Moira and the Leprechaun

It was a hot and sunny Sunday morning and Moira was in her gumtree down by the creek. Her favourite tree because it was enormous and it had smooth, low branches. She could climb nearly to the top and see her bedroom window, could see the whole garden, watch her brother and what he was up to. She could sit on a low branch and dangle her feet in the water, watch the little fish swim by. Moira spent a lot of time in this tree.

Today she was on a low branch that reached almost to the other side of the creek, paddling her bare toes in the water, looking for the little fish. She hadn’t seen any lately and was wondering where they’d gone. That was when she first saw the leprechaun.

There was a splash and a loud squawk. She looked down the creek. Something red and green was floating towards her, splashing and squawking. It looked like a parrot in trouble and as it passed under her branch she reached down and scooped it out of the water.

“Oi!” it yelped as she lifted it up.

“Oh!” gasped Moira, holding up what was not a red and green parrot at all but a tiny person with dripping wet red jacket and green trousers. He looked very much like an elf in one of her fairytale books.

They stared at each other. It would be hard to say who was more surprised.

“Kindly put me down, Miss!” he said, frowning crossly at her.

“Oh, sorry!” said Moira, and placed him down on the branch.

“No need to apologise,” he said, squeezing water out of his jacket sleeves. “I suppose I should be thanking you for saving my life.”

“What …. what happened?” asked Moira. So many questions she had, she didn’t know where to begin.

“Monster fish tried to drown me,” he said, glaring back into the water. “There was I, minding my own business, trying to catch me a nice fish for my supper, when this giant of a fish grabs at my line and drags me in!”

“Probably a rainbow trout,” said Moira. A fish wouldn’t have to be very big to be a giant to him, she thought. He really was small. What was he?

“No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It was a shark, I tell you. I’ve heard tell of sharks that live in this country.”

“But not in creeks,” laughed Moira.

The little man stopped squeezing water out of his clothes and glared at her. “Are you telling me I don’t know a shark when I see one myself, and it’s dragging me into the water for its lunch?”

“No, but…..”

“No buts about it, it was a shark, I’m telling you!”

“Excuse me, but what …. who are you?” she asked.

He gave her a surprised look. “Can you not tell?”

“Well … you do look a bit like ….. an elf?”

“An elf!” He glared at her, all puffed up and indignant. “An elf, did you say?”

“Well ….. just a bit.”

“Not one bit of it! No, not one bit at all!” He stood up as proudly as his wet clothes would let him. “I, my cheeky young Miss, am a leprechaun!”

“A leprechaun?” Moira frowned. She knew what leprechauns were. “I thought leprechauns lived in Ireland.”

“So they do, if they know what’s good for them,” muttered the leprechaun.

“Then what are you doing here?” Moira asked.

“Feeling wet and sorry for myself, that’s what!”

“But how did you get here? It’s a long way from Ireland. Did you use magic?”

“Magic! How I wish I had! Then I could go back again,” said the leprechaun.

“Well, why can’t you? I mean, why can’t you use your magic to go back?”

“My leprechaun magic doesn’t work here, I’ve found that out the hard way,” snorted the leprechaun. “Believe me, I tried and tried and then tried some more but ….. the magic’s gone.”

“Then how did you get here?” Moira wanted to know.

“In a trunk in a boat.”

“Why were you in a trunk in a boat?”

The leprechaun rubbed his long silvery grey hair and scratched his silvery grey beard. As he dried out Moira thought that he looked more like a tiny Father Christmas than an elf but she didn’t tell him that in case he got offended again.

“I was trapped, that’s what!” The leprechaun squinted at her. “You are a curious one, and that’s for sure.” He jumped off the branch onto a rock by the water’s edge. Looked up and down the creek, muttering to himself about monster fish. Then he sat down on a rock. “I suppose you’ll be wanting to hear the whole sad story,” he said with a resigned sigh.

Moira jumped off the branch and sat on a rock beside him. She loved stories. Reading and listening to stories were her favourite things. “Yes, please,” she said politely.

“Okay, then,” said the leprechaun. He settled himself comfortably on his rock in the sunshine and stared out across the water, like he was looking at some place far away. "There is this old shop in Ireland near where I lived and this shop …. I tell you, Miss, this old shop had such wonderful old stuff in it. Stuffed with all sorts of old treasures it was. I would go in there quite often at night when it was all nice and quiet and empty and I would look at all the lovely old stuff – just look, mind – and sometimes I would find something really old with magic in it ….” He gave Moira a squinty look. “Do you believe in magic, then, Miss?” he asked.

“Yes,” nodded Moira, eyes wide with anticipation.

“Good,” said the leprechaun. “Not many people do, you know, not these days. No point telling my stories to a non-believer.” He settled himself comfortably on the rock again, returned to his faraway gaze. “So, this one night …..” a big sigh, heavy with sadness “….. my last night in Ireland, as it turns out to be ….. I found this open trunk and it was half full of all kinds of the most interesting stuff. All kinds it was ….. a real treasure chest of magic …. And I was leaning over to get a better look at it all and …..” he throws his hands in the air, “the next thing I remember I’m in a trunk and the trunk is in a boat and the boat is heading out across the sea. I must have fallen in ….. bumped my head. So I got out of the trunk, that was all right, but …… when I tried to use my magic to go back home …..” the leprechaun shrugged, shook his head, “….. it wouldn’t work. All my magic tricks …. none of it worked. I had to stay hidden on the boat until it came to shore in a strange land.” The leprechaun looked around sadly. “A very strange land,” he sighed. “But ….. I found myself this little creek that is mossy and green and reminds me a bit of home and so, here I am."

“There must be some way for you to get back home,” said Moira. She couldn’t help feeling sad for him. She’d be missing her family so much, even her pesky little brother. “It must be so lonely for you here.”

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” said the leprechaun. “Plenty of fish in the creek, and berries and nuts on the bushes. Although, to be telling you the truth, I am getting a bit sick of fish and nuts and berries,” he said, sniffing the air. “What’s that lovely smell?”
Moira looked in the direction the leprechaun was looking, back towards the house. She sniffed the air and at first couldn’t smell anything but the eucalyptus in the gum leaves as they warmed up in the sun. Then, a faint smell of sausages sizzling on the hot-plate drifted in the air. Must be getting close to lunch time. “That’s our barbecue,” she told him.

“That smells delicious, that does,” said the leprechaun, looking hungrily towards the house.

“Moira! Lunch is ready!!”

“Who’s that?” asked the leprechaun.

“My Dad,” said Moira, hesitating.

“You better go then,” said the leprechaun.

“Will you still be here when I get back?” she asked.

“Maybe,” shrugged the leprechaun.

“I’ll bring you some sausages,” she said.

The leprechaun’s eyes lit up. “I’ll be here,” he said. “You hurry up, now. Don’t want to be keeping your Dad waiting.”

Still she hesitated. “You won’t go away?”

“I’ll be right here, don’t you worry. Now off with you, before those lovely sausages get cold!”

next, The Dragons’ Story

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Moira and the Leprechaun ….. the eight stories are available as e-books on
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Moira and the Leprechaun

Alenka Co

Stonebow, Australia

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