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The Golden Windows by  Laura E. Richards

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THE HOUSE OF LOVE

[23]

A MAN and a woman were walking together along the way, when they met a child, who was so beautiful that they stopped to speak to him.

"Who are you, lovely child?" they asked. "What is your name, and whence do you come?"

"My name is Love," said the child. "I live hard by here, in my house. Come and see it, and if it pleases you, you shall live in it with me."

So presently they came to the house; and the child took them by the hands and drew them in.

"Look!" he said. "See what a pleasant house this is of mine! Feel the carpet, how soft it is under our feet! the cushions are soft too. Here are my flowers in the window; did you ever smell sweeter ones? [23] the whole house is like a garden with them. And feel the sun, how it comes pouring in, warming one through and through! do you like my house? will you stay with me?"

And the man and woman joined hands, and said, "We will stay."

For a time all went well. The child Love sang the sweetest songs, and flitted from room to room; and wherever he came the sun shone brighter.

But one day the man said: "I begin to see things in this house that I did not notice at first. This child has deceived us; now that I look closely, it seems a poor place. This carpet that he boasted of, for example, is nothing but a rag-carpet; the curtains are poor and patched; and it is the same with everything."

"You are right!" said the woman. "How strange that we did not notice this at first!"

They called the child Love, and said to him: "You have deceived us. You are a false child, and this house of yours is nothing but a sham. Shame on you, for cheating folk!"

[24] "Nay!" said Love. "I meant no harm."

"These carpets and cushions," said the man and woman, "are nought but rags and patches, ugly and faded."

"Nay!" said Love. "I only feel them soft."

"'These flowers you make such brag of are nothing but common wildings, such as grow in every hedgerow."

"Nay!" said Love. "I only smell them sweet."

"This very sunshine you boast of comes filtered through poor flimsy curtains and discolored glass."

"Nay!" said Love. "I only feel it warm."

"But," said they both, "look! look with your eyes, and see for yourself the truth of all we say."

As they spoke, they looked into the child's eyes: and lo! he was blind.

Then they cried with one voice, "Out upon you, deceiver! we must stay in this wretched place because we have joined hands and given our word, but we will no longer have you about us. Go!"

"But it was my house!" said Love.

[25] "It is yours no longer," they said. "Go!"

Then the child Love went out, weeping bitterly; and the man and woman turned and faced each other in the naked house.


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