The Paper Windmill

by Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

The little boy pressed his face against the window-pane

and looked out

at the bright sunshiny morning. The cobble-stones of

the square

glistened like mica. In the trees, a breeze danced and


and shook drops of sunlight like falling golden coins into the brown


of the canal. Down stream slowly drifted a long string

of galliots

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-do," cried the little boy. "Can't you

hear me

through the window, Gold Cocky? Cock-a-doodle-do! 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 "Cocorico"

when he said anything. But he was hung in the air to

swing, not to sing.

His eyes glittered to the bright 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 dogcart

beside him full of smart, new milkcans. 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


Nothing was still in the square. If he took his eyes

away a moment

it had changed. The milkman had disappeared round the


there was only an old woman with a basket of green stuff on her


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


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 colours

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


stopped spinning. It whirred, and whirled, and gyrated,

and turned.

It burned like a great coloured 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


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


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


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


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 splendour. There were wheels and

wheels of colours --

big, little, thick, thin -- all one clear, perfect spin. The

windmill vendor

dipped and raised them again, and the little boy's face was glued

to the window-pane. Oh! What a glorious, wonderful


Rings and rings of windy colour 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."

So a servant was sent to buy that one: silver, ringed

with blue,

and smartly it twirled about in the servant's hands as he stood

a moment

to pay the vendor. Then he entered the house, and in

another minute

he was standing in the nursery door, with some crumpled paper on

the end

of a stick which he held out to the little boy. "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


"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


doesn'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 vendor, with his

big wheel

of whirring splendour. 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. "Cocorico!" 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.