― 281 ―

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

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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

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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: -

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“‘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

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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

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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 mouth-organ, 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.’

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“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.”

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“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.”