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  ― 215 ―

Mrs. McSweeney at Sea

“'Tis a foine day, so it is,” said Mrs. McSweeney, as she handed the plate of scones to Mrs. Tacitus.

“It is, indeed,” said Mrs. Tacitus, as she took two scones and made a mental note of the fact that Mrs. McSweeney's skirt had been turned and dyed.

“How did you enjoy yourself on Saturday?”

“Enjoy meself, is it?” answered Mrs. McSweeney, with a slight suspicion of scorn in her voice. “Enjoy meself, did you say?”

Then stirring her tea in a pensive manner, and throwing the tea-cosy at the cat that was preparing to make a bed of her best antimacassar, she said: -

“It was a beautiful afthernoon, last Sathurday, whin I consinted, in a foolish moment, to go for a thrip to the Hawkesbury. Pat and I had an early lunch of pork chops and onions, and wid me best muslin, fresh ironed, and me new hat wid


  ― 216 ―
the roses, I felt quite happy and nautical as the sthame boat glided down the harbour, and the band (two fiddles, a cornet and a harp) played “A Loife on the Ocean Wave.’

“'Twas a great crowd there was on the boat, and as we approached the place they called the Heads, they were all laughing and talking as lively as young colts in a clover patch. There was a young gentleman near me that had two young ladies wid him, in a pair of white duck throusers and a blue coat wid a sthraw hat, pointin' out the different places we come to. He looked so noice and nate, wid his waxed moustache, that I thought he must be a captain or left tenant at laste.

“‘That's Pinchgut,’ says he, and he shmoiled till he showed a row of teeth as white as the dhriven shnow.

“‘And that's Bradley's Head, and yonder is Watson's Bay.’ And he twirled his moustache until the two inds shtuck out like two mate skewers. Whin we come to the Heads the ship began to lift up and down, and I could hardly shtand, and the young gintleman smoiled and said -

“‘Oh! you'll be all right, mam, whin ye get yer say legs on.’

“I thought his remark was rather rude, so I


  ― 217 ―
purtinded not to hear him, and looked over to where somebody said there was a sow and some pigs, but I didn't see any. Just then a big wave sthruck the ship, and nearly knocked her over, and I says to Pat, ‘Hould me, Pat, says I, ‘I'm afraid I'll fall."

“‘Oh!’ says the young man wid the waxed moustache, grippin' hold of a post, ‘It'll be all right whin ye get yer say legs on. That's the - eh - the loite ship,’ says he.

“Well, the ship began to rock about that way I thought me head 'ud shplit.

“‘Oh, Pat!’ says I, ‘for the love of Heaven,’ says I, ‘Ask the captain to kape the ship from wobbling.’

“Just thin I heard one of the young ladies say, ‘Oh! ain't it just lovely?’ Her companion didn't answer her, and I was just goin' to give her a look of witherin' sarcasm, whin the ship heaved agin - and so did I.

“‘Oh!’ says I, ‘I want to go ashore, Pat. I fale so bad. Ask the captain to let me go back.’

“Pat said the captain would only laugh at him, and said I wouldn't be sick if I'd kape me mouth shut. Then the ship gave a bigger lurch than ever, and the young man wid the waxed moustache said, ‘Oh, it'll be all roight whin ye get yer say legs - .’ But just thin he began to slither,


  ― 218 ―
and as he couldn't rache the post, he went head furst into the harp, and the harp knocked over the cornet, and the cornet bumped into the only fiddler that was playin', and thin all of thim fell on top of the other fiddler that was looking over the soide of the ship, that pale as if he'd seen the ghost of his grandmother in the wather. And thin they all scrambled to their fate, the young man in the waxed moustache was lanin' on the side of the ship. His sthraw hat was missin', the wax was all gone out of his moustache, his white duck pants was dirty, and he was all limp, and just looked as if he'd been washed out and never rinsed, and thin fell off the line into the mud, and somebody had picked him up and flung him on a fence to dhry.

“And all the toime the ship kept rollin' about, this way and that way. She reminded me of Pat whin he comes home from a meetin' of the Buffyloes. And there was the young min and the gurrls all gettin' mixed, and shlitherin' this way and the other if they was all on roller skates. Some was laughin' and some was shcreamin', some was groanin', and everybody was holdin' on to everybody else. Such a confusion I never heard since Dooley's cow ran into the tinker's shop in the market place in Sligo. I was throyin' to kape me mouth shut,


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and Pat standin' by, wid his hands in his pockets, a-shmokin' his poipe as if nothin' in the wurruld was the matter. I was so mad at the unconcarned look of him that I forgot meself and said, ‘Pat!’ It was all I said. But I'd opened me mouth, and I couldn't shut it. The ship tipped up all to one side, and I found meself runnin', and I couldn't sthop till I sthopped wid me two arrums round the neck of the young man in the moustache, and I fale ashamed every toime I think of the state of his white duck pants - but I couldn't help it.

“What loike is the Hawkesbury I don't know. I remimber Pat takin' me into a sthuffy place they called a cabin, and givin' me some brandy and soda. I sat on the flure with me new ironed muslin, while a big woman in a red blouse made a convanience of me new hat. It seemed about tin years that I'd been lyin' there whin Pat came and said we was back in the Harbour. He was rowlin' about, and he said he had his say legs on and cudn't get shot of 'em. And I was such a wreck you never saw; me muslin was shpoiled, me hat was ruined, me hair was down, and me false front that cost siven-and-six, I never seen from that day to this. The shtewardess had hair the same colour as mine, but Heaven forbid that I should have any sus-


  ― 220 ―
picion of her, for she tinded me loike a mother. Pat had to get a cab to bring me home, and me cup of misery was overflowin' whin I was layin' on me bed, wid a bottle of o-de-colone in me hand, some vinegar and brown paper on me head, and a bottle of soda-water by me soide. The balkinny door was open to let the air in, and I heard Mrs. Moloney, from her balkinny, remark to some person in the sthrate: -

“‘Did you see Mrs. McSweeney since she wint to say? Oh! the sight she is! The sun has brought out all the freckles, and the salt wather has made her that limp that poor Mr. McSweeney had to carry her up and put her to bed. Poor man! 'Tis small wondher he has the lumbagy. You can't wondher at him takin' a dhrop now and again.’ “

“Well, I must be going, dear,” said Mrs. Tacitus.

“And I must go and look afther that gurrul or she'll burn the jint,” said Mrs. McSweeney as she preceded Mrs. Tacitus to the door.

As Mrs. Tacitus passed through the hall she sniffed, and as Mrs. McSweeney closed the door after her she murmured, “Hash!”

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