“Finding a fortune,” is a phrase often heard amongst the peasantry of Ireland. If any man from small beginnings arrives at wealth, in a reasonable course of time, the fact is scarcely ever considered as the result of perseverance, superior intelligence, or industry; it passes as a byword through the country that “he found a fortin”; whether by digging up a “crock o’ goold” in the ruins of an old abbey, or by catching a Leprechaun and forcing him to “deliver or die,” or discovering it behind an old wainscot, is quite immaterial: the when or where is equally unimportant, and the thousand are satisfied with the rumor, “He found a fortin.” Besides, going into particulars destroys romance,—and the Irish are essentially romantic,—and their love of wonder is more gratified in considering the change from poverty to wealth as the result of superhuman aid, than in attributing it to the mere mortal causes of industry and prudence.
The crone of every village has plenty of stories to make her hearers wonder, how fortunes have been arrived at by extraordinary short cuts; and as it has been laid down as an axiom, “That there never was a fool who had not a greater fool to admire him,” so there never was any old woman who told such stories without plenty of listeners.
Now, Darby Kelleher was one of the latter class, and there was a certain collioch1 who was an extensive dealer in the marvellous, and could supply “wholesale, retail, and for exportation” any customer such as Darby Kelleher, who not only was a devoted listener, but also made an occasional offering at the cave of the sibyl, in return for her oracular communications. This tribute generally was tobacco, as the collioch was partial to chewing the weed; and thus Darby returned a quid pro quo, without having any idea that he was giving a practical instance of the foregoing well-known pun.
Another constant attendant at the hut of the hag was Oonah Lenehan, equally prone to the marvellous with Darby Kelleher, and quite his equal in idleness. A day never passed without Darby and Oonah paying the old woman a visit. She was sure to be “at home,” for age and decrepitude rendered it impossible for her to be otherwise; the utmost limit of her ramble from her own chimney-corner being the seat of sods outside the door of her hut, where, in the summer time, she was to be found, so soon as the sunbeams fell on the front of her abode, and made the seat habitable for one whose accustomed vicinity to the fire rendered heat indispensable to comfort. Here she would sit and rock herself to and fro in the hot noons of July and August, her own appearance and that of her wretched cabin being in admirable keeping. To a fanciful beholder the question might have suggested itself, whether the hag was made for the hovel, or it for her; or whether they had grown into a likeness of one another, as man and wife are said to do, for there were many points of resemblance between them. The tattered thatch of the hut was like the straggling hair of its mistress, and Time, that had grizzled the latter, had covered the former with gray lichens. To its mud walls, a strong likeness was to be found in the tint of the old woman’s shrivelled skin; they were both seriously out of the perpendicular; and the rude mud and wicker chimney of the edifice having toppled over the gable, stuck out, something in the fashion of the doodeen, or short pipe, that projected from the old woman’s upper story; and so they both were smoking away from morning till night; and to complete the similitude sadly, both were poor,—both lonely,—both fast falling to decay.
Here were Darby Kelleher and Oonah Lenehan sure to meet every day. Darby might make his appearance thus:—
“Good morrow, kindly, granny.”
“The same to you, avick,” mumbled out the crone.
“Here’s some baccy for you, granny.”
“Many thanks to you, Darby. I didn’t lay it out for seeing you so airly, the day.”
“No, nor you wouldn’t neither, only I was passin’ this a way, runnin’ an arrand for the squire, and I thought I might as well step in and ax you how you wor.”
“Good boy, Darby.”
“Throth an’ it’s a hot day that’s in it, this blessed day. Phew! Faix, it’s out o’ breath I am, and mighty hot intirely; for I was runnin’ a’most half the way, bekase it’s an arrand, you see, and the squire towld me to make haste, and so I did, and wint acrass the fields by the short cut; and as I was passin’ by the owld castle, I remembered what you towld me awhile agon, granny, about the crock o’ goold that is there for sartin, if any one could come upon it.”
“An’ that’s thrue indeed, Darby, avick,—and never heerd any other the longest day I can remember.”
“Well, well! think o’ that!! O, then it’s he that’ll be the lucky fellow that finds it.”
“Thrue for you, Darby; but that won’t be antil it is laid out for some one to rise it.”
“Sure, that’s what I say to myself often; and why mightn’t it be my chance to be the man that it was laid out for to find it?”
“There’s no knowin’,” mumbled the crone, mysteriously, as she shook the ashes out of her tobacco-pipe, and replenished the doodeen with some of the fresh stock Darby had presented.
