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Stories by Laura Lagana
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure - Chapter 4

King Rogan smashed the teapot against the far wall, shattering the delicate china into hundreds of tiny pieces before wiping away the few shards that clung to his red velvet coat. He read the note a second time and crumbled paper into a ball. “I don't believe this. The old lady left for America.”

Alpin closed the refrigerator door and bit into a stale piece of cheese. He grimaced, tossing the rest into the sink. “Do you think Finnegan has gone after her?”

King Rogan slapped Alpin's hat off his head. “Are you daft? Of course he's on his way to find her…wherever she’s gone to.”

Gobban walked into the kitchen, carrying a piece of paper. “I found a receipt for a travel agent.” He scanned the sheet for a second time. A moment later, he paused before continuing, “Seems that’s all there is.”

Frustrated by the news, King Rogan grabbed Gobban’s hair. “Is there any more? Where did she get off to?”

Alpin bit into a hunk of cabbage that he found on the counter. “Why don’t we sneak into the travel agents office and break into the computer to see if Grams travel plans are there?”

King Rogan fell to his knees and shouted. “I'm surrounded by idiots. What is this computer you speak of?”

Gobban stiffened at the king’s comment. “We are not all idiots. I mean, Alpin surely is, but not the others. A computer is something that the humans use to find information to their questions and to do all their work, since they are lazy and forgetful.”

“I'm the king. If I say I'm surrounded by idiots, then it is fact.”

The other leprechauns backed out of the room during the tirade while Alpin, oblivious to his king’s mercurial moods, finished the cabbage and tossed the core next to the stale cheddar cheese. “Let's sneak into town. It can't be that difficult. Surely Gobban knows how to use a computer. He is the smartest in our clan.”

King Rogan climbed onto a chair and rested his chin in the palms of his hands. “That's not a bad idea.” Snapping his fingers, he pointed at Gobban. “We must find this travel agent. I say we leave now. The sun will be setting soon and we can use the cover of darkness to hide.” King Rogan jumped down from the chair, almost tripping, but recovered at the last moment. “What are we waiting for? Let's be off.”

Alpin grabbed the last three cabbages from the refrigerator and stuffed them into a burlap bag. After slamming the refrigerator door shut, he bumped into Gobban. “What?” Alpin paused for a moment, noticing the frown marring the other leprechaun’s brow. “It's a long trip and we don't know when we’ll be able to eat again.”

Gobban shook his head. “We’re leprechauns and we steal what we need. You know that no creature on earth is a better thief than us.”

“Aye, but if there's no food around there won't be anything to steal now, will there?” Alpin dashed from the room and followed the rest of the clan from the cottage.

King Rogan led the other leprechauns through the sparse trees of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. At the base of the mountain was Glen Nevis, a sea inlet. In between the two forces of nature, nestled the quaint town of Fort William, Scotland. As the leprechauns approached the shore line, they hid behind trees, tiptoed around rocks, crept through rotted logs and between the bushes that dotted the coastline. The sun began to set, as rays of light danced across the waves like twinkling jewels. A stiff breeze blew in from the sea, muffling any sounds the leprechauns made during their trek. A mother walking her baby in a stroller paused when the baby began to point and giggle. Gobban held his finger to his lips and winked at the small child. The mother turned away for a moment and when she went to adjust the baby's blanket, a cabbage leaf lay on her son’s lap. She looked around for the person who left the leaf behind, but after seeing no one, she shrugged and continued with her walk.

“That was close,” whispered Alpin. “Good thing I gave that baby a bit of my cabbage.”

Gobban kicked Alpin’s backside and scolded him. “The mother wasn't looking towards our hiding spot until you slipped the laddie a cabbage leaf to keep him silent.”

Alpin grumbled, “I was only trying to help.”

“Stop helping then,” said Gobban.

The leprechauns continued along the shoreline until the travel agents office appeared at the end of the village next to the train station. Alpin bit into the head of another cabbage as Gobban eyed the vegetable before tossing it through the window. “What’d you do that for?” Alpin gaped at the shattered glass of the store front. “Now what’ll I eat?”

