It so happened that the Leprecauns of Gort na Cloca Mora were not thankful to the Philosopher for having sent Meehawl MacMurrachu to their field. In stealing Meehawl’s property they were quite within their rights because their bird had undoubtedly been slain by his cat. Not alone, therefore, was their righteous vengeance nullified, but the crock of gold which had taken their community many thousands of years to amass was stolen. A Leprecaun without a pot of gold is like a rose without perfume, a bird without a wing, or an inside without an outside. They considered that the Philosopher had treated them badly, that his action was mischievous and unneighbourly, and that until they were adequately compensated for their loss both of treasure and dignity, no conditions other than those of enmity could exist between their people and the little house in the pine wood. Furthermore, for them the situation was cruelly complicated. They were unable to organise a direct, personal hostility against their new enemy, because the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath would certainly protect her husband. She belonged to the Shee of Croghan Conghaile, who had relatives in every fairy fort in Ireland, and were also strongly represented in the forts and duns of their immediate neighbours. They could, of course, have called an extraordinary meeting of the Sheogs, Leprecauns, and Cluricauns, and presented their case with a claim for damages against the Shee of Croghan Conghaile, but that Clann would assuredly repudiate any liability on the ground that no member of their fraternity was responsible for the outrage, as it was the Philosopher, and not the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath, who had done the deed. Notwithstanding this they were unwilling to let the matter rest, and the fact that justice was out of reach only added fury to their anger.

One of their number was sent to interview the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath, and the others concentrated nightly about the dwelling of Meehawl MacMurrachu in an endeavour to recapture the treasure which they were quite satisfied was hopeless. They found that Meehawl, who understood the customs of the Earth Folk very well, had buried the crock of gold beneath a thorn bush, thereby placing it under the protection of every fairy in the world⁠—the Leprecauns themselves included, and until it was removed from this place by human hands they were bound to respect its hiding-place, and even guarantee its safety with their blood.

They afflicted Meehawl with an extraordinary attack of rheumatism and his wife with an equally virulent sciatica, but they got no lasting pleasure from their groans.

The Leprecaun, who had been detailed to visit the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath, duly arrived at the cottage in the pine wood and made his complaint. The little man wept as he told the story, and the two children wept out of sympathy for him. The Thin Woman said she was desperately grieved by the whole unpleasant transaction, and that all her sympathies were with Gort na Cloca Mora, but that she must disassociate herself from any responsibility in the matter as it was her husband who was the culpable person, and that she had no control over his mental processes, which, she concluded, was one of the seven curious things in the world.

As her husband was away in a distant part of the wood nothing further could be done at that time, so the Leprecaun returned again to his fellows without any good news, but he promised to come back early on the following day. When the Philosopher came home late that night the Thin Woman was waiting up for him.

“Woman,” said the Philosopher, “you ought to be in bed.”

“Ought I indeed?” said the Thin Woman. “I’d have you know that I’ll go to bed when I like and get up when I like without asking your or anyone else’s permission.”

“That is not true,” said the Philosopher. “You get sleepy whether you like it or not, and you awaken again without your permission being asked. Like many other customs such as singing, dancing, music, and acting, sleep has crept into popular favour as part of a religious ceremonial. Nowhere can one go to sleep more easily than in a church.”

“Do you know,” said the Thin Woman, “that a Leprecaun came here today?”

“I do not,” said the Philosopher, “and notwithstanding the innumerable centuries which have elapsed since that first sleeper (probably with extreme difficulty) sank into his religious trance, we can today sleep through a religious ceremony with an ease which would have been a source of wealth and fame to that prehistoric worshipper and his acolytes.”

“Are you going to listen to what I am telling you about the Leprecaun?” said the Thin Woman.

“I am not,” said the Philosopher. “It has been suggested that we go to sleep at night because it is then too dark to do anything else; but owls, who are a venerably sagacious folk, do not sleep in the nighttime. Bats, also, are a very clear-minded race; they sleep in the broadest day, and they do it in a charming manner. They clutch the branch of a tree with their toes and hang head downwards⁠—a position which I consider singularly happy, for the rush of blood to the head consequent on this inverted position should engender a drowsiness and a certain imbecility of mind which must either sleep or explode.”

“Will you never be done talking?” shouted the Thin Woman passionately.

“I will not,” said the Philosopher. “In certain ways sleep is useful. It is an excellent way of listening to an opera or seeing pictures on a bioscope. As a medium for daydreams I know of nothing that can equal it. As an accomplishment it is graceful, but as a means of spending a night it is intolerably ridiculous. If you were going to say anything, my love, please say it now, but you should always remember to think before you speak. A woman should be seen seldom but never heard. Quietness is the beginning of virtue. To be silent is to be beautiful. Stars do not make a noise. Children should always be in bed. These are serious truths, which cannot be controverted; therefore, silence is fitting as regards them.”

“Your stirabout is on the hob,” said the Thin Woman. “You can get it for yourself. I would not move the breadth of my nail if you were dying of hunger. I hope there’s lumps in it. A Leprecaun from Gort na Cloca Mora was here today. They’ll give it to you for robbing their pot of gold. You old thief, you! you lob-eared, crock-kneed fat-eye!”

The Thin Woman whizzed suddenly from where she stood and leaped into bed. From beneath the blanket she turned a vivid, furious eye on her husband. She was trying to give him rheumatism and toothache and lockjaw all at once. If she had been satisfied to concentrate her attention on one only of these torments she might have succeeded in afflicting her husband according to her wish, but she was not able to do that.

“Finality is death. Perfection is finality. Nothing is perfect. There are lumps in it,” said the Philosopher.