“Faix, an’ that’s thrue, sure enough. O, but you’ve a power o’ knowledge, granny!! Sure enough, indeed, there’s no knowin’; but they say there’s great virtue in dhrames.”
“That’s ondeniable, Darby,” said the hag, “and by the same token maybe you’d step into the house and bring me out a bit o’ ‘live turf2 to light my pipe.”
“To be sure, granny.” And away went Darby to execute the commission.
While he was raking, from amongst the embers on the hearth, a piece of turf sufficiently “alive” for the purpose, Oonah made her appearance outside the hut, and gave the usual cordial salutation to the old woman; just as she had done her civility, out came Darby, holding the bit of turf between the two extremities of an osier twig, bent double for the purpose of forming rustic tongs.
“Musha, an’ is that you, Darby?” said Oonah.
“Who else would it be?” said Darby.
“Why, you towld me over an hour agone, down there in the big field, that you wor in a hurry.”
“And so I am in a hurry, and wouldn’t be here, only I jist stepped in to say God save you to the mother here, and to light her pipe for her, the craythur.”
“Well, don’t be standin’ there, lettin’ the coal go black out, Darby,” said the woman; “but let me light my pipe at wanst.”
“To be sure, granny,” said Darby, applying the morsel of lighted ember to the bowl of her pipe, until the process of ignition had been effected. “And now, Oonah, my darlint, if you’re so sharp an other people, what the dickens brings you here, when it is mindin’ the geese in the stubbles you ought to be, and not here? What would the misthriss say to that, I wondher?”
“O, I left them safe enough, and they’re able to take care of themselves for a bit, and I wanted to ax the granny about a dhrame I had.”
“Sure, so do I,” said Darby; “and you know first come first sarved is a good owld sayin’. And so, granny, you own to it that there’s a power o’ vartue in dhrames?”
A long-drawn whiff of the pipe was all the hag vouchsafed in return.
“O, then, but that’s the iligant tabaccy! musha but it’s fine and sthrong, and takes the breath from one a’most, it’s so good. Long life to you Darby,—paugh!!”
“You’re kindly welkim, granny. An’ as I was sayin’ about the dhrames,—you say there’s a power o’ virtue in them.”
“Who says agin it?” said the hag, authoritatively, and looking with severity on Darby.
“Sure, an’ it’s not me you’d suspect o’ the like? I was only goin’ to say that myself had a mighty sharp dhrame last night, and sure I kem to ax you about the maynin’ av it.”
“Well, avic, tell us your dhrame,” said the hag, sucking her pipe with increased energy.
“Well, you see,” said Darby, “I dhremt I was goin’ along a road, and that all of a suddint I kem to crass roads, and you know there’s great vartue in crass roads.”
“That’s thrue, avourneen!—paugh!!—go an.”
“Well, as I was sayin’, I kem to the crass roads, and soon afther I seen four walls; now I think the four walls manes the owld castle.”
“Likely enough, avic.”
“O,” said Oonah, who was listening with her mouth as wide open as if the faculty of hearing lay there, instead of in her ears, “sure, you know the owld castle has only three walls, and how could that be it?”
“No matther for that,” said the crone, “it ought to have four, and that’s the same thing.”
“Well! well! I never thought o’ that,” said Oonah, lifting her hands in wonder; “sure enough, so it ought!”
“Go an, Darby,” said the hag.
“Well, I thought the greatest sight o’ crows ever I seen flew out o’ the castle, and I think that must mane the goold there is in it.”
“Did you count how many there was?” said the hag, with great solemnity.
“Faith, I never thought o’ that,” said Darby, with an air of vexation.
“Could you tell me, itself, wor they odd or even, avic?”
“Faix, an’ I could not say for sartin.”
“Ah, that’s it!!” said the crone, shaking her head in token of disappointment. “How can I tell the maynin’ o’ your dhrame, if you don’t know how it kem out exactly?”
“Well, granny, but don’t you think the crows was likely for goold?”
“Yis,—if they flew heavy.”
“Throth, then, an’ now I remimber they did fly heavy, and I said to myself there would be rain soon, the crows was flyin’ so heavy.”
“I wish you didn’t dhrame o’ rain, Darby.”
“Why, granny? What harm is it?”
“O, nothin’, only it comes in a crass place there.”
“But it doesn’t spile the dhrame, I hope?”
“O no. Go an.”
“Well, with that, I thought I was passin’ by Doolins the miller’s, and says he to me, ‘Will you carry home this sack o’ male for me?’ Now, you know, male is money, every fool knows!”
