The beauty captivates you over and over again seeping down into the core of your being. The tortuous country roads, the rugged sea cliffs, the stark mountains are more than one can absorb in one day. The sheep-studded pastures carpeted with lush green grass invite not only the children to take a roll but also the adults. White fluffy sheep graze contently all over the hills and dales. There are no snakes in this place and only a few animals so no one walks in fear of being attacked. The icy streams winding through the tall green trees are waiting patiently for little feet to splash and laughter to echo through the forest.
This is Ireland and the home of Adolfo and his sister Willow. They have been given their daily chores and are at the moment lying in the green grass enjoying the bright warm sunshine. Cutting wood and feeding animals could wait for just a little while. After all they had not even washed the sleep from their eyes. Adolfo would feed most of the animals and cut the wood. Willow would gather the eggs and carry the wood onto the wooden porch. Each one knew what had to be done and that it had to be done before night fell.
Time passes quickly when you are enjoying the outdoors and so it did with Willow and Adolfo. Darkness had begun to fall and they were still far from home. The cool waters of the streams were so inviting they just simply had to take a dip.
“We must hurry! Mom will be worried sick if we are not home by dark and we have no wood ready for the fireplace.” Adolfo reminded his sister.
“Well we can just pick up some broken limbs on the way. I’ll just tell Mom there were no eggs in the hen house. So long as we are home before she has to turn on all the lights we should be fine.” Willow calmly assured her brother.
“What is that in the woods? Adolfo asked as he rubbed his eyes. “I do believe it is a fire burning. Perhaps we can walk over and see who is there. Maybe they will have some extra food. I haven’t eaten all day and my stomach is doing some tall talking.”
“Be careful Adolfo for Mama has cautioned us many times about walking upon strangers. You know we are not supposed to talk to them either.” Willow reminded her unconcerned sibling.
Before Willow could tie her shoes Adolfo was running into the woods towards the fire. As he walked closer he caught the glimpse of a little man all dressed in red and green. He wore a tall green hat and buckled shoes. It appeared he was making some shoes as he sang merrily. Adolfo had heard stories about these weird little men called leprechauns but he reckoned they were just Irish folklore. He had no idea that he would ever walk upon one. He also knew they had magic powers.
“Hello there! What are you doing out here all alone in the woods?” Adolfo called out as he neared the little man.
“Oh my goodness I had no idea anyone else was anywhere around here. I’ve been quite busy today trying to finish this pair of golden shoes for a queen.” He mumbled abruptly.
“Are you a real leprechaun or a goblin? I’ve heard lots of stories about creatures like you.” Adolfo asked as he looked around to see his sister behind him.
“Yep I reckon that is what I am. Folks get us all mixed up because few have ever really been this close to us. Goblins are evil spirits. I am not evil. I go about doing good things for others as I would imagine you would do as well.” The little man stuttered.
“Wow you have a very long beard and I am much taller than you are. Where did you ever get such a tall hat?” Adolfo asked trying to have all his questions answered as quickly as possible.
“All leprechaun’s wear this type of clothing. We make it ourselves with the help of a few fairies. What is it you want from me?” The little man asked fearfully.
“Oh we don’t want anything but perhaps some food. We stayed out here much longer than we should have and we are starving.” Willow smiled trying to assure the old man that they meant him no harm.
“I only have some vegetable soup but you are welcome to have a cup if you wish.” The little man reached into his sack and retrieved some cups made of tin. “Just dip the cup in the pot and get as much as you would like. It is a very healthy soup. I gathered all the roots, berries, and greens myself. It keeps us from getting sick all year long.” He continued as he rubbed his pot belly.
“Oh my where did you get such a beautiful green emerald ring? I’ll bet it cost a fortune. I’ve never seen such a large stone before.” Willow stepped closer to get a good look at the shiny ring adorning the little man’s finger.
“There are all kinds of stone at the end of the rainbow. I go there often to refill my pot of gold.” He stammered as he realized he should not have given his secret away. “When I rub this ring three times and make a wish it becomes a very powerful magic ring. One must be careful about asking for things that are trivial. Say what you mean and mean what you say is my philosophy.” The man in the red and green outfit mumbled.
“Pots of gold are there with lots of rubies and emeralds?” Willow inquired immediately.
“Well that is a whole other story. You better be sipping your soup. I’m sure you have a long walk home.” The leprechaun rubbed his face with a handkerchief for he suddenly became quite warm. He was not used to having visitors and especially visitors who asked so many questions about his belongings. Perhaps they were there to kill him and take his gold he thought to himself.
“Is it magic just like they say in the storybook?” Willow blurted out.
“Hurry up Willow and eat your soup. We have taken enough of this kind man’s time. We must be hurrying home.” Adolfo chimed in loudly hoping to change the course of the conversation.
“I wish we had a pot of gold. My father died leaving Mom and us alone. We barely have enough to get by with. Mom has to make most of our clothes out of flour sacks and such. Would you show us where your pot of gold is?” Willow asked rudely.
“Willow! Stop asking so many questions. It is none of your business about his gold or his ring. Just stop talking and hurry up. We are already in trouble for being this late.” Adolfo cautioned Willow.
“Well let me see!” The little man said stopping his work and putting his golden shoe aside.
“I’ll give you each three gold coins if you promise that you will never tell anyone that you saw me. If you should tell, then the coins will turn to dust and be worthless. If you keep your promise then you will both get a new coin each year. However I must remind you again that you can tell no one about me, my ring, or the gold coins. If you keep quiet, by the time you are grown up you will be wealthy. Do you think you can keep a secret for that long?” He smiled reaching his hand into his green sack.
“Oh yes I can!” Willow squealed. “I will never tell a soul about you or the coins but could you please find me a red ring like yours. I so love to wear rings on my fingers!” Willow’s eyes moved over her smooth bare fingers.
“I’ll be sure to look the next time I’m there. Should I find one I’ll be sure to leave it with your coin. Here again I must remind you that should you tell anyone about me, the coins or the ring, they will turn to dust. Is that understood?” He winked.
“Oh yes we understand. We will both grow old with this secret. Anyway who in his right mind would believe such a story? No one has ever really seen a leprechaun. They are only fairy tales for children.” Adolfo laughed. He was so excited he could barely get the words out of his mouth as he slipped the coins into his empty pocket.
So it came to be that Adolfo and Willow did keep the secret about the leprechaun. Each year as regular as clockwork the coin was deposited into a jar on their dresser. No one saw the leprechaun come or go. On Willow’s eighteenth birthday she was given a shining red ruby ring that she wears to this day.
Secrets are not meant to be told to others but few people can ever keep them. I’m sure most people who have actually seen a leprechaun could not keep it a secret and probably lost anything of value that was given to them.
Can you keep a secret? If so watch out for the little men wearing red and green who work very hard to make shoes of gold. You just might get lucky and find one who has a pot of gold and a ruby red ring to give away.
Question: Where did the leprechaun get his gold?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved