― 257 ―

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

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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

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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.’

  ― 260 ―

“‘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

  ― 263 ―
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.’

  ― 264 ―

“‘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.

  ― 265 ―

“‘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.