THE GOLDEN WINDOWS
LL day long the little boy
had worked hard, in field and barn and shed, for
his people were poor farmers, and could not pay a workman;
but at sunset there came an hour that was all his own, for
his father had given it to him. Then the boy would go up to
the top of a hill and look across at another hill that rose
some miles away. On this far hill stood a house with
windows of clear gold and diamonds. They shone and blazed so
that it made the boy wink to look at them: but after a
while the people in the house put up shutters, as it seemed,
and then it looked like any common
farm-  house. The boy supposed they did this because it was
supper-time; and then he would go into the house and have
his supper of bread and milk, and so to bed.
One day the boy's father called him and said: "You have
been a good boy, and have earned a holiday. Take this day
for your own; but remember that God gave it, and try to
learn some good thing."
The boy thanked his father and kissed his mother; then he
put a piece of bread in his pocket, and started off to find
the house with the golden windows.
It was pleasant walking. His bare feet made marks in
the white dust, and when he looked back, the footprints
seemed to be following him, and making company for him. His
shadow, too, kept beside him, and would dance or run with
him as he pleased; so it was very cheerful.
By and by he felt hungry; and he sat down by a brown brook
that ran through the alder hedge by the roadside, and ate
his bread, and drank the clear water. Then he scattered the
crumbs for the birds, as his mother had taught him to do,
and went on his way.
 After a long time he came to a high green hill; and when he
had climbed the hill, there was the house on the top; but it
seemed that the shutters were up, for he could not see the
golden windows. He came up to the house, and then he could
well have wept, for the windows were of clear glass, like
any others, and there was no gold anywhere about them.
A woman came to the door, and looked kindly at the boy, and
asked him what he wanted.
"I saw the golden windows from our hilltop," he said, "and
I came to see them, but now they are only glass."
The woman shook her head and laughed.
"We are poor farming
people," she said, "and are not likely to have gold about our
windows; but glass is better to see through."
She bade the boy sit down on the broad stone step at the
door, and brought him a cup of milk and a cake, and bade him
rest; then she called her daughter, a child of his own age,
and nodded kindly at the two, and went back to her work.
 The little girl was barefooted like himself, and wore a
brown cotton gown, but her hair was golden like the windows
he had seen, and her eyes were blue like the sky at noon.
She led the boy about the farm, and showed him her black
calf with the white star on its forehead, and he told her
about his own at home, which was red like a chestnut, with
four white feet. Then when they had eaten an apple
together, and so had become friends, the boy asked her about
the golden windows. The little girl nodded, and said she
knew all about them, only he had mistaken the house.
"You have come quite the wrong way!" she said. "Come with
me, and I will show you the house with the golden windows,
and then you will see for yourself."
They went to a knoll
that rose behind the farmhouse, and as they went the little
girl told him that the golden windows could only be seen at
a certain hour, about sunset.
"Yes, I know that!" said the boy.
When they reached the
top of the knoll, the girl turned and pointed; and there
 a hill far away stood a house with windows of clear gold and
diamond, just as he had seen them. And when they looked
again, the boy saw that it was his own home.
Then he told the little girl that he must go; and he gave
her his best pebble, the white one with the red band, that
he had carried for a year in his pocket; and she gave him
three horse-chestnuts, one red like satin, one spotted, and
one white like milk. He kissed her, and promised to come
again, but he did not tell her what he had learned; and so
he went back down the hill, and the little girl stood in
the sunset light and watched him.
The way home was long, and it was dark before the boy
reached his father's house; but the lamplight and
firelight shone through the windows, making them almost as
bright as he had seen them from the hilltop; and when he
opened the door, his mother came to kiss him, and his
little sister ran to throw her arms about his neck, and his
father looked up and smiled from his seat by the fire.
"Have you had a good day?" asked his mother.
 Yes, the boy had had a very good day.
"And have you learned anything?" asked his father.
"Yes!" said the boy. "I have learned that our house has
windows of gold and diamond."