Seeing is Believing - Fairy Legends of Ireland

HERE'S a sort of people whom every one must have met with some time or other; people that pretend to disbelieve what, in their hearts, they believe and are afraid of. Now Felix O'Driscoll was one of these. Felix was a rattling, rollicking, harum-scarum, devil-may-care sort of a fellow, like—but that's neither here nor there. He was always talking one nonsense or another, and among the rest of his foolery he pretended not to believe in the fairies, the Cluricaunes and the Phoocas; and he even sometimes had the impudence to affect to doubt of ghosts, that everybody believes in, at any rate. Yet some people used to wink and look knowing when Felix was gostering (boasting), for it was observed that he was very shy of passing the ford of Ahnamoe after nightfall; and that when he was once riding past the old church of Grenaugh in the dark, even though he had got enough of potheen into him to make any man stout, he made the horse trot so that there was no keeping up with him; and every now and then he would throw a sharp look-out over his left shoulder.

One night there was a parcel of people sitting drinking and talking together at Larry Reilly's public, and Felix was one of the party. He was, as usual, getting on with his bletherumskite about the fairies, and swearing that he did not believe there was any live things, barring men and beasts, and birds and fish, and such things as a body could see, and he went on at last talking in so profane a way of the "good people" that some of the people grew timid, and began to cross themselves, not knowing what might happen, when an old woman called Moirna Hogaune, with a long blue cloak about her, who had been sitting in the chimney-corner smoking her pipe without taking any share in the conversation, took the pipe out of her mouth, threw the ashes out of it, spat in the fire, and, turning round, looked Felix straight in the face.

"And so you don't believe there is such things as Cluricaunes, don't you?" said she.

Felix looked rather daunted, but he said nothing.

"Why, then, upon my troth, and it well becomes the like o' you, that's nothing but a bit of a gossoon, to take upon you to pretend not to believe what your father and your father's father, and his father before him never made the least doubt of! But to make the matter short, seeing's believing, they say; and I that might be your grandmother tell you there are such things as Cluricaunes, and I myself saw one—there's for you now!"

All the people in the room looked quite surprised at this, and crowded up to the fireplace to listen to her. Felix tried to laugh, but it wouldn't do; nobody minded him.

"I remember," said she, "some time after I married my honest man, who's now dead and gone, it was by the same token just a little afore I lay in of my first child (and that's many a long day ago), I was sitting out in our bit of garden with my knitting in my hand, watching some bees that we had that was going to swarm. It was a fine sunshiny day about the middle of June, and the bees were humming and flying backwards and forwards from the hives, and the birds were chirping and hopping on the bushes, and the butterflies were flying and sitting on the flowers, and everything smelt so fresh and so sweet, and I felt so happy, that I hardly knew where I was. When all of a sudden I heard, among some rows of beans that we had in a corner of the garden, a noise that went tick-tack, tick-tack, just for all the world as if a brogue-maker was putting on the heel of a pump. 'Lord preserve us!' said I to myself; 'what in the world can that be?' So I laid down my knitting, and got up and stole softly over to the beans, and never believe me if I did not see sitting there before me, in the middle of them, a bit of an old man, not a quarter so big as a new-born child, with a little cocked hat on his head, and a dudeen (pipe-stump) in his mouth smoking away, and a plain old-fashioned drab-coloured coat with big buttons upon it on his back, and a pair of massy silver buckles in his shoes, that almost covered his feet, they were so big; and he working away as hard as ever he could, heeling a pair of little brogues. The minute I clapped my two eyes upon him I knew him to be a Cluricaune; and as I was stout and foolhardy, says I to him, 'God save you, honest man! that's hard work you're at this hot day.' He looked up in my face quite vexed like: so with that I made a run at him, caught a hold of him in my hand, and asked him where was his purse of money. 'Money?' said he, 'money indeed! and where would a poor little old creature like me get money?' 'Come, come,' said I, 'none of your tricks doesn't everybody know that Cluricaunes, like you, are as rich as the devil himself?' So I pulled out a knife I had in my pocket, and put on as wicked a face as ever I could (and, in troth, that was no easy matter for me then, for I was as comely and good-humoured looking a girl as you'd see from this to Carrignavar), and swore if he didn't instantly give me his purse, or show me a pot of gold, I'd cut the nose off his face. Well, to be sure, the little man did look so frightened at hearing these words that I almost found it in my heart to pity the poor little creature. 'Then,' said he, 'come with me just a couple of fields off, and I'll show you where I keep my money.' So I went, still holding him in my hand and keeping my eyes fixed upon him, when all of a sudden I heard a whiz-z behind me. 'There! there!' cried he, 'there's your bees all swarming and going off with themselves.' I, like a fool as I was, turned my head round, and when I saw nothing at all, and looked back at the Cluricaune, I found nothing at all at all in my hand; for when I had the ill luck to take my eyes off him, you see, he slipped out of my hand just as if he was made of fog or smoke, and the sorrow the foot he ever came nigh my garden again."