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Dr. Hope Presents

Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales

The Top and Ball

A WHIPPING TOP and a little ball lay together in a box, among other toys, and the top said to the ball, “Shall we be married, as we live in the same box?”

But the ball, which wore a dress of morocco leather, and thought as much of herself as any other young lady, would not even condescend to reply. 

The next day came the little boy to whom the playthings belonged, and he painted the top red and yellow, and drove a brass-headed nail into the middle, so that while the top was spinning round it looked splendid.

“Look at me,” said the top to the ball. “What do you say now? Shall we be engaged to each other? We should suit so well; you spring, and I dance. No one could be happier than we should be.”

“Indeed! do you think so? Perhaps you do not know that my father and mother were morocco slippers, and that I have a Spanish cork in my body.”

“Yes; but I am made of mahogany,” said the top. “The major himself turned me. He has a turning lathe of his own, and it is a great amusement to him.”

“Can I believe it?” asked the ball.

“May I never be whipped again,” said the top, “if I am not telling you the truth.”

“You certainly know how to speak for yourself very well,” said the ball; “but I cannot accept your proposal. I am almost engaged to a swallow. Every time I fly up in the air, he puts his head out of the nest, and says, ‘Will you?’ and I have said, ‘Yes,’ to myself silently, and that is as good as being half engaged; but I will promise never to forget you.”

“Much good that will be to me,” said the top; and they spoke to each other no more.

Next day the ball was taken out by the boy. The top saw it flying high in the air, like a bird, till it would go quite out of sight. Each time it came back, as it touched the earth, it gave a higher leap than before, either because it longed to fly upwards, or from having a Spanish cork in its body. But the ninth time it rose in the air, it remained away, and did not return. The boy searched everywhere for it, but he searched in vain, for it could not be found; it was gone.

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