― 267 ―

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.’

  ― 268 ―

“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

  ― 269 ―
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

  ― 270 ―
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

  ― 271 ―
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.’

  ― 272 ―

“‘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.

  ― 273 ―

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.