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  ― 249 ―

Mrs. McSweeney About a Dog

“Good afthernoon to yer,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she got out another cup and saucer for Mrs. Tacitus, “And how's the neuralgy?”

“It is slightly better, thank you, dear,” replied Mrs. Tacitus, as she drew her chair up to the table, noticing at the same time that Mrs. McSweeney's blouse had a rent under the armpit.

“I have been that worried since I seen ye last,” continued Mrs. McSweeney, as she sweetened Mrs. Tacitus' tea, “That me nerves is like a ball of woosted that the cat's been playin' wid. It was all about a dog, a dog that you wouldn't give a threepenny-bit for, if there wasn't another dog in the wurruld, even for breedin' purposes. I had had a heavy wash last Monday, and the copper fire, conthrary, and the smuts blowin' that way that it would vex a saint, and me limbs achin' as if I'd been thrashed wid a bamboo. So I laid


  ― 250 ―
down to take forty winks afther lunch. I'd hardly got into me first doze whin Mrs. O'Reilly shouted to tell me I was wanted in the back yard. Whin I got out I saw a polaceman, lookin' over the fence.

“‘Is yer dog registered, Mrs. McSweeney?’ says he.

“‘Faith! Divil a dog have I at all,’ says I.

“‘Phwat's that?’ says he, pointin' to a corner of the yard.

“‘That's a dog,’ says I, ‘by the look of it.’

“‘Well, is it registered?’ says he.

“‘How do I know?’ says I, ‘Shure, it's no dog of mine.

“‘Oh! we're used to that,’ says he, as he made a note in his book.

“So I got the clothes-prop, and I gave the dog a prod, and I says, ‘Whisht! Git out of that!’ And thin I found it was that thafe of a dog that belongs to Mrs. Moloney. I knew him at once, for, by the token, he lost part of his tail, through the butcher at the corner throwin' a knife at him whin he was walkin' off wid a sthring of sausages. Pat says he's a rough-haired black and white fox terrier, wid a bit of the blood-hound in him. Anyway, whin I prodded him with the clothes-prop, he dodged through a hole in the fince into the nixt yard, and I wint back to me nap. I


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thought no more about it till the nixt day, whin I was served wid a summons to attind the polace court to answer to a charge of not registherin' a dog. I consulted Pat, and wanted him to go, but he said he couldn't neglict his work.

“‘But phwat am I to say?’ says I.

“‘Oh!’ he says. ‘You can plade all sorts of things. Say the dog wasn't yours, or that it was under age, or that it was dead, or anything like that. You can plade as many things as you loike, and the more ye plade the hardher will it be fur thim to prove it. So I attinded the court. There was a big crowd there, and there was somebody there from everyone of the six houses in our terrace. Jobson, the publican at the corner, was the first one called.

“‘You are charged,’ says the clerk of the court, ‘wid havin' an unregistered dog on yer premises. How do ye plade?’

“‘The dog wasn't mine, yer Washup.’

“‘Swear Constable Finnigan,’ says the clerk.

“So Constable Finnigan stated that he saw a dog in Jobson's yard. It was a fox terrier.

“‘Have ye got yer receipt?’ says the clerk.

“‘No!’ says Jobson. ‘I tell ye the dog - ’

“‘Tin shillin's, and four-and-tinpence costs,’ says his Washup.

“‘But - ’ says Jobson.




  ― 252 ―

“‘Livy and disthress,’ says his Washup. ‘Nixt case!’

Mrs. Smith was charged nixt. On bein' charged, she said: -

“‘Plaze yer Washup, I don't own no dog.’

“‘Swear Constable Finnigan,’ says the clerk.

“Constable Finnigan stated that he saw a dog in defindint's yard. It was a rough-coated terrier, wid a shtumpy tail.

“‘Where's yer husband?’ says his Washup.

“‘He's up at the Macquarie fossickin',’ says Mrs. Smith, ‘And I've five children, and we haven't had a bite of feed in the house this two days.’

