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Fabulous Fairy Tales for children and adults. From our vast collection of old traditional fairy tales and fables.

What The Moon Saw - Part 2

EIGHTH EVENING

Heavy clouds obscured the sky, and the Moon did not make
his appearance at all. I stood in my little room, more lonely
than ever, and looked up at the sky where he ought to have
shown himself. My thoughts flew far away, up to my great
friend, who every evening told me such pretty tales, and
showed me pictures. Yes, he has had an experience indeed. He
glided over the waters of the Deluge, and smiled on Noah's ark
just as he lately glanced down upon me, and brought comfort
and promise of a new world that was to spring forth from the
old. When the Children of Israel sat weeping by the waters of
Babylon, he glanced mournfully upon the willows where hung the
silent harps. When Romeo climbed the balcony, and the promise
of true love fluttered like a cherub toward heaven, the round
Moon hung, half hidden among the dark cypresses, in the lucid
air. He saw the captive giant at St. Helena, looking from the
lonely rock across the wide ocean, while great thoughts swept
through his soul. Ah! what tales the Moon can tell. Human life
is like a story to him. To-night I shall not see thee again,
old friend. Tonight I can draw no picture of the memories of
thy visit. And, as I looked dreamily towards the clouds, the
sky became bright. There was a glancing light, and a beam from
the Moon fell upon me. It vanished again, and dark clouds flew
past: but still it was a greeting, a friendly good-night
offered to me by the Moon.

NINTH EVENING

The air was clear again. Several evenings had passed, and
the Moon was in the first quarter. Again he gave me an outline
for a sketch. Listen to what he told me.

'I have followed the polar bird and the swimming whale to
the eastern coast of Greenland. Gaunt ice-covered rocks and
dark clouds hung over a valley, where dwarf willows and
barberry bushes stood clothed in green. The blooming lychnis
exhaled sweet odours. My light was faint, my face pale as the
water lily that, torn from its stem, has been drifting for
weeks with the tide. The crown-shaped Northern Light burned
fiercely in the sky. Its ring was broad, and from its
circumference the rays shot like whirling shafts of fire
across the whole sky, flashing in changing radiance from green
to red. The inhabitants of that icy region were assembling for
dance and festivity; but, accustomed to this glorious
spectacle, they scarcely deigned to glance at it. 'Let us
leave the soul of the dead to their ball-play with the heads
of the walruses,' they thought in their superstition, and they
turned their whole attention to the song and dance. In the
midst of the circle, and divested of his furry cloak, stood a
Greenlander, with a small pipe, and he played and sang a song
about catching the seal, and the chorus around chimed in with,
'Eia, Eia, Ah.' And in their white furs they danced about in
the circle, till you might fancy it was a polar bear's ball.

'And now a Court of Judgment was opened. Those
Greenlanders who had quarrelled stepped forward, and the
offended person chanted forth the faults of his adversary in
an extempore song, turning them sharply into ridicule, to the
sound of the pipe and the measure of the dance. The defendant
replied with satire as keen, while the audience laughed, and
gave their verdict. The rocks heaved, the glaciers melted, and
great masses of ice and snow came crashing down, shivering to
fragments as they fall; it was a glorious Greenland summer
night. A hundred paces away, under the open tent of hides, lay
a sick man. Life still flowed through his warm blood, but
still he was to die- he himself felt it, and all who stood
round him knew it also; therefore his wife was already sewing
round him the shroud of furs, that she might not afterwards be
obliged to touch the dead body. And she asked, 'Wilt thou be
buried on the rock, in the firm snow? I will deck the spot
with thy kayak, and thy arrows, and the angekokk shall dance
over it. Or wouldst thou rather be buried in the sea?' 'In the
sea,' he whispered, and nodded with a mournful smile. 'Yes, it
is a pleasant summer tent, the sea,' observed the wife.
'Thousands of seals sport there, the walrus shall lie at thy
feet, and the hunt will be safe and merry!' And the yelling
children tore the outspread hide from the window-hole, that
the dead man might be carried to the ocean, the billowy ocean,
that had given him food in life, and that now, in death, was
to afford him a place of rest. For his monument, he had the
floating, ever-changing icebergs, whereon the seal sleeps,
while the storm bird flies round their gleaming summits!'

TENTH EVENING

'I knew an old maid,' said the Moon. 'Every winter she
wore a wrapper of yellow satin, and it always remained new,
and was the only fashion she followed. In summer she always
wore the same straw hat, and I verily believe the very same
gray-blue dress.

'She never went out, except across the street to an old
female friend; and in later years she did not even take this
walk, for the old friend was dead. In her solitude my old maid
was always busy at the window, which was adorned in summer
with pretty flowers, and in winter with cress, grown upon
felt. During the last months I saw her no more at the window,
but she was still alive. I knew that, for I had not yet seen
her begin the 'long journey,' of which she often spoke with
her friend. 'Yes, yes,' she was in the habit of saying, when I
come to die I shall take a longer journey than I have made my
whole life long. Our family vault is six miles from here. I
shall be carried there, and shall sleep there among my family
and relatives.' Last night a van stopped at the house. A
coffin was carried out, and then I knew that she was dead.
They placed straw round the coffin, and the van drove away.
There slept the quiet old lady, who had not gone out of her
house once for the last year. The van rolled out through the
town-gate as briskly as if it were going for a pleasant
excursion. On the high-road the pace was quicker yet. The
coachman looked nervously round every now and then- I fancy he
half expected to see her sitting on the coffin, in her yellow
satin wrapper. And because he was startled, he foolishly
lashed his horses, while he held the reins so tightly that the
poor beasts were in a foam: they were young and fiery. A hare
jumped across the road and startled them, and they fairly ran
away. The old sober maiden, who had for years and years moved
quietly round and round in a dull circle, was now, in death,
rattled over stock and stone on the public highway. The coffin
in its covering of straw tumbled out of the van, and was left
on the high-road, while horses, coachman, and carriage flew
past in wild career. The lark rose up carolling from the
field, twittering her morning lay over the coffin, and
presently perched upon it, picking with her beak at the straw
covering, as though she would tear it up. The lark rose up
again, singing gaily, and I withdrew behind the red morning
clouds.'

ELEVENTH EVENING

'I will give you a picture of Pompeii,' said the Moon. 'I
was in the suburb in the Street of Tombs, as they call it,
where the fair monuments stand, in the spot where, ages ago,
the merry youths, their temples bound with rosy wreaths,
danced with the fair sisters of Lais. Now, the stillness of
death reigned around. German mercenaries, in the Neapolitan
service, kept guard, played cards, and diced; and a troop of
strