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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Irish Stew

               Brian pushed his way through the thick masses of ferns growing between the trees and bushes. A damp mist hung over the ground, making the rocks slippery beneath his bare feet. When he came to a clearing, he saw that there was a ring of mushrooms growing in a large circle around the edge. “Ah, here you are,” Brian muttered. He’d been searching for mushrooms for the last hour. “And big ones too,” he smiled. He pulled a worn and rather dirty cloth bag out of his pants pocket. He squatted and began picking them. “You’re a fine one,” he said, holding a large-capped mushroom up. He sniffed it. “Fresh.” He took a wee bite out of the stem. “Delicious. You will taste good in tonight’s stew.”

                Brian picked as many mushrooms as his bag would hold, and then filled his pockets up too. As he was stuffing the last mushroom into his baggy pants, he noticed something moving behind a tree. “What was that?”

                He rubbed his sapphire blue eyes. “The mist is playing tricks on me,” he whispered, but then he saw the movement again. “Is it a deer? Maybe it’s a fox.” When it moved again, he noticed that it wasn’t brown or red, but green. He crept silently towards the trees.

                As he went deeper into the forest, he heard the sound of someone or something digging. Quietly he moved towards the noise. “A leprechaun,” he said softly. He stood watching as the green-clothed leprechaun dug a deep hole. On the ground above him was a black kettle filled with shiny gold coins. “A pot of gold,” Brian whispered.

                The leprechaun dug deeper and deeper while Brian watched. He was content to wait. He sat down under the tree in a pile of emerald green clover. He spotted a shamrock and picked it. “My lucky day,” he said, holding it up in front of his face. He stuck the shamrock into his tattered shirt pocket. Just then he heard crying coming from the hole. Brian stood up and went over to it. He peered down over the edge.

                The leprechaun was sitting in the bottom of the hole, crying and rubbing his eyes. “I’m stuck. I’m stuck,” he whined.

                “Here, let me help you,” Brian said, surprising the leprechaun.

“What’s your name wee one?” he asked.

                The leprechaun looked up at Brian. “My name’s Shamus. Help me out, would you?”

                Brian reached his arm down, grabbed onto Shamus’s jacket and pulled him up. He set him down on the grass next to the hole. “Well, well! I’ve found myself a wee leprechaun named Shamus and he’s got a pot of gold.”

                Shamus shook his head and begged, “Please, don’t tell anyone where my gold is buried. The other leprechauns would make fun of me if they knew I’d been caught. Besides that, the pot of gold has to stay here until a rainbow appears and someone finds it.”

                Brian thought about it for a minute or two. “Your gold is safe with me, wee man. Here, let me help you put it in the hole.” Brian stood and helped Shamus up. They lifted the kettle of gold and lowered it into the hole, covered it with dirt, and patted it down. The two then sat down on top of the mound.

                Brian looked at Shamus. He was wearing kelly green pants and a jacket with shiny gold buttons down the front. His tall hat was flat on top, green, and had a black band around the bottom with a gold buckle in the middle. His shoes were shiny black leather with large gold buckles. He had a long gray beard and twinkling golden eyes.

                “Here you go,” Shamus said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out two gold coins. “These are for you. Thanks for helping me.”

                Shamus took the coins. He could use them to buy himself some new pants or some shoes, or some lamb for stew tonight. “Your secret is safe with me, Shamus. Thank you.”

                “Well, I’d best be off now,” said the leprechaun, “the others will wonder where I am, but watch for the rainbow; if it ends here, the pot of gold will be yours.” Brian shook his hand and the two parted.

 Brian headed towards the market. He bought himself a pair of brown leather shoes and a new pair of pants with no holes in the pocket. He walked down the street a little further and came to a butcher shop. He went inside and bought himself a big piece of lamb. After that he searched for a grocer and when he found one, he bought a few onions, carrots, and turnips to go with the lamb stew. That night he made a huge pot of Irish stew. He chopped the crisp orange carrots and tossed them into the pot. He chopped the yellow onions and added them, along with the purple and white turnip. He added the chunks of lamb and then chopped the mushrooms that he’d found in the ring and tossed them in. The stew simmered for hours in the fireplace of his small cottage. Picking up a piece of soda bread, he sat in his wooden chair and ate two large bowls full of stew. It tasted delicious.

                When Brian woke up in the morning, he saw it was raining. It rained all morning and well into the afternoon. At last it stopped and the sun came out. Brian went outside. The clouds parted and then, much to his surprise, a rainbow appeared in the sky. Brian walked through the ferns and rocks and followed the rainbow to its end. There was the pile of dirt where he and Shamus had buried the pot of gold. Brian dug it up. He pulled it up to the grass and sat, remembering how Shamus had fallen in.

                Just then he heard some noises. He looked up. There was Shamus behind a tree, with two other leprechauns. Shamus winked at Brian. Brian waved and carried the pot of gold home. From that day on he had lamb stew with carrots, onions, turnips, and mushrooms every night!

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