A Year and a Day
When did you see your father and me last before to-night?"
"Why, you know that, grandmother," Kathleen answered. "I saw father yesterday morning, and I saw you yesterday afternoon, when I left you to go to the Sullivans'."
"And where have you been since then?" Mrs. O'Brien asked.
Kathleen closed her eyes and clasped her hands, as she thought of it. "Oh, it was so wonderful!" she said. "I was inside the hill in the Park. I walked right in there on the water with the Good People. And it was so beautiful there—all gold and silver and jewels—and the music—the music that Terence played! And I must go back. I promised him I would."
"And how long were you there?" Mrs. O'Brien asked.
"All the time," Kathleen said; "all night and all day; I didn't go anywhere else. And when it was time for them all to come out to dance to-night—they were dancing, you know, when I first saw them, and they asked me to dance with them, and then I went into the hill with them. And to-night we came out to dance again, and it was only a little while when you came, and then I saw father, and he brought me home. But I was coming home myself as soon as the dancing was over."
"Kathleen," said Mrs. O'Brien, "listen to me now. Don't be frightened, but listen. You've been away from us for a whole year. It was a year ago this night that you danced with the Good People that first time. All this year you have been with them there in the hill. If we had not gone after you to-night, and if I had not known how to bring you back, they would have taken you into the hill for another year, and you might have stayed there, perhaps, as long as you lived."
"But, grandmother! A year! Why, you know it was yesterday!"
"Yesterday was a year ago," her grandmother said. "You can't understand it now. Don't try. You must eat something now, and then you must go to bed. To-morrow I can tell you about it better, and then perhaps you can understand."
But Kathleen could not eat. Her going away had been so strange, her coming back had been so wonderful, and what her grandmother had told her had been so marvelous, that she could think of nothing else.