist as I was sittin’.

“Well, do you know, Mrs. Maloney, whin I got me wind it didn’t fale so bad, but whin I thried to rise, me costhume weighed a ton, for it was full of sand.

“‘Phwat’s the matter?’ says Pat, as he helped me to me feet.

“‘I’m watherlogged,’ says I, ‘and me new costhume is a sandbag.’

“‘Come into the wather agin,’ he says, ‘and it ull wash it out.’

“‘Will you hould me tight?’ I says.

“‘I will,’ says he.

“So he led me in agin.

“‘Now,’ he says, ‘grip me hands and jump.’

“I did as he tould me, and I landed on me feet.

“‘Did you see me thin?’ says I.

“‘I did,’ he says, ‘and I felt ye, be gob, for you landed on me toes.’

“Well, do you know, Mrs. Moloney, I began to like it. I gripped him and I jumped till I filt me blood tingle agin.

“At last Pat said in a tone of dejection, ‘I think we’ll knock off, Biddy, I’m about done.’

“‘One more jump,’ says I.

“So I had one more jump, and I was enjyin’ mesilf that way in the say that I was loth to lave it.

“‘I want to shoot a breaker,’ I says.

“‘The divil you do!’ says Pat

“‘Come on,’ I says, ‘there’s a beauty comin’.’

“Wid that I shut me eyes and shot the breaker. I didn’t notice a shtout gintleman bobbin’ about on the other side until me head come into contract wid his bathin’ costume. He gave a grunt and the say swallowed him. He was never seen agin, poor man, and me basket hat was ruined,

“I turned to lave the wather, and was walkin’ out wid Pat’s assistance, whin I uttered a cry.

“‘Phwat’s the matter now?’ says Pat.

“‘Oh,’ says I, ‘it’s the cramp I have in me limbs.’

“‘Put ’em up on me knee till I rub ’em,’ says Pat.

“‘If I put ’em on your knee,’ says I, ‘phwat ’ud I shtand on?’

“‘Well, put up one at a time,’ he says, ‘and shtand on the other.’

“‘So I leant on his shouldher and put one of ’em on his knee. When I did, Mrs. Moloney, I’ll niver forget the sight. Would you belave it? Whin it met me view I found that me new costhume had shrunk that way that if it had shrunk any more there’d have been none of it left.

“In me confusion I forgot me cramp.

“‘Oh, Pat!’ I says, “phwat ull I do?’

“‘Make a bee-line,’ he says, ‘for the dhressin’ shed, and get your wrapper.’

So I shtarted.

“The crowd opened for me. I couldn’t go very fast, for me limbs was all pins and needles, and me costhume that tight that I thought I’d come through it any minute. But as fast as I could I wint for the nearest inthrance. But, oh! Mrs Moloney, imagine me shtate of mind whin I was greeted wid a most vociferous cheer! Mrs Moloney, I will not dwell upon the scene. I will lave it to your imagination. It was the min’s dhressin’ shed I had inthered! Wid the cheers ringin’ in me ears, and me face the colour of ripe tomatoes, I turned and fled. ’Twas only, me natural firmness of mind that kept me from faintin’ on the shpot. I ran to the next shed. I inthered, and to my intense confusion I found it was the min’s shed agin. Oh, wirra, wirra! Will I ever forget that day! I was about to give way. I filt that the limit of human endurance was reached, when a familiar voice said:

“‘Phwat the bally blazes are ye doin’ here at all at all?’

“It was Pat. I was just about to faint in his arrums whin he says, ‘Come out of this,’ he says, ‘or ye’ll ruin me riputation and your own,’ he says. He led me to the inthrance. ‘Wait here,’ he says, ‘till I put on me—’

“But just thin I heard a frindly voice. ’Twas that of Mrs. Grub.

“‘I’ve bin lookin’ for you everywhere,’ says she. ‘Come and get your wrapper and shlippers.’

“She led me to the ladies’ dhressin’ room, and to make me wretchedness complate, I found that some thafe of the world had shtole me wrapper.

“‘Phat’ull I do?’ says I.

“You’ll have to run for it,’ she says, afther a while, ‘’tis not far to the house.’

“‘But look at me costhume,’ says I; ‘its shrunk that way that it’s like me shkin.’

“‘Oh!’ she says, ‘nobody will notice you, The people of Manly are used to sights like that.’

“I was glad of anything that would resthore me to me personal comforts, so I tuk her advice. I will not describe the journey, but it was excitin’. I got home at last, and she had to cut me costhume to get it off me. But I soon got into me proper habiliments, and afther a cup of tay I felt like a new woman. I’m gettin’ a new costhume made of flannel, which, they say, won’t shrink in the salt wather, and whin I get it made, I’m goin’ agin to jine the gay and festive throng, for I’ll not be happy till I can shoot the breakers like Mrs. Grub.

“And how’s Maloney? Has he got wurruk? That’s a blessin’. Is he kapin’ shteady? A taytotaller, is he? I’m glad to hear it. How long has he been taytotal? Since dinner time? Well, I hope he’ll kape it till bed time. Mind the shtep.”


Mrs. McSweeney On Home Rule

It was a perfect day in spring, and Mrs. McSweeney, in all the glory of a new afternoon tea gown, stood at her door beaming at Mrs. Moloney as she crossed the road.

“I see you have your summer blouse on,” she remarked, as Mrs. Moloney entered the gate.

“Faith, ’tis a beautiful day, so it is. ’Tis the sort of a day that makes one feel young agin.”

“’Tis thrue for you,” said Mrs. Moloney; “I’ve bin feelin’ that way mesilf. ’Tis a sin to shtay indoors.”

‘‘Come up on the balkiny,” said Mrs. McSweeney, leading the way, “’Tis pleasant there. We can sit in the shade and enjy the sunshine, and watch the payple pass, and talk at the same toime.

She led the way to the balcony, and having placed a rocking-chair for Mrs. Moloney and another for herself, she settled herself into a comfortable attitude.

“Did McSweeney go to the meetin’ last night?” said Mrs. Moloney.

“He did,” replied Mrs. McSweeney,

“And phwat way did he come home?” inquired Mrs. Moloney.

“Well,” said Mrs. McSweeney, reflectively, as she rocked her chair slowly and contemplated the toe of her slipper, “’tis a question whether he came home, or whether ’tis fetched he was. I thought I heard Moloney’s voice while Pat was scratchin’ all the paint off the door lookin’ for the kayhole. ’Tis possible I was mistaken, as I only just woke up; but it was either him or a fog-horn on the harbour.”

“It must have been a foghorn,” said Mrs. Moloney,

“Perhaps so,” said Mrs. McSweeney, “perhaps so. But the shneeze was like Moloney’s.”

