The Field of Ragweed
They say that in Ireland you will enjoy all four seasons in a day, but on this day the four seasons were high and glorious summer, or so it seemed to Tom Fitzpatrick as he walked along a narrow road between two tall hedges in harvest time. As he walked, he chanced to hear a strange ringing like a tiny bell, and he paused, puzzled as to what it might be. Perhaps a calf had strayed and gotten stuck, he thought, and he peered sharply into the bushes to see what he could see.
Well, it was no calf that greeted him but in a nearby corner of the hedge a great wooden mug, almost as tall as the little old man sitting on a stool beside it! The man himself was small as a child, wearing a mottled leather apron and with a little red hat on his head, cocked jaunty-wise, and he tip-tapped on the heel of a shoe laid before him, stopping occasionally to sup from the enormous mug.
“Well,” said Tom to himself, “I never believed in all my life I'd ever see the likes of this! For what is it but a leprechaun, just as my granny used to talk about after a taste of the good stuff! If I keep my wits about me, I'm a made man.”
So he crept up and crept in, eyes fixed on the little fellow, and he said over his shoulder, “God bless your work, my friend!”
The little man looked up and said “Well and thanks to you for the blessing, but better not to mention Himself!”
“Aren't you working hard for the weekend,” said Tom.
“That's my own business,” came the reply.
“Well tell me then since we're chatting, what do you have in that huge mug beside you.”
“What else but beer!” said the little man.
“But where did you come by that much beer in this hedge?” asked Tom wonderingly.
“Why I made it, of course, and what do you think I made it from?” asked the little man with a knowing look on his face.
“I'm no brewer,” said Tom, “but I reckon its made of malt and hops!”
“You missed your kick there my friend,” said the little man, “for it is made out of grass and fresh green leaves!”
Tom burst out laughing and asked who'd ever heard of such a thing.
“Believe it if you like,” said the little man, “but my father's father learned the trick from the Old People of Ireland, and they have given the secret to myself alone.”
“Is there any chance of a sup,” said Tom, “for I've a keen thirst on me this hot day.”
“More fit for you, young man,” replied the leprechaun, “if you keep an eye on your father's land instead of bothering decent quiet folk about their own business! See, look the cows have broken into the oats and are eating their fill.”
Almost then did Tom look around but just in time he caught himself, remembering that you should never take your eyes off the little folk or they'd be gone, so instead he made a grab for the man and took hold of his apron! But in his haste he knocked over the huge mug and never got a taste, for all that spilled out was leaves and grass.
Angry now, Tom raised up the little man to his own height and swore he'd do him a wicked mischief if he wasn't led to a pot of gold as quick as you like. Frightened, the leprechaun led him to an enormous field of ragweed, and pointed to a large stalk.
“That's the one,” he said, “dig beneath that and you'll find a pot of rich gold the size of your own head twice over, that would have a pirate singing!” But Tom had no shovel and the earth was hard packed, so he took off a red ribbon from his clothes and tied it around the ragweed.
“Mind you don't touch that now, nor the weed either,” he pointed a threatening finger at the little man, “while I go back and get a shovel! If you promise me this, you can go.”
“You have my word,” said the little man, “go and get your shovel, and much good may it do you.”
So Tom ran like the wind and fetched a good shovel from his house, but when he got back to the field of ragweed what did he find but every weed in the entire field had a red ribbon tied about it, the very same as his own. He had no notion of digging up the entire field, for it was forty long acres if it was an inch, so back home he went, slower than he'd left it, and blackened the air with curses at the leprechaun's turn.
Below on the map is marked near to a leprechaun pub, or so some say.
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