― 205 ―

Mrs. McSweeney's Twins

“Take a glass of wine and a pace of cake, Mrs. Tacitus,” said Mrs. McSweeney, when Mrs. Tacitus had taken off her gloves and deposited her umbrella in the hall-stand. “'Tis the birthday of me twins.”

So Mrs. Tacitus took a glass of wine and a piece of cake, wished the dear children many happy returns of the day, and made a mental note of the fact that Mrs. McSweeney had a new hair buckle, which must have cost at least one and fourpence.

“God bless them!” said Mrs. McSweeney, “they're good children, though I say it as shouldn't, bein' the mother of 'em both. But the throuble I've had wid them children you'd never belave. Me first throuble came in namin' 'em. They was me first, and I niver properly knew the grate difficulty of choosin' names fur children until those twins was born. I had often remarked and expatriated on the rediculosity of

  ― 206 ―
paple givin' names to their helpless progenitors, that hang round their necks for the rist of their lives like a milestone. I have seen a man called ‘Samson,’ who wasn't sthrong enough to lift a red herrin' off a gridiron; and a man called ‘Solomon,’ who hadn't got sinse enough to come in out of the rain. Such cases as these may be due to accident, but where a child, through no fault of his parents, has to go through loife wid such a name as Jones, it is the fault of his parents if he is called ‘Jack’ Jones. Others, again, may be due to unfortunate devilopments. Like Mrs. Jackson's niece, who was christened ‘Wild Rose,’ and aftherwards married a clergyman named Bull, and became ‘Wild Bull.’ When the duty devolved upon me to choose names fer me twins, I made me moind up to be exthra careful. I consulted me friend, Mrs. Jackson, and afther I had gone through the History of England and Ireland, Moore's Almanack and The Police News, some numbers of Comic Cuts and The Gardener's Chronicle, I had a list as long as a pawnbroker's conscience. I could have got some beautiful names from The Gardener's Chronicle if they'd only been gurruls. Well, to make a long story short, I decided at last to call the ouldest of the twins Demetrius Angelus, and the youngest Reginald Augustus. I chose these names as bein' quiet

  ― 207 ―
and gentale, and not too high-soundin'. Whin Pat cum home to lunch I tould him phwat I had decided, and expected him to be plazed wid me, but he wasn't. He said the names wasn't Irish enough, and he wanted the ouldest one called afther him.

“‘I always made up me moind,’ says he, ‘that if ever I had a son, and especially if he should happen to be an eldest son, that I'd call him Pat.’ “

“‘You won't if I know it,’ says I. ‘Sure, every gossoon is called Pat nowadays.’

“‘And maybe,’ says he, wid a shneer, ‘every Pat's a gossoon?’

“‘I didn't mane it that way,’ says I, fer I cud see he was losin' his timper. ‘And, indade, ye can't help yer name. But they're my children, and I'm goin' to name them.’

“‘And maybe,’ says Pat, sthill flarin' up - ‘maybe they ain't my children?’

“‘Phwat!’ says I, beginning to flare up to, ‘Can ye say such a thing as that to me? Look at the noses on 'em, the poor, dear lambs.’

“And he looked at the noses of 'em as they lay shlapin' pacefully, side by side, and he was satisfied. Pat cud niver look at thim widout wantin to kiss thim, and he was bindin' over to do it, and he not shaven fur three days. I didn't want to

  ― 208 ―
wake thim, so I thried to blush and said, ‘Shure, ye can kiss me insthead.’ And sure enough he did. And thin he said ‘Well, we won't fall out about it. Have yer own way. Only I would have loiked the eldest boy named afther his dad. So I gave him a hug, and it was settled.

“‘The names is roight enough,’ says he, afther a pause, ‘only they don't sound very Irish.’

“‘And faith,’ says I, ‘isn't McSweeney Irish enough fur anything?’

“‘Thrue for ye,’ says he.

"See how noice their initials will look when I mark them on their linen and things,’ says I, beginning to wroite them down. ‘There's D. fur Demetrius, A. fur Angelus, and M. fur McSweeney,’ says Pat. That's D.A.M. dam.’

“And thin Pat stharted to wroite down, too, and he says, mimickin' loike - ‘There's R. for Reginald, A. fur Augustus, and M. fur McSweeney. That's R.A.M. ram.’ And he stharted laughin' till I thought that he'd take a fit.

“‘Oh!’ says he, ‘Ye're a ganius at choosin' names. Faith! we must wake 'em up now. Here,’ says he, between his lafture - ‘Dam and Ram, wake up and see how noice ye'll sound in yer bran new names.’

“‘Sure, Pat,’ says I, ‘Don't make fun of me. I throid to do me best fur the dear darlins', but I

  ― 209 ―
didn't think of the initials. Lave off laughin' at me, and ye can call them phwat you loike.’

“‘All right,’ says he, ‘that's a bargain. I'll lave off laughin', and we'll call them Pat and Mike.’

“So he kissed me again, and off he wint to his work, and that's all I got fur all me throuble.