“Perhaps it was the hinges of your gate that wanted oilin’,” suggested Mrs. Moloney.

“Maybe it was,” said Mrs. McSweeney. “I didn’t think of that. Anyway, it was, as the poet says:

‘The witchin’ hour of half-past twelve last night, or maybe a quarther to one,
Whin churchyards sthretch thimsilves and yawn, and graves give up their did corpses.’

“I was just enjyin’ me beauty shleep, and was dhreamin’ that I was a fairy, floatin’ on a cloud that had a silver linin’ wid a pair of wings and a harp dhressed in book muslin, whin me rist was broken be a footshtep on the verandy and a bump agin the door.

“’Twas thin I heard the voices, and Pat beginnin’ to scratch for the kayhole. He kipt scratchin’ away and bumpin’, now and agin, so at last I shlipped on me wrapper and wint and called over the balkiny. I asked him if it was him or someone else, and he lift off scratchin, but kipt on bumpin’, and says:

“‘Be the powers,’ he says, ‘I was mesilf a while ago; but I’m thryin’ to think whether I’m mesilf now, or whether I’m someone else. Sometimes I think I’m mesilf and sometimes I think I’m Moloney; but if I’m Moloney, he’ll have to settle wid me in the mornin’ for thryin’ to get into me house and me away.’

“‘Well, you’d bether make up your moind,’ says I, ‘for if you’re Moloney you’re not comin’ in here at this time at night.’

“‘Come and let me in,’ he says.

“‘But who are you?’ says I.

“‘Divel a know I know,’ he says, hangin’ on to the verandy post. ‘You must be dhrunk,’ he says, ‘not to know your own husband. If I’m mesilf let me in,’ he says, ‘but if I’m Moloney and you let me in, I’ll break your neck when I do come home,’ And just thin his hat fell off.

“Well, I thought I’d just chaff him a bit for punishmint, and so I says:

“‘If it’s you,’ says I, ‘you’ve got your kay and can get in, and if you’re Moloney, you can go home to Mrs. Moloney. I’ll not risk me reputation,’ I says, ‘be lettin’ you in while there’s a doubt about it.’

“‘Phwat’s the good of me kay,’ says he, ‘whin somebody’s been and shtole the kayhole?’

“‘But surely,’ says I, ‘you know your own door?’

“‘I’d know it,’ he says, ‘if I could see it; but there’s siveral of ’em. That’s one of ’em,’ he says, as he grabbed for his hat, and bumped into the door agin. ‘But come down,’ he says, ‘and idintify me, or me rheumatiz will be comin’ on agin.’

“Well, I thought I’d go and let him in, especially as there was a breeze blowin’ and me wrapper was thin. So I wint down and opened the door. As soon as I undid the latch, he butted at me loike a goat.

“‘Have you got your hat?’ I says, whin I’d recovered me equilibrium.

“‘Fale me and see,’ he says. ‘Sometimes I think I have, and sometimes I think I’ve not.’

“‘You’re dhrunk,’ I says, ‘Hould on be the bannisthers,’ I says, ‘till I get it for you.’

“I got his hat, and come in and shut the door, and thin I caught hould of him to hilp him up the shtairs,

“‘Hands off me,’ he says. ‘Lave go till you tell me who I am. Shtrike a match and tell me at oncet. If I’m mesilf you can hilp me up the shtairs; if I’m Moloney don’t you dare to touch me!’ and he lost his hoult of the bannisthers and sat down on the shtairs.

‘I’m goin’ back to me bid,’ says I, ‘and you can shtay there till the mornin’. You dhrunken baste,’ I says, ‘only the doors are locked and I can’t get out into the wash-house widhout goin’ through a draught, I’d give ye a lick over the head wid the copper shtick,’ I says, ‘to bring ye to your sinses, I’d soon make you know who I am, anyway.’

“‘Bedad,’ he says, ‘there’s somethin’ familiar about you afther all. I belave I’m mesilf. Help me up, and I’ll take the risk.’

“So I tuk him upshtairs and sat him in a rockin’ chair till I pulled his boots off. He sat there for some time scratchin’ his head wid his hands, and thin he began to laugh.

“‘Bedad,’ says he, ‘but ’twas a foine meetin’ so it was,’ and he thried to bump his fist on the dhressin’ table; but he missed it and fell out of the chair.

“He schrambled back into the chair, and thin he began to laugh agin.

“‘It’s all right, Biddy,’ he says, ‘we’ve set ould Ireland free.’

“‘Who did?’ I says.

“‘We did,’ says he, ‘at the meetin’—at the Home Rule meetin.’ We magnanimously passed Home Rule for Ireland, Hurray!’

“‘I suppose you mane unanimously passed it,’ says I, contimptuously.

“‘I did not mane me-nanimously,’ says he, ‘I mane phwat I said.’

“Then he comminced to sing:

‘Ould Ireland was Ould Ireland
    Whin England was a pup;
And Ould Ireland will be Ireland
    Whin England’s busted up.’

“‘So it will; Hurray!’ And he lint back laughin’, and the rockin’ chair tipped back wid him and landed him into the fire-place.

“Afther some throuble I got him out and into bid, and in the mornin’ I giv him a piece of me moind.

“‘Phwat do you think of yoursilf?’ says I, whin I tuk him a cup of tay to bid, “Phwat do you think of yoursilf?’

“‘Oh, Biddy,’ says he, ‘me head’s in four halves, so it is!’

“‘And shmall wondher at it,’ says I, ‘the way you was last night. Where did you get to?’

“‘’Twas the Home Rule meetin,’ says he, ‘that shtarted me. Oh, Biddy, ’twas a glorious meetin.’

“‘But the meetin’ didn’t make you like you was,’ I says, ‘and it was over long before you got home.’

“‘Was it over before I got home?’ says he, houldin’ his head. ‘Well, I belave it was. I’m beginnm’ to remimber. Siveral of us lift th’ meetin’ together. There was me and Moloney and the Cardinal and Father Donovan and Flaherty. The Cardinal sane Moloney into his carriage and give him three cheers, and three more for Home Rule, and thin we said good-night to Flaherty, and the rist of us wint to Father Donovan’s pub to dhrink success to Home Rule.’

“‘You know ’tis not the truth you’re afther tellin me,’ says I, ‘Moloney hasn’t got a carriage, and Father Donovan doesn’t keep a pub.’

“‘Did I say that?’ he says.

“‘You did,’ says I,

“‘Oh, me head!’ says he. ‘I mane that we put the Cardinal in his carriage and thin wint to Home Rule and give three cheers for Flaherty’s pub,’

“‘You mane,’ says I, ‘that you wint to Flaherty’s pub,’ I says.

