By Ronnell Kay Gibson
Wars are ugly affairs, even when you’re a Leprechaun. Normally, I don’t involve me’self in the business of men, but when their gunslingin’ began to ravage me Irish homeland, I had no choice.
I planned to cause a wee bit more mischief to encourage these savages to flee me country. So, after makin’ quick work of a food tent earlier, I snuck up to a wagon crammed with weaponry and—
The trap sprung, catapulted me into the air, and yanked back. I landed upside-down, swinging from a rope by me ankles. Bloody hell.
A lone soldier appeared from behind the wagon, a wide grin plastered on his face. But as he approached, his smile turned downward—er, upward by my inverted reconin’. He pursed his lips. “What are ya doin’ out here on the battlefield, lad? And in all green?”
So insultin’. Every time. “Who ye callin’ lad?”
“Yer voice. It ain’t no man’s.”
“Nae, I’m a Leprechaun.”
He pulled a dagger from his belt. “No lies. Leprechauns ain’t real.”
And that same reaction. Every time. “I most certainly am.”
The soldier nicked me hand with the tip of his blade. A spot of blood pooled.
“Ow.” I wiggled me arm. “What’d ye do that fer?”
As he stared, mouth agape, the blood disappeared, as did me wound. “How did ye…?”
“It’s a Leprechaun thing.”
His tone was dubious. “Let’s just say ye are a Leprechaun—”
“I am a Leprechaun.” I saluted. “Rafferty’s me name.”
“Okay, Rafferty. What’re ye doin’ messin’ with me supplies? First attackin’ our food tents, now our weapons?”
“Endin’ the war.”
“For the British?”
“British? Irish? Don’t matter. Just want the fightin’ to stop.”
“I want it to stop, too.” The soldier’s eyes softened. “I’ve a new bride at home—anxious to start a family. But I’m here fightin’ for our freedom.”
His passion whacked me heart. “What’s yer name, soldier?”
“Free me, Kellan, and I’ll grant ye a wish. Ye could end the war or to return safely to yer lass.”
Kellan scowled. “I’ve heard the tales. Men’s wishes twisted into misery.” He stood taller. “I won’t make one. But I will let ye go.”
I blinked. This had never happened.
The soldier continued. “In return, perhaps ye’ll do me a favor.”
No demand for riches, love, or fame? Intriguin’. “What’ll it be?”
“Continue yer mischief, but against the British. With ye on our side, this war’ll meet a swift end.”
“How do ye know that once ye set me free, I’ll honor the bargain?”
He shrugged. “That’s why it’s a favor. Everyone has a choice, but if ye don’t, the war’ll continue, an’ more of our beloved land’ll be decimated.”
Maybe it was the blood flowin’ to me brain, but his offer made sense. “You’ve a convincin’ way about ye, sir.”
Kellan smiled, then stepped forward and sliced the tethered rope. Thunk. In a blink, I disappeared—fleein’ to the safety of the woods—then stopped to glance back at Kellan. He scanned the treeline. I knew he couldn’t see me, but he still tipped his hat in me direction.
Leprechaun or no, honor deserves honor.
And so, for the next few months, I wreaked as much havoc as I dared—missin’ weapons, spoiled food, mysteriously collapsin’ tents. The British camps were soon abuzz with talk of Irish ghosts, and within the year, they retreated. Peace returned to our land. I went back to cobblin’ and collectin’ gold, tryin’ to forget the world of man.
Until the first day of Spring.
Mother Nature always marked the occasion with a brilliant double rainbow. I was addin’ me latest treasures to me pot when a musty canvas bag swung over me head. I screamed and kicked, but the stranger still managed to secure the bag and swing me over his back.
We rode off, me bouncin’ and jostlin’ at every step. Ages later, we finally stopped. A door creaked open and closed. Gently, I was deposited onto a hard surface. The bag’s knot loosened, and the trappin’s fell to me feet to reveal a homey little cabin. Night gloomed outside, and the only light came from a single candle on the table beside me.
Kellan stood in the glow.
I jumped to me feet. “Wha’s tha’ meanin’ o’ this?”
“Rafferty, I’m sorry. I had no choice.”
I scowled. “I remember ye sayin’ everyone had a choice.”
“Please.” A coo echoed from the next room. At the sound, tears welled in Kellan’s eyes. “I need that wish now.”
I toddled toward the bedroom. Inside, a woman sat in bed rockin’ a swaddled babe. Seein’ me, she smiled, loosened the blue blanket, and propped the wee one so I could see his face.
The babe had an abnormally small head, with flat, upturned nostrils, widely-spaced, bulgin’ eyes, and a large mouth with plump lips. Even his ears were poorly developed, sittin’ too low on his head.
Kellan sat on the bed and put his arm around his wife. “Rafferty, meet our son, Patrick.”
At the mention of his name, the baby grinned.
I edged closer. “What’s…?”
“Wrong with him?” Kellan stroked the lad’s face. “It’s got a fancy name, but the doctor called it Leprechaunism. His heart and lungs are too small to flourish. Without a miracle, he won’t survive.”
My heart ached for the wee one, but I couldn’t do what Kellan wanted me to do. “Me magic is limited. I’m sorry, but I can’t cure humans.”
“But ye healed yerself.”
“A Leprechaun’s body can heal itself. But I can’t.”
Kellan gazed into his wife’s eyes. She nodded. He took the babe from her arms and kissed him—a tear hittin’ the lad’s cheek—then handed him to me.
This I could do.
Every year on the first day of Spring, at the end of the double rainbow, sit two new green suits. At the same time, Patrick and I place a gold coin and a four-leaf clover on his parents’ doorstep.