A Year and a Day
I shall soon be with him again. If I could only see a child of John's and Kitty's before I go, I'ld go gladly. If I could only say to him: "Before I came to you I held John's and Kitty's child in my arms," then I'ld go gladly.' That was what I said to myself that time. But it was Kitty that the banshee meant. And now, though I felt then the first time that I was an old woman, here I am still, and Kitty is gone and the child is grown up to be a woman and she is lost. But she is not dead, John; she is not dead. Kathleen couldn't die without I'ld hear the banshee."
It was not once only that John and his mother talked together in some such way as this. It was a dozen times at least, perhaps two dozen times, that she told him that, whatever had come to Kathleen, she was not dead—that she could not be dead, because the banshee had not moaned and cried about the house, as she was sure to do before any one of the O'Briens could die. And so John, seeing his mother careworn and anxious, but never so full of sorrow as himself, came to think that he ought to bear it better, and not let her see him always so troubled and so sad. Yet he could not believe all that his mother said quite as she believed it, and she had to tell him all of it again and again, and she told him, too, that when the time came she meant to try to get Kathleen back from the Good People. And after a while John did not think every time that he heard anybody at the door that it was Kathleen at last, and all in the house went on as it had gone before, only that Kathleen was not there. But that "only" was enough, and it was a different house.
The dreadful spring was past; the horrible, dull, anxious summer was gone; the cruel, chilly autumn went by; the cold, dead, heartless winter dragged through; another spring came, cheerless, hopeless, helpless, like the last.
"Shaun," said Mrs. O'Brien, "do you know when it was that Kathleen went away?"
"Could I ever forget?" said John.
"When was it?"
"It was May Eve."
"And what is to-day, John?