Gobban climbed through the window and unlocked the front door, moving aside as the leprechauns piled into the office. “Come on Alpin. Stop standing in the middle of the street, sulking. You’ll get us caught for sure.” Gobban disappeared into the back room and reappeared several minutes later, holding a printout in his hands. “It seems Grams left for this Charleston. I checked the Edinburgh airport and didn't see a flight for Charleston, but I saw one that flies for Boston. It leaves first thing tomorrow morning.” He glanced at the clock hanging above the desk. “If we leave now, we can catch the evening train and be in Edinburgh within a couple of hours I’m guessing.”

King Rogan nudged Alpin. “How did Gobban learn to use the tools of humans?”

Alpin grabbed a handful of candy from the dish on the desk and said, “We like to sneak into the village at home and steal from the humans. Once in awhile, we come across something really useful. Why I even found a recipe for brewing whiskey. Wasn’t as good as mine, but interesting none the less.”

 “Do you two ever do anything that doesn’t involve stealing, drinking or eating and benefits me?”

Alpin choked on a piece of chocolate. “Sure we do. Why I do believe I’ve stolen some shoes for you. Remind me to give them to you when we return home.” Alpin glanced away to avoid King Rogan’s probing stare.

“What color are they?”

“Uh…” Alpin paused. “Purple. Fit for a king.”

A satisfied smile appeared on King Rogan’s face. “That will do nicely.”

Alpin sighed with relief as the king peered through the front door. He then turned to Gobban and shrugged his shoulders at Gobban’s probing stare. “What?” Alpin whispered. “I lied to keep him from asking too many questions.”

Gobban mouthed the words, “Keep quiet.”

Alpin rolled his eyes and turned back to the candy dish to finish eating the rest of the chocolate.

A moment later, Gobban joined the king. “It should be dark enough now. Are you ready to sneak into the train station?” The king nodded. Gobban led the clan along the side of the building and crept toward the train station. King Rogan whispered in Alpin and Gobban’s ears. The two leprechauns disappeared while King Rogan and the rest of the clan stayed hidden among the bushes next to the building. Almost ten minutes later, Gobban and Alpin returned.

“Well? What did you find out?” King Rogan crossed his arms over his chest and tapped his foot, waiting for an answer.

Alpin leaned against a nearby bush while he gulped a lungful of air. “Me...I mean, me and Gobban, read the schedule and the next train to Edinburgh is about half an hour away.”

Gobban nudged Alpin in the ribs before saying, “You’re pathetic, you know that?”

“What did I do?”

Gobban rolled his eyes, “Never mind. You did fine.” He turned to King Rogan and said, “What would you like us to do now Your Majesty?”

King Rogan peeked out from around the corner of the building and stared at the people standing on the train platform. “There must be a dozen humans there. I say we hide in the loo until the train arrives.”

Gobban arched a brow. “Your Majesty, might I suggest another plan?”

King Rogan narrowed his black eyed gaze on Gobban. “What would that be?”

Coughing to cover his trembling hands, Gobban said, “Although your plan is far better than mine, I would not want Your Royalness to hide in a place where humans relieve themselves.”

King Rogan's chest puffed out. “I see your point. It would not be fitting of someone with my royal stature to hide in the loo.” He stroked the gold crown, encrusted with diamonds, pearls, rubies and sapphires that rested on top of his midnight colored hair. “As a king, I should be led toward my own bench on the platform. should all bow down at my feet.”

Alpin, who finished another head of cabbage, opened his mouth to say something, but a nudge in his ribs from Gobban, stopped Alpin before he said something stupid.

Gobban bowed to the king before saying, “But Your Highness, you must stay hidden from the humans. They are not worthy of seeing you.” When Gobban saw King Rogan hesitate, he narrowed his gaze. “Besides, we wouldn't want any people to see you and somehow steal your crown.”

King Rogan clutched the crown tighter to his head. “You're right Gobban. Those filthy humans would steal it and then where would I be?”

Alpin opened his mouth again, but King Rogan continued with his rant. “Why, I would be no better off than Finnegan, that's what!”

The leprechauns had a good laugh, before King Rogan silenced them with a wave of his hand. “All right Gobban, since you are watching out for your king, what is your plan?”

Gobban peered around the same corner of the train station and pointed. “See the tracks that run between the two platforms?”

Biting into yet another head of cabbage, Alpin said, “Aye. It's where the train comes in and humans get onboard.”

Gobban smacked the back of Alpin's head. “Everyone knows that, but you didn’t let me finish!” He paused upon seeing another head of cabbage appear in Alpin’s hand. “If you keep eating those cabbages, you won't have any left.”

