"And you took the gold?"
"I did indeed. Three solid pieces of bright gold, they were. I put them in my pocket." He patted his hip. "Then I cut the leprechaun free. And do you know what he did?"
"He complained! Cheeky little bugger. Said I had made a wreck of his charming beard and that it would never grow back the same! I pointed out that I was a woodsman, not a barber. The vain imp! Should have been grateful just to be alive!" Sunday giggled helplessly at the thought of burly Papa as a hairdresser. "He would have none of it. Told me that since I had ruined his good looks I didn't deserve any of his gold. He wiggled his nose and vanished right there in front of my eyes."
"But you still had the three gold pieces?"
"I did indeed, so I don't feel cheated in the slightest. I brought them home for you." Sunday's heart leapt for joy as he reached into his pocket. Whatever treasure Papa had brought would certainly go to the family, but it meant the world that he made a show of giving it to her. Mama acted as if she weren't paying any attention, but she had stopped cutting the bread mid-slice.
"I'm afraid they're a little worse for the wear." Papa opened his hand and dropped the contents onto the table.
"Bah!" Mama scoffed when she saw. "Fool's gold and fairy stones. Such has been this family's lot in life. I should have known."
Sunday's treasure was three small stones. One was smooth and deep ocean blue run with lines of stark white, one was splotchy green like moss trapped in pale amber, and one was sharp-edged and milky pink. Fool's gold or not, these stones were hers to keep, a thousand times more valuable to her than any gold ever could be. Inside these stones Papa's story would live forever; Sunday would remember the tale every time she saw them. It was just as she'd hoped: the perfect end to a perfect day.
"They're beautiful," Sunday said over the shiny stones.
"They're yours if you want them."
Sunday threw herself into Papa's arms and hugged him again.
Mama set the platter of bread firmly on the table beside them. "Enough nonsense now. Sunday, mind the stew. Jack, bank the fire and call your children. It's time for supper."
Excerpted from Enchanted by Alethea Kontis. Copyright © 2012 by Alethea Kontis. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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