Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day- an Irish Tale

The short story of Conn O’Shea

Conn O’Shea knew he’d had a bit more to drink than he should have. He felt himself stagger and his mind was foggy as he made his way down the overgrown path of the shortcut through the woods. He needed to get home from the pub before his dear wife, Deirdre, sent out a search party. The trees and brush seemed to take on a life of their own on this eerie, overcast night. The moon and stars were hidden beyond the cloud cover. It made the forest more dark and damp than usual. When he first noticed movement in a clump of bushes, he paid little attention.

***

“Deirdre, Deirdre, where are ye?” Conn called out when he pushed open his front door. “Come here, woman, I ‘ave somethin’ to tell ye!”

With a towel in her hands and a scowl on her round face, Deirdre came into the front room from the kitchen area. “Well, if it isn’t about time ye showed yerself! Where have ye been for so long?” Her voice snapped and her eyes were full of anger.

“Don’t be mad, me love. Jus’ let me tell ye!” He pulled her to the couch and sat her down beside him. “I was comin’ down the path through the woods when I saw a movement out of me right eye. I kept me goin, not thinkin’ much of it, ‘til I ‘eard the music. It twas a faint sound at first, on me motha if it wasn’t. I frowned and stepped lightly to make me way round the nearest bush. There before me very eyes was about a dozen little people havin’ themselves a wee old time. Playing the music, and dancin,’ and drinkin’ the night away. I shook me head and rubbed me eyes, finding it hard to believe what I was seein’!”

“What a story… a bunch of blarney for excuses to be so late!” Deirdre was not buying any of it.

“Naw,‘tis the truth, so ‘elp me, jus’ listen. It took me only a second to realize these little people, no bigger than two foot high they were, ‘ad to be the leprechauns. I saw thar pointed ears an turned up toes, an I knew I ‘ad me a chance to catch one! Ever so quiet, I got closar. I ‘ad jus’ moved me arms to grab the closest one, when they saw me. I got holt of the little fella an’ all the rest disappeared into thin air. He tried to get away, oh, how he tried, but I ‘eld on tight and I ner let go of ‘im.”

Deirdre stared deeply into her husband’s eyes. Can any of this be the truth, she wondered. Still suspicious she asked, “What happened next? Tell me more.”

“When he figured out it was no use, he asked me, “What will it be then, will ye take my pot of gold to set me free?”

“Well, I thought quick, ya know, and I says, ‘it will take the three wishes, that’s what it will take, and nothing less.’”

“But with a pot of gold, you can buy anything you could wish for. Let’s have done with the bargain.”

“No,” says I firmly, “I’ll have all three wishes, if ye please.”

The wee man shook his head. “You may be sorry, but if it’s the three wishes you want you shall have them. Make the first right now. Then call out for me when you are ready for the second. I’m bound by my word to come to you.”

“Not trusting him to stay, I kept hold of him with a strong grasp. I thought carefully, so I wouldn’t be tricked. Then I said, ‘I wish for enough gold put in my barn than I could ever need in the rest of my life.’”

He blinked and nodded his head. “It is there. Now you must let me go.”

“Not until I see it with me own eyes, me little friend. It’s not far, you come along.” When we went into the barn it fairly glowed from the shine of gold. We are rich beyond our dreams, me love!” He reached into his pocket and put a hand full of gold coins into his wife’s palm.

It didn’t take long for everyone from miles around to hear of Conn’s good fortune. And it seemed they all had dire need for financial help. Conn, the generous man he was, gladly helped them out. Sooner than he could know, his gold was all but gone. Angry that he ran out of money, he yelled, “Leprechaun come here!”

In the blink of an eye, the little red bearded man in the green suit of clothes appeared. He looked at Conn. “What will it be this time?”

“You didn’t keep your word,” Conn accused. “My gold has run out and I still have years to live!”

“You wished for more gold put in your barn than ye could ever need in the rest of yer life. I put that much there. If you used more than you needed, that’s your own fault.”

“Oh,” Conn said. “Then for my second wish I want enough gold that I will never run out no matter how I spend it!”

“It is done,” the leprechaun said, and he faded away.

As time went by, more and more people heard about Conn and his gold. It seemed that everyday there was a long line of people at his door to tell him their story of woe. Conn’s life was full of grief and sorrow, and beggars asking for help. When he could stand no more, he called back the leprechaun.

“This is your third and last wish. Remember, I will not come to ye again.” The wee gentleman grinned with glee.

Then I must be more careful what I ask for this time, Conn thought to himself. He looked into the pudgy face of his benefactor and said, “Things have not turned out at all as I had in mind. Life has become a burden. There are times I wish I had never found you!”

“So it shall be!” The leprechaun disappeared for the final time.

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