THE LEPRECHAUN IN THE GARDEN
THERE's a sort a' people that every body must have met wid sumtime or another. I mane thim people that purtinds not to b'lieve in things that in their hearts they do b'lieve in, an' are mortially afeard o' too. Now Failey [a] Mooney was one o' these. Failey (iv any o' yez knew him) was a rollockin', rattlin', divil-may-care sort ov a chap like--but that 'a neither here nor there; he was always talkin' one nonsinse or another; an' among the rest o' his fooleries, he purtinded not to b'lieve in the fairies, the Leprechauns, an' the Poocas, an' he evin sumtimes had the impedince to purtind to doubt o' ghosts, that every body b'lieves in, at any rate. Yit sum people used to wink an' luk knowin' whin Failey was gostherin', fur it was obsarved that he was mighty shy o' crassin' the foord a' Ahnamoe afther nightfall; an' that whin onst he was ridin' past the ould church o' Tipper in the dark, tho' he'd got enough o' pottheen into him to make any man stout, he med the horse trot so that there was no keepin' up wid him, an' iv'ry now an' thin he'd throw a sharp luk-out ovir his lift shouldher.
Well, one night there was a parcel o' the neighbours sittin' dhrinkin' an' talkin' at Larry Rielly's public-house, an' Failey was one o' the party. He was, as usual, gittin' an wid his nonsinse an' baldherdash about the fairies, an' swearin' that he didn't b'lieve there was any live things, barrin' min an' bastes, an' birds and fishes, an' sich like things as a body cud see, and he wint on talkin' in so profane a way o' the good people, that som o' the company grew timid an' begun to crass thimsilves, not knowin' what might happin', whin an ould woman called Mary Hogan wid a long blue cloak about her, that was sittin' in the chimbly corner smokin' her pipe widout takin' the laste share in the conversations tuk the pipe out o' her mouth, an' threw the ashes out o' it, an' spit in the fire, an' turnin' round, luked Failey straight in the face. "An' so you don't b'lieve there 's sich things as Leprechauns, don't ye?" sed she.
Well, Failey luked rayther daunted, but howsumdivir he sed nothin'. "Why, thin, upon my throth, an' it well becomes the likes a' ye, an' that 's nothin' but a bit uv a gossoon, to take upon yer to purtind not to b'lieve what yer father, an' yer father's father, an' his father dare him, nivir med the laste doubt uv. But to make the matther short, seein' 's b'lievin' they say, an' I, that might be yer gran'mother, tell ye there is sich 'things as Leprechauns, an' what 'a more, that I mysilf sedn one o' thim,--there 'a fur ye, now!"
All the people in the room luked quite surprised at this, an' crowded up to the fireplace to listen to her. Failey thried to laugh, but it wouldn't do, nobody minded him.
"I remimber," sed she, "some time afther I married the honest man, that 's now dead and gone, it was by the same token jist a little afore I lay in o' my first child (an' that 'a many a long day ago), I was sittin', as I sed, out in our little bit a' a gardin, wid my knittin' in my hand, watchin' sum bees we had that war goin' to swarm. It was a fine sunshiny day about the middle o' June, an' the bees war hummin' and flyin' backwards an' forwards frum the hives, an' the birds war chirpin' an' hoppin' an the bushes, an' the buttherflies war flyin' about an' sittin' an the flowers, an' ev'ry thing smelt so fresh an' so sweet, an' I felt so happy, that I hardly knew whare I was. Well, all uv a suddint, I heard among sum rows of banes we had in a corner o' the gardin, a n'ise that wint tick tack tick tack, jist fur all the world as iv a brogue-maker was puttin' an the heel uv a pump. 'The Lord presarve us,' sed I to mysilf, 'what in the world can that be?' So I laid down my knittin', an' got up, an' stole ovir to the banes, an' nivir believe me iv I didn't see, sittin' right forenint me, in the very middle of thim, a bit of an ould man, not a quarther so big as a newborn child, wid a little' cocked hat an his head, an' a dudeen in his mouth, smokin' away; an' a plain, ould-fashioned, dhrab-coloured coat, wid big brass buttons upon it, an his back, an' a pair o' massy silver buckles in his shoes, that a'most covered his feet they war so big, an' be workin' away as hard as ivir he could, heelin' a little pair o' pumps. The instant minnit I clapt my two eyes upon him I knew him to be a Leprechaun, an' as I was stout an' foolhardy, sez I to him ' God save ye honist man! that 's hard work ye 're at this hot day.' He luked up in my face quite vexed like; so wid that I med a run at him an' cotch hould o' him in my hand, an' axed him whare was his purse o' money! 'Money?' sed he, 'money annagh! an' whare on airth id a poor little ould crathur like myself git money?' 'Come, come,' sed I, 'none o' yer thricks upon thravellers; doesn't every body know that Leprechauns, like ye, are all as rich as the dlvil himsilf.' So I pulled out a knife I'd in my pocket, an' put on as wicked a face as ivir I could (an' in throth, that was no aisy matther fur me thin, fur I was as comely an' good-humoured a lukin' girl as you'd see frum this to Ballitore)--an' swore by this and by that, if 'he didn't instantly gi' me his purse, or show me a pot o' goold, I'd cut the nose aft his face. Well, to be shure, the little man did luk so frightened at hearin' these words, that I a'most found it in my heart to pity the poor little crathur. 'Thin,' sed he, 'come wid me jist a couple o' fields aft, an' I'll show ye whare I keep my money.' So I wint, still houldin' him fast in my hand, an' keepin' my eyes fixed upon him, whin all o' a suddint I h'ard.a whiz-z behind me. 'There! there! cries he, 'there's yer bees all swarmin' an' goin' aff wid thimsilves like blazes.' I, like a fool as I was, turned my head round, an' whin I seen nothin' at all, an' luked back at the Leprechaun, an' found nothin' at all at all in my hand--fur whin l had the ill luck to take my eyes aff him, ye see, he slipped out o' my fingers jist as iv he was med o' fog or smoke, an' the sarra the fut he iver, come nigh my garden again."
[a] i. e. Felix. On account of the Romish custom of naming after Saints, Felix, Thaddaeus, Terence, Augustine, etc., are common names among the peasantry.