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The Irish Twins   By: (1865-1937)

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The Irish Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins.

In this short book the author conveys a very good image of the lives of Irish country children at the end of the nineteenth century. The images drawn by the very talented author are also very good. There is just enough of the Irish manner of speech to convey the flavour of the way the twins and their relatives would have spoken, had they done so in English. Of course in reality it is likely that such children would have spoken in the Irish language, instead of just occasionally using an Irish word. But the book not only has a good story line, but also conveys to its target audience, American children, something of the background of their Irish compatriots. It is supposed to be a Grade V reader, and, published in 1913, is the third of the Twins series.

There is one blunder, as Kathleen, the daughter of the Earl of Elsmore, is referred to as Lady Kathleen. Her father would have had to be a Duke or a Marquess for that address to be correct. Her actual title does not sound so good, so perhaps Perkins can be forgiven for this solecism. THE IRISH TWINS, BY LUCY FITCH PERKINS.



One day of the world, when it was young summer in Ireland, old Grannie Malone sat by her fireplace knitting. She was all alone, and in her lap lay a letter.

Sometimes she took the letter in her hands, and turned it over and over, and looked at it. Then she would put it down again with a little sigh.

"If I but had the learning," said Grannie Malone to herself, "I could be reading Michael's letters without calling in the Priest, and 'tis long since he passed this door. 'Tis hard work waiting until some one can tell me what at all is in it."

She stooped over and put a bit of peat on the fire, and because she had no one else to talk to, she talked to the tea kettle. "There now," she said to it, "'tis a lazy bit of steam that's coming out of the nose of you! I'll be wanting my tea soon, and no water boiling."

She lifted the lid and peeped into the kettle. "'Tis empty entirely!" she cried, "and a thirsty kettle it is surely, and no one but myself to fetch and carry for it!"

She got up slowly, laid her knitting and the letter on the chair, took the kettle off the hook, and went to the door.

There was but one door and one window in the one little room of her cabin, so if the sun had not been shining brightly it would have been quite dark within.

But the upper half of the door stood open, and the afternoon sun slanted across the earthen floor and brightened the dishes that stood on the old dresser. It even showed Grannie Malone's bed in the far end of the room, and some of her clothes hanging from the rafters overhead.

There was little else in the room to see, except her chair, a wooden table, and a little bench by the fire, a pile of peat on the hearth, and a bag of potatoes in the corner. Grannie Malone opened the lower half of the door and stepped out into the sunshine. Some speckled hens that had been sunning themselves on the doorstep fluttered out of the way, and then ran after her to the well. "Shoo get along with you!" cried Grannie Malone. She flapped her apron at them. "'Tis you that are always thinking of something to eat! Sure, there are bugs enough in Ireland, without your always being at my heels to be fed! Come now, scratch for your living like honest hens, and I'll give you a sup of water if it's dry you are." The well had a stone curb around it, and a bucket with a rope tied to it stood on the curb. Grannie let the bucket down into the well until she heard it strike the fresh spring water with a splash. Then she pulled and pulled on the rope. The bucket came up slowly and water spilled over the sides as Grannie lifted it to the curb.

She poured some of the water into the dish for the hens, filled her kettle, and then straightened her bent back, and stood looking at the little cabin and the brown bog beyond... Continue reading book >>

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