THE pink parasol had tender whalebone ribs and a slender stick of cherry-wood. It lived with the willful child in the white-house, just beyond the third milestone. All about the trees were green, and the flowers grew tall; in the pond behind the willows the ducks swam round and round and dipped their heads beneath the water.
Every bird and bee, every leaf and flower, loved the child and the pink parasol as they wandered in the garden together, listening to the birds and seeking the shady spots to rest in, or walking up and down the long trim pathway in the sunshine. Yet the child tired of it all, and before the summer was over, was always standing by the gate, watching the straight white road that stretched across the plain.
“If I might but see the city, with the busy streets, and the eager crowds,” he was always saying to himself.
Then all that lived in the garden knew that the child would not be with them long. At last the day came when he flung down the pink parasol, and, without even one last look at the garden, ran out at the gate.
The flowers died, and the swallows journeyed south; the trees stretched higher and higher, to see the child come back across the plain, but he never came. “Ah, dear child!” they sighed many a time, “why are you staying? And are your eyes as blue as ever; or have the sad tears dimmed them? And is your hair golden still? And your voice, is it like the singing of the birds? And your heart oh! My dear, my dear, what is in your heart now, that once was so full of summer and the sun?”
The pink parasol lay on the pathway, where the child left it, spoilt by the rain, and splashed by the gravel, faded and forgotten. At last, a gipsy lad, with dark eyes, a freckled face, and little gold rings in his ears, came by; he picked up the pink parasol, hid it under his coat, and carried it to the gipsy tent. There it stayed till one day the cherry-wood stick was broken into three pieces, and the pink parasol was put on the fire to make the water boil for the gipsy’s tea.