The Top and the Ball
A TOP and a Ball lay together in a drawer with some other toys. The Top said to the Ball: "Why should we not be the very best of friends, and play together, as we are lying here in the same drawer?"
But the Ball, who was covered with Morocco leather, and thought she was very fine, would not reply.
The next day the little boy to whom the Top belonged painted it in red and yellow, and drove a brass nail into the head. This looked really beautiful when the Top spun around.
"Just look at me," he said to the Ball. "Am I not pretty, too? Let us be companions. We should be very happy, for you jump and I dance, and there would be no happier playmates than we two."
"Do you think so?" said the Ball. "Perhaps you do not know that I am made of Morocco, and have a cork in my body!"
"Yes; but I am made of mahogany," said the Top. "The Mayor himself turned me, for he has a turning-lathe of his own. He enjoys making tops to please the children."
"Is that really so?" asked the Ball.
"Just as true as that I can spin," said the Top.
The Ball looked at the pleasant, happy little Top and said: "But I want to be the swallow's playmate. Whenever I fly up into the air, he calls from the tree-top: 'Will you, will you?' and I have said 'Yes,' but I will always remember you, Top."
"Oh, very well," said the Top, "but you can't play with the swallow, and you can come with me; still, do as you wish."
The next day the Ball was taken out of the drawer, and the Top saw her flying high up in the air—she seemed almost like a bird. Whenever she returned to the earth, she gave a little jump just as she touched the ground. Perhaps that was because she wanted to fly again, or because she had a cork in her body.
But one time, when she was sent flying in the air, she did not come back; and, although the little boy hunted and hunted, she could not be found—she was lost.
"I know where she is," thought the Top. "She has gone to the swallow's nest; she has gone to stay with the swallow."
The Top was very lonely. He thought and thought about the Ball, and, although he spun around and hummed his pretty song, he was always wanting her. Many days and weeks passed by, and the Top was growing old. His red and yellow paint had worn off, and the little boy did not play with him as much as he used to. One day the Top was gilded all over. He looked like a gold top. The little boy thought him more beautiful than ever before. The Top spun and hummed and jumped about, but all at once he went too high, and was lost. They searched everywhere, but no one could find the gold Top. Where had he gone?
He had jumped into the dust bin, where all sorts of dust and rubbish had fallen from the roof. "Well, well," said the Top; "this is a queer place! All my gilding will be spoiled, and I cannot even spin down here in the dark. And the little boy will be lonely."
Just then he saw something round and dirty, like a withered apple—but the round thing began to talk!
"Oh, dear," it said; "I have been lying here in this dirty place for weeks, with no one good enough for me to play with. I wanted to live with the swallow, but I fell in here, and I am very beautiful, for I am made of Morocco and I have a cork in my body."
Then the Top knew it was the Ball, lost so long ago. Just then came a maid to clear out the dust bin. The first thing she saw was the Top. She took it to the little boy again, and both the Top and the little boy were happy. But the Ball was thrown away. The Top never spoke of the Ball. He thought her a silly little Ball, after all—for it is better always to think of others, and not of yourself.