“Well, afther me unfortunate misthake in the choosin' of me children's names, I had to consint to the unavoidable, and let thim be christened Pat and Mike. Pat was moighty particular about the eldest one bein' called afther him.

“‘Sure,’ says I to him, ‘there's only about tin minutes difference betwixt them, and what does it mather?’

“‘I don't care,’ says he, ‘if there was only tin siconds. Do you think I am goin' to allow me eldest son to be done out of his pathrimonial rights?’

“‘Which is the eldest of them?’ says I.

“‘Divil a know I know,’ says he, scratchin' his head and lookin' at the two darlins' as they lay in their cot. ‘Shure, they're so much alike that I can't tell the other from which; but they say a mother can always tell the difference.’

“‘Well, it's lucky,’ says I, ‘that I kept tally of 'em. When the little darlins' was born Mrs. O'Reilly put a red shawl round the eldest one,

  ― 210 ―
and so we knew him, although Mrs. Jackson said it was the youngest one. But as Mrs. O'Reilly offered to take her Bible oath that she was nearly sure she wasn't mistaken, we put a green ribbin round the waste of the one that had the red shawl on. And that's how we know him to be the oldest.’

“‘But where's the green ribbin now?’ says Pat.

“‘Oh! I left it off,’ says I, ‘bekase the youngest one got a pimple on his nose, and whin I look at them I know he can't be the oldest, and thin I guess the other one's the oldest.’

“So we got Father Roonan to name thim, and we told him the names, which he said was highly euphonius, which partly reconciled me to me disappointmint.

“‘Which is to be Pat?’ says he.

“‘The oldest one,’ says Pat.

“‘And which is the oldest one?’ says Father Roonan.

“‘Faith!’ says I, ‘there's one of 'em has a pimple on his nose.’

“‘I see him,’ says he. ‘I name you Pat.’ “

“‘Hould on, Father dear!’ says I. ‘Is that the one wid the pimple?’

“‘It is,’ says he. ‘Look at it.’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘that's the one that's not the one.’

  ― 211 ―

“‘What do you mane?’ asked Father Roonan. ‘Didn't you tell me the one wid the pimple?’

“‘I meant,’ says I, ‘beggin' yer riverence's pardon, that when you got the one wid the pimple, that one wasn't him.’

“‘Wasn't who?’ says he, wid a twinkle in his eye.

“‘Wasn't Pat, yer riverence.’

“‘Are we to understand,’ says his riverence, ‘That the one widout the pimple is to be called Pat?’

“‘That's it,’ says Pat, ‘he's the oldest of 'em.’

“‘Faith, I thought so,’ says his riverence, ‘from his likeness to his father.’

“Pat looked plazed, and the christenin' was finished, and we all wint home as plazed as cud be, although I had to take a dhrop of whiskey, wid a little water in it, whin I got home, owing to the fright I got at Pat, junior, nearly losin' his pathrimony. Well, we had a party in the evenin', and had a great time, although I haven't got time to tell ye all about it. About tin o'clock one of Pat's friends cum in, and he says to him: -

“‘Come here till I show ye me oldest son, till ye see if he's loike his father!’

“He told Mrs. O'Reilly to fetch little Pat, and

  ― 212 ―
whin she brought him, he says, ‘Shure, that's not him, that's the ugly gossoon wid the pimple. Bring the other one.’ So she brought the other one, and Pat, who had had a whiskey or two, yelled at the poor woman and says, 'Bring the other one!’

“‘Shure, there's only two of thim,’ says poor Mrs. O'Reilly.

“‘The divil's curse to ye!’ says Pat. ‘I know there's only two, but I want the other one!’

“‘This is the other one,’ says she. Wid that Mrs. Jackson brought the other one, and as I'm a livin' sinner, they both had pimples on their noses! And now, if we were to be all skinned alive, we don't know which is Pat and which is Mike. If we only knew which was the oldest, we'd know he was Pat, or if we could find out which was the youngest we'd know he wasn't the oldest, and thin we could find out which was Pat. Meanwhile, Pat, senior, was ragin' like a ravin' lunatic, and me cryin' me eyes out. I asked Father Roonan if they could be christened again, but he said he didn't think that would settle it unless they were born again. What to do we didn't know, and it was nigh being the cause of a separation, but at last we decided that as Mike got his pimple first, he'd be likely to lose it first

  ― 213 ―
and so whichever lost his pimple first should be Mike. Well, would you belave it, the very next Sunday mornin' whin we got up, there wasn't a thrace of a pimple on either of 'em. And so to the present toime we don't rightly know which is Pat and which is Mike. It was only last night that I heard Mrs. Moloney shpakin' to her next door neighbour from her balkinny, and she said, in a tone of sarcasm -

“‘I don't thry to hould me head as high as some paple, but I know me eldest boy whin I say him. There's a poor woman, not a mile away from here, that looks down on her bethers, and yet, when she sees her eldest son, she don't know whether it's him or his brother.’

“Take another glass of wine, Mrs. Tacitus?”

“Thank you, my dear, I will,” said Mrs. Tacitus, “and then I must be going.” So saying, she proceeded to put on her gloves, and decided in her own mind that the port wine had cost eighteen-pence per bottle.