“‘Didn’t I say so,’ he says, ‘Oh, me poor head! Phwat did you do to me last night?’

“‘I put you to bid,’ says I, ‘More fool to me to be throublin’ about you.’

“‘But ’twas a glorious meetin,’ he says, ‘and we carried Home Rule for Ireland.’

“‘Did you,’ says I.

“‘We did,’ he says. ‘We passed it unanimously, afther we’d fired iverybody out that was agin it. ’Twas a grand spache that Father Donovan made. He carried the boys away wid him.’

“‘We’ve shprung,’ he says, ‘from a nation of glorious thraditions,’ he says. ‘If England wants a gineral or an admiral, or a shtatesman, or an orator, or a poet, where does she go to look for ’em?’ says he. ‘And thin all the boys says ‘To ould Ireland,’ ‘Thrue for you,’ says Father Donovan, ‘and whin she wants soldiers to fight her battles, where does she go?’ he says.

“‘To ould Ireland!’ sings out the boys.

“Thrue for you,’ says Father Donovan. ‘And whin she wants min for her navy, where does she go?’

“‘To ould Ireland!’ says the boys.

“‘Thrue for you agin,’ says Father Donovan. ‘And whin she wants thraitors and tyrants and shpies,’ he says, ‘where does she go?’

“‘To ould Ireland!’ says the boys.

“‘No,’ says Father Donovan, ‘you’re wrong this time; she goes to Dublin.’

“‘To Dublin!’ says the boys.

“‘Thrue for you agin,’ says Father Donovan. ‘We have a glorious heritage,’ he says. ‘It came to us sanctified be the blood of our forefathers, and we must hand it down, pure and unshtained, to our ancesthors,’ he says. And the boys cheered him agin, and carried Home Rule.

“‘And do you think Home Rule is a good thing?’ I says.

“‘Of course I do,’ says he. ‘Do you think Father Donovan ud talk like that if it wasn’t?’

“‘And suppose whin there’s Home Rule they can’t agree?’ says I.

“‘Well, thin, thim that can’t agree can go to the divil,’ he says. ‘There are thim that rule and thim that have to be ruled, and the shtrongest must have their way. But don’t talk to me,’ he says, ‘for the roof of me head is flappin’ up and down,’ he says.

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘’tis toime for you to get up and go to wurruk.’

“‘I can’t go to-day, Biddy,’ he says, groanin’. ‘Sind young Pat down to till thim I have the rheumatiz,’ he says,

“‘I’ll do no such thing,’ I says, ‘You’ll get up and go to your wurruk like a daycent man. Home Rule will not kape your wife and family.’

“‘I can’t raise me head from the pillow,’ he says.

“‘I’ll raise it for you,’ says I, and I tuk him be the hair and shuk him.

“‘HoIy murdher!’ he says, ‘let me go. You are shakin’ me brains to a pulp,’ he says.

“‘Well, get up,” says I.

“‘I’ll do as I like in me own house,’ says he. ‘Go away and lave me in pace.’

“‘Do you belave in Home Rule?’ says I.

“‘I do,’ he says. ‘I’ll belave in anything if you’ll let me alone.’

“‘Thin if you belave in Home Rule,’ I says, ‘up you get, for I’m the ruler of this home.’

“‘Are you?’ says he, shneerin’. ‘And ain’t there two to have a say in that? Suppose I don’t agree?’

“‘Those that don’t agree can go to the divil,’ says I. ‘There’s thim that rule and thim that have to be ruled. I’m the one that’s goin’ to rule just now, and you’re the one that’s goin to be ruled. You’ve got to go to wurruk, and so up you get.’

“‘But me head’s burnin’,’ he says, ‘and me throat’s on fire.’

“‘I’ll cool it for you,’ says I, and I got the wather jug and poured some of it over his head.

“‘Holy Moses!’ he shouted, ‘you’ve dhrownded me. Will you get out of me room?’

“‘Get up,’ says I.

“‘The divil’s cure to you,’ he says. ‘I’ll tache you to come schaldin’ me wid could wather, and me sickenin’ for the rheumatiz. Give me a boot till I throw it at you.’

“‘Will you get up?’ says I, and I dipped me hand in the wather jug and shprinkled him agin.

“‘Bedad,’ he says, ‘I’ll pay you for that, if I was did, so I would,’ and he made a shpring out of bid at me. I don’t know what might have happened, but thanks be to Providence, there was a hole in the sheet and he caught his toe in it, and not bein’ too shtidy on his legs, and his head bein’ loight, he fell flat on his face on the floor.

“They say that there is a toide in the affairs of min whin it is nicessary to catch it on the hop so as to nip it in the bud. I inshtantly percaved that this was one of ’em. In rulin’ min, Mrs. Moloney, as in rulin’ nations, two things is nicessary. One is that you should act promptly and the other that you should proceed diplomatically.

“I acted with promptitude, and proceeded wid diplomancy.

“‘The minute I saw him on his face, I sat down plump on his back, and I had him. He was as hilpless as a shnake undher a cart wheel.

“‘Oh, Biddy,’ he says, ‘get up; you’re chokin’ me.’

“‘Who’s the ruler of this home,’ says I. ‘Tell me that?’

“‘Wait till I get up,’ he says, “and I’ll show you.’

“‘I can afford to wait longer than you can,’ I says, ‘Who’s the ruler?’

“‘You’re congistin’ me liver,’ he says.

“‘I’ll congist the whole of you before I’ve done,’ says I. ‘Who’s the ruler?’

“‘Oh,’ says he, wavin’ his arrums up behind him, ‘if I could only get at you!’

“‘Who’s the ruler?’ says I, bumpin’ up and down on him.

“‘Oh,’ he says, ‘you’ve broke somethin’ inside me, Let me up.’

“‘Not an inch,’ I says, ‘till you own up to me bein’ the ruler,’ I says.

“‘I can’t own up,’ he says, ‘I’m spacheless wid want of breath.’

“‘Am I the ruler?’ says I, givin’ another bump.

“‘It seems loike it,’ he says, as well as he could.

“‘Am I?’ says I, bumpin’ a bit harder.

“‘You are,’ he says, reluctantly. ‘Now, let me’ up.’

“‘Will you go to wurruk?’ says I.

“‘I will,’ he says, softly.

“‘And will you put the peg in?’

“‘Oh, Biddy,’ he murmured, ‘don’t ask me to perjure mesilf. I’ll do iverythin’ else you want.’

“‘Will you come home sober,’ says I.

“‘I will,’ he says.

“‘And kiss and be frinds?’

“‘I suppose so,’ he says, afther a pause.

“‘Will you?’ says I.

“‘I will,’ says he.

“So I got off him and hilped him up and wint and made him a shtrong cup of coffee and a nice bit of toast while he dhrissed himsilf.