“And so I tuk the sack o’ male an my shouldher, and I thought the woight iv it was killin’ me, just as if it was a sack o’ goold.”
“Go an, Darby.”
“And with that I thought I met with a cat, and that, you know, manes an ill-nathur’d woman.”
“And says she to me, ‘Darby Kelleher,’ says she, ‘you’re mighty yollow, God bless you; is it the jandhers you have?’ says she. Now wasn’t that mighty sharp? I think the jandhers manes goold?”
“Yis, iv it was the yollow jandhers you dhremt iv, and not the black jandhers.”
“Well, it was the yollow jandhers.”
“Very good, avic; that’s makin’ a fair offer at it.”
“I thought so, myself,” said Darby, “more by token when there was a dog in my dhrame next; and that’s a frind, you know.”
“And he had a silver collar an him.”
“O, bad luck to that silver collar, Darby; what made you dhrame o’ silver at all?”
“Why, what harm?”
“O, I thought you knew bether nor to dhrame o’ silver; why, cushla machree, sure silver is a disappointment all the world over.”
“O murther!” said Darby, in horror, “and is my dhrame spylte by that blackguard collar?”
“Nigh hand indeed, but not all out. It would be spylte only for the dog, but the dog is a frind, and so it will be only a frindly disappointment, or maybe a fallin’ out with an acquaintance.”
“O, what matther,” said Darby, “so the dhrame is to the good still!!”
“The dhrame is to the good still; but tell me if you dhremt o’ three sprigs o’ sparemint at the ind iv it?”
“Why, then, now I could not say for sartin, bekase I was nigh wakin’ at the time, and the dhrame was not so clear to me.”
“I wish you could be sartin o’ that.”
“Why, I have it an my mind that there was sparemint in it, bekase I thought there was a garden in part iv it, and the sparemint was likely to be there.”
“Sure enough, and so you did dhrame o’ the three sprigs o’ sparemint?”
“Indeed, I could a’most make my book-oath that I dhremt iv it. I’m partly sartin, if not all out.”
“Well, that’s raysonable. It’s a good dhrame, Darby.”
“Do you tell me so!”
“‘Deed an’ it is, Darby. Now wait till the next quarther o’ the new moon, and dhrame again then, and you’ll see what’ll come of it.”
“By dad an’ I will, granny. O but it’s you has taken the maynin’ out of it beyant everything; and faix if I find the crock, it’s yourself won’t be the worse iv it; but I must be goin’, granny, for the squire bid me to hurry, or else I would stay longer wid you. Good mornin’ to you—good mornin’, Oonah! I’ll see you to-morrow some time, granny.” And off went Darby, leisurely enough.
The foregoing dialogue shows the ready credulity of poor Darby; but it was not in his belief of the “vartue of dhrames” that his weakness only lay. He likewise had a most extensive creed as regarded fairies of all sorts and sizes, and was always on the lookout for a Leprechaun. Now a Leprechaun is a fairy of peculiar tastes, properties, and powers, which it is necessary to acquaint the reader with. His taste as to occupation is very humble, for he employs himself in making shoes, and he loves retirement, being fond of shady nooks where he can sit alone and pursue his avocation undisturbed. He is quite a hermit in this respect, for there is no instance on record of two Leprechauns being seen together. But he is quite a beau in his dress, notwithstanding, for he wears a red square-cut coat, richly laced with gold, waistcoat and inexpressibles of the same, cocked hat, shoes, and buckles. He has the property of deceiving, in so great a degree, those who chance to discover him, that none have ever yet been known whom he has not overreached in the “keen encounter of the wits,” which his meeting with mortals always produces. This is occasioned by his possessing the power of bestowing unbounded wealth on whoever can keep him within sight until he is weary of the surveillance, and gives the ransom demanded, and to this end, the object of the mortal who is so fortunate as to surprise one is to seize him and never withdraw his eye from him, until the threat of destruction forces the Leprechaun to produce the treasure; but the sprite is too many for us clumsy-witted earthlings, and is sure, by some device, to make us avert our eyes, when he vanishes at once.
This Enchanted Cobbler of the meadows, Darby Kelleher was always on the lookout for. But though so constantly on the watch for a Leprechaun, he never had got even within sight of one, and the name of the Fairy-Finder was bestowed upon him in derision. Many a trick too was played upon him; sometimes a twig stuck amongst long grass, with a red rag hanging upon it, has betrayed Darby into a cautious observance and approach, until a nearer inspection, and a laugh from behind some neighboring hedge, have dispelled the illusion. But this, though often repeated, did not cure him, and no turkey-cock had a quicker eye for a bit of red, or flew at it with greater eagerness, than Darby Kelleher; and he entertained the belief that one day or other he would reap the reward of all his watching, by finding a Leprechaun in good earnest.
