― 197 ―

Mrs. McSweeney's Spring Cleaning

“Faith! it must be nice to be a man,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she passed the biscuit barrel to Mrs. Tacitus, “wid nothin' in the wurruld to do but go to yer wurruk in the mornin' and come home agin at night to amuse yerself wid choppin' wood and doin' up the garden. A man's loife rowls along as smooth as a pat of buther round a hot fryin' pan, while a woman do be frettin' and slavin', washin' and ironin', wid shpring clanin' thrown in, three or four times a year. 'Twould be good fer the men if they sometimes had to seek relaxation from the timptation of dissipation by ingagin' in the occupation of domistication.”

And Mrs. McSweeney poured out a second cup of tea for herself and her friend, while Mrs. Tacitus quietly felt the texture of Mrs. McSweeney's new tablecloth.

“Such a toime I've had since I saw you last.

  ― 198 ―
My limbs are that stiff I can't sit down, and whin I do, I can't get up again. I've been havin' me spring clanins. On Monday last I sent fer Mrs. O'Reilly, who goes out clanin' be the day, an' I says to her,

“‘Mrs. O'Reilly,’ says I, ‘I am goin' to go right through the house. We'll take up the carpets and bate thim, and clane the house from top to bottom. We'll wash the curtains, and clane the bidsteads, and wash the paint, and put everything noice and toidy.’

“So we put all the chairs in the hall, and the beds on the stairs, and threw the carpets out of the windy, and put the wardrobe on the balkinny, and were jist in the thick of it, and me wid a towel round me head to kape off the dirt, whin there came a ring at the bell.

“I said to Mrs. O'Reilly, ‘I'll go to the door,’ and I wint, and an ugly gossoon was there, and asked me ‘did I want to buy a sewing machane?’

“‘I don't,’ says I, as I banged the door in his face.

“Well, I tuk a bucket of wather in me hand, and had got half-way upstairs again, whin there came another ring at the bell.

“‘Bad luck to the bell!’ says I, and I put down the bucket on the stairs and opened the door again.

  ― 199 ―

“‘Do yer want any pertaters?’ says a spalpeen wid a red head.

“‘I don't,’ says I. ‘To the devil wid you and yer pertaties, ringin' people's bells!’

“‘Yer needn't to shnap me head off,’ says he.

“‘Do ye call that thing a head?’ says I.

“‘It's as good as yours,’ says he, ‘barrin' the turban.’

“‘The phwat?’ says I.

“‘The turban,’ says he (alludin' to the towel I had on). Then he added ‘Go and ask yer Missus does she want any pertaters; a bob a quarter. Take 'em in and show her.’

“‘Phwat do ye take me for?’ says I.

“‘I wouldn't take yer at any price,’ says he.

“‘If yer don't take yer fut out of me door,’ says I, ‘I'll squaze yer toes off.’ So wid that the impident puppy purtended to sneeze in me face, and he wint away singin' ‘Oh! Molly Reilly, I Love You.’

“So I wint into the kitchen to see if the fire was all right, and the bell rung again. So I sung out to Mrs. O'Reilly,

“‘Tell 'em over the balkinny that I don't want any,’ and then the blessed bell rung again. She sung out again, ‘Bad luck to ye, will ye go away out of that?’ she says, ‘whin I tell ye we don't want any.’ Wid

  ― 200 ―
that I heerd a millifluous voice inquire ‘Is Mrs. McSweeney in?’ and I thought I should have dhropped whin I recognised the voice of Father Roonan. So I shlipped into the dhrawin-room, and tuk the towel off me head, and opened the door to his reverence. Just as I was openin' the door, I see Mrs. O'Reilly on the landin' wid a big bundle of sheets and curtains and things, and I sung out, ‘Mind the bed!’ Father Roonan smoiled swately, and says ‘Phwat bed?’ says he, as he enthered and shuk hands wid me.

“Me warnin' was too late, for the wurruds were scarcely out of me mouth, when Mrs. O'Reilly throd on the bed and turned head and heels over it, right foreninst his reverence, and landed wid her fate in the bucket of wather I had left standin' on the stairs. She moight have recovered her balance, onl they bed cum rollin' afther her and knocked her over again, and then Mrs. O'Reilly and the bed and the bucket, and the bundle of washin' all came rollin' down the stairs, and you couldn't tell which was the bed and which was the bucket, and which was the washin' and which was Mrs. O'Reilly; but the bed got down first, and Mrs. O'Reilly turned a summerset over it, jest for all the wurruld like the clowns in the circus, and landed between two chairs, right at the fate of Father Roonan. I

  ― 203 ―
shut the door as soon as I could, and as I shut who should I see but Mrs. Moloney sittin' on her balkinny and laughin' fit to shake herself into a thousand pieces. I know me face was as red as the sun in a fog, and Father Roonan was laughin' fit to burst as he helped me to straiten Mrs. O'Reilly, who was mixed up that way wid the chairs that we had a job to exthricate her. She wasn't hurt, but she was dhrenched from top to bottom, and forgettin' that the chairs was in the hall, I asked his reverence to sit down in the dhrawin'-room while I wint to get some dhry clothes for Mrs. O'Reilly. His reverence didn't sthay long, as he had only called to pass the toime of day, and I made a cup of tay, and me and Mrs. O'Reilly was jest havin' it in the kitchen whin the door bell rang again.

“‘Och!’ says I, ‘let thim ring. It's not Father Roonan this time, any way.’ So we wint on wid our tay, and the bell rang again and again, till I thought they'd break the wire. So I jumped quite desperate up from me tay, and sayzin' a dipper of wather in me hand, I wint to the door and opened it.

“‘Take that!’ says I, as I threw the wather. You may guess me falins whin I discovered, just in toime to be too late, that it was Pat! Didn't he roar? Didn't he swear?

  ― 204 ―
Oh! I thought he'd tear the house down wid langwidge not fit to repate, and he in a hurry to go and catch a thrain, and swearin' all the whoile he was changin' his shirt. But we finished the clanin', and I locked the dhrawin'-room door and hid the kay, and forgot where I hid it, so that it won't get disarranged. But, och! I'll never forget the sight of Mrs. O'Reilly, and I'll never see Father Roonan widout blushin' at the remimbrance of it. Will you take another cup, Mrs. Tacitus?”

“No thank you, dear,” said Mrs. Tacitus, “I have done splendidly.” And Mrs. Tacitus kissed Mrs. McSweeney, and took her leave. As she passed out of the front gate one of Mrs. McSweeney's boys came in. She smiled sweetly at the child, and noticed that his trousers were made from a pair of his father's old ones.