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

A Year and a Day

By and by she went to her room. While she was undressing she felt something hard in her pocket. She took it out, and it was the little box of ointment that the Queen had given her to put on the baby's eyes. Now that she was at home again she felt as if she had dreamed all that she had seen and heard while she was away. But she had not dreamed it. Here was this little gold box to prove it. Yet she could not believe it. And they told her that she had been away for a year! What they said must be a dream too. But here was the little gold box, just as the Queen had given it to her. It was a green salve that was in it. She would open it and see if there really was a green salve. If there was, then it was not a dream.

She opened it. There was the green salve. Yes, it was exactly as she remembered it. And she could remember it all so well. She remembered how the Queen had given it to her, and surely that was last night. She remembered how she had touched the baby's eyes with the salve, and how much brighter they had looked after she had done it. Surely it was only this morning that she did that. It seemed to her all so plain. And they said that it had been a year. She could not understand it at all. She laid the little gold box on her bureau, under her glass, and went to bed.

The next morning Kathleen could think about things a little more clearly. She could not remember what she had seen and heard in the hill quite so distinctly. She had not forgotten anything, but it all seemed dimmer in her mind than it had been, as if it were long ago. And still it seemed as if it had all happened yesterday. Everybody whom she knew had heard that she was at home again, and everybody came to see her. And they all told her that she had been away for a year. She could not doubt it any longer, and yet she could not understand it. What had she been doing all that time? She could remember just enough to fill up one night and one day, and that was all. Could it be that she had slept for three hundred and sixty-four days and been awake for only one?

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