Theres A Reason That Jesus Told His Followers That They Needed to Become ‘As Cunning As Serpents And As Innocent As Doves’: THE FIELD OF BOLIAUNS

ONE FINE DAY IN HARVEST—it was indeed Lady-day in harvest,

that everybody knows to be one of the greatest holidays
in the year—Tom Fitzpatrick was taking a ramble through
the ground, and went along the sunny side of a hedge; when
all of a sudden he heard a clacking sort of noise a little before
him in the hedge. “Dear me,” said Tom, “but isn’t it surprising
to hear the stonechatters singing so late in the season?”
So Tom stole on, going on the tops of his toes to try if he
could get a sight of what was making the noise, to see if he
was right in his guess. The noise stopped; but as Tom looked
sharply through the bushes, what should he see in a nook of
the hedge but a brown pitcher, that might hold about a gallon
and a half of liquor; and by-and-by a little wee teeny tiny
bit of an old man, with a little motty of a cocked hat stuck
upon the top of his head, a deeshy daushy leather apron
hanging before him, pulled out a little wooden stool, and
stood up upon it, and dipped a little piggin into the pitcher,
and took out the full of it, and put it beside the stool, and
then sat down under the pitcher, and began to work at putting
a heel-piece on a bit of a brogue just fit for himself.

“Well, by the powers,” said Tom to himself, “I often heard
tell of the Lepracauns, and, to tell God’s truth, I never rightly
believed in them—but here’s one of them in real earnest. If
I go knowingly to work, I’m a made man. They say a body
must never take their eyes off them, or they’ll escape.”
Tom now stole on a little further, with his eye fixed on the
little man just as a cat does with a mouse. So when he got up
quite close to him, “God bless your work, neighbour,” said Tom.
The little man raised up his head, and “Thank you kindly,”
said he.

“I wonder you’d be working on the holiday!” said Tom.
“That’s my own business, not yours,” was the reply.
“Well, may be you’d be civil enough to tell us what you’ve
got in the pitcher there?” said Tom.
“That I will, with pleasure,” said he; “it’s good beer.”
“Beer!” said Tom. “Thunder and fire! where did you get it?”
“Where did I get it, is it? Why, I made it. And what do
you think I made it of?”
“Devil a one of me knows,” said Tom; “but of malt, I suppose,
what else?”
“There you’re out. I made it of heath.”
“Of heath!” said Tom, bursting out laughing; “sure you
don’t think me to be such a fool as to believe that?”
“Do as you please,” said he, “but what I tell you is the
truth. Did you never hear tell of the Danes?”
“Well, what about them?” said Tom.
“Why, all the about them there is, is that when they were
here they taught us to make beer out of the heath, and the
secret’s in my family ever since.”

“Will you give a body a taste of your beer?” said Tom.
“I’ll tell you what it is, young man, it would be fitter for
you to be looking after your father’s property than to be
bothering decent quiet people with your foolish questions.
There now, while you’re idling away your time here, there’s
the cows have broke into the oats, and are knocking the
corn all about.”

Tom was taken so by surprise with this that he was just on
the very point of turning round when he recollected himself;
so, afraid that the like might happen again, he made a
grab at the Lepracaun, and caught him up in his hand; but
in his hurry he overset the pitcher, and spilt all the beer, so
that he could not get a taste of it to tell what sort it was. He
then swore that he would kill him if he did not show him
where his money was. Tom looked so wicked and so bloodyminded
that the little man was quite frightened; so says he,
“Come along with me a couple of fields off, and I’ll show
you a crock of gold.”

So they went, and Tom held the Lepracaun fast in his hand,
and never took his eyes from off him, though they had to
cross hedges and ditches, and a crooked bit of bog, till at last
they came to a great field all full of boliauns, and the Lepracaun
pointed to a big boliaun, and says he, “Dig under that boliaun,
and you’ll get the great crock all full of guineas.”
Tom in his hurry had never thought of bringing a spade
with him, so he made up his mind to run home and fetch
one; and that he might know the place again he took off one
of his red garters, and tied it round the boliaun.
Then he said to the Lepracaun, “Swear ye’ll not take that
garter away from that boliaun.” And the Lepracaun swore
right away not to touch it.

“I suppose,” said the Lepracaun, very civilly, “you have no
further occasion for me?”
“No,” says Tom; “you may go away now, if you please, and
God speed you, and may good luck attend you wherever
you go.”
“Well, good-bye to you, Tom Fitzpatrick,” said the
Lepracaun; “and much good may it do you when you get it.”

So Tom ran for dear life, till he came home and got a spade,
and then away with him, as hard as he could go, back to the
field of boliauns; but when he got there, lo and behold! not
a boliaun in the field but had a red garter, the very model of
his own, tied about it; and as to digging up the whole field,
that was all nonsense, for there were more than forty good
Irish acres in it. So Tom came home again with his spade on
his shoulder, a little cooler than he went, and many’s the
hearty curse he gave the Lepracaun every time he thought of
the neat turn he had served him.


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