By Cherie Reich
William O’Connor yanked too hard on the fishing pole. The line snapped, and the fish swam away with it down the bubbling stream. Petulant anger caused him to throw the pole into the surrounding woods. He mumbled curses, since it was the third time this week the line had broken.
“Tom O’Grady, the old cheat! Sold me bad line,” he said under his breath while kicking rocks into the water.
When he was about to turn around to find his fishing pole, he paused. A rainbow glimmered farther downstream. Ripe reds, vibrant oranges, and brilliant blues lured him. Forgetting the pole, he jogged along the bank.
Unlike most rainbows, this one didn’t skirt away from him. The colors swirled closer, but then he skidded to a stop behind a tree.
“When Irish eyes are a’smilin’ down on me,” a tiny little man dressed in red sang.
William clutched his chest to still his pounding heart. He spied a leprechaun, one of the wee folk. Blinking several times, he noticed that the sprite was still there. He quietly danced a little jig with a grin stretching across his face.
“I dance and sing so merrily.” The leprechaun twirled on his pot of gold.
He rubbed his hands upon his brown trousers and wiggled his fingers. William O’Connor was going to catch him a leprechaun, he thought. Crouching down, he crept through the forest. Birds twittered and flitted through the air. The leprechaun continued his song.
“And when I see a bonnie lass,” he sang.
William stood behind him, waited a second, and then pounced.
“Ack!” The leprechaun shouted and struggled, but William kept his hold on the little man.
“I’ve got you now, I did,” he said, tightening his hold on the wiggling fellow.
The leprechaun put up a fight until he went limp. “I suppose you want your three wishes, right, lad?”
“Aye, I do.” Three wishes, wow! He didn’t know what to ask for, but he made no move to let go of the leprechaun. They were tricky buggers, and he didn’t want to miss out on his only change for wealth and happiness.
“What do you want? Your first wish?” The leprechaun made no move to leave.
William pursed his lips and stared around the forest while in deep thought. His gaze fell upon the gleaming gold coins within the leprechaun’s pot. “Why, I’d be taking your pot o’ gold as me first wish.”
“Granted,” the leprechaun said, “Your second then?”
A gleeful grin plastered itself to his face. A whole pot of gold, and it was all his.
“Your second wish? I don’t have all day.” The leprechaun crossed his arms and glared up at him.
William knew he could buy a lot with that gold. So what else did he want? A vision of loveliness floated through his mind. Elizabeth O’Leary. He sighed as he thought of her. Her clear blue eyes and flowing red-gold hair. It shone so pretty in the sunshine. “I’d like Elizabeth O’Leary’s hand in marriage.”
“Granted.” Boredom filled the leprechaun’s tone. “What is your final wish? You’d best make it a good one.”
The young man considered his choices. He had gold and the fairest lass in the land. What more could a man want? He peered down at the wee man in his arms. “You know, leprechaun, I’d very much like to have your powers.”
“Really now? This is your final wish.” A gleam appeared in his beady eyes.
“Aye, I would.”
A crackle of thunder split the air. The rainbow vanished along with the leprechaun. William O’Connor perched upon his pot of gold. He now wore a red suit and was no bigger than a small child. In his lap sat Elizabeth O’Leary’s left hand, a Claddagh ring attached to her ring finger.