“‘Tin shillin's and four-and-tinpence costs,’ says his Washup.

“‘But plaze yer Washup,’ says Mrs. Smith, burstin' into tears.

“‘Livy and disthress,’ says his Washup, blowin' his nose. ‘Nixt case!’

“The nixt one called was Miss Tomkins, who said she never had a dog, and couldn't abear the soight of one. Constable Finnigan said he saw a dog in her yard on the day mintioned. It was a cross between a fox terrier and a blood-hound.

“‘Tin shillin's and four-and-tinpence costs. Nixt case!’

“Mrs. Mulligan was nixt called. She had the


  ― 253 ―
same defince. Constable Finnigan stated that he saw a dog in the yard; it was a -

“‘Tin shillin's and costs!’ says his Washup. ‘Nixt case!’

“‘Bridget McSweeney!’ says the clerk.

“‘I'm here,’ says I.

“‘How do ye plade?’ says he.

“I plade,’ says I, ‘That it was Moloney's dog, and if it wasn't Moloney's dog it wasn't mine, and if it was it was not six months old, and if it was it died of old age twelve months ago nixt Anniversary Day, and if it didn't it wasn't there, and if it was there it was registhered. Now!’ says I, ‘Put that in your poipe and schmoke it!’

“‘Can ye prove it was registhered?’ says he.

“‘Can ye prove it wasn't?’ says I.

“‘You mustn't spake loike that to the coort,’ says his Washup. ‘Call Constable Finnigan.’

“‘But, yer Woshup!’ says I, ‘I'm a daycent married - ’

“‘Silence!’ shouted the clerk of the court, and Constable Finnigan was sworn. He stated that on the day in quistion he saw in the defindant's yard a full-bred blood-hound wid a shtumpy tail.

“‘Tin shillin's and costs!’ says his Washup.

“‘I'm a daycent married woman,’ says I, ‘and have enough to do lookin' afther me twins and me


  ― 254 ―
house wurruk widout kapin' an apology for a dog wid no tail to shpake of.’

“‘Livy and disthress,’ says his Woshup. ‘Nixt case! Nixt case!’

“But I came away thin, and whin we got outside the coort, we found that it was Mrs. Moloney's dog that was in Jobson's yard, and he threw it over the fince whin the polaceman had gone, and Mrs. Smith threw a boot at it, and it ran through the fince into Miss Tomkins. Whin the polaceman called there she hunted it out of her back gate, and whoile the officer was writin' in his book it run into Mrs. Mulligan's yard. She dhrove it into my yard, and I prodded it wid the clothes-prop, and it wint into Jones' yard, and whoile we was talkin' out comes Jones, and said he had been foined too, and all for Moloney's dog. And of course Mrs. Moloney hadn't been summoned at all. I seen Mrs. Smith at the distance, and I wint and shpoke to her. I said, ‘I'd loike to have the combin' of the hair of that hard-hearted wretch for foinin' you, and yer children hungry.’

“‘Ah! Mrs. McSweeney,’ says she, ‘Don't abuse the good man. He has to administher the law, and if the law's an ass he can't help it. God bless him! He sint a polaceman out wid a sovereign, and a message that I was to pay the


  ― 255 ―
foine and kape the change. If he administhers law and justice wid one hand he dispenses charity and mercy wid the other. God bless him!’

“So I came home. I forgave his Washup, but I'm kapin' me eye open for Mrs. Moloney's dog. 'Tis for that I kape the broom on the kitchen table, a bucket of wather near the front door, and a brick undher me pillow. If I catch him in me yard agin I'll give him such a batin' that he won't shtop runnin' and shqualin' till he falls over the South Head and encumbers the Pacific Ocean wid his carcase.”

“No more, thank you!' said Mrs. Tacitus, as Mrs. McSweeney reached for her cup. “I must be going now.” And she brushed the crumbs from her lap, kissed Mrs. McSweeney, and took her departure, wondering as she went up the street what had become of the vase that used to stand on Mrs. McSweeney's side table.

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