The Tale of the Leprechaun
Grannie reached for the teapot and poured herself a cup of tea. As she sipped it, she said to the twins, "Did you ever hear of the Leprechauns? Little men they are, not half the bigness of the smallest baby you ever laid your two eyes on. Long beards they have, and little pointed caps on the heads of them.
"And it 's forever making the little brogues (shoes) they are, and you can hear the tap-tap of their hammers before you ever get sight of them at all. And the gold and silver and precious things they have hidden away would fill the world with treasures.
"But they have the sharpness of the new moon, that 's sharp at both ends, and no one can get their riches away from them at all. They do be saying that if you catch one in your two hands and never take your eyes off him, you can make him give up his money.
"But they 've the tricks of the world to make you look the other way, the Leprechauns have. And then when you look back again, faith, they 're nowhere at all!"
"Did Mary O'Connor catch one?" asked Eileen.
"Did she now!" cried Grannie. "Listen to this. One day Mary O'Connor was sitting in her bit of garden, with her knitting in her hand, and she was watching some bees that were going to swarm.
"It was a fine day in June, and the bees were humming, and the birds were chirping and hopping, and the butterflies were flying about, and everything smelt as sweet and fresh as if it was the first day of the world.
"Well, all of a sudden, what did she hear among the bean-rows in the garden but a noise that went tick-tack, tick-tack, just for all the world as if a brogue-maker was putting on the heel of a pump!
"'The Lord preserve us,' says Mary O'Connor; 'what in the world can that be?'
"So she laid down her knitting, and she went over to the beans. Now, never believe me, if she did n't see sitting right before her a bit of an old man, with a cocked hat on his head and a dudeen (pipe) in his mouth, smoking away! He had on a drab-colored coat with big brass buttons on it, and a pair of silver buckles on his shoes, and he working away as hard as ever he could, heeling a little pair of pumps!
"You may believe me or not, Larry and Eileen McQueen, but the minute she clapped her eyes on him, she knew him for a Leprechaun.
"And she says to him very bold, 'God save you, honest man! That 's hard work you 're at this hot day!' And she made a run at him and caught him in her two hands!
" 'And where is your purse of money?' says she.
" 'Money!' says he; 'money is it! And where on top of earth would an old creature like myself get money?' says he.
" 'Maybe not on top of earth at all, but in it,' says she; and with that she gave him a bit of a squeeze. 'Come, come,' says she. 'Don't be turning your tricks upon an honest woman!'
"And then she, being at the time as good-looking a young woman as you 'd find, put a wicked face on her, and pulled a knife from her pocket, and says she, 'If you don't give me your purse this instant minute, or show me a pot of gold, I 'll cut the nose off the face of you as soon as wink.'
"The little man's eyes were popping out of his head with fright, and says he, 'Come with me a couple of fields off, and I 'll show you where I keep my money!'
"So she went, still holding him fast in her hand, and keeping her two eyes fixed on him without so much as a wink, when, all of a sudden, what do you think?
"She heard a whiz and a buzz behind her, as if all the bees in the world were humming, and the little old man cries out, 'There go your bees a-swarming and a-going off with themselves like blazes!'
"She turned her head for no more than a second of time, but when she looked back there was nothing at all in her hand.
"He slipped out of her fingers as if he were made of fog or smoke, and sorrow a bit of him did she ever see after."
"And she never got the gold at all," sighed Eileen
"Never so much as a ha'penny worth," said Grannie Malone.
"I believe I 'd rather get rich in America than try to catch Leprechauns for a living," said Larry.
"And you never said a truer word," said Grannie. " 'T is a poor living you 'd get from the Leprechauns, I 'm thinking, rich as they are."
By this time the teapot was empty, and every crumb of the cakeen was gone, and as Larry had eaten two potatoes, just as Eileen thought he would, there was little left to clear away.
It was late in the afternoon. The room had grown darker, and Grannie Malone went to the little window and looked out.
"Now run along with yourselves home," she said, "for the sun is nearly setting across the bog, and your Mother will be looking for you. Here, put this in your pocket for luck." She gave Larry a little piece of coal. "The Good Little People will take care of good children if they have a bit o' this with them," she said; "and you, Eileen, be careful that you don't step in a fairy ring on your way home, for you 've a light foot on you like a leaf in the wind, and 'The People' will keep you dancing for dear knows how long, if once they get you."
"We 'll keep right in the boreen (road), won't we, Larry? Good-bye, Grannie," said Eileen.
The Twins started home. Grannie Malone stood in her doorway, shading her eyes with her hand, and looking after them until a turn in the road hid them from sight. Then she went into her little cabin and shut the door.