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The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball
A top and a ball were lying together in a
drawer among a lot of other toys. The top said to the ball, "Since
we live in the same drawer, we ought to be sweethearts."
But the ball, which was covered with a morocco
leather, and thought as much of itself as any fine lady, would not
even answer such a proposal.
The next day the little boy to whom the top
belonged took it out, painted it red and yellow, and drove a brass
nail into it; so that the top looked very elegant when it was
"Look at me!" it said to the ball. "What do
you think? Shall we be sweethearts now? We are just made for each
other! You bounce and I dance. None could be happier than we two."
"That's what you think!" said the ball. "You
evidently don't realize that my father and my mother were a pair of
morocco slippers, and that I have a cork in my body!"
"Yes, but I am made of mahogany!" said the
top. "The mayor himself turned me on his own lathe and had a lot of
fun doing it."
"Am I supposed to believe that?" said the
"May I never be whipped again if I'm lying!"
answered the top.
"You speak very well for yourself, but I'm
afraid it's impossible. I'm almost engaged to a swallow. Whenever I
bounce up in the air, it puts its head out of its nest and says,
'Will you be mine? Will you be mine?' And to myself I've always said
'Yes.' But I promise I shall never forget you."
"That will do me a lot of good," said the top,
and that ended their conversation right then and there!
The next day the ball was taken out, and the
top saw her flying high up into the air, just like a bird; so high
that you could hardly see her. And every time she came back, she
bounced up again, as soon as she touched the ground. That was either
because she was longing for the swallow or because she had cork in
her body. At the ninth bounce the ball disappeared; the boy looked
and looked, but it was gone. The top sighed; "I know where she is:
she's in the swallow's nest and has married the swallow."
The more the top thought of this, the more
infatuated he became with the ball. Just because he couldn't have
her, his love for her increased, but, alas! she was in love with
somebody else. The top danced and spun, and in his thoughts the ball
became more and more beautiful.
Many years went by - it was now an old love
affair. The top was no longer young. But one day he was gilded all
over; never had he looked so beautiful. He was now a golden top, and
he leaped and spun till he hummed. This certainly was something. But
suddenly he jumped too high, and disappeared! They looked and
looked, even down in the cellar, but he was not to be found. Where
was he? He had jumped into the dustbin, where all sorts of rubbish
was lying-old cabbage stalks, dust, dirt, and gravel that had fallen
down through the gutter.
"What a place to land in! Here my gilding will
soon disappear. And what kind of riffraff am I with?" he mumbled, as
he glared at a long, scrawny-looking cabbage stalk and at a strange
round thing that looked like an apple. But it wasn't an apple-it was
an old ball that for years had been lying in the roof gutter and was
soaked through with water.
"Thank goodness! At last I have an equal to
talk to!" said the ball, looking at the golden top. "I want you to
know that I am made of morocco leather, sewn by maiden hands, and
that I have a cork in my body; but no one will think so now! I
almost married a swallow, but I landed in the roof gutter instead,
and there I have been for the last five years, soaked! That's a long
time, believe me, for a young lady."
But the top said nothing. He thought of his
old sweetheart, and the more he listened, the more certain he felt
it was she. Just then the housemaid came to throw some rubbish in
"Why," she cried, "here's the golden top!"
And the top was carried back into the living
room and admired by everybody. But the ball was never heard of
again. The top never spoke a word about his old sweetheart, for love
vanishes when one's sweetheart has been soaking in a roof gutter for
five years. Yes, you don't even recognize her when you meet her in a