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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "A Year and a Day"

A Year and a Day

For many things about the place were changed, and the men in it were all changed. There was not one face among them that he knew. One of the brothers saw him and came toward him, and he said: 'Brother, why have all these changes been made here since this morning? And who are all these whom I do not know? I scarcely know my own monastery.'

"And the other answered: 'Who are you that ask this, and why do you come here? For you wear the dress of our order, but you are a stranger. You speak as if you knew the place, yet I myself have lived here for fifty years and I have never seen you before.'

"Then the monk told his name and told how he had been at mass in the chapel in the morning and had then gone into the garden to read. And he told how he had read in the Psalms, 'A thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday, which is past,' and how, while he was thinking of these words, he had heard the bird singing. He told how he had followed the bird, till he saw that night was coming, and then had come back to the monastery.

"And the other said: 'I remember now that when I first came into this place they told me of a legend that a monk of your name had gone out of this monastery a hundred and fifty years before, and had never come back and had never been heard of again. And now, counting my own fifty years here, that must have been two hundred years ago.'

"Then the monk said: 'God has given me such happiness as He gives to few until they are with Him in Heaven, for these two hundred years have seemed to me to be only a part of a day. Now hear my confession, for I know that I soon shall die.'

"So the other monk heard his confession, and before midnight he died. And this was the way that God had chosen to show him the meaning of His word."

It was a pretty story, but Kathleen understood no more than before. "No," said her grandmother, "you cannot understand, and I cannot. We live here such a little while and we are so shut in by time, that we cannot understand how it is with those who live always.

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