If you’re Irish, you’ve heard all sorts of tales about the leprechauns. This was one of the strangest that ever came my way.
The one-eyed leprechaun O’Toole was an old warrior who’d seen more than his share of battles. He was tired of all the war and very little of being left in peace. In his younger days, there wasn’t a tussle he wouldn’t go out of his way to find. He’d been in so many scraps he’d come to be known by the others of his breed as especially mean-tempered. And many of these quarrelsome altercations he’d fought were in defense of what was rightfully his, his precious bag of gold.
Yet here it was a fine spring day in the Glen of Cloongallon and there was another Irishman slogging along on the path below O’Toole’s hidden green cottage and he’d come looking for trouble. Of that, the leprechaun was sure. As sure as Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland, he was wanting the leprechaun’s gold. And he was loud, so loud he could be heard all the way to Dublin and back. They were always noisy, these greedy knuckleheaded humans after his treasure. There was not getting around it. O’Toole and his solitude was not to be left alone
Though his muscles ached and he wasn’t as young as he used to be, O’Toole, being O’Toole, couldn’t let a challenge like this go by the wayside. He set aside his pipe and his hammer and the shoe he’d been working on and rose from his wooden chair. He took a quick gulp from a mug of poteen, strapped on his short sword and stepped through the cottage door.
He looked to the sky and sure enough there was a rainbow. He walked past the hawthorn, the ash, and the blackthorn hedges and between the chestnuts toward the man. He was a tall muscular man, all dressed in green, with a shillelagh in his right hand. He called himself Darcy and he stood by the six large standing stones. The leprechaun stopped aways off from the man. Then he drew his sword.
“What is it ye’ll be wanting, Muscles?” O’Toole called.
“I’ll be a-needing yer gold, Leprechaun,” Darcy answered. “Where there’s a rainbow, there must be a leprechaun and his gold.”
“Me? A leprechaun?” O’Toole laughed. “There’s no fairy folk here.”
“That’s not what I’m a-believing. I would be a-guessing ye’re one of the wee people yer own self, tain’t ye?”
“I’m a-telling ye none of the folk ye’re seeking are here in the meadow.” O’Toole swung his sword twice.
“I been chasing that there rainbow for a dozen or so years and here’s the end of it, right here in yer parlor. Ye’re not denying it, are ye?”
“It’s not me parlor. I just happened along.”
Darcy laughed as he pounded the end of the shillelagh against his left palm.
“Be that or not, I’ll be taking yer gold, and I’ll be taking it now.” Darcy started toward O’Toole.
“What will it be worth to ye? Yer own sweet life?”
“That and all me ancestors, as well.” Darcy continued to advance.
“Stop there, or it’s yer head. There’s many a headless chucklehead walking around in this dale. Here ye’ll be one more ghost for the banshees to chase.”
“Ye think ye’ll be about to keep ye head out of the way of me shillelagh?” Darcy asked as he stopped and reflected upon the circumstances that he and O’Toole found themselves in.
“Club or no, ye’ll be a dead chucklehead.”
Darcy raised his stick and O’Toole raised his sword. The two stood there eye to eye and waiting. The leprechaun knew he could defeat the chucklehead before him, but what was the point? He was tired and his muscles ached and there would be others. There were always others. There was no stopping them. As much as he loved his gold, it was a curse. O’Toole lowered his sword.
“So, ye wants me gold? And ye’re about to die for it.”
“Live or die, it’ll be mine.”
“And yer ancestors, knuckle-brain?”
“They’ll die for it too.”
O’Toole sheathed his sword and reached behind himself. When he turned back toward Darcy, he had a large bag of gold in his hand. He dropped it into Darcy’s palm. Then he said, “Take the gold and all the troubles that will beseech ye because of it.”
With that, the old leprechaun turned and walked away happy.