And I held onto the back of his jacket, as the little leprechaun struggled and kicked to get away. His hat fell off, he cursed and yelled, but still I held on. I knew the legends about the Wee Folk: if you could catch a leprechaun, he must tell you where his pot of gold is hidden.
But I didn’t want the pot of gold.
Finally, he gave up trying to get away, because I’d managed to catch his right foot as well, and he was worn out with the battle.
“Well, an’ what do ye be a-wantin’ with me, ye wicked colleen? As if I dinna ken what ye wanted!” he burst out, as he dusted himself off, retrieved his splendid hat, and stood to face me, defiantly. He was all of two feet tall.
“Ye be wantin’ me gold, that I know.”
I shook my head. “No, I don’t want your pot of gold. I want something else from you.” I sat down on a convenient boulder, so we were face-to-face.
His eyes grew round beneath his shaggy eyebrows, and he glared at me more ferociously. “Not be a-wantin’ me gold? Dinna ye ken the auld legends, lassie? Ye caught me! Ye be s’posed ta demand me pot of gold, in return fer me freedom!”
“Well, you’re already free,” I pointed out to him. “I’m not hanging on to you anymore.”
He gave me a wary look. “Be ye tryin’ to confound the wiliest of all, a leprechaun himself?”
“I have a favor to ask of you instead of the pot of gold which, I believe, according to legend, has been passed down from generation to generation. Taking your pot of gold would be taking your inheritance.”
“Aye, that it would. So what will ye instead?”
I leaned close to the little man dressed all in brilliant green. “I’ll whisper it to you.”
And so, if I ever get to Ireland, I can claim the huge, great grey castle, perfectly preserved; never conquered, never subdued: ‘Ahc Tog.’ And I have a leprechaun’s promise to prove it.