― 275 ―

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

  ― 276 ―
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 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

  ― 277 ―
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.

  ― 278 ―

“‘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

  ― 279 ―
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?”

  ― 280 ―

“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.