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Stories by Laura Lagana
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure - Prologue

Finnegan scratched his pointed ears and laid the four-leaf clover on the nearby tree stump. He added several more logs to the fire under the boiling black cauldron. A moment later, steam burst from the pipe as the whiskey bubbled over, signaling that the brew was finished. Using a scarred wooden ladle that his grandma had given him on his fiftieth birthday, he poured the golden liquid into glass bottles and popped a cork into the top of each one. Finnegan sniffed the pungent air and sneezed. “Grandma would be right proud of this batch.” He tilted his head toward the sky while the bright moon bathed him in silvery light. A moment later, he glanced at the rock next to the cauldron. A bright smile spread across his face as he skipped around the fire before doing a jig in front of the rock. Golden light spilled from the rock’s interior when the top opened to reveal the leprechaun’s treasure, hidden safely within. Finnegan squealed with delight, running his hands through the gold and letting the coins slip through his fingers to join the rest of his treasure. Every year, Finnegan returned to the same spot to brew his whiskey and bask in the glow of his gold. He spied the empty basket of clover lying next to him on the ground. “The moon is at its fullest.” He chuckled, rubbing his small hands together with anticipation. “This is the best time to pick more clover for my whiskey.” Finnegan stared at his gold treasure a moment longer, wiping away the tear that trailed down his cheek. After kissing one of the coins for good luck, he closed the rock and tucked the basket under his arm before disappearing from the campsite into the velvety black darkness. A faint glittering of dust scattered behind his feet as Finnegan the leprechaun left the clearing.


The bow of a wooden ship sliced through the murky water, while mist blanketed the sea. Captain Malcolm McWallace stood at the helm with his legs braced against the rocking ship, and sailed along the Irish coastline in search of prey to plunder. The hold of the ship groaned with each slap of wave that hit the aged wood. A black flag with a skull and bones emblazoned on the front, fluttered at the top of the mainmast.

“Tis a full moon,” said the first mate. “Bad luck to be raiding during a full moon. Too much light.”

Malcolm narrowed his gaze at the shoreline. “You know what your problem is?”

The first mate shook his head. “Problem? I ain’t got a problem.” He adjusted the hat on his head before pausing to ask, “What problem?”

“You worry too much,” said Malcolm.

After guzzling the last swig from his flask, the first mate tipped it upside down and shook several drops onto his tongue. “Somebody needs to watch for the bad omens,” he mumbled.

“Shut yer trap. I see a glow up ahead.”

The first mate made a sign of the cross. “I knew it! You steered the ship into the fires of hell.”

Malcolm smacked the man on the back of the head. “It’s a campfire your idiot. I bet there’s good plundering.” A slight breeze ruffled his matted red hair. He pause and glanced across the dark ocean water. “Tell the men to prepare the dinghy and we’ll weigh anchor once we draw near the shore.”

“Aye, aye, Captain.” The first mate dashed away to do Captain Malcolm’s bidding.

One of the seamen hovered over the side of the railing, waiting for the Captain’s signal.

“Now,” Captain Malcolm whispered. Without a sound, the ship’s anchor slipped into the water. The Captain slapped the seaman on the chest. “You wait here and guard the ship. Signal if you see anything suspicious.”

The seaman tossed a knife onto the desk of the ship and grumbled. “Can’t believe you’re leaving me here.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll share the spoils.”

“Just don’t be forgetting me now,” said the seaman as he ran to lower the pirate flag.

Captain Malcolm said, once the seaman returned, “Would you let me?” A moment later, he jumped over the railing and settled between the other sailors as the dinghy was lowered into the water. Using the cover of darkness, the pirates silently rowed through the choppy water. Ten minutes later, several of the men jumped into the sea and pulled the boat onto the rocky shore. The Captain drew the sword from his scabbard and led the crew toward the glowing campfire. Standing at the edge of the clearing, Captain Malcolm whispered to the first mate. “What have we here?” He waited for signs of life within the camp. Upon finding none, Captain Malcolm approached the tree stump, spying the four leaf clover that sat on top of the rotted wood.

The first mate grabbed Captain Malcolm’s arm. “Sir, I have a feeling in my stomach. We shouldn’t be here.”

