― 241 ―

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

  ― 242 ―
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 foine-lookin' 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?’

  ― 243 ―

“‘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. note--------'s hand.’

“‘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

  ― 244 ―
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 note-------------- 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

  ― 245 ―
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

  ― 246 ―
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

  ― 247 ―
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.

  ― 248 ―

“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.