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Thursday, March 16, 2006

by Chuck

Copyright © 1998, 2006 by Charles J. & Victor L. Nugent

One bright sunny morning, Mrs. FitzWarren, the Leprechaun's teacher announced that the class would take a field trip today to the King's Library. Now the King's Library is a big building that was built too long ago for anyone to remember. It contains thousands of books that the Leprechaun Kings had collected over the eons.

When their school bus pulled into the parking lot of the Library the little leprechauns were awed by the huge gray castle like building with a tower that seemed to reach to the clouds. Barely visible at the top was a door leading to the parapet from which a person could see half of Leprechaun Land. As the leprechauns gazed up at the tower, McGuilicudy was thinking not about the great view from the parapet but, rather, how far his ball would bounce if he dropped it from the parapet.

Inside the library they were given a tour by old Miss Lacy, the chief librarian, who looked and talked like she had been there from when it was first built. Miss Lacy knew everything about the library. She even described the Tower which contained hundreds of books that no one, except Miss Lacy, had looked at for over three hundred years.

When the tour was finished Mrs. FitzWarren told the class that they were to explore the bookshelves and make a report about what they found. McGuilicudy, ever the clever little leprechaun, asked if they could explore any part of the library they wanted and the unsuspecting Mrs. FitzWarren said "yes". McGuilicudy then announced that he and Sean would explore the Tower.

Now McGuilicudy had no desire to spend the day looking at books. His plan was to get to the top of the tower and drop his ball from the parapet. He hoped that his friend, Sean, would check out the books while he was dropping his ball. But if Sean didn't look at the books that was OK, because, since no one had visited the Tower in eons, he and Sean could just make something up and no one would know the difference.

So, before Mrs. FitzWarren could say "no", McGuilicudy, with Sean in tow, struck out for the Tower.

The Tower was dark and foreboding and Sean was scared, but McGuilicudy, thinking of nothing but how far his ball would bounce, dragged him down the winding corridors and up the stairs. Shelves of ancient books rose to the ceiling in seemingly endless rows. Ancient tomes, half buried in dust from ages past, stared down silently as the two leprechauns scurried past.

As they climbed the seemingly endless stone steps on the way to the top, they began to tire and were finally forced by fatigue to pause for a rest. Wearily leaning up against a shelf loaded with books, Sean accidentally leaned against a huge book, causing it to fall with a crash. He and McGuilicudy jumped back in terror as the crash of the book on the stone floor broke the scary silence of the Tower. Sean and McGuilicudy, fearing Miss Lacy would be attracted by the noise and would punish them for disturbing one of her precious books were about to run back when they noticed the words "Golden Shamrocks" across the top of the page which the book had opened to when it fell. Curious, they proceeded to read the page.

The book was about magical plants of Leprechaun Land. and described a rare shamrock, so rare that usually no more than one grew in a field per year. The leaves of this shamrock had little specks of gold in them. But what was more amazing was the fact that when the first rays of the sun touched the leaves of this shamrock in the morning the three leaves of the shamrock turned to pure gold for an instant. If someone touches the leaves at the same instant they get three wishes.

Sean and McGuilicudy read this with fascination. Just before they finished the page, the voice of Miss Lacy echoed through the corridor warning them that their class was about to leave and that they were to return immediately. Not wanting to be left behind, they got up and ran back downstairs leaving the book where it lay. They left without taking time to read the last paragraph on the page which warned that the magic of the golden shamrock was dangerous and that people accepted the wishes of the shamrock at their peril!

Back in class, Sean and McGuilicudy told about their discovery of the golden shamrock article. Now, they would have been better off following McGuilicudy's original plan and making something up, because Mrs. FitzWarren, finding the idea of magical, golden shamrocks preposterous accused them of making that up! What was worse was that she gave them a zero for the project and that would mean an "F" on their report cards.

Now they were in a fix! Even if they could go back to the King's Library and find which corridor the book was on, which would have been very difficult, they feared the wrath of Miss Lacy for, first knocking one of her precious books on the floor and then for leaving it there. But they also did not relish the thought of having to face their parents in a couple of weeks with report cards
containing an "F".

What could they do? "I know" said Sean. "Lets find one of the magical golden shamrocks. That will prove that we were telling the truth". Not having any other idea of his own, McGuilicudy agreed try Sean's idea.

So, for the next week, Sean and McGuilicudy spent all of their free time on hands and knees exploring the meadows looking for a shamrock with specks of gold in its leaves. As their friends played, they worked at finding the magical shamrock. Finally, just before they were ready to give up, Sean spotted a shamrock with specks of gold in its leaves. Placing a marker by it so they could find it again, they went home and went to bed early.

