A WINDMILL stood upon the hill, proud to look at, and it
was proud too.
'I am not proud at all,' it said, 'but I am very much
enlightened without and within. I have sun and moon for my
outward use, and for inward use too; and into the bargain I
have stearine candles, train oil and lamps, and tallow
candles. I may well say that I'm enlightened. I'm a thinking
being, and so well constructed that it's quite delightful. I
have a good windpipe in my chest, and I have four wings that
are placed outside my head, just beneath my hat. The birds
have only two wings, and are obliged to carry them on their
backs. I am a Dutchman by birth, that may be seen by my
figure- a flying Dutchman. They are considered supernatural
beings, I know, and yet I am quite natural. I have a gallery
round my chest, and house-room beneath it; that's where my
thoughts dwell. My strongest thought, who rules and reigns, is
called by others 'The Man in the Mill.' He knows what he
wants, and is lord over the meal and the bran; but he has his
companion, too, and she calls herself 'Mother.' She is the
very heart of me. She does not run about stupidly and
awkwardly, for she knows what she wants, she knows what she
can do, she's as soft as a zephyr and as strong as a storm;
she knows how to begin a thing carefully, and to have her own
way. She is my soft temper, and the father is my hard one.
They are two, and yet one; they each call the other 'My half.'
These two have some little boys, young thoughts, that can
grow. The little ones keep everything in order. When, lately,
in my wisdom, I let the father and the boys examine my throat
and the hole in my chest, to see what was going on there,- for
something in me was out of order, and it's well to examine
one's self,- the little ones made a tremendous noise. The
youngest jumped up into my hat, and shouted so there that it
tickled me. The little thoughts may grow- I know that very
well; and out in the world thoughts come too, and not only of
my kind, for as far as I can see, I cannot discern anything
like myself; but the wingless houses, whose throats make no
noise, have thoughts too, and these come to my thoughts, and
make love to them, as it is called. It's wonderful enough-
yes, there are many wonderful things. Something has come over
me, or into me,- something has changed in the mill-work. It
seems as if the one half, the father, had altered, and had
received a better temper and a more affectionate helpmate- so
young and good, and yet the same, only more gentle and good
through the course of time. What was bitter has passed away,
and the whole is much more comfortable.
'The days go on, and the days come nearer and nearer to
clearness and to joy; and then a day will come when it will be
over with me; but not over altogether. I must be pulled down
that I may be built up again; I shall cease, but yet shall
live on. To become quite a different being, and yet remain the
same! That's difficult for me to understand, however
enlightened I may be with sun, moon, stearine, train oil, and
tallow. My old wood-work and my old brick-work will rise again
from the dust!
'I will hope that I may keep my old thoughts, the father
in the mill, and the mother, great ones and little ones- the
family; for I call them all, great and little, the company of
thoughts, because I must, and cannot refrain from it.
'And I must also remain 'myself,' with my throat in my
chest, my wings on my head, the gallery round my body; else I
should not know myself, nor could the others know me, and say,
'There's the mill on the hill, proud to look at, and yet not
proud at all.''
That is what the mill said. Indeed, it said much more, but
that is the most important part.
And the days came, and the days went, and yesterday was
the last day.
Then the mill caught fire. The flames rose up high, and
beat out and in, and bit at the beams and planks, and ate them
up. The mill fell, and nothing remained of it but a heap of
ashes. The smoke drove across the scene of the conflagration,
and the wind carried it away.
Whatever had been alive in the mill remained, and what had
been gained by it has nothing to do with this story.
The miller's family- one soul, many thoughts, and yet only
one- built a new, a splendid mill, which answered its purpose.
It was quite like the old one, and people said, 'Why, yonder
is the mill on the hill, proud to look at!' But this mill was
better arranged, more according to the time than the last, so
that progress might be made. The old beams had become
worm-eaten and spongy- they lay in dust and ashes. The body of
the mill did not rise out of the dust as they had believed it
would do. They had taken it literally, and all things are not
to be taken literally.