CLEVER TOM AND THE LEPRECHAUN
OLIVER Tom Fwich-(i.e. Fitz)pathrick, as people used to call him, was the eldest son o' a comfortable farmer, who lived nigh hand to Morristown-Lattin, not far from the Liftey. Tom. was jist turned o' nine-an'-twinty, whin he met wid the follyin' advinthur, an' he was as cliver, clane, tight, good-lukin' a boy as any in the whole county Kildare. One fine day in harvist (it was a holiday) Tom was takin' a ramble by himsilf thro' the land, an' wint sauntherin' along the sunny side uv a hidge, an' thinkin' in himsilf, whare id be the grate harm if people, instid uv idlin' an' goin' about doin' nothin' at all, war to shake out the hay, an' bind and stook th' oats that was lyin' an the ledge, 'specially as the weather was raither brokm uv late, whin all uv a suddint he h'ard a clackin' sort o' n'ise jist a little way fornint him, in the hidge. "Dear me," said Tom, "but isn't it now raaly suiprisin' to hear the stonechatters singin' so late in the saison." So Tom stole an, goin' on the tips o' his toes to thry iv he cud git a sight o' what was makin' the n'ise, to see iv he was right in his guess. The n'ise stopt; but as Tom hiked sharp thro' the bushes, what did he see in a neuk o' the hidge but a brown pitcher that might hould about a gallon an' a haff o' liquor; an' bye and bye he seen a little wee deeny dawny bit iv an ould man, wid a little motty iv a cocked hat stuck an the top iv his head, an' a deeshy daushy leather apron hangin' down afore him, an' he pulled out a little wooden stool, an' stud up upon it, and dipped a little piggen into the pitcher, an' tuk out the full av it, an' put it beside the stool, an' thin sot down undher the pitcher, an' begun to work at put' a heelpiece an a bit iv a brogue jist fittin' fur himself.
"Well, by the powers!" said Tom to himsilf, "I aften hard tell o' the Leprechauns, an', to tell God's thruth, I nivir rightly believed in thim, but here 'a won o' thim in right airnest; if I go knowin'ly to work, I 'm a med man. They say a body must nivir take their eyes aff o' thim, or they'll escape."
Tom now stole an a little farther, wid his eye fixed an the little man jist as a cat does wid a mouse, or, as we read in books, the rattlesnake does wid the birds he wants to inchant. So, whin he got up quite close to him, "God bless your work, honest man," sez Tom. The little man raised up his head, an' "Thank you kindly," sez he. "I wundher you 'd be workin' an the holiday," sez Tom. "That's my own business, an' none of your's," was the reply, short enough. "Well, may be, thin, you'd be civil enough to tell us, what you 'ye got in the pitcher there," sez Tom. "Aye, will I, wid pleasure," sez he: "it's good beer." "Beer!" sez Tom: "Blud an' turf man, whare did ye git it?" "Whare did l git it is it? why l med it to be shure; an' what do ye think I med it av?" "Divil a one o' me knows," sea Tom, "but av malt, I 'spose; what ilse?" "Tis there you 're out; I med it av haith." "Av haith!" sez Tom, burstin' out laughin'. "Shure you don't take me to be sich an omedhaun as to b'lieve that?" "Do as ye plase," sez he, "but what I tell ye is the raal thruth. Did ye nivir hear tell o' the Danes?" "To be shure I did," sea Tom, "warn't thim the chaps we gev such a lickin' whin they thought to take Derry frum huz?" "Hem," sez the little man dhryly, "is that all ye know about the matther?" "Well, but about thim Danes," sea Tom. "Why all th' about thim is," said he, "is that whin they war here they taught huz to make beer out o' the haith, an' the saicret 's in my family ivir sense." "Will ye giv a body a taste o' yer beer to thry?" sez Tom. "I 'll tell ye what it is, young man, it id be fitther fur ye to be lukin' afther yer father's propirty thi'n to be botherin' dacint, quite people wid yer foolish questions. There, now, while you 're idlin' away yer time here, there 's the cows hay' bruk into th' oats, an' are knockin' the corn all about."
Tom was taken so by surprise wid this, that he was jist an the very point o' turnin' round, whin he recollicted himsilf. So, afeard that the like might happin agin, he med a grab at the Leprechaun, an' cotch him up in his hand, but in his hurry he ovirset the pitcher, and spilt all the beer, so that he couldn't git a taste uv it to tell what sort it was. He thin swore what he wouldn't do to him iv he didn't show him whare his money was. Tom luked so wicked, an' so bloody-minded, that the little man was quite frightened. "So," sez he, "come along wid me a couple o' fields aff an' I 'll show ye a crock o' gould." So they wint, an' Tom held the Leprechaun fast in his hand, an' nivir tuk his eyes frum aff uv him, though they had to crass hidges an' ditches, an' a cruked bit uv a bog (fur the Leprechaun seemed, out o' pure mischief, to pick out the hardest and most conthrairy way), till at last they come to a grate field all full o' balyawn buies, [a] an' the Leprechaun pointed to a big bolyawn, an' sez he, "Dig undher that bolyawn, an' you 'II git a crock chuck full o' goulden guineas."
Tom, in his hurry, had nivir minded the bringin' a fack [b] wid him, so he thought to run home and fetch one, an' that he might know the place agin, he tuk aff one o' his red garthers, and tied it round the bolyawn. "I s'pose," sez the Leprechaun, very civilly, "ye 've no further occashin fur me?" "No," sez Tom, "ye may go away now, if ye like, and God speed ye, an' may good luck attind ye whareivir ye go." "Well, good bye to ye, Tom Fwichpathrick," sed the Leprechaun, "an' much good may do ye wid what ye 'II git."
So Tom run fur the bare life, till he come home, an' got a fack, an' thin away wid him as hard as he could pilt back to the field o' bolyawns; but whin he got there, lo an' behould, not a bolyawn in the field, but had a red garther, the very idintical model o' his own, tied about it; an' as to diggin' up the whole field, that was all nonsinse, fur there was more nor twinty good Irish acres in it. So Tom come home agin wid his fack an his shouldher, a little cooler nor he wint; and many's the hearty curse he gev the Leprechaun ivry time he thought o' the nate turn he sarved him. [c]
[a] Lit. Yellow-stick, the ragwort or ragweed, which grows to a great size in Ireland.
[b] A kind of spade with but one step, used in Leinster.
[c] All that is said in this legend about the beer is a pure fiction, for we never heard of a Leprechaun drinking or smoking. It is, however, a tradition of the peasantry, that the Danes used to make beer of the heath. It was a Protestant farmer in the county of Cavan, that showed such knowledge of the siege of Derry; the Catholic gardener who told us this story, knew far better. It is also the popular belief that the Danes keep up their claim on Ireland, and that a Danish father, when marrying his daughter, gives her a portion in Ireland.