Rising before sunrise, Sean and McGuilicudy raced out to the field and awaited the first rays of the sun. They shivered in the chill of the early morning and the dark, pre-dawn silence was broken only by the hungry growling of their empty stomachs.

Soon the sky began to brighten and Sean and McGuilicudy readied themselves to touch the magical leaves. Suddenly the sun pulled itself up over the horizon and its golden rays spilled over the cold meadow. Sean and McGuilicudy touched the leaves in the same instant as did the sun's rays.

The leaves of the shamrock changed to pure gold and a voice emanating from the meadow informed them that they each had three wishes which they had to make immediately. Without thinking, each wished for a warm jacket and a hot breakfast (they had left home without jackets or breakfast). Magically their jackets and a delicious hot breakfast appeared for each. Warm and fed, they thought a moment about what they should use their last wishes for. They needed something that would convince Mrs. FitzWarren and their classmates that the magical golden shamrock was real.

They thought and thought. Finally, McGuilicudy said, "I know. We will wish to be invisible. That way we can play tricks on the class all day and, when we re-appear, they will have to believe us".

So they wished to be invisible - but forgot to stipulate for how long.

It was fun at first. They went to school and sat in their seats. When Mrs. FitzWarren called their names they each answered "here", but, when she saw the empty seats she scolded Shamus and O'Rourke, who sit next to Sean and McGuilicudy, for talking out of turn.

When Mrs. FitzWarren told the class to hand in their homework, Sean and McGuilicudy put theirs on the top of the pile. During math, Mrs. FitzWarren wrote some problems on the board and, when she turned to select students to come up and write the answers, Sean and McGuilicudy wrote the answers on the board. She gave a spelling test and Sean and McGuilicudy each took it and placed theirs on the top of the pile. What was really perplexing to Mrs. FitzWarren was that, not only were Sean and McGuilicudy's homework and tests being handed in, but McGuilicudy got his usual five out of ten words wrong in spelling.

Just before recess, McGuilicudy went around the room tying everyone's shoe laces together. When Mrs. FitzWarren told them to go to recess they all got up and promptly fell down. At recess, the invisible McGuilicudy joined in the soccer game and, led his team to victory with all kinds of cheating that went undetected because he was invisible. When Mrs. FitzWarren went outside to call the class in from recess, McGuilicudy ran into the room and locked the door. The class got an extra fifteen minutes of recess while they waited for old Mr. O'Dowd, the janitor, to come with the keys to open the door. McGuilicudy's last and best trick was to go through everyone's lunch box and, in addition to eating all the cookies he found, switching everyone's lunch.

When the rest of the class went to lunch McGuilicudy, having gotten a stomachache from eating so many cookies, went to the back of the room and sat down next to Sean.

"We have a problem" announced Sean. "I know" said McGuilicudy. "How can I get the nurse to call my mother to take me home because of this awful stomachache when neither can see me?" "No, we have a worse problem", said Sean. "We don't know how to become visible again".

This was serious, so serious that McGuilicudy forgot about his stomachache. So they went and found Mrs. FitzWarren and, after a lot of effort convinced her that they were really invisible. This explained all the strange happenings of the morning.

After informing them that they each had six weeks of detention for all of their mischief (most of it was McGuilicudy's doing but, not being able to see them, both got blamed), Mrs. FitzWarren arranged for them to be taken back to the Library.

At the Library Miss Lacy told them to follow her as she searched for the book they knocked over. Turning a corner she saw it laying open on the floor and let out a scream of horror at the sight of one of her precious 500 year old books laying open on the floor.

Unlike Sean and McGuilicudy, Miss Lacy read the entire article about the magical golden shamrocks, learning both the dangers of the magic and the potion needed to undo the magic. Actually, the potion was quite simple. Simply pick 100 shamrocks each, boil them for twenty minutes and eat them. Unfortunately, the boiled shamrocks of Leprechaun Land. taste just like spinach - the food that both Sean and McGuilicudy hated the worst!

After swallowing the last spoonful they re-appeared to face the angry Mrs. FitzWarren with their detention slips and the even angrier Miss Lacy with a dust rag for each. For knocking over one of her precious books, she insisted that they spend their weekends for the next year dusting all the books in the Tower - this would be the first time in 350 years that they would be dusted.

Despite the detention and dusting, our story does have a happy ending. You see, Sean and McGuilicudy's actions, drastic though they were, did convince Mrs. FitzWarren that they had read about magic golden shamrocks. So she changed their zeros to 100s and they each got an "A" instead of an "F" on their report cards in reading. Of course McGuilicudy got his usual "F" in spelling but his parents were used to that.

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