TOM PEARCE AND THE LEPRECHAUN
One cold winter evening as Tom Pearce was heading for home, he heard a curious tapping sound close by, and a cheerful whistling coming from under the hedge. As quiet as a mouse he crept up and what should he find but a little leprechaun no taller than his knee, sat cross-legged on a pile of stones and tapping away at a tiny shoe. Such a racket was the little fellow making that he never heard Tom arrive. So Tom quickly reached out and caught him fast.
'Let me go! Let me go!' shrieked the leprechaun. 'What have I done to have you grab me so rudely?'
'Nothing yet' replied Tom, 'but it's a lot I'm hoping you'll be able to do for me before I let you go. Now let's be having your magic purse that never runs short of gold.'
'Damn me, I must be getting careless,' grumbled the leprechaun. 'That's the third time this week I've been caught and they all want the same thing, me magic purse, me magic purse. I have no purse! It's been robbed from me already.'
'All right then' said Tom, who had been taught not to be too soft with a leprechaun, 'then tell me where there's some treasure buried nearby.'
'Hasn't that also been taken already?' cried the leprechaun. 'I've been caught so often by lummocks like you that there's no treasure left in the county.'
'What about the three wishes then?' asked Tom.
The leprechaun looked cross. 'So you know about the wishes then?' he asked sulkily.
'I know all about leprechauns, me little feller. Why do you think I'm only blinking the one eye at a time. Don't I know that if I take both eyes off you for a second you'll just vanish.'
'All right then,' said the leprechaun at last. You can have the three wishes. But if you want my advice you'll think carefully before making them. It's not as simple as you think, wishing for anything in the world.'
So Tom looked thoughtfully up at the sky where the stars were just beginning to twinkle and the moon was rising out of the clouds. And of course when he looked back he held nothing in his hand but the stump of a gorse bush.