“Afther he had dhrunk his coffee and nibbled at his toast, he kissed me and wint off to wurruk as make as a lamb. I watched him down the shtreete till he passed Flaherty’s and thin I knew he was safe.

“Depind upon it, Mrs. Moloney, that those that want to rule wid success must shtand by their principles with a furrum hand, the same as I did whin I sat on Pat. And must you go?”

“I must,” said Mrs. Moloney.

Then, as she was looking in the glass to see if her hat was straight, she sighed and said: “Och hone! I would give wurrulds, me dear, if I had your ganius. Moloney is in bed yet!”


Mrs. McSweeney And The Green Eyed Monster

“‘’Tis not aisy,’ said Mrs. McSweeney in reply to the kind inquiries of Mrs. Moloney, “’Ttis not aisy to deschribe me ailments. Whin I said I didn’t feel well, I was not alludin’ so much to bodily infirmities as to me want of shpirits. I’m like the lady in the play—’tis me mind that is sick. Phwat does the poet say? He says: ‘If ye’re not able,’ he says, ‘to ministher to a mind deceased, then,’ says he, ‘throw your physic in the bog.’ And that’s the way I feel this blessed minute.”

“Are ye takin’ anything for it?” enquired Mrs. Moloney.

“Just a little before I go to bed at night,” said Mrs. McSweeney, “wid some hot wather and sugar, and a taste of lemon. Me nerves is shatthered, Mrs. Moloney, since the shock they got on Sathurday night, to say nothin’ of the cowld oilcloth that wint through me like a knife.”

“And phwat was it all about?” said Mrs. Moloney.

“Bring your chair closer to the fire and sit on it,” said Mrs. McSweeney, “and I’ll tell you all about it. As you know, my dear, there is not a more confidin’ creathure in this wurruld than Bridget McSweeney, although I says it as shouldn’t. Me lovin’ thrustfulness is me wake point. So long as Pat tells me where he’s goin’, I let him go nearly everywhere he likes, I niver think of watchm’ him whin he’s out of me sight, and yet, in shpite of me nathural thrustfulness and sweeteness of disposition, it’s an unhappy woman I’ve been since the last blessed Sathurday as ever was. ’Twas early when I wint to bed, for I wanted to get some beauty shleep, I had a beautiful book to rade that was lint to me by Mrs. Finigan. ’Twas a lovely romance about Dukes and Lords and Ladies, wid four murdhers and six weddin’s, a jewel robbery, and a picture of a blue and yellow countess on the cover, wid a missin’ will in her hand. I’d got as far as the fourth murdher and the fifth wedding where the countess was found to be the daughter of her nursemaid, who was purloined in her youth, whin I got too shleepy to rade any further. So I put the book undher me pillow, so that Pat shouldn’t see I’d been radin’ in bed, and I was just sinkin’ blissfully into the land of dhrames whin I hears Pat fumblin’ at the door with his latch kay.

“I was just on the pint of singin’ out to him to take off his boots before he come up me new shtair carpet, when I heard from his voice that he had someone wid him. I shlipped out of bed and listened over the bannisthers, to see who it was, and whin I heard it was the sound of a man’s voice he was shpakin’ to, I was thinkin’ of shlippin’ into bed again whin I heard a remark that thrilled me to me very bone.

“’Twas the voice of ould Hegarty that was shpakin’, and he says to Pat:

“‘What about Matilda?’ says he.

“‘Hush,’ says Pat; ‘don’t shpake so loud, you’ll wake the missus.’

“Me heart began thumpin’ like the engine of a shteam boat. Little did I think when I’d been layin’ and readin’ the advintures in the book that conspiracies were so soon to be hatched in me own house. When the countess first heard of the missin’ will, it was whin she overheard a conversation not intinded for her ears, that was between her father, the Duke, and his long-lost brother that had returned from the North Pole afther an absence of fifty years, durin’ which time siviral things had occurred. Her situation and mine were so alike that they might have been called anonymous. She was in the picthure gallery, I was on the landin’; she was celebrated for her beauty, I was not bad lookin’ mesilf onct; she was the victim of a foul conspiracy and so was I.

“‘Ah!’ thought I. ‘’Twas a blessin’ I was not in me beauty shleep, or I might niver have woke to hear mesilf trajuced.’

“I was sittin’ at the top of the shtairs. The oilcloth was like an iceberg, and lumbago goin’ about; but I felt I couldn’t move if lumbago was to be the ind of me days. I was glued to the shpot. I was cranin’ me neck, listenin’ for Pat’s answer, wid me heart in me mouth, and burstin’ to know who was Matilda. Hegarty repeated the question in a low whisper; but if his whisper had been ten times as low, it would have pierced me ear like thrumpets.

“‘Phwat about Matilda?’ he says.

“I waited for Pat’s answer wid breathless impatience, but the only sound I heard was him shtrikin’ a match on his trousers to light his pipe. Whin he got it to dhraw, he says, as cool as a cucumber:

“‘Well,’ says he, ‘’tis no use sayin’ one thing and manin’ another. I like her; there’s no mishtake about that. I reckon she’s all right.’

“‘’Tis far from right she’d be if I had her here,’ thought I.

“Then he says, shtill puffin’ his pipe as if he was at peace wid all the wurruld, and innocence was his chief characteristic, ‘Don’t you think,’ he says, ‘she’d be expensive to keep?’

“‘Not a bit of it,’ says Hegarty. ‘The only thing she wants is new stays and she’d be set up.’

“‘But where could I keep her?’ says Pat.

“‘Well,’ says Hegarty, ‘you could keep her at my place for a bit, till you made other arrangemints.’

“‘Oh, the wickedness of the wurruld!’ thought I, ‘and him the father of a family.’

“‘Do you know,’ says Pat, ‘I tuk a fancy to her the first time I saw her on the bache at Manly. I admired her build, although she seemed a bit broad in the waist. I liked her bether whin I saw her in the wather. She seemed to float as if it was her natural illiment. Any man might be proud to be seen out wid her.’

“Do you know, Mrs. Moloney, I had to put me hand ever me mouth to privint me from scramin’. ‘Oh, you blackguard,’ says I to mesilf, ‘and you the father of me blessed twins!’ But I wouldn’t move, although I was cramped that way that I thought I’d niver get shtraight agin.

“Thin I heard the glasses jingle, and Hegarty said, ‘Why not take her for a week or a month on thrial?’

“‘Well,’ says Pat, ‘’twill require considherin’. The missus is savin’ and she might think I was gettin’ exthravagant.’

