In celebration of one of my favourite holidays, here's a little story for you. :-)
What the Leprechaun Said
Fiona sat in her favourite spot under the whitethorn tree, her back resting against its gnarled trunk. The tree grew from the center of what her Gran considered the wild garden, the part of the garden reserved for the wee folk.
It was going to break her heart to have to say goodbye to the place. The letter from the bank had been a total shock; this property had been in the family for generations. She was just glad Gran wasn't around to see it come to this.
"Fee? You out here?"
"Over here," she called back, hastily wiping away her tears.
She was joined by her friends Tammy and Gillian, who sat down, one on either side of her. They'd been friends forever. Even after they grew up and went their separate ways in college - Gillian into finance, Tammy into teaching, and Fiona into art - they'd stayed close.
"I don't know why you love this old tree so much," Tammy said. "It's so scraggly looking." "Gran's Gran planted this tree the day she arrived from the old country. Gran told me she used to meet the wee man under this tree."
"Your Gran met him, or your Gran's Gran?"
"Both of them," Fiona said with a ghost of a smile. "The 'sight' skips every other generation. Apparently you need the 'sight' to see them."
Tammy and Gillian looked at each other over her head.
Nobody spoke for a few moments until Fiona couldn't stand it any longer. "Well?"
"I'm sorry, hon," Gillian said, voice laced with regret. "It looks like your Uncle Sean started siphoning off funds from the trust account about ten years before he died. Between the falling interest rates and the rising taxes, the trust fund just couldn't keep up."
"So that's it," Fiona said duly. "I'm broke."
"Maybe Gillian and I--"
"No. Absolutely not." Fiona was adamant. "I'm not taking money from my friends to pay the back taxes. There's got to be another way."
That night, Fiona dreamed of her Gran in the garden. "Remember the wee man," she said, and then walked right into the whitethorn tree. Fiona woke with a start.
From her bedroom window she could see the whitethorn tree bathed in moonlight. Tammy was right, it did look a little scraggly. She was really going to miss that tree, and the garden.
She remembered that Gran used to keep Guinness around to water the tree with once a month. And didn't she leave oat cakes or soda bread or something like that as well? For the wee man who lived there, she'd said.
Before Fiona could stop to think about it, she'd pulled on her jeans and a sweat shirt and was checking the cupboard under the stairs where Gran used to keep her liquor. There was no Guinness, but she found a bottle of Jameson's that was three-quarters full. Shrugging, she carried it into the kitchen and snagged a box of oatmeal cookies on her way out the back door.
Midnight found her sitting under the whitethorn tree, the moonlight streaming down on her.
"Here's to you, Gran," she said, waving the bottle in the air before taking a sip. She choked and coughed as the liquor burned its way down. "And here's to your wee man - I hope whoever ends up living here next will treat him right."
"Now ye would'na be thinking of pouring that good whiskey on the ground now, would ye?"
Fiona yelped, and almost dropped the bottle as a tiny man dressed in green appeared beside her.
"'Tis a good thing yer an artist instead of a writer. Now just pour a wee drop in here." He held out a tiny cup.
"You . . . you're a leprechaun!"
"Aye, it's observant she is." He tipped back the cup and then held it out again. "Did your Gran ne'er tell ye the story of how I came over on the boat with her Gran? 'Twas more than eighty years ago an' I been guarding her treasure ever since."
"What? Wait. What treasure?"
"Why the treasure the first Fiona O'Shea brought with her from the Green Isle," he said, polishing off another cupful of whiskey. "She saved me life, you know, from that flea bitten ship's cat. And in return I promised to guard her gold until she had need of it."
"Tell me more about my great-great-Grandmother and her gold." Fiona settled back against the tree. "And would you like a cookie to go with your whiskey?"
"Thank ye kindly," the leprechaun said. "But would ye happen to have any pipe tobacco on ye?"
"I can't believe your great-Grandmother buried a fortune in gold in the garden," Gillian said as they sat on the patio enjoying a glass of wine. "And your Gran knew about it and never said a word?"
"It was my great-great-Grandmother, and Gran never said anything because as far as she knew there was no need, she had plenty of money already."
"Until your Uncle Sean got his hands on it," Tammy said darkly. "But how did you know exactly where to dig?"
Fiona smiled as she looked over to the base of the whitethorn tree where she'd left a pint of Guinness an ounce of the finest pipe tobacco she could find. "I just followed what the leprechaun said."