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  ― 179 ―

Mrs. McSweeney's Christmas

“The great dhrawback to this climate,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she ushered Mrs. Tacitus into the drawing-room, “is that the hottest days all come in the summer, whin we could do without 'em, and the cold ones in the winter, whin we don't want 'em. The man at the conservatory that the Government pays to look afther the weather just lets it do as it loikes, and thin we have cyclopses and torpedoes waltzing round the counthry, blowin' people's houses down and ruinin' their complexions, till we have as many koinds of weather in a day as would make the whole four saysons and a bit over.”

“And how did you spend your Christmas?” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she seated herself on the couch, and made a mental note of the cut of Mrs. McSweeney's new blouse.

“Don't ask me!” said Mrs. McSweeney, “I've been that worried and upset, to say nothin' of me trouble and expinse, that I don't care if we didn't have another Christmas fur the next six months! Afther all me bother, to have me cake all dough


  ― 180 ―
is enough to vex me if I was Saint Bridget herself. I shpared no expinse, and I put in nearly everything that could be put into a cake, and I was tould thin that all I wanted was a good slow fire. I put it in the oven to make shure before I lit the fire, and thin I only lit a shmall one, and no fire could be much slower nor that, unless it was out altogether.

“Me feelin's will not allow me to tell you how I watched that cake, and me twins that throublesome that I was nigh disthracted. It never rose a bit, and afther wastin' all the mornin' I found it that heavy that you might have thought it was a fire brick. Pat seen it, and felt the weight ov it, and says that he's considerin' whether he'll send it to the Mines Departmint to get it assayed, or make a grindstone av it. I thried to get hould of it, but he locked it up, and every person that has come to me house this wake Pat says, afther wishin' thim the toime of day.

“‘Come into me worrkshop till I show ye the cake me ould woman made!’

“Thin away they go, and I hear him say,

“‘Phwat do ye think ov it? Fale the weight ov it!’

“Just the remark he used to say about one of me twins.


  ― 181 ―

“‘Fale the weight of it,” says he, and thin I can hear them laugh, and they come in and say,

“‘Faith! it's a foine cake ye made, Mrs. McSweeney.’

“One impudent puppy asked Pat how he was going to divide it.

“‘Sure,’ says he, 'I suppose if we have to break it up, a couple of wedges and a hammer would do it.’

“But the son of a witch said:

“‘I don't think anything wud do it except a charge of dianimite.’

“And there's Mrs. Maloney a-sittin' on her balkinny, and to everybody that passes she says:

“‘Good mornin'. It's a foine mornin' don't ye think?’ says she. 'Did ye hear about Mrs. McSweeney's cake?’

“I furrumly belave that she put a gossoon that sells fruit up to throw me cake in me face. He knocked at me door yesterday mornin', and he says, says he,

“‘Any peaches or apricots? A penny a dozen!’

“‘No!’ says I. 'I don't want yer peaches, and it's loike yer chake to be knockin' at paple's doors widout bein' asked.’

“‘Ah! go on,’ says he, 'Yer cake's all dough!’

“‘If you don't git outer me gate,’ says I, 'I'll throw the bucket at ye.’




  ― 182 ―

“‘I don't care so long as you don't throw yer cake,’ says he.

“We caught two rats in the thrap last night. They both had their front tathe broken. Pat said they'd been thrying to nibble me cake. It upset me that way that I lost me interest in the festive sayson. I'm thankful to say that the Christmas holidays is over, and barrin' a slight attack of biliousniss and the shkin palin' off me nose, I fale none the worse of it.

“We had a quoite day on Christmas, and nothin' out of the common, except the puddin' and the goose, which I bought for a young wan, and which Pat said I must have got out of the Ark, as it was the same goose that cackled when Nero was burnin' and Rome played the fiddle. I didn't belave a word of it, as I put it down to Pat's awkwardness, he not bein' used to carvin' poultry. He said the legs was as tough as if the goose was a champion bicycle ridher, but he only said that becase I shcolded him for shpillin' the gravy all over me best clane cloth, that caused a coldness between us all the rist of the day.

“But the picnic was the thing! Faith! We had a foine time at the picnic. It was on Boxing Day we had the picnic. We left the twins at home with Mrs. O'Reilly. I put on me white muslin, and the slaves were that thin that the sun


  ― 183 ―
burnt me arrums true it, though say nothin' of the muskeeters. Pat had on a new soot, and a big basket full of all sorts of things to ate and dhrink, and we were to mate Mr. and Mrs. Regan at the Railway Stashion.

“Oh, the crowds that were there! What wid the crowds a-comin' in and the crowds a-comin' out, and the railway porthers takin' the skin off me shins wid the portmantels, and the hate, and Pat upsettin' the basket on the platform, and wantin' to foight an old gintleman that throd on a mate pie with grane shpeckles and made it onsightly, besides awkward to carry, I was glad when we got to the Nashunel Park.

“We thried to find a shady place to have lunch, but all the shady places were taken up by a lot of people, wid no perliteness, mostly boys and girls that were carryin' on that way that they ought to have been kept at home. We found a place at last, and Con Regan took the billy to get some hot wather; but he had a long way to go, and he forgot to take the tay and sugar wid him, so whin he got back the wather was too cold to make tay, and it was too hot to drink it cold, and me dying for a dhrink tha way that the sweat was pourin' out of me.

“The lunch was lovely, except that the jam had got into the mate pie, and the gravy from


  ― 184 ―
the mate pie had got into the plum pudden, and the cork had come out of the pickle bottle, and the pickles was all mixed wid the bluemange. But, as Con Regan remarked, it had all to go one way, and as we were all hungry, it was very good.

“Pat had brought a couple of bottles of beer for himself and Con, and as we couldn't get any tay, I had just a sup of the beer, which I'm not in the habit of, and between the sun and the beer, Pat said I had two chakes on me loike the loights of a Glabe Point thram, whoile he said me nose looked loike a Paddington thram.

“However, we gathered wild flowers in the afthernoon, and got home at noight all roight, and Pat was a bit grumpy because Con Regan asked me did I remimber the fun we had at the fair of Ballyragin. However, Con sung 'Paddy Hagarthy's Leather Breeches,’ and then I gave them a bit of a jig while Con whistled 'The Wind that Shook the Barley,’ and we parted as good friends as ever, and after puttin' some vaseline on me nose we wint to bed, and I dhreamed that I was dhrinkin' tay out of a beer bottle in the Nashunel Park, and that all the sugar we had was mustard.”

And Mrs. McSweeney went out to make a cup of afternoon tea, while Mrs. Tacitus, glancing at Mrs. McSweeney's new lace curtains, remarked sotto voce, “Two and eleven the pair.”

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