“‘Well, think it over,’ says Hegarty, ‘I can get her for you cheap, and I’ll charge no commission. You can take her altogether, or hire her by the month. Wid new shtays and a touch of paint she’ll be hard to bate. She’s a bit fast, but I know you’ll like her all the bether for that.’

“‘Well, I’ll think it over,’ says Pat. ‘I’ll come over to-morrow afthernoon and overhaul her, and I’ll let you know thin.’

“‘Right you are,’ says Hegarty. ‘You’ll find that she’s bether than she looks. There’s many a man I know that would jump at her. May I say that you’ll be over to-morrow afthernoon, thin, to see Matilda?’

“‘You may,’ says Pat, and wid that he showed ould Hegarty out and shut the gate.

“Mrs. Moloney, me heart was bruk. I’m a poor, wake woman, but I know phwat’s due to me sects. For years I’d thrusted him and shlaved for him. Niver a Sunday wint by but he had a clane shirt and collar, and now I found that I’d been turnin’ him out clane and daycent only to bethray me. Only that evenin’ I’d been wurrukin’ me fingers to the bone to put a new sate in his second best pants, and had matched it so well that you can hardly notice it whin his overcoat is on, and here he was praisin’ Matilda undher me very roof. I thought of the twins. How I’d kept them up that very night because they wanted to see him, till Mike fell ashleep and rowled out of the chair and hit his head on the coal scuttle that I had to put shtickin’ plasther on. And his father gallivantin’ wid Matilda, and watchin’ her floatin’ on the wather. And there he was now, down in the sittin’ room, lightin’ his pipe agin, and throwin’ dead matches in me clean fender, all the while hummin, ‘Her bright shmile haunts me shtill,’ while here was I sittin’ on the could oilcloth wid me heart bruk in two halves, and me feet like a shtone, Afther a brief intherval that seemed like a year, I heard him comin’ lumberin’ up the shtairs.

‘‘As Providence would have it, I’d left the broom on the landin’. As I saw his head comin’ round the bind in the shtairs I seized it in both me hands and dhropped it on it wid all me force.”

“Dhropped what?” said Mrs. Moloney. “His head?”

“‘No; the broom handle, no less,” said Mrs. McSweeney, “It shtruck him fair on his little bald patch.

“‘Tare an’ ‘ouns!’ he says, ‘Phwat the blue blazes are ye doin’?’

“‘Am I your wife?’ says I, ‘and the mother of your twins? And is it in me own house that I’m to be insulted? And is it before me very face that you are backbitin’ me?’ I says, ‘and talkin’ of kapin’ another woman?’

“‘Phwat the Billy Hayses do you mane?’ he says. ‘Is it dhrunk ye are, or deminted?’

“‘Would it be any wondher if I was both?’ says I ‘wid your carryin’s on. I’ll give you Matilda,’ says I, and I waved the bit of broom handle that was lift in me hand, for me blood was up, and I could feel me eyes flashin’. ‘I’ll give you Matilda!’

“‘Why, you flamin’ blatherin’ idiot,’ says he, ‘the Matilda’s a boat!’

“Well, I didn’t know phwat to do whin I found the mishtake I’d made. The only refuge open to me was high-shterricks. So I laid down on me back on the could oilcloth, and kicked me heels and scramed. But Pat tuk no pity on me. He wint growlin’ about the room rubbin’ his head. He said I’d raised a lump on it as big as a prize cob of corn, and I belaved him,

“He niver offered to bring me round, but he lit his pipe and wint out on to the balkiny, shlammin’ the door behind him as if he’d shake the roof off the house. The oilcloth was could; the bathroom windy was open and there was a draught, so as nothin’ was to be gained be timptin’ Providence in the shape or rheumatics and lumbago, I rose softly and crept to bed.

It seemed an age until I heard him come in off the balkiny and shlam the door agin, I purtinded to be ashleep, but I had to bite me lips to keep me teeth from chatterin’.

“Ah, Mrs. Moloney! Beware of jealousy. As the poet says: ‘It is the green-eyed lobster that eats the meat it feeds on.’ Would you belave it, Mrs. Moloney, he’s been cool to me iver since. I’ve thried every way to coax him, but it’s all no use. I let him go upshtairs wid his boots on, and niver said a wurrud. I know he’s fond of sausages, and he’s had sausages for ivery meal since Sathurday, and ’tis now Thursday, and they’ve all been thrown away on him. He’s as grumpy as a bear wid the toothache. Three nights this week I let the twins shtop up till he cum home, and aich time he ordhered them to bed as soon as he put his fut inside the door. Me life’s a burden to me, and I belave I’m gettin’ a touch of skyattica.

“Phwat did you say—five o’clock? Gracious Hivens, and me pertaties not peeled. Pop in tomorrow as you pass, and tell me if Moloney won the sweep. Tell him I wish him luck. I wish Pat would win a sweep. ’Twould maybe put him in a good humour.”

“I won’t forget to pop in,” said Mrs. Moloney, “and if Moloney wins the sweep, I’ll get him to see Pat and shout for him. Kape up yer pecker. Things might be worse. If I can do anything for you at any time, you know I’m always welcome,”


Mrs. McSweeney On Slander

“I have only an ould blouse on,” said Mrs. Moloneyt “but I’ll take me jacket off for a while, I don’t mind you seein’ the rint undher me arrum. You will not talk about it like some payple.”

“That’s thrue for you,” said Mrs. McSweeney. “There are payple, that if they get hould of yer rint ’ud not only talk about it, but they’d stretch it till they had ye sthripped to the shkin. ’Twas that very thing I was thinkin’ of when ye rang the bell. I was houldin’ a conferation wid meself, and wondherin’ phwat I’d like to do wid the payple that ’ud shmoile in your face and talk agin ye behind your back at the same toime, I remimber, whin I was a gurl, seein’ a picture in a book. It was of a woman, blowin’ two thrumpets. Out of one was comin’ all the good things she was sayin’, and out of the other, all the bad ones. She was talkin’ wid a double tongue, and her name was ‘Rumour.’ There’s lots of payple loike her at the prisent day. ’Twas only last Friday was a weeke, that I was passin’ the toime of day over the back fince wid Mrs. Mulligan. Her last husband was a sayfarin’ man. She says he was mate of a ship, but Mrs. Pope, that keepes the shop at the corner, tould me that he was only the mate of the man that cooks the mate. His last voyage was his final one. Some say the cannibals ate him, and others say he was happier away, and I belave he was, poor man. Anyhow, he niver cum back since he wint the last toime. He wasn’t much loss, anyway. I’ve been tould that she had to keep herself all the toime he was away, and when he wasn’t away he was niver at home. But, as I said, Mrs. Mulligan and I were passin’ the toime of day over the fince. She was tellin’ me how Mrs. Jones had tould her, that Mrs. Smith, that lives two doors down, was seen shpeakin’ at her gate to the man opposite that minds the boots for the ladies, and half soles them for two and sixpence. ‘And, indeed,’ says Mrs. Mulligan, ‘you niver know nowadays who you are livin’ alongside of.’ ‘Indeed you don’t, says I. ‘But, be the same token, Mrs. Jones should be the last to talk. I’ve seen her mesilf, when no one was lookin’ at her, shmoilin’ at the baker as she tuk the bread.’ ‘Did ye now?’ says Mrs. Mulligan.’ ‘Is that the baker wid tht cast in his eye?’ ‘It is,’ says I, ‘the very same.’ ‘The vagebone,’ she says, ‘and he a married man.’ ‘Is he married?’ says I. ‘He looks loike it,’ she says. ‘But them’s the wurrust. And he to thry to make mischief wid the publican at the corner, the last toime poor Mulligan was at home. If I did give him a bit of a shcrape wid the rowlin’ pin, when he threw his boot at me, it was no business of the baker’s.’

