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HE little boy pressed his face against the window-pane and looked out at the bright sunshiny morning. The cobblestones of the square glistened like mica; in the trees a breeze danced and pranced, and shook drops of sunlight, like falling golden coins, into the brown water of the canal. Down-stream slowly drifted a long string of galiots piled with crimson cheeses. The little boy thought they looked as if they were roc's eggs, blocks of big ruby eggs. He said, "Oh!" with delight, and pressed against the window with all his might.
THE golden cock on the top of the stadhuis gleamed; his beak was open like a pair of scissors, and a narrow piece of
blue sky was wedged in it. "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" cried the little boy. "Can't you hear me through the window, gold cocky? Cock-a-doodle-doo! You should crow when you see the eggs of your cousin, the great roc." But the golden cock stood stock-still, with his fine tail blowing in the wind. He could not understand the little boy, for he said "Coquerico!" when he said anything. But he was hung in the air to swing, not to sing. His eyes glittered to the west wind, and the crimson cheeses drifted away down the canal.
It was very dull there in the big room. Outside in the square the wind was playing tag with some fallen leaves. A man passed, with a dog-cart beside him full of smart, new milk-cans. They rattled out a
gay tune: "Tiddity-tum-ti-ti. Have some milk for your tea. Cream for your coffee to drink to-night, thick and smooth and sweet and white," and the man's sabots beat an accompaniment: "Plop! trop! milk for your tea. Plop! trop! drink it to-night." It was very pleasant out there, but it was lonely here in the big room. The little boy gulped at a tear.
IT was queer how dull all his toys were. They were so still. Nothing was still in the square. If he took his eyes away a moment it had changed. The milkman had disappeared round the corner; there was only an old woman, with a basket of green stuff on her head, picking her way over the shiny stones. But the wind pulled the leaves in the basket this way. and that, and displayed them to beautiful advantage. The sun patted them condescendingly on their flat surfaces, and they seemed sprinkled with silver. The little boy sighed as he looked at his disordered toys on the floor. They were motionless, and their colors were dull. The dark wainscoting absorbed the sun. There was none left for toys. THE square was quite empty now. Only the wind ran round and round it, spinning. Away over in the corner where a street opened into the square the wind had stopped-stopped running, that is, for
it never stopped spinning. It whirred and whirled and gyrated and turned. It burned like a great colored sun. It hummed and buzzed and sparked and darted. There were flashes of blue and long smearing lines of saffron and quick jabs of green. And over it all was a sheen like a myriad cut diamonds. Round and round it went, the huge wind-wheel, and the little boy's head reeled with watching it. The whole square was filled with its rays, blazing and leaping round after one another faster and faster. The little boy could not speak; he could only gaze, staring in amaze.
THE wind-wheel was coming down the square. Nearer and nearer it came, a great disk of spinning flame. It was opposite the window now, and the little boy could see it plainly; but it was something more than the wind which he saw. A man was carrying a huge fan-shaped frame on his shoulder, and stuck in it were many little painted paper windmills, each one scurrying round in the breeze. They were bright and beautiful, and the sight was one to please anybody, and how much more a little boy who had only stupid, motionless toys to enjoy!
THE little boy clapped his hands, and his eyes danced and whizzed, for the circling windmills made him dizzy. Closer and
"Nursie, come quickly! Look! I want a windmill. See! It is never still. You will buy me one, won't you? I want that silver one, with the big ring of blue""
closer came the windmill-man, and held up his big fan to the little boy in the window of the ambassador's house. Only a pane of glass between the boy and the windmills. They slid round before his eyes in rapidly revolving splendor. There were wheels and wheels of colors, big, little, thick, thin, all one clear, perfect spin. The windmill-vender dipped and raised them again, and the little boy's face was glued to the window-pane. Oh, what a glorious, wonderful plaything-rings and rings of windy color always moving! How had any one ever preferred those other toys which never stirred!
"Nursie, come quickly! Look! I want a windmill. See! It is never still. You will buy me one, won't you? I want that silver one, with the big ring of blue."
"But I wanted a windmill which went round," cried the little boy.
"That is the one you asked for, Master Charles." Nursie was a bit impatient; she had mending to do. "See, it is silver, and here is the blue."
"But it is only a blue streak," sobbed the little boy; "I wanted a blue ring, and this silver does n't sparkle."
"Well, Master Charles, that is what you wanted; now run away and play with it, for I am very busy."
THE little boy hid his tears against the friendly window-pane. On the floor lay the motionless, crumpled bit of paper on the end of its stick; but far away across the square was the windmill-vender, with his big wheel of whirring splendor. It spun round in a blaze like a whirling rainbow, and the sun gleamed upon it, and the wind whipped it, until it seemed a maze of spattering diamonds. "Coquerico!" crowed the golden cock on the top of the stadhuis. "That is something worth crowing for." But the little boy did not hear him; he was sobbing over the crumpled bit of paper on the floor.
Why the Writer Believes that the British Political Party
By COSMO HAMILTON
Author of "The Door that has No Key," "The Blindness of Virtue," etc.
NE night, with the memory of the South-African War still stamped upon his leonine face, a little old man whose small eyes were charged with a kind of prophetism went into his study, threw down the notes of a speech that he had just delivered in the House of Lords, sank rather feebly into a chair, and burst into tears.
There were two younger men in the quiet room, tall, wiry men on whose faces and figures discipline had laid its restraining hand-soldiers both. Their sympathy was inarticulate. And then the old man spoke.
"Curse those fools!" he cried. "Curse them! They won't listen to me. I am a mere damn' soldier. I am talking facts, and they know it; but the system, that unique and criminal system of party politics, renders them absolutely impotent even if they desired to take advantage of the evidence that I have flung at their heads. I told them that the British army has only just escaped being whipped by a pack of farmers, that the flower of English manhood, unready because of these little clever people who sit at Westminster, has manured the wide stretches of the veldt, where their gravestones are meaningless. Will they take a lesson from this two-years' national disgrace? Will they organize the whole empire by a form of compulsory service to meet the menace of the great Teuton machine which every
day is being perfected for its inevitable use? No; I tell you, no. And yet, by God! there are a few men sitting in the House of Commons not yet so warped and twisted by the dishonesty of the party system that deep down in what remains. of their souls they know that my stammering words are true. 'Compulsory service? Yes, that is the solution,' they say; 'but what kind of fools shall we be considered by our friends if we sacrifice our political careers for the sake of patriotism?' No, it 's no use. Stop me ever from getting on my feet again. I am throwing pebbles into the sea. I am hurling my old body up against the brick wall of a political system that one of these days will place England under the feet of a determined, self-sacrificing, industrious, and brutal enemy."
That little old man was Field-Marshal Earl Roberts of Kandahar.
Dinner was over; the servants had left. The thin smoke of cigars and cigarettes rose up to the gilt ceiling of the large, dignified room when the laughter and conversation of the men whose faces and figures formed the subject of caricatures in the English papers suddenly died away. The host, a bearded man with a high forehead and heavy bovine eyes, leaned forward. In his rather fine white hand he held a thick amber cigar-holder, which he used as a sort of baton to enforce his words. "Gentlemen," he said in the peculiar 1 See "National Safety and the Party System" in Current Comment.