Dinny O’Toole’s Fortune
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Dinny O’Toole had been looking for leprechauns, but this was ridiculous. When he had decided to seek his fortune, Dinny had to take into account the fact of his basic laziness. So, instead of going out to wander over hill and dale, suffering all the privations of the open road, he had simply woven this silken net, set a bowl of milk on his doorstep, and rigged this trap.

It had worked. “But,” said Dinny staring down at what his trap had caught, “this is ridiculous. A Chinese leprechaun? In County Kerry?” He shook his head in bewilderment and disbelief.

“I’m just visiting,” the leprechaun said. “Actually, I’m not from China — I’m a San Franciscan. But that’s neither here nor there. Let me outta this!”

Dinny watched as the diminutive green man struggled in the webbing, but all he managed to do was to get his pigtail hopelessly. Dinny grinned. “Okay, okay, you win,” the leprechaun said, sitting down and panting. “What do you want? You’ve got me cold.”

  
 
“Well, now,” Dinny said, “let’s see — I might want to watch you some more, and I might not. But, sure, maybe other folk would — for a price.” His eyes took on a faraway glaze. “How would you like to travel in a sideshow — see the world?”

The leprechaun shuddered and Dinny laughed. “Cut the coy bit,” the little man said. “Name your price and let me go.”

Dinny watched him squirm for a minute longer, and then he relented. “All right, then,” he said, “I’m seeking my fortune. I’ve caught you fair, and you must give it me.”

“Done!” the leprechaun shouted. “Today you shall have your fortune. Now cut me loose!”

“Not so fast,” Dinny said. “Where will I find it?”

“It’ll find you.”

“You swear?”

The leprechaun curled his lip. “Our word is our bond,” he said. “You should know that, being from County Kerry and all.”

Dinny nodded, unraveled the leprechaun’s pigtail, and pulled off the net. “Humph,” the little man grunted, and disappeared.

Dinny O’Toole tried to be patient the rest of the morning, but he wasn’t very successful at it. He ate a little soup for lunch and then prowled the house muttering as the early afternoon dragged on.

Toward three o’clock his apprehension that he had been lied to grew very strong, and he began to curse and mutter under his breath. The little cottage began to stifle him, so he decided to go outdoors and wait. He’d work in the garden to take his mind off things. He was just beginning to clear out his fifth row of weeds when he heard a vehicle pull up in front of the house and blow its horn. He got up, brushed himself off, and went to see what was going on. As soon as he saw it was a postal service lorry he ran down the path to the road, his eyes glittering.

“Package, Mr. O’Toole,” the postman said. “A big one. I’ll need your help,” and he opened the panel doors at the rear.

“At last!” Dinny cried and rushed to help.

The two of them managed to wrestle the big package off the lorry and onto a dolly.

Dinny led the way up the path to the house. Every time a wheel struck a rock and the package teetered he shouted, “Careful, ye bloody fool!” But at last the package was unloaded in the middle of the single room of the cottage. “Thanks, thanks.”

Dinny said in distraction as he hustled the postal service man out the door. The postman frowned and went off down the path shaking his head and mumbling something to himself.

As soon as Dinny heard the lorry start up and go off down the road he pulled the curtains and examined the package. Besides being large it was wrapped in plain brown paper without a return address, only a picture of a large green shamrock in the upper left-hand corner. “Well, no use sitting still,” Dinny said to himself, his eyes gleaming, and he set to.

Beneath the wrapping, which he tore off in great wads, there was a box made of some dark grainy wood. Its top was hinged and secured with a hook and hasp. Eagerly, and with some difficulty, Dinny managed to move the stiff hook and pry off the top.

His eyes widened, and then narrowed to little slits, for inside the box was another box just like the first, only smaller.

Dinny got the second box out after a good deal of muttering and sweating — he finally had to turn the big box on its side and pry out the smaller one with a screw driver. Then he set it upright, pried the top open — it seemed to stick even worse than the first.

And then he discovered the third box.

All afternoon Dinny worked and cursed, pulling out box after box. By evening the room was loaded with empty boxes. Dinny opened the door and, swearing like a priest, kicked half a dozen of them out into the yard. In his hand he held the smallest of them all. “This has to be it,” he said to himself. “There can’t be another, and a leprechaun can’t lie in a trap, so my fortune must be in this one.

Curse the little devil, but the best things come in small packages, they do say.”

He pried off the top and looked. Sure enough, there were no more boxes. Nestled snugly in the last of them there lay a Chinese biscuit. Carefully, Dinny split the shell and took out a slip of paper. Unfolding it carefully, Dinny read what it said.

The leprechaun had not lied: “Today you will receive a nest of Chinese boxes,” his fortune read.



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