“‘Thrue for ye,’ says I. ‘Many a better couple than you and Mulligan have had a difference of opinion.’ ‘I have a contimpt,’ says she, ‘fer payple that poke their noses into other payple’s businesses.’

“‘So have I,’ says I. ‘Did you see the new dhress Mrs. Doherty has?’ says I, ‘The fright it is! And they say it’s not paid for yet. ’Tis surprisin’ the way some payple houlds up their heads. She purtinded to be out whin the landlord came on Monday, and she, peepin’ out from behind the windy blind while he was ringin’ the bell.’ ‘Oh! that’s nothin’,’ said Mrs. Mulligan, gettin’ a block of wood to shtand on, so that I could hear her bether, ‘you know that shtuck up Miss Tompkins, that lives below, and taches the pianny wid red hair? She owes four weekes rint, come Monday, and won’t come to the fince and have a chat like a daycent woman. I seen a shtrange man knock at her door wid my own eyes, about a fortnight ago. She shuk hands wid him, and asked him in, and shut the door wid a shmoile. That’s nice carryin’s on for a single lady that calls hersilf Miss Tompkins on a brass plate,’ ‘I’ve no patience wid some payple,’ says I. ‘And whin is your case comin’ on?’ says Mrs. Mulligan gettin’ another block of wood to make hersilf higher.

“‘Phwat case?’ says I.

“‘As if you didn’t know,’ says she. ‘’Tis in ivery body’s mouth, and is bound to get into the papers. Poor dear! ye have my sympathy.’

“‘Sympathy for phwat?’ says I.

“‘In your case,’ she said. ‘The divorce case Pat is bringin’ agin you. I heard about it from Mrs. Duncan. I suppose ye were timpted. I know Pat does not thrate ye too well.’

“‘If anybody says a wurrud agin him to me,’ says I, ‘there’ll be somebody hurted. But phwat did Mrs. Duncan say? And phwat business is it of hers, anyway?’

“‘She said you had been doin’ something, and Pat was goin’ for a divorce.’

“‘How dare she say such a thing about me?’ says I; ‘and she wid a second husband, and nobody knows phwat became of the first! To think of the loikes of her talkin’ of the loikes of me,’ I says. ‘If she has a detached house and a servant wid a cap and Venetian blinds. Tell me phwat she said,’ says I, ‘and I’ll have the law on her.’

“‘Don’t ask me.’ says Mrs. Mulligan, ‘I have no wish to hurt your feelings, and I have a shtew ready for me boarder’s dinner by one o’clock.’ Thin she gev a shtart. ‘Be Jabers!’ she says, ‘It’s shtrikin’ one now.’ And wid that, the bits of wood she was shtandin’ on shlipped from under her, and down she sat in a tub of wather.

“I could not go to her assistance, Mrs. Moloney, for me heart was bruk. I retoired to the seclusion of me residence, and relaved me pint up feelin’s wid a flood of tears and a drop of somethin’ to revoive me.

“Whin I got calmer, I resolved that me good name must be maintained if it cost me me loife to do it. I made up me mind to shtrike the iron while it was hot, and to nip it in the bud by puttin’ me feet down with a furrum hand. I dhressed mesilf in me crash costhume and I wint shtraight to Mrs. Duncan’s to have it out wid her face to face. It was about two o’clock mid-day whin I arrived at her door and rung the bell. The door was answered by the maid in the cap, who showed me into the dhrawin’ room, and said would I take a sate,and Mrs. Duncan would be down in a minute. The room was furnished wid a pianny, and a place alongside it for the music, some flowers and photos on the table, and a thick carpet and pictures on the walls. I thought as I waited, that it was too good for a woman who spint her toime taking away people’s characters, wid lace curtains and brass fire-irons.

“Soon she came in wid a silk dhress and beads on it, just the same as if she’d niver said a wurrud in her life.

“‘I am plazed to see you, Mrs. McSweeney,’ said she, houldin’ out her hand wid a smoile, ‘though your visit is unexpected.’

“I ignored her hand, and treated her shmoile wid contimptuosity, for I felt the color razin’ from me face. So I straightened mesilf and fixed her wid me two eyes.

“‘Mrs. Duncan,’ says I, and I shpoke wid freezin’ politeness, for I was boilin’ over, ‘I’ve come,’ says I, ‘to know phwat you mane?’ and I bumped me sunshade into her axminsther.

“‘I don’t understand you,’ she says, wid an air of embarrassmint.

“‘I’ll soon make ye undherstand,’ says I. ‘You are a viper, Mrs. Duncan. Now do you undherstand?’ And I bumped her axminsther agin, for me feelin’s was overcomin’ me.

“She looked at me for a minute and then she said, ‘If you have called, Mrs. McSweeney, for the purpose of insultin’ me, the sooner we terminate the intherview the bether. That is the door, Mrs. McSweeney. Perhaps you would like to see the other side of it,’ and she snorted and tossed her head till her beads shook agin.

“‘Is it showin’ me the door ye are,’ says I. ‘Wid your airs and beads and servants with caps and lace curtains and things. You that’s thryin’ to shtrip me of me robes of innocence,’ says I, ‘and clothe me in the garments of iniquity.’

“‘I never touched your garmints,’ she said, ‘and I’d be long sorry to. Will you plaze explain yonrsilf wid some degree of intilligince?’

“‘I will explain mysilf,’ I says, ‘Phwat do you think of payple that go round thryin’ to raise gulphs between payple and their husbands, lettln’ loose the apple of discord in the Timple of Domestic Pace, till it goes round seekin’ whom it may devour?’ I says. ‘Tell me, is that plain enough?’