But that was all in the hands of Fate, and must be waited for; in the mean time there was the castle and the “crock o’ goold” for a certainty, and, under the good omens of the “sharp dhrame” he had, he determined on taking that affair in hand at once. For his companion in the labor of digging, and pulling the ponderous walls of the castle to pieces, he selected Oonah, who was, in the parlance of her own class, “a brave two-handed long-sided jack,” and as great a believer in dreams and omens as Darby himself; besides, she promised profound secrecy, and agreed to take a small share of the treasure for her reward in assisting to discover it.
For about two months Darby and Oonah labored in vain; but at last something came of their exertions. In the course of their work, when they occasionally got tired, they would sit down to rest themselves and talk over their past disappointments and future hopes. Now it was during one of these intervals of repose that Darby, as he was resting himself on one of the coign-stones of the ruin, suddenly discovered—that he was in love with Oonah.
Now Oonah happened to be thinking much in the same sort of way about Darby, at that very moment, and the end of the affair was, that Darby and Oonah were married the Sunday following.
The calculating Englishman will ask, Did he find the treasure before he married the girl? The unsophisticated boys of the sod never calculate on these occasions; and the story goes that Oonah Lenehan was the only treasure Darby discovered in the old castle. Darby’s acquaintances were in high glee on the occasion, and swore he got a great lob; for Oonah, be it remembered, was on the grenadier scale, or what in Ireland is called “the full of a door,” and the news spread over the country in some such fashion as this:—
“Arrah, an’ did you hear the news?”
“About Darby Kelleher.”
“What of him?”
“Sure he found a fairy at last.”
“Tare an ounty!”
“Thruth I’m tellin’ you. He’s married to Oonah Lenehan.”
“Ha! ha! ha! by the powers it’s she that is the rale fairy! musha, more power to you, Darby, but you’ve cotched it in airnest now!”
But the fairy he had caught did not satisfy Darby so far as to make him give up the pursuit for the future. He was still on the watch for a Leprechaun; and one morning, as he was going to his work, he stopped suddenly on his path, which lay through a field of standing corn, and his eye became riveted on some object with the most eager expression. He crouched, and crawled, and was making his way with great caution towards the point of his attraction, when he was visited on the back of the head with a thump that considerably disturbed his visual powers, and the voice of his mother, a vigorous old beldame, saluted his ear at the same time with a hearty, “Bad luck to you, you lazy thief, what are you slindging there for, when it’s minding your work you ought to be?”
“Whisht! whisht! mother,” said Darby, holding up his hand in token of silence.
“What do you mane, you omadhaun?”
“Mother, be quiet, I bid you! whisht! I see it!”
“What do you see?”
“Stoop down here. Straight forninst you, don’t you see it as plain as a pikestaff?”
“That little red thing.”
“Well, what of it?”
“See there, how it stirs. O murther! it’s goin’ to be off afore I can catch it. O murther! why did you come here at all, makin’ a noise and frightenin’ it away?”
“Frightenin’ what, you big fool?”
“The Leprechaun there. Whisht! it is quiet agin!”
“May the d——l run a huntin’ wid you for a big omadhaun; why, you born nath’ral, is it that red thing over there you mane?”
“Yis, to be sure it is; don’t spake so loud, I tell you.”
“Why, bad scran to you, you fool, it’s a poppy it is, and nothin’ else.” And the old woman went over to the spot where it grew, and plucking it up by the roots threw it at Darby, with a great deal of abuse into the bargain, and bade him go mind his work, instead of being a “slindging vagabone, as he was.”
It was some time after this occurrence, that Darby Kelleher had a meeting with a certain Doctor Dionysius Mac Finn, whose name became much more famous than it had hitherto been, from the wonderful events that ensued in consequence.
