Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/26

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24
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

with blocks, my architectural ambitious were entirely scattered. For the first time my recess would not hold my possessions. I was the richest boy in the class, and each day I had to carry out the blocks and build, those who had no blocks looking on. I never opened any of the added boxes, and only built up a few forms listlessly out of my own, and was glad to carry them all back again.

At the end of four days I was allowed to return to each of my class mates his own box, and to put mine in its proper place. I learned then once for all never to covet useless wealth, and to rest content with my own share. The punishment was in the line of my fault, and made me heartily ashamed of selfishness and greed.

I told my mother all about the proceedings of each day. She did not make much comment. Evidently she knew I was in good hands. When it was all over she took me into her oval chamber and explained my fault. What she told me seemed quite correct then and there, but, hardly harmonises with my waking experience.

'The blocks and the other articles you use in the class are not yours; they are only there for your use as long as you need them. In a little while you will go to another class and find other toys, tools and books, and will leave these you now have to your successor. It is so with everything; nobody has any private property in anything except personal belongings, such as clothes. If your father was wanted at some other place, and was willing to go—he would not have to go otherwise—we should leave this home, and all in it, and have another equally good to go to. But nothing here is absolutely ours; we could take nothing with us except what I tell you.'

'Could we take father's new picture?' said I, looking at a new artistic production that scorned to be a living and conscious presentation of father.

'Yes, that is our own.'

'And your new travelling robe, is that yours?'

'As long as I want it; yes, it is mine. But if I had no further need for it, and it was still good and nice, I would take it to the depot, so that another woman if she required it could wear it. We do this so that unused articles may not rot and go to waste.'

'Our flying fish?'

'That, too, is ours while we use it. It cost, a great amount of labor to produce it, and is on that account very valuable. If your father were not a highly skilled workman he would not have so valuable an article for his sole use; in that case we should travel by the public air-fishes. There, now, ask no more questions. I will tell you more by-and-by; you are only a little boy yet. You will remember not to be selfish any more. Give me a kiss and go help Emma with her pretty picture puzzles.'"

Our diarist has evidently got into a land where a number of ideas have