“‘’Tis not,’ she says. ‘The more you explain the more I don’t undershtand you,’

“‘I will make you undershtand me,’ I says, thremblin’ wid suppressed emotion. ‘Phwat do you mane by tellin’ Mrs. Mulligan that me husband was gettin’ a divorce from me? Phwat do you mane by tearin’ me character to ribbons? Tell me that, and I’ll make you prove your wurruds, so sure as my name is Bridget McSweeney,’ I says.

“‘I will tell you the thruth,’ she says, ‘if you will keepe calm.’

“‘I am calm,’ I says, chokin’ wid passion.

“‘Well, thin,’ she says, ‘it was this way: Mrs. Mulligan was passin’ me gate yisterday. She stopped to pass the toime of day, and I asked her if she had heard phwat Mrs. Finigan said. That was all.’

“‘And phwat did Mrs. Finigan say?’ says I, risin’ to me feete.

“‘She tould me she heard there was throuble between you and McSweeney. She didn’t tell me phwat the throuble was, but she heard that McSweeney was goin’ for a dissolution of marriage, I didn’t tell Mrs. Mulligan anything. I only asked her if she had heard it, and she said no. And that’s all about it, and I hope there’s no harrum.’

“‘And that’s all, do you call it?’ says I, ‘But it’s just phwat one might expect from Mrs. Finigan. She niver forgave me for getting the hat she wanted at the bargain sale. But I’ll go shtraight to her and make her ate her wurruds, I will.’

“‘I would,’ said Mrs. Duncan, ‘It is a shame.’

“So I left Mrs. Duncan and wint shtraight to Mrs. Finigan. I got to her house about three, and I belave she would have tould me she was out only she was sittin’ on the balkinny.

“She came running to the door, and wanted to kiss me, but I waved her aside, and tould her I’d come to know phwat she mint by thrajoosin’ me. Wid me usual clearness I soon made her undershtand, and she burst into tears.

“‘Poor dear,’ she says; ‘can nothin’ be done to hush it up?’

“There’s nothin’ to hush up,’ I says, ‘I want to make you prove your wurruds. Phwat do you mane by all this scandaloscity?’ And the look in me eye made her shiver.

“‘Plaze don’t,’ she says. (She’s only a poor shrimp of a woman.) ‘If I’ve said anything wrong,’ she says, ‘I hope I’ve not been mistaken. Ask me phwat you like, and I’ll tell you.’

“So I demanded that she should spake the truth, and nothin’ but the truth, and she said she would.

“‘It was one night at the ind of this week or the biginnin’ of next,’ she says. ‘I can’t be certain, because you’ve flusthrated me so, that I called on Mrs. Gilhooly. She tould me that Mr. McSweeney had just called for Gilhooly to go to a lodge meeting and that she heard him and Gilhooly talkin’ in the dinin’ room in a whisper, and she heard Mr. McSweeney say he couldn’t shtand ye any more, and was goin’ for a dissolution.”

“‘Did Pat say that?’ says I.

“‘Mrs. Gilhooly said he said it,’ says Mrs. Finigan.

“‘Then she’s a liar,’ says I; ‘and I’ll go and tell her so this minute.’

“‘If you wait till I change me blouse I’ll come wid you,’ said Mrs. Finigan.

“So I waited, and we wint together to Gilhooly’s, and we got there about four o’clock. She opened the door hersilf, and her face was rid as if she’d been takin’ somethin’. I never cared for Mrs. Gilhooly at the bist of toimes, and on this occasion she shtruck me as being less attractive than ever. She niver asked us in, but shtud wid her big rid arrums blockin’ up the doorway, and, lookin’ past me instead of at me, she said, in a tone of sarcasticness: ‘Well! phwat’s the mather now?’”

“‘Mather enough,’ says I, ‘I want to know phwat you mane by repatin’ things you niver heard. Didn’t you tell Mrs. Finigan—’

“But she cut me short. ‘I don’t know,’ says she, ‘phwat Mrs. Finigan has been tellin’ you, but I can soon tell you phwat I tould Mrs. Finigan, and phwat I said I’ll shtand to to me dyin’ day. I tould Mrs. Finigan that McSweeney called one night for Gilhooly, and be the same token I hope that next time McSweeney calls for Gilhooly he’ll shtay away. But he called for him, and Gilhooly tuk him into the dinin’-room. They didn’t know I was ristin’ mesilf on the couch in th’ dhrawin’-room behind the foldin’ door that was ajar. I heard Gilhooly say, “How’s the missus?” manin’ you, and Mr. McSweeney said, “She’s the same as usual. She’s as well as can be expected.” Then Gilhooly asked McSweeney somethin’ in a low tone, and McSweeney said, “A little one.” Thin they conversed softly for some time, until Gilhooly, raisin’ his voice, said, “’Tis disgraceful, so it is. And yet, phwat are you goin’ to do?”

“I see nothin’ for it,” says McSweeney, “but a dissolution,” Thin they wint out, and if you want to know any more you can ask McSweeney. I don’t know whether he has his dissolution yet or no, but I want no dissolute females about my house, so you can take your dirty feet off me doorshteps and clear. I don’t want to be seen talking to you, wid your little ones and your dissolutions.’

“I can’t tell you, Mrs. Moloney, phwat I should have called her, but she shut the door in me face.

“‘I’ll not be thrated this way,’ says I. ‘Let me go, Mrs. Finigan, till I resthore me reputation by lavin’ the marks of me finger-nails in her ugly face.’

“But Mrs. Finigan begged me to be calm, as there was a policeman comin’ up the shtreet, and so I allowed her to force me, against me inclination, in the direction of me home. She kissed me on the corner of me shtreet and left me.

“Whin I got to me house I was all by mesilf because the twins were out and there was nobody at home. I looked round, and everything in me home seemed to remind me of me throuble. The cat purred at me, just as if me life was not blighted. The China shepherdess shmoiled as usual, and every tick of the clock reminded me of me approaching dissolution. There was me sewin’ machine, on which I’d slaved to keep me twins daycently covered, and on a chair a pair of Pat’s pants, that I’d been mindin’ in the mornin’, and couldn’t finish for want of a piece to match the sate of ’em.

“I wint into the kitchin, and there, by the side of the fireplace were his shlippers that I put ready for him. The sight was too much for me, and I made up me moind that if it was dissolved I was to be, that it should not be in the shlippers I’d embroidered for him wid me own hand, so I tuk ’em up and poked ’em into the shtove.

“Just thin I heard the kay in the door and him whistling, so I wint and laid on the floor of the dinin’-room and purtinded I was dead. He walked into the kitchen, and I heard him sing out, ‘Biddy! Where are you?’ Thin he cum blundherin’ into the dinin’-room, and nearly fell over me.