The Captain snickered. “Could that feeling possible be a sour stomach?” He tucked the clover into a hole in his dingy white shirt and paused upon eyeing the bottles of whiskey lined in neat rows along the ground. “Oh, I have a feeling we should be here. Indeed I do.” After uncorking a bottle, he guzzled the amber brew. Whiskey dribbled into his scraggly red beard to join the crumbs of old bread, chunks of rotted meat and pieces of stale moldy cheese. Once Captain Malcolm finished the bottle, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before grabbing another bottle of whiskey. “Drink up men. We’ve hit a goldmine.”

The pirates did not wait for another invitation. They grabbed the bottles and drank like men who were stuck in the desert for a week and just had their first taste of water.

“Tis the best whiskey I’ve ever had,” said one of the men.

“I’ve never had a finer brew.” Captain Malcolm plopped down in front of the campfire and began to sing a bawdy pirate tune. Soon after, the men joined him in song. Every time a sailor finished a bottle of whiskey, they flung the bottle against a rock next to the whiskey cauldron. Over an hour passed and all the men, except the first mate, were sprawled across the cold ground.

Malcolm hiccupped as he tried to focus on the drunken sailors. “Well, it’s time we return to the ship, but first, one more drink.” He lifted the bottle to his numb lips, but nothing came out. Captain Malcolm shook the bottle several times. With his eyes glazed over in a drunken stupor, he snorted. “Huh. Must’ve drank it all.” He stumbled to his feet, almost tripping over the hem of his kilt, but righted himself before falling flat on his face. “Now where did I put the rest of that whiskey?”

“Can’t say I see any.” The first mate belched and flung the empty bottle against the rock. He fell flat on his back and passed out a moment later.

Malcolm chuckled, and fell to his knees before landing on his stomach. Snoring ripped through his barrel sized chest, disturbing the flames of the fire with his every breath.

From the edge of the clearing, Finnegan clenched the handle of the basket before breaking it in half, scattering the fresh picked clover at his feet. He glanced at the destruction and shivered. His cauldron sat on the fire and Finnegan waited until the pirates fell asleep before tiptoeing through the campsite to retrieve his belongings. Grabbing a bottle from the ground, he tossed the empty container over his shoulder, snorting with disgust. A noise startled Finnegan, but it was only a log crackling in the fire. He tiptoed toward the empty bottles smashed against the rock. Finnegan pounded his fist into his hand and mumbled. “Stupid, rotten pirates. It took me three days to brew that whiskey.” He leaned over to grab a bottle that survived the pirates hands. It was empty. Finnegan shoved the bottle into his pocket, but it slipped and crashed next to one of the men’s head.

Captain Malcolm cracked open one eyelid and stumbled to his feet upon catching sight of the two-foot tall man wearing a red shirt, green vest and pants, and with carrot colored hair peeking out from beneath a top hat. A dark red beard ran along the leprechaun’s jaw line. Finnegan’s pale green eyes glared at Captain Malcolm, who stumbled to his feet before falling again.

The leprechaun shrieked when the pirate landed on him, crushing him from the weight. Gold dust shot out from the tips of Finnegan’s ears to blind Captain Malcolm, but the ploy did not work. He fell backwards, gasping for air. “Get off me you oaf,” said Finnegan.

Malcolm grunted. “Can’t. Too drunk.”

“Oh no,” wailed Finnegan, his lungs on fire from the lack of oxygen. “Don’t kill me. Don’t kill me!” He lifted his head from the dirt. “Are you going to crush me to death?”

“Most likely.”

“I don’t want to die!” Finnegan struggled against Captain Malcolm’s weight, shoving the pirate’s shoulders.

Malcolm groaned with the effort of holding Finnegan still. “Quit your yelling you daft man,” he said, flicking the end of Finnegan’s pointed nose.

“If…you…get off…me,” Finnegan gasped, “I’ll give you my…treasure.” He cringed and looked away.

Captain Malcolm sobered a bit. “Did I hear you say treasure?”

A belch coming from the first mate, drew Malcolm and Finnegan’s attention. “I say,” said the first mate, “is that a leprechaun?”

