THE THREE LEPRECHAUNS

Mrs. L. having heard that Molly Toole, an old woman who held a few acres of land from Mr. L., had seen Leprechauns, resolved to visit her, and learn the truth from her own lips. Accordingly, one Sunday, after church, she made her appearance in Molly's residence, which was--no very common thing--extremely neat and comfortable.

As she entered everything looked gay and cheerful. The sun shone bright in through the door on the earthen floor. Molly was seated at the far side of the fire in her arm-chair; her daughter Mary, the prettiest gfirl on the lands, was looking to the dinner that was boiling; and her son Mickey, a young man of about two-and-twenty, was standing lolling with his back against the dresser.

The arrival of the mistress disturbed the stillness that had hitherto prevailed. Mary, who was a great favourite, hastened to the door to meet her, and shake hands with her. Molly herself had nearly got to the middle of the floor when the mistress met her, and Mickey modestly staid where he was till he should catch her attention.

"O then, musha! but isn't it a glad sight for my old eyes to see your own self under my roof? Mary, what ails you, girl? and why don't you go into the room and fetch out a good chair for the mistress to sit down upon and rest herself?"

"'Deed faith, mother, I'm so glad I don't know what I'm doing. Sure you know I did not see the mistress since she came down afore."

Mickey now caught Mrs. L.'s eye, and she asked him how he did.

"By Gorra, bravely, ma'am, thank you," said he, giving himself a wriggle, while his two hands and the small of his back rested on the edge of the dresser.

"Now, Mary, stir yourself," said the old woman, "and get out the bread and butter. Sure you know the mistress can't but be hungry after her walk."

"O, never mind it, Molly; it's too much trouble."

"Trouble, indeed! it's as nice butter, ma'am, as ever you put a tooth in; and it was Mary herself that made it."

"O, then I must taste it."

A nice half griddle of whole-meal bread and a print of fresh butter were now preoduced, and Molly helped the mistress with her own hands. As she was eating, Mary kept looking in her face, and at last she said:

"Ah then, mother, doesn't the mistress look mighty well? Upon my faikins, ma'am, I never seen you looking half so handsome."

"Well! and why wouldn't she look well? And never will she look better nor be better nor I wish her."

"Well, Molly, I think I may return the compliment, for Mary is prettier than ever; and as for yourself, I really believe it's young again you're growing."

"Why, God be thanked, ma'am, I'm stout and hearty; and though I say it myself, there's not an old woman in the county can stir about better nor me, and I'm up every morning at the peep of day, and rout them all up out of their beds. Don't I?" said she, looking at Mary.

"Faith, and sure you do, mother," replied Mickey; "and before the peep of day, too; for you have no mercy in you at all at all."

"Ah, in my young days," continued the old woman, "people weren't slugabeds; out early, home late--that was the way with them."

"And usedn't people to see Leprechauns in them days, mother?" said Mickey, laughing.

"Hold your tongue, you saucy cub, you," cried Molly; "what do you know about them?"

"Leprechauns?" said Mrs. L., gladly catching at the opportunity; "did people really, Molly, see Leprechauns in your young days?"

"Yes, indeed, ma'am; some people day they did," replied Molly, very composedly.

"O come now, mother," cried Mickey, "don't think to be going it upon us that way; you know you seen them one time yourself, and you had not the gumption in you to catch them, and get their crocks of gold from them."

"Now, Molly, is that really true that you saw the Leprechauns?"

"'Deed, and I did, ma'am; but this boy's always laughing at me about them, and that makes me rather shy of talking of them."

"Well, Molly, I won't laugh at you; so, come, tell me how you saw them."

"Well, ma'am, you see it was when I was just about the age of Mary, there. I was coming home late one Monday evening from the market; for my aunt Kitty, God be merciful to her! kept me to take a cup of tea. It was in the summer-time you see, ma'am, much about the middle of June, and it was through the fields I came. Well, ma'am, as I said, it was late in the evening, that is, the sun was near going down, and the light was straight in my eyes, and I came along through the bog-meadow; for it was shortly after I married to him that's gone, and we were living in this very house that you're now in; and then when I came to the castle-field--the pathway you know, ma'am, goes right through the middle of it--and it was then as fine a field of wheat, just shot out, as you'd wish to look at; and it was a pretty sight to see it waving so beautifully with every air of wind that was going over it, dancing to the music of a thrush, that was singing down below in the hedge. Well, ma'am, I crossed over the style that's there yet, and went along fair and easy, till I was near about the middle of the field, when something made me cast my eyes to the ground, a little before me; and then I saw, as sure as I'm sitting here, no less nor three of the Leprechauns, all bundled together like so many tailors, in the middle of the path before me. They were not hammering their pumps, or making any kind of noise whatever; but there they were, the three little fellows, with their cocked hats upon them, and their legs gothered up under them, working at their trade as hard as may be. If you were only to see, ma'am, how fast their little elbows went as they pulled out their ends! Well, every one of them had his eye cocked upon me, and their eyes were as bright as the eye of a frog, and I could not stir one step from the spot for the life of me. So I turned my head round, and prayed to the Lord in his mercy to deliver me from them, and when I went to look at them again, ma'am, not a sight of them was to be seen: they were gone like a dream."

"But, Molly, why did you not catch them?"

"I was afeard, ma'am, that's the truth of it; but maybe I was as well without them. I never heard tell of a Leprechaun yet that was not too many for any one that cotch him."

"Well, and Molly, do you think there are any Leprechauns now?"

"It's my belief, ma'am, they're all gone out of the country, clever and clean, along with the Fairies; for I never hear tell now of them at all."

Mrs. L. having now attained her object, after a little more talk with the good old woman, took her leave, attended by Mary, who would see her a piece of the way home. And Mary being asked what she thought of the Leprechauns, confessed her inability to give a decided opinion; her mother, she knew, was incapable of telling a lie, and yet she had her doubts if there ever were such things as Leprechauns.

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Revised: March 03, 1999.