“‘Phwat the blazes is the mather?’ he says whin he seen me layin’ prosthrated. ‘Biddy!’ he says, ‘wake up.’ And he shuk me.

“‘Be jabers,’ says he to himself, ‘she’s fainted.’ Thin be put his arrums round me and thried to lift me to the couch. ‘Be the howl in me coat,’ he says, ‘phwat a weight she is! She’s as heavy as a bale of wool, and not so handy, bekase you can’t take a hook to her,’ Thin he thried again, and as me gathers was givin’ way I thought I’d better come to. So I opened me eyes and gave a shcrame, kickin’ me heels on the floor.

“‘Biddy, me darlint! Phwat ails you?’ says he.

“‘Don’t darlint me,’ says I, turnin’ me back to him. ‘Lave me, thraitor, and niver come near me again. And bring me some poison that I can blow out me brains foreninst ye.’

“‘Tell me phwat’s the mather,’ says he, soothingly.

“‘The mather is,’ says I, shpakin’ as well as me high shtrikes would allow me, ‘that I’ll not live to be dissolved. Who’ll be the father of me twins,’ I says, ‘whin I’m dissolved? Tell me that.’

‘‘Wid that he threw his hat in the corner and sat down and scratched his head wid a frown. Thin he said, ‘Phwat bally nonsense is this?’ he says. ‘Is it some more of your gossipin’ over the fince, or phwat? Tell me at once, or I’ll go out and I’ll get blue blind dhrunk, and I won’t come home till mornin’, till daylight does appear.’

“I will not toire you, Mrs. Moloney, by tellin’ you all I said, but I tould him, in broken sintences, phwat Mrs. Gilhooly had tould me. Instead of sinkin’ into the floor wid shame and mortification, as I expicted he would, phwat did he do but shlap his thigh and laugh that way that I got froightened for him, ‘Ha! ha! ha!’ he says, houldin’ his sides. ‘And that’s phwat all the bally fuss is about? And this is the —  ho! ho! ho!’ And off he wint agin like a cracker.

“‘So you’re goin’ to be dissolved,’ he says, ‘and I’m goin’ to —ha! ha! ha!’

“This wint on for some time, and me sittin’ on the floor lookin’ at him, till at last he says, ‘I’ll tell you all about it, although you don’t deserve it. It was loike this. I called on Gilhooly, and he tuk me into the dining-room. “How’s the missus?” says he. “The same as usual,’ says I. “As well as can be expected.” Thin Gilhooly, knowin’ Mrs. Gilhooly’s habit of listenin’, lowered his voice. “Will you have a taste?” he says, pintin’ to a decanter. “I will,” I says, “a little one.” Then he asked me had I read the paper about the scene in parlimint, and I said I had, and it was disgraceful, and he says, “Phwat are ye goin’ to do about it?” And I says, “I see nothin’ for it but a dissolution.” And thin we wint to the lodge. And this is your bally—ho! ho! ho!’ And off he wint again. Whin he got his wind he says, ‘This is phwat comes of your gossipin’ and scandalizin’, and listenin’ whin you ain’t supposed to. Now get me me shlippers, for me feet is achin’.’

“His last wurruds acted on me as quick as an emetic. I remimbered in me frinzy puttin’ his shlippers in the shtove. I ran out and found that whin I put them in the shtove I forgot to see if the fire was in. By a merciful providence, they were only wurrum.

“’Twill be a lesson to me, Mrs. Moloney, while I live niver to listen to scandal, nor to repate it when I hear it. As for Mrs. Gilhooly, if all they say is true about her and the sergeant of police, that goes to see her whin Gilhooly’s at the lodge, she has nothin’ to boast about—shuttin’ the door in the face of her bethers—wid her ugly rid face.

“Yes, I suppose it is toime ye were goin’. Remimber me to Moloney, and tell him that me and Pat will be over on Tuesday night for a game at euchre, God willin’.”


Mrs. McSweeney’s Lament

The Geebung Taytotal Society

’Twas the red-lether day of me loife,
    Whin Pathrick McSweeney first married me;
Whin he made me his own wedded woife,
    And away for the honeymoon carried me.

Although things are not all that they same,
    And though Cupid’s professions are brittle ones,
Yet the first year flew by loike a dhrame,
    And the whole of our throubles were “little ones.”

In the corner Pat kept a cruiskeen,
    Though of whiskey he’d not take a lot of it,
But in toime it was plain to be seen,
    That shtill fonder and fonder he got of it.

He would take it to kape out the could,
    For the heat—he would just take a sup of it,
Until nought could be purchased or sould,
    Till the bargain was clinched wid a cup of it.

And noight after noight would I wait,
    Till the clock had shtruck midnight expectin’ him,
And me trouble was sad to relate,
    When I found that the dhrink was affectin’ him.

I’d besache him his Biddy to plaze
    By avoidin’ such gross insobriety,
And I’d beg him on both of me knees
    Just to join the Taytotal Society.

I would say, “You’re a baste and a hog,
    And I don’t know whatever to do wid you,
For you lade me the loife of a dog,
    And me once rosy chakes are quite blue wid you.”

“Faith! I’ll lave you, and let you go free,
    Since you cause me no end of anxiety,
If you won’t give up whiskey for me,
    And join the Taytotal Society.”

Then I coaxed him, and petted him so,
    Persistently kept on insistin’ it,
That he said, “He supposed he must go,
    As he couldn’t be afther resistin’ it.”

“Arrah! Biddy, me darlin’,” said he,
    “You have got such a swate wheedlin’ way wid you,
Faith, I’ll dhrink nothing shtronger than tay,
    And I’ll give up the whiskey, and shtay wid you.”

So he wint to the matin’ that noight,
    Afther dhressin’ himself wid propriety,
And he soon was a glitherin’ loight
    Of the Geebung Taytotal Society.

For they gave him a banner to bear,
    And a collar wid gilt and gold lace on it,
Such as Malachi once used to wear,
    Before thraitors brought down such disgrace on it.

And I felt loike a bride newly wed,
    And wid joy was replete to satiety,
Whin he marched through the town at the head
    Of the Geebung Taytotal Society.

But me heart grew quite heavy and sore,
    Afther all I had done in amindin’ him,
Whin he shtaggered one noight to me door,
    Wid a party of Geebungs attendin’ him.

They explained as they led him along,
    Wid a great affectation of piety,
“They sapposed that the tay was too shtrong
    At the Geebung Taytotal Society.”

And he goes to the matins’ each noight,
    Though I now thry to kape him away from ’em,
And I’m in a continual froight,
    But I cannot induce him to shtay from ’em.

He now tipples away widout end,
    And he takes it in greater variety,
For he says that they taught him the blend
    In the Geebung Taytotal Society.



Project Gutenberg Australia