“You’re drunk,” said Malcolm. “Now go back to sleep.”

The first mate’s eyes glazed over and he fell onto his back, his snores shaking the leaves in the trees.

Captain Malcolm turned to Finnegan. “Now, what were you saying about a treasure?”

“You will need to release me so that I may fetch the treasure for you.”

“Okay, but don’t try anything stupid,” said Captain Malcolm.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Finnegan rolled over onto his hands and knees, before scurrying toward the rock next to his cauldron of whiskey. He stood and straightened his green jacket while removing the bits of grass that clung to his sleeve.

Malcolm stumbled to his feet and wobbled toward Finnegan. “Have any more of that whiskey?”

Finnegan grumbled. “You and your men drank it all. I was in yonder field, picking clover by the light of the moon. Midnight clover is the sweetest for making the brew.”

“That it does, my little fellow. That it does.” Captain Malcolm patted his bloated belly. The leprechaun stepped back a few steps, but the pirate whipped his sword from the scabbard and held the tip of the blade to Finnegan’s throat. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“I…I…was just giving myself some room to retrieve my treasure.”

Captain Malcolm arched an auburn colored brow. “Don’t be mistaking my drunkenness for stupidity. You’re hoping to escape so I can’t have the treasure.”

Finnegan’s legs quivered. “I have to do my special combination to open my secret hiding place.” He pushed aside the tip of the sword. “And I need room.”

“Okay.” Captain Malcolm slowly lowered the sword to the ground.

The leprechaun wiggled his fingers ten times, clenched his hands and threw a fistful of gold into Captain Malcolm’s face, blinding the pirate. Finnegan scurried from the pirate’s grasp and shrieked when Captain Malcolm latched onto a pair of pants. A moment later, Finnegan wiggled free of his clothes.

Captain Malcolm coughed several times to clear his throat. He held the squirming leprechaun, but all he saw through his cloudy vision was Finnegan’s naked backside, disappearing into the woods. The pirate cursed as he climbed to his feet, holding the leprechaun’s clothing in his hands. He tossed them into the fire, watching them burn. Captain Malcolm stumbled backwards and sat on the nearest rock, while holding his head in his hands. He spied his sword on the ground and shoved the blade back into the scabbard attached to his belt. A moment later, he eyed the drunken pirates scattered about his feet. His men began to stir.

“Captain, we should be getting back to the ship,” said the first mate while rubbing his bloodshot eyes.

“Right.” With the toe of his boot, Captain Malcolm nudged several of the pirates in the ribs as they stumbled to their feet. “Time to get a move on.”

One of the men scratched his belly and yawned. “What are we stealing for breakfast? I’m hungry.”

“Yeah Captain. What’s for breakfast?” The first mate picked at his teeth with a sharp blade before spitting a piece of food onto the ground that he found in the front of his teeth.

Angry with himself for loosing the treasure, Captain Malcolm smacked the first mate on the back on the head. “It ain’t morning yet. Not even close. Keep it up and I’ll serve you seaweed, you lazy slug.” He paused for a moment and stared at the rock next to the cauldron. “You there.” He pointed at two burly seamen with muscles budging through their raggedy shirts. “Grab that rock, will you?”

At their questioning glances, Captain Malcolm said, “I’ve decided to start a new pirate tradition.”

“And what would that be?” The first mate eyed the rock.

Captain Malcolm cleared his throat before saying, “Every time we drink a good bottle of whiskey, we are to throw it against the rock in remembrance of the best drink we ever had.” The men nodded, a murmur of approval rumbled throughout the crowd. Captain Malcolm didn’t want to go home empty handed and grabbed the cauldron and wooden spoon before kicking aside the empty bottles that littered his path. Satisfied with the small plunder, Captain Malcolm led the pirates from the clearing, all the while glancing over his shoulder for a glimpse of the leprechaun.

Late that night, Malcolm and his crew sailed back to Scotland. The sun appeared at the edge of the horizon when the ship pulled into an abandoned cove near Captain Malcolm's home of Fort William, Scotland. The pounding in the pirate’s head made the hair on his neck stand on end.

“Captain,” called the first mate. “We're home. Where do you want us to put the rock?”