Of the doctor himself it becomes necessary to say something. His father was one Paddy Finn, and had been so prosperous in the capacity of a cow doctor, that his son Denis, seeing the dignity of a professor in the healing art must increase in proportion to the nobleness of the animal he operates upon, determined to make the human, instead of the brute creation, the object of his care. To this end he was assisted by his father, who had scraped some money together in his humble calling, and having a spice of ambition in him, as well as his aspiring son, he set him up in the neighboring village as an apothecary. Here Denny enjoyed the reputation of being an “iligant bone-setter,” and cracked skulls, the result of fair fighting, and whiskey fevers were treated by him on the most approved principles. But Denny’s father was gathered unto his fathers, and the son came into the enjoyment of all the old man’s money: this, considering his condition, was considerable, and the possession of a few hundred pounds so inflated the apothecary, that he determined on becoming a “Doctor” at once. For this purpose he gave up his apothecary’s shop, and set off—where do you think?—to Spain. Here he remained for some time, and returned to Ireland, declaring himself a full physician of one of the Spanish universities; his name of Denny Finn transformed into Doctor Dionysius Mac Finn, or, as his neighbors chose to call it, Mac Fun, and fun enough the doctor certainly gave birth to. The little money he once had was spent in his pursuit of professional honors, and he returned to his native place with a full title and an empty purse, and his practice did not tend to fill it. At the same time there was a struggle to keep up appearances. He kept a horse, or what he intended to be considered as such, but ’twas only a pony, and if he had but occasion to go to the end of the village on a visit, the pony was ordered on service. He was glad to accept an invitation to dinner wherever he had the luck to get one, and the offer of a bed, even, was sure to be accepted, because that insured breakfast the next morning. Thus poor Doctor Dionysius made out the cause; often asked to dinner from mingled motives of kindness and fun, for while a good dinner was a welcome novelty to the doctor, the absurdities of his pretension and manner rendered him a subject of unfailing diversion to his entertainers. Now he had gone the round of all the snug farmers and country gentlemen in the district, but at last he had the honor to receive an invitation from the squire himself, and on the appointed day Doctor Dionysius bestrode his pony, attired in the full dress of a Spanish physician, which happens to be red from head to foot, and presented himself at “The Hall.”
When a groom appeared to take his “horse” to the stable, the doctor requested that his steed might be turned loose into the lawn, declaring it to be more wholesome for the animal than being cooped up in a house; the saddle and bridle were accordingly removed, and his desire complied with.
The doctor’s appearance in the drawing-room, attired as he was, caused no small diversion, but attention was speedily called off from him by the announcement of dinner, that electric sound that stimulates a company at the same instant, and supersedes every other consideration whatsoever. Moreover, the squire’s dinners were notoriously good, and the doctor profited largely by the same that day, and lost no opportunity of filling his glass with the choice wines that surrounded him. This he did to so much purpose, that the poor little man was very far gone when the guests were about to separate.
At the doctor’s request the bell was rung, and his horse ordered, as the last remaining few of the company were about to separate, but every one of them had departed, and still there was no announcement of the steed being at the door. At length a servant made his appearance, and said it was impossible to catch the doctor’s pony.
“What do you mean by ‘catch’?” said the squire. “Is it not in the stable?”
Here an explanation ensued, and the squire ordered a fresh attempt to be made to take the fugitive; but, though many fresh hands were employed in the attempt, the pony baffled all their efforts; every manoeuvre usually resorted to on such occasions, was vainly put in practice. He was screwed up into corners, but no sooner was he there than, squealing and flinging up his heels, he broke through the blockade;—again his flank was turned by nimble runners, but the pony was nimbler still; a sieve full of oats was presented as an inducement, but the pony was above such vulgar tricks, and defied all attempts at being captured.
This was the mode by which the doctor generally secured the offer of a bed, and he might have been successful in this instance, but for a knowing old coachman who was up to the trick, and out of pure fun chose to expose it; so, bringing out a huge blunderbuss, he said, “Never mind,—just let me at him, and I’ll engage I’ll make him stand.”
“O my good man,” said the doctor, “pray don’t take so much trouble; just let me go with you.” And proceeding to the spot where the pony was still luxuriating on the rich grass of the squire’s lawn, he gave a low whistle, and the little animal walked up to his owner with as much tractability as a dog. The saddling and bridling did not take much time, and the doctor was obliged to renounce his hopes of a bed and to-morrow’s breakfast, and ride home,—or homewards, I should say, for it was as little his destiny as his wish to sleep at home that night: for he was so overpowered with his potations, that he could not guide the pony, and the pony’s palate was so tickled by the fresh herbage, that he wished for more of it, and finding a gate that led to a meadow open by the roadside, he turned into the field, where he very soon turned the doctor into a ditch, so that they had bed and board between them to their heart’s content.
