When the children leaped into the hole at the foot of the tree they found themselves sliding down a dark, narrow slant which dropped them softly enough into a little room. This room was hollowed out immediately under the tree, and great care had been taken not to disturb any of the roots which ran here and there through the chamber in the strangest crisscross, twisted fashion. To get across such a place one had to walk round, and jump over, and duck under perpetually. Some of the roots had formed themselves very conveniently into low seats and narrow, uneven tables, and at the bottom all the roots ran into the floor and away again in the direction required by their business. After the clear air outside this place was very dark to the children’s eyes, so that they could not see anything for a few minutes, but after a little time their eyes became accustomed to the semiobscurity and they were able to see quite well. The first things they became aware of were six small men who were seated on low roots. They were all dressed in tight green clothes and little leathern aprons, and they wore tall green hats which wobbled when they moved. They were all busily engaged making shoes. One was drawing out wax ends on his knee, another was softening pieces of leather in a bucket of water, another was polishing the instep of a shoe with a piece of curved bone, another was paring down a heel with a short broad-bladed knife, and another was hammering wooden pegs into a sole. He had all the pegs in his mouth, which gave him a wide-faced, jolly expression, and according as a peg was wanted he blew it into his hand and hit it twice with his hammer, and then he blew another peg, and he always blew the peg with the right end uppermost, and never had to hit it more than twice. He was a person well worth watching.

The children had slid down so unexpectedly that they almost forgot their good manners, but as soon as Seumas Beg discovered that he was really in a room he removed his cap and stood up.

“God be with all here,” said he.

The Leprecaun who had brought them lifted Brigid from the floor to which amazement still constrained her.

“Sit down on that little root, child of my heart,” said he, “and you can knit stockings for us.”

“Yes, sir,” said Brigid meekly.

The Leprecaun took four knitting needles and a ball of green wool from the top of a high, horizontal root. He had to climb over one, go round three and climb up two roots to get at it, and he did this so easily that it did not seem a bit of trouble. He gave the needles and wool to Brigid Beg.

“Do you know how to turn the heel, Brigid Beg?” said he.

“No, sir,” said Brigid.

“Well, I’ll show you how when you come to it.”

The other six Leprecauns had ceased work and were looking at the children. Seumas turned to them.

“God bless the work,” said he politely.

One of the Leprecauns, who had a grey, puckered face and a thin fringe of grey whisker very far under his chin, then spoke.

“Come over here, Seumas Beg,” said he, “and I’ll measure you for a pair of shoes. Put your foot up on that root.”

The boy did so, and the Leprecaun took the measure of his foot with a wooden rule.

“Now, Brigid Beg, show me your foot,” and he measured her also. “They’ll be ready for you in the morning.”

“Do you never do anything else but make shoes, sir?” said Seumas.

“We do not,” replied the Leprecaun, “except when we want new clothes, and then we have to make them, but we grudge every minute spent making anything else except shoes, because that is the proper work for a Leprecaun. In the nighttime we go about the country into people’s houses and we clip little pieces off their money, and so, bit by bit, we get a crock of gold together, because, do you see, a Leprecaun has to have a crock of gold so that if he’s captured by men folk he may be able to ransom himself. But that seldom happens, because it’s a great disgrace altogether to be captured by a man, and we’ve practiced so long dodging among the roots here that we can easily get away from them. Of course, now and again we are caught; but men are fools, and we always escape without having to pay the ransom at all. We wear green clothes because it’s the colour of the grass and the leaves, and when we sit down under a bush or lie in the grass they just walk by without noticing us.”

“Will you let me see your crock of gold?” said Seumas.

The Leprecaun looked at him fixedly for a moment.

“Do you like griddle bread and milk?” said he.

“I like it well,” Seumas answered.

“Then you had better have some,” and the Leprecaun took a piece of griddle bread from the shelf and filled two saucers with milk.

While the children were eating the Leprecauns asked them many questions⁠—

“What time do you get up in the morning?”

“Seven o’clock,” replied Seumas.

“And what do you have for breakfast?”

“Stirabout and milk,” he replied.

“It’s good food,” said the Leprecaun. “What do you have for dinner?”

“Potatoes and milk,” said Seumas.

“It’s not bad at all,” said the Leprecaun. “And what do you have for supper?”

Brigid answered this time because her brother’s mouth was full.

“Bread and milk, sir,” said she.

“There’s nothing better,” said the Leprecaun.

“And then we go to bed,” continued Brigid.

“Why wouldn’t you?” said the Leprecaun.

It was at this point the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath knocked on the tree trunk and demanded that the children should be returned to her.

When she had gone away the Leprecauns held a consultation, whereat it was decided that they could not afford to anger the Thin Woman and the Shee of Croghan Conghaile, so they shook hands with the children and bade them goodbye. The Leprecaun who had enticed them away from home brought them back again, and on parting he begged the children to visit Gort na Cloca Mora whenever they felt inclined.

“There’s always a bit of griddle bread or potato cake, and a noggin of milk for a friend,” said he.

“You are very kind, sir,” replied Seumas, and his sister said the same words.

As the Leprecaun walked away they stood watching him.

“Do you remember,” said Seumas, “the way he hopped and waggled his leg the last time he was here?”

“I do so,” replied Brigid.

“Well, he isn’t hopping or doing anything at all this time,” said Seumas.

“He’s not in good humour tonight,” said Brigid, “but I like him.”

“So do I,” said Seumas.

When they went into the house the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath was very glad to see them, and she baked a cake with currants in it, and also gave them both stirabout and potatoes; but the Philosopher did not notice that they had been away at all. He said at last that “talking was bad wit, that women were always making a fuss, that children should be fed, but not fattened, and that beds were meant to be slept in.” The Thin Woman replied, “that he was a grisly old man without bowels, that she did not know what she had married him for, that he was three times her age, and that no one would believe what she had to put up with.”