You can speak well for yourself, observed the ball, but I cannot grant your request. I am as good as engaged to a swallow; every time I leap up into the air she puts her head out of her nest and says, Will you? And now I have silently said Yes, and that is as good as half engaged. But I promise I will never forget you.
The next day the ball was taken out by the boy. The top saw how it flew high into the air, like a bird; at last one could no longer see it. Each time it came back again, but gave a high leap when it touched the earth, and that was done either from its longing to mount up again, or because it had a Spanish cork in its body. But the ninth time the little ball remained absent, and did not come back again; and the boy sought and sought, but it was gone.
The more the top thought of this the more it longed for the ball. Just because it could not get the ball, its love increased; and the fact that the ball had chosen another formed a peculiar feature in the case. So the top danced round and hummed, but always thought of the little ball, which became more and more beautiful in his fancy. Thus several years went by, and now it was an old love.
And the top was no longer young! But one day he was gilt all over; never had he looked so handsome; he was now a golden top, and sprang till he hummed again. Yes, that was something worth seeing! But all at once he sprang up too high, andhe was gone.
And then he looked sideways at a long, leafless cabbage-stump, and at a curious round thing that looked like an old apple; but it was not an appleit was an old ball, which had lain for years in the gutter on the roof, and was quite saturated with water.
Thank goodness, here comes one of us, with whom one can talk! said the little ball, and looked at the gilt top. I am really morocco, worked by maidens hands, and have a Spanish cork within me; but no one would think it, to look at me. I was very nearly marrying a swallow, but I fell into the gutter on the roof, and have lain there full five years, and become quite wet through. You may believe me; thats a long time for a young girl.
And so the top was brought again to notice an honor, but nothing was heard of the little ball. And the top spoke no more of his old love; for that dies away when the beloved object has lain for five years in a roof gutter and got wet through. Yes, one does not know her again when one meets her in the dust-box.