The doctor and his horse slept and ate profoundly all night, and even the “rosy-fingered morn,” as the poets have it, found them in the continuance of their enjoyment. Now it happened that Darby Kelleher was passing along the path that lay by the side of the ditch where the doctor was sleeping, and on perceiving him, Darby made as dead a set as ever pointer did at game.
The doctor, be it remembered, was dressed in red. Moreover, he was a little man, and his gold-laced hat and ponderous shoe-buckles completed the resemblance to the being that Darby took him for. Darby was at last certain that he had discovered a Leprechaun, and amaze so riveted him to the spot, and anxiety made his pulse beat so fast, that he could not move nor breathe for some seconds. At last he recovered himself, and going stealthily to the spot where the doctor slept, every inch of his approach made him more certain of the reality of his prize; and when he found himself within reach of it, he made one furious spring, and flung himself on the unfortunate little man, fastening his tremendous fist on his throat, at the same time exclaiming in triumph, “Hurra!—by the hoky, I have you at last!!”
The poor little doctor, thus rudely and suddenly aroused from his tipsy sleep, looked excessively bewildered when he opened his eyes, and met the glare of ferocious delight that Darby Kelleher cast upon him, and he gurgled out, “What’s the matter?” as well as the grip of Darby’s hand upon his throat would permit him.
“Goold’s the matther,” shouted Darby,—”Goold!—Goold!!—Goold!!!”
“What about Goold?” says the doctor.
“Goold!—yallow goold—that’s the matther.”
“Is it Paddy Goold that’s taken ill again?” said the doctor, rubbing his eyes. “Don’t choke me, my good man; I’ll go immediately,” said he, endeavoring to rise.
“By my sowl, you won’t,” said Darby, tightening his hold.
“For mercy’s sake let me go!” said the doctor.
“Let you go indeed!—ow!—ow!”
“For the tender mercy—”
“Goold! goold! you little vagabone!”
“Well, I’m going, if you let me.”
“Divil a step.” And here he nearly choked him.
“Oh! murder!—for God’s sake!”
“Whisht!!—you thief,—how dar you say God, you divil’s imp!!!”
The poor little man, between the suddenness of his waking and the roughness of the treatment he was under, was in such a state of bewilderment, that for the first time he now perceived he was lying amongst grass and under bushes, and, rolling his eyes about, he exclaimed,—
“Where am I?—God bless me!”
“Whisht! you little cruked ottomy—by the holy farmer, if you say God agin, I’ll cut your throat.”
“What do you hold me so tight for?”
“Just for fear you’d vanish, you see. O, I know you well!”
“Then, my good man, if you know me so well, treat me with proper respect, if you please.”
“Divil send you respect. Respect indeed! that’s a good thing. Musha bad luck to your impidence, you thievin’ owld rogue.”
“Who taught you to call such names to your betters, fellow? How dare you use a professional gentleman so rudely?”
“O, do you hear this!!—a profissionil gintleman! Arrah, do you think I don’t know you, you little owld cobbler?”
“Cobbler! Zounds, what do you mean, you ruffian? Let me go, sirrah!” And he struggled violently to rise.
“Not a taste, ‘scure to the step you’ll go out o’ this till you give me what I want.”
“What do you want, then?”
“Ho! ho! so you’re a robber, sir; you want to rob me, do you?”
“Oh! what robbery it is!!—throth that won’t do, as cunnin’ as you think yourself; you won’t frighten me that way. Come, give it at wanst,—you may as well. I’ll never let go my grip o’ you antil you hand me out the goold.”
“‘Pon the honor of a gentleman, gold nor silver is not in my company. I have fourpence halfpenny in my breeches-pocket, which you are welcome to if you let go my throat.”
“Fourpence hapny!!! Why, then, do you think me sitch a gom, all out, as to put me off wid fourpence hapny; throth, for three sthraws, this minit I’d thrash you within an inch o’ your life for your impidence. Come, no humbuggin’; out with the goold!”
“I have no gold. Don’t choke me: if you murder me, remember there’s law in the land. You’d better let me go.”
“Not a fut. Gi’ me the goold, I tell you, you little vagabone!!” said Darby, shaking him violently.
“Don’t murder me, for Heaven’s sake!”
“I will murdher you if you don’t give me a hatful o’ goold this minit.”
“A hatful of gold! Why, whom do you take me for?”
“Sure I know you’re a Leprechaun, you desaiver o’ the world!”
“A Leprechaun!” said the doctor, in mingled indignation and amazement. “My good man, you mistake.”