Alpin held up another full bag in his hand. “Already thought of that. That's why I stole it from the farm stand we passed before arriving at the train station.”

“Well anyway, I was going to point toward the ledge under the platforms. Night is upon us and if we wait a few more minutes until the sun sets, we can sneak under the ledge against the rails and hide until the train arrives. I’m thinking that the darkness will conceal our presence from the humans.”

King Rogan slapped Gobban on the back. “Excellent plan. Now how long do we wait here?”

Gobban stared at the sun, sinking low on the horizon. “We”

The leprechauns, led by King Rogan, scurried to the edge of the building and jumped over the train tracks. They crept along the soot covered bricks, careful to stay under the ledge. There the leprechaun clan waited for the arrival of the train.

Alpin grabbed a handful of half eaten chips that he found on the ground. “Ooh…cold chips. My favorite.” After inhaling the french fries, he finished the rest of the candy bar that he found wedged next to a stone. A moment later, Alpin spied a half rotted apple in the middle of the tracks. As he ran out to grab it, a rat scurried from underneath a rail and reached the apple before Alpin did. He growled and leapt onto the rat, yanking the fruit from the creature’s fangs. His body rose from the ground as Gobban grabbed Alpin’s collar and yanked him from harm.

“Are you daft?”

Alpin bit into the part of the apple that wasn't rotten. “What did I do now?”

Gobban put his hands on his hips. “What part of the plan did you not understand? We aren’t to draw any attention to ourselves.”

“It was an apple. I can’t lose out to a rat.” Alpin tossed aside the core, before a hoard of rats scurried over to fight for the meager scraps.

“We can find other apples,” said Gobban.

King Rogan kicked aside a candy bar wrapper. “Would you both shut your trap? I think I hear a train whistle.”

The leprechauns paused as the train rumbled down the tracks, coming to a screeching halt several minutes later.

The king grabbed his crown from atop his head and frantically wiped the dirt off the egg sized diamond nestled on the front. He glared at Gobban’s outstretched hand before accepting assistance onto the platform once the humans all boarded the train. “This better be the last time my crown gets dirt on it.” King Rogan grunted with the effort of climbing the leprechauns who stood each others shoulders to form a ladder. One by one, the leprechauns climbed, flipped, and jumped onto the platform, using each other as leverage. They scampered across the cobbled bricks, hiding behind benches, pots of flowers and trashcans, till they arrived at the end of the train.

Gobban parted the daffodils that grew in a stone pot he hid behind and looked around for any signs of humans. When the platform appeared clear, he tiptoed onto the train and waved the other leprechauns to follow his lead. Once on the train Gobban spied the conductor through the window, heading down the isle towards their car. He glanced at the empty seats. “Quick! Hide under those things until the human goes away.” Each leprechaun scrambled under a seat.

The door to the train car opened and the conductor called out. “Is anyone in there?”

Alpin was about to eat a piece of carrot that he found on the floor, but Gobban yanked the vegetable away and held his finger over Alpin’s mouth.

The conductor paused for a moment, leaving the train car and shutting the door behind him, when no one answered. A whistle from the train signaled their departure. The wheels churned over the tracks, picking up speed a few minutes later.

Gobban paused before returning the piece of carrot to Alpin after picking off all the dirt. “Here you go. It’s safe to eat it now.”

Alpin grinned, before shoving his bag of cabbages to the side. “We need to find a better hiding place. If humans come into this car, they will surely see us.”

Gobban narrowed his gaze on the luggage bins overhead. “I have another idea.”

King Rogan squeezed between Gobban and Alpin. “I say we hide in the loo.”

Gobban sighed while searching for patience. “Although that idea is pure genius, what if one of the humans need to use the facility? If they have to go bad enough, they may wait. And I doubt there is a window in the loo.”

“Then what do you suggest?” King Rogan rested his chin on his hands as he lay curled up under the seat.

“Well…” Gobban peeked out from underneath his hiding place. He glanced around the car for signs of human activity. “I do believe we can hide in those luggage bins.” He pointed at the last row of seats. “They are all interconnected so we should all fit inside. We can climb up the headrest and use it as leverage to reach them.”

King Rogan slapped Gobban’s shoulder. “That’s a fine idea indeed. I’m glad I thought of it.”