Captain Malcolm cradled his head in his hands as he leaned over the railing. “What rock?”

“The one you made us bring back from Ireland to use in our celebrations.”

“Oh…that one.” With the back of his hand, he waved at the cliffs rising on three sides of the cove. “In front of my cottage is fine.” Captain Malcolm left the men on the ship and rowed toward shore with the first mate, the cauldron, the wooden spoon and the rock. A light breeze blew across the sea inlet, cooling his heated skin. The sun rose higher in the sky as Captain Malcolm’s head nodded forward.

Once on dry land, the first mate nudged the Captain. “Wake up sir. We're home.”

“What? Where-?” Malcolm stared at the rock and then stumbled onto the shore.

“Would you mind carrying this Captain while I tie up the dinghy?”

“Not at all.” Captain Malcolm grabbed the cauldron and spoon, leaving the rock for the first mate to struggle with as they walked across the pebble beach, up the rocky path that clung to the side of the cliff, and toward the wooden door in front of a thatched roof cottage.

“Why are you carrying that?” Captain Malcolm raised his brow at the first mate.

“You said you wanted to keep it for celebrations.” The rock in question landed behind a bush as the first mate’s arms gave out from the heavy weight.

Captain Malcolm snorted. He entered the musty building and rolled onto his straw covered bed. Snoring echoed off the walls. Once the Captain was safe in bed, the first mate shut the door and returned to the ship to join the other pirates.

Late that afternoon, a tapping on Malcolm shoulder sent him to his feet. He reached for the sword at his side, but the scabbard was empty. Finnegan stood on a rickety table in the far corner of the room. “Who are you and how did you get here?” Captain Malcolm reached for the animal skin that covered the window frame to let in some sunlight. He fell flat on his face when the covering ripped free of the hooks.

Finnegan jumped off the table. “I’m the leprechaun whose treasure you stole.”

Malcolm sat on the floor and leaned back against the straw mattress. “When was this?”

“Were you so drunk then that you really don't remember?”

Captain Malcolm bristled. “What do you want?”

“I’ll be wanting my treasure back,” said Finnegan.

“You can't have it,” said Malcolm, unwilling to admit that he remembered nothing about a treasure.

“I must warn you, I've been shunned from the other leprechauns in my clan. And I’m the joke of my people,” said Finnegan.

“How did you find me?”

“The dolphins spied your ship and they brought me here. Unlike you, they feel sorry for me,” cried Finnegan.

“Well I don't. If it meant that much to you, you should have kept it safe. Too bad for you,” said Captain Malcolm.

Finnegan gritted his teeth. “Give me back my treasure!”

With a grimace on his face, Captain Malcolm said, hoping to send the leprechaun from his cottage, “No. I plan on spending it.”

Finnegan stiffened his spine, his mouth hung open. “Then…then…if you won't give it back, I’ll make sure you never get the chance to spend my treasure.” He blinked his eyes as green dust shot from his fingertips. Malcolm bellowed with pain. The pirate’s body twisted and turned into a small stone statue the size of a forefinger. Finnegan grabbed the charm and cradled it in the palm of his hands. “When you tell me where my treasure is, I’ll release you from this prison.” Finnegan cocked his head to the side, listening to the muffled voice of Captain Malcolm.

“Not on your life leprechaun,” cried the pirate.

Pounding on the front door startled Finnegan and he dropped Captain Malcolm onto the floor. Finnegan scurried through the window and disappeared from the cottage just as the first mate entered the room.

“Captain? I heard shouting. You all right? Captain…Captain?” No sound came from within to answer the first mates call. He searched the cottage, never finding the infamous pirate, Captain Malcolm McWallace or the charm that rolled un-noticed under the cot.

Years passed, the ship rotted away in the harbor, the cottage fell into ruin. Captain Malcolm’s brother came to Fort William to find the pirate, but when his search came up empty, he moved his family into the cottage to raise his children in the countryside with clean air and hearty Scottish food. Once again life returned to normal in the quiet Scottish village, the legend of Captain Malcolm McWallace now a distant memory of the McWallace family and with the townsfolk of Fort William, who went about their daily lives.

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