The House with Golden Windows – Laura E. Richards
ALL day long the little boy worked hard in field and barn and shed; but every day, when the work was done, there came an hour which was all his own.
At sunset the little boy used to go to the top of a hill near his home, and look across at another hill some distance away. On this far-off hill stood a house with gold and diamond windows. The yellow gold was as clear as glass, and the diamonds were as bright as the sun. But it seemed to him as if some one always closed the shutters just at sunset, and covered the beautiful windows from his sight. Then the little boy went home to his supper, wishing all the time that he could live in a house with golden windows.
One day the little boy’s father called him and said, “You have been a good boy, and you have earned a holiday. Take this day for your own; but remember that God gave the day, and try and learn some good thing.”
The little 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.
His bare feet made tracks 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 as he pleased. He was very happy.
By and by the little boy was hungry. So he sat down by a brook that ran along by the roadside, and ate his bread and drank the clear water. He scattered crumbs for the birds, as his mother had taught him to do, and then he went on his way.
After a time the little boy came to a high, green hill. There, on the top of the hill, was the house he had come to find. At first he thought that the shutters were closed, for he could not see the golden windows.
He went on until he came near the house, and then he could have wept. For there were no shutters, and the windows were of clear glass like any others.
A woman came to the door, and asked the little boy very kindly what he wanted.
“Last evening I saw your golden windows from our hilltop,” he said, “and now I have come here to see them. But I find that they are only glass.”
The woman looked at him in wonder, and shook her head and smiled.
“We are poor people,” she said, “and there is no gold about our windows. Besides, glass is better than gold to see through.”
She asked the little boy to sit down on the doorstep, and she brought him a cup of milk and a cake. Then she called her little girl, and, leaving the two children together, she went back to her work.
The little girl wore a brown cotton dress, but her hair was golden, like the windows he had seen, and her eyes were blue, like the sky at noon.
She led the little boy about the farm, and showed him her black calf with a white star on its forehead. He told her about his own calf at home, which had four white feet, and was red like a chestnut.
After they had played for a long time, the little boy asked her about the golden windows.
“You have taken the wrong way,” she said. “Come with me, and I will show you the house you are looking for.”
They went to a hill that rose behind the farmhouse. As they walked along, the little girl told the little boy that the golden windows could be seen only at sunset.
“Yes, I have known that for a long time,” said the little boy.
They reached the top of the hill and waited. Just as the sun was going down the little girl turned and pointed. There, on a hill far away, stood a house with windows of gold and diamonds. And when the little boy looked, he saw that the house was his own home.
Then he told the little girl that he could stay no longer. He gave her a white pebble with a red band, and she gave him three horse chestnuts.
The little boy said “Good-bye,” but he did not tell the little girl what he had learned. Then he went 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 little boy reached his father’s house. But the lamplight shone through the windows, making them almost as bright as he had seen them from the far-off hilltop.
When he opened the door, his mother came to kiss him, and his father looked up and smiled.
“Have you had a good day?” asked his father.
“Yes, indeed,” he answered, “I have had a very good day.”
“And have you learned anything?”
“Oh, yes,” said the little boy. “I have learned that the house I live in has windows of gold and diamonds.”