Alpin inhaled, about to correct the king, but Gobban shook his head.

“You’re right, Your Majesty,” said Gobban. “It is a most exceptional idea.”

The leprechauns climbed into the bins and flattened themselves against the back; all except Alpin whose round belly was too full to fit inside the confined area. Gobban and King Rogan pushed on the rolls of fat, forcing Alpin into his own luggage bin.

King Rogan hung upside from the bin with his legs and eyed Alpin. “He looks like an unmovable bag of luggage.”

Gobban pulled the king back inside. “We’re safe for now.”

Several stops later, a group of businessmen boarded the train. Once their luggage was stored away, the men headed to the dining car. After they returned, they ate most of their snacks and promptly fell asleep.

King Rogan nudged Alpin’s rear end aside, but accidentally opened the door, knocking the crown off his head and onto the table below. The king gasped. “I’ve lost my crown.” He swatted at Alpin’s leg. “You made me lose my crown you idiot.”

Gobban whispered to the king, “Do not fear Your Majesty. The two humans are fast asleep.”

Alpin wiggled his body toward the edge of the bin. “Hold my legs Gobban.”

“I’m not sure I can,” said Gobban, eyeing Alpin’s round belly.

King Rogan grabbed one of Alpin’s legs. “Here Gobban. You hold one leg and I’ll hold the other. I’m not leaving my crown.” A moment later, the two leprechauns held Alpin over the table. While Alpin reached for the crown, he grabbed the leftover pastries from the men and stuffed them into his mouth. Once Alpin was safe again in the overhead bin, one of the men woke from his nap and smacked the other man on the shoulder.

“Hey! Why did you eat my food?”

“I didn’t eat it. One of the other passengers must’ve stolen it.”

“Aye…right,” said the man, snapping open the pages of a newspaper he pulled from his briefcase.

Gobban glared at Alpin and cast a look that promised retribution.

An hour later, the train pulled into Waverly Station, in Edinburgh. A light drizzle fell from the rain swollen clouds. Streetlights cast a faint glow across the wet cobbled streets. Once the leprechauns left the security of the train, they hid on top of a bus that drove throughout the city. After several stops, the lights of the airport came into view. Gobban led the leprechauns behind a counter in the airport terminal. He cocked his head to the side while listening to several of the humans talking to one another.

“We should be in Boston by late afternoon,” said one of the men.

An airline porter gathered together the luggage belonging to a group of musicians. “So, you’re off to America for Saint Paddy’s Day?”

“We’re playing our bagpipes in the parade,” said one of the musicians.

The porter tossed the final bag behind the security ropes. “Are these your bagpipes then?”

“That they are,” said the man.

Gobban nudged Alpin in the ribs. “I have another one of my ideas.”

Alpin poked his head out from behind the counter. “Do you think we could sneak into a grocer store? My stomach is grumbling with starvation.”

“Uh…no,” said Gobban.

King Rogan cut in. “Do shut up Alpin. Gobban is about to tell you one of my ideas.”

Alpin narrowed his gaze at the king. “Aye Gobban, please tell us this great plan of King Rogan’s.” He mumbled his next comment. “Because we all know it was King Rogan who got us this far and not you.”

Gobban grumbled. “Hush.” He then pointed at the pile of luggage behind the rope. “The humans said they were flying to Boston to play bagpipes in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade.”

Alpin stuffed the crumbs of a leftover biscuit into his mouth and said, “Aye, so?”

“We’ll, we’re going to hide in the bags of the pipes. The bags have already been checked through security. Apparently this security is quite important to humans, but no one is watching the bags now.”

King Rogan puffed out his chest. “We need a distraction.” He grabbed Alpin’s last cabbage and tossed it into the crowd. The people yelled and scurried out of the way, tripping as they ran. Several of the humans slipped and landed onto the floor. Chaos ruled the scene.

“My…my…my cabbage,” wailed Alpin.

“Come on. We’ll get you new cabbages in America. Now let’s go. Despite my misgivings, King Rogan’s ruse has worked, but we do not have much time,” said Gobban.

The leprechauns crept toward the luggage and hid inside the bag pipes for the eight hour flight to Boston. Faint sounds of grumbling from Alpin sounded from within, but the porter assumed one of the bagpipes had air trapped inside; never knowing that the luggage he carried hid a far more valuable cargo.

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