“O, how soft I am! ‘Twon’t do, I tell you. I have you, and I’ll howld you; long I’ve been lookin’ for you, and I cotch you at last, and by the tarnal o’ war I’ll have your life or the goold.”
“My good man, be merciful—you mistake—I’m no Leprechaun; I’m Doctor Mac Finn.”
“That won’t do either! you think to desaive me, but ‘twon’t do;—just as if I didn’t know a docthor from a Leprechaun. Gi’ me the goold, you owld chate!”
“I tell you I’m Doctor Dionysius Mac Finn. Take care what you’re about!—there’s law in the land; and I think I begin to know you. Your name is Kelleher?”
“O, you cunnin’ owld thief! O, then, but you are the complate owld rogue; only I’m too able for you. You want to freken me, do you? O, you little scrap o’ deception, but you are deep!”
“Your name is Kelleher—I remember. My good fellow, take care; don’t you know I’m Doctor Mac Finn,—don’t you see I am?”
“Why thin but you have the dirty yollow pinched look iv him, sure enough; but don’t I know you’ve only put it an you to desaive me; besides, the doctor has dirty owld tatthers o’ black clothes an him, and isn’t as red as a sojer, like you.”
“That’s an accident, my good man.”
“Gi’ me the goold this minit, and no more prate wid you.”
“I tell you, Kelleher—”
“Howld your tongue, and gi’ me the goold.”
“By all that’s—”
“Will you give it?”
“How can I?”
“Very well. You’ll see what the ind of it ‘ill be,” said Darby, rising, but still keeping his iron grip of the doctor. “Now, for the last time, I ask you, will you gi’ me the goold? or, by the powers o’ wildfire, I’ll put you where you’ll never see daylight antil you make me a rich man.”
“I have no gold, I tell you.”
“Faix, then I’ll keep you till you find it,” said Darby, who tucked the little man under his arm, and ran home with him as fast as he could.
He kicked at his cabin door for admittance when he reached home, exclaiming,—
“Let me in! let me in! Make haste; I have him.”
“Who have you?” said Oonah, as she opened the door.
“Look at that!” said Darby in triumph; “I cotch him at last!”
“Weira then, is it a Leprechaun it is?” said Oonah.
“Divil a less,” said Darby, throwing down the doctor on the bed, and still holding him fast. “Open the big chest, Oonah, and we’ll lock him up in it, and keep him antil he gives us the goold.”
“Murder! murder!” shouted the doctor. “Lock me up in a chest!!”
“Gi’ me the goold, then, and I won’t.”
“My good man, you know I have not gold to give.”
“Don’t believe him, Darby jewel,” said Oonah; “them Leprechauns is the biggest liars in the world.”
“Sure I know that!” said Darby, “as well as you. Oh! all the throuble I’ve had wid him; throth only I’m aiqual to a counsellor for knowledge, he’d have namplushed me long ago.”
“Long life to you, Darby dear!”
“Mrs. Kelleher,” said the doctor.
“O Lord!” said Oonah, in surprise, “did you ever hear the like o’ that?—how he knows my name!”
“To be sure he does,” said Darby, “and why nat? sure he’s a fairy, you know.”
“I’m no fairy, Mrs. Kelleher. I’m a doctor,—Doctor Mac Finn.”
“Don’t b’lieve him, darlin’,” said Darby. “Make haste and open the chest.”
“Darby Kelleher,” said the doctor, “let me go, and I’ll cure you whenever you want my assistance.”
“Well, I want your assistance now,” said Darby, “for I’m very bad this minit wid poverty; and if you cure me o’ that, I’ll let you go.”
“What will become of me?” said the doctor in despair, as Darby carried him towards the big chest which Oonah had opened.
“I’ll tell you what’ll become o’ you,” said Darby, seizing a hatchet that lay within his reach; “by the seven blessed candles, if you don’t consint before night to fill that big chest full o’ goold, I’ll chop you as small as aribs (herbs) for the pot.” And Darby crammed him into the box.
“O Mrs. Kelleher, be merciful to me,” said the doctor, “and whenever you’re sick I’ll attend you.”
“God forbid!” said Oonah; “it’s not the likes o’ you I want when I’m sick;—attind me, indeed! bad luck to you, you little imp, maybe you’d run away with my babby, or it’s a Banshee you’d turn yourself into, and sing for my death. Shut him up, Darby; it’s not looky to be howldin’ discoorse wid the likes iv him.”
“Oh!” roared the doctor, as his cries were stifled by the lid of the chest being closed on him. The key was turned, and Oonah sprinkled some holy water she had in a little bottle that hung in one corner of the cabin over the lock, to prevent the fairy having any power upon it.
Darby and Oonah now sat down in consultation on their affairs, and began forming their plans on an extensive scale, as to what they were to do with their money, for have it they must, now that the Leprechaun was fairly in their power. Now and then Darby would rise and go over to the chest, very much as one goes to the door of a room where a naughty child has been locked up, to know “if it be good yet,” and giving a thump on the lid would exclaim, “Well, you little vagabone, will you gi’ me the goold yet?”
A groan and a faint answer of denial was all the reply he received.
“Very well, stay there; but, remember, if you don’t consint before night I’ll chop you to pieces.” He then got his bill-hook, and began to sharpen it close by the chest, that the Leprechaun might hear him; and when the poor doctor heard this process going forward, he felt more dead than alive; the horrid scraping of the iron against the stone being interspersed with occasional interjectional passages from Darby, such as, “Do you hear that, you thief? I’m gettin’ ready for you.” Then away he’d rasp at the grindstone again, and, as he paused to feel the edge of the weapon, exclaim, “By the powers, I’ll have it as sharp as a razhir.”
In the mean time it was well for the prisoner that there were many large chinks in the chest, or suffocation from his confinement would have anticipated Darby’s pious intentions upon him; and when he found matters likely to go so hard with him, the thought struck him at last of affecting to be what Darby mistook him for, and regaining his freedom by stratagem.
To this end, when Darby had done sharpening his bill-hook, the doctor replied, in answer to one of Darby’s summonses for gold, that he saw it was in vain longer to deny giving it, that Darby was too cunning for him, and that he was ready to make him the richest man in the country.
“I’ll take no less than the full o’ that chest,” said Darby.
“You’ll have ten times the full of it, Darby,” said the doctor, “if you’ll only do what I bid you.”
“Sure I’ll do anything.”
“Well, you must first prepare the mystificand-herum-brandherum.”
“Tare an ouns, how do I know what that is?”
“Silence, Darby Kelleher, and attend to me: that’s a magical ointment, which I will show you how to make; and whenever you want gold, all you have to do is to rub a little of it on the point of a pickaxe or your spade, and dig wherever you please, and you will be sure to find treasure.”
“O, think o’ that! faix, an’ I’ll make plenty of it, when you show me. How is it made?”
“You must go into the town, Darby, and get me three things, and fold them three times in three rags torn out of the left side of a petticoat that has not known water for a year.”
“Faith, I can do that much, anyhow,” said Oonah, who began tearing the prescribed pieces out of her undergarment.
“And what three things am I to get you?”
“First bring me a grain of salt from a house that stands at cross-roads.”
“Crass roads!” said Darby, looking significantly at Oonah. “By my sowl, but it’s my dhrame’s comin’ out!”
“Silence, Darby Kelleher,” said the doctor with great solemnity; “mark me, Darby Kelleher.” And then he proceeded to repeat a parcel of gibberish to Darby, which he enjoined him to remember, and repeat again; but as Darby could not, the doctor said he should only write it down for him, and, tearing a leaf from his pocket-book, he wrote in pencil a few words, stating the condition he was in, and requesting assistance. This slip of paper he desired Darby to deliver to the apothecary in the town, who would give him a drug that would complete the making of the ointment.
Darby went to the apothecary’s as he was desired, and it happened to be dinner-time when he arrived. The apothecary had a few friends dining with him, and Darby was detained until they chose to leave the table, and go, in a body, to liberate the poor little doctor. He was pulled out of the chest amidst the laughter of his liberators and the fury of Darby and Oonah, who both made considerable fight against being robbed of their prize. At last the doctor’s friends got him out of the house, and proceeded to the town to supper, where the whole party kept getting magnificently drunk, until sleep plunged them into dizzy dreams of Leprechauns and Fairy-Finders.
The doctor for some days swore vengeance against Darby, and threatened a prosecution; but his friends recommended him to let the matter rest, as it would only tend to make the affair more public, and get him nothing but laughter for damages.
As for Darby Kelleher, nothing could ever persuade him that it was not a real Leprechaun he had caught, which by some villanous contrivance, on the Fairy’s part, changed itself into the semblance of the doctor; and he often said the great mistake he made was “givin’ the little vagabone so much time, for that if he had done right he’d have set about cutting his throat at wanst.”
1 Old woman.
2 In Ireland the tobacco in a pipe is very generally ignited by the application of a piece of burning turf, or, as it is figuratively called, ‘live turf.