The Field of Boliauns
One fine day in harvest - it was indeed
Lady-day in harvest, that
everybody knows to be one of the greatest holidays in the
year - Tom
Fitzpatrick was taking a ramble through the ground, and
the sunny side of a hedge - when all of a sudden he heard
sort of noise a little before him in the hedge. "Dear
me," said Tom,
"but isn't it surprising to hear the stonechatters
singing so late
in the season?" So Tom stole on, going on the tops
of his toes to
try if he could get a sight of what was making the noise,
to see if
he was right in his guess. The noise stopped - but as
sharply through the bushes, what should he see in a nook
hedge but a brown pitcher, that might hold about a gallon
and a half
of liquor - and by-and-by a little wee teeny tiny bit
of an old man,
with a little motty of a cocked hat stuck upon the top
head, a deeshy daushy leather apron hanging before him,
pulled out a
little wooden stool, and stood up upon it, and dipped a
piggin into the pitcher, and took out the full of it, and
beside the stool, and then sat down under the pitcher,
and began to
work at putting a heel-piece on a bit of a brogue just
himself. "Well, by the powers," said Tom to himself, "I
tell of the Lepracauns, and, to tell God's truth, I never
believed in them - but here's one of them in real earnest.
If I go
knowingly to work, I'm a made man. They say a body must
their eyes off them, or they'll escape."
Tom now stole on a little further, with his eye fixed
on the little
man just as a cat does with a mouse. So when he got up
to him, "God bless your work, neighbour," said
The little man raised up his
head, and "Thank you
kindly," said he.
"I wonder you'd be working on the holiday!" said
"That's my own business, not yours," was
"Well, may be you'd be civil
enough to tell us what you've
got in the pitcher there?" said Tom.
"That I will, with pleasure," said
"Beer!" said Tom. "Thunder
and fire! where did you get it?"
"Where did I get it, is
it? Why, I made it. And what do you think I
made it of?"
"Devil a one of me knows," said
of malt, I suppose, what
"There you're out. I made
it of heath."
"Of heath!" said Tom, bursting
out laughing, "sure
you don't think
me to be such a fool as to believe that?"
"Do as you please," said he, "but
what I tell you is the truth. Did
you never hear tell of the Danes?"
"Well, what about them?" said
"Why, all the about them
there is, is that when they were here they
taught us to make beer out of the heath, and the secret's
family ever since."
"Will you give a body a taste of your beer?" said
"I'll tell you what it is,
young man, it would be fitter for you to
be looking after your father's property than to be bothering
quiet people with your foolish questions. There now, while
idling away your time here, there's the cows have broke
oats, and are knocking the corn all about."
Tom was taken so by surprise with this that he was just
on the very
point of turning round when he recollected himself - so,
the like might happen again, he made a grab at the Lepracaun,
caught him up in his hand - but in his hurry he overset
and spilt all the beer, so that he could not get a taste
of it to
tell what sort it was. He then swore that he would kill
him if he
did not show him where his money was. Tom looked so wicked
bloody-minded that the little man was quite frightened -
so says he,
"Come along with me a couple of fields off, and I'll
show you a
crock of gold."
So they went, and Tom held the Lepracaun fast in his hand,
took his eyes from off him, though they had to cross hedges
ditches, and a crooked bit of bog, till at last they came
to a great
field all full of boliauns, and the Lepracaun pointed to
boliaun, and says he, "Dig under that boliaun, and
you'll get the
great crock all full of guineas."
Tom in his hurry had never thought of bringing a spade
with him, so
he made up his mind to run home and fetch one - and that
know the place again he took off one of his red garters,
and tied it
round the boliaun.
Then he said to the Lepracaun, "Swear
ye'll not take that garter
away from that boliaun." And the Lepracaun swore right
away not to
"I suppose," said the Lepracaun, very civilly, "you
have no further
occasion for me?"
"No," says Tom, "you
may go away now, if you please, and God speed
you, and may good luck attend you wherever you go."
"Well, good-bye to you, Tom Fitzpatrick," said
the Lepracaun, "and
much good may it do you when you get it."
So Tom ran for dear life, till he came home and got a
then away with him, as hard as he could go, back to the
boliauns - but when he got there, lo and behold! not a boliaun
field but had a red garter, the very model of his own,
it - and as to digging up the whole field, that was all
there were more than forty good Irish acres in it. So Tom
again with his spade on his shoulder, a little cooler than
and many's the hearty curse he gave the Lepracaun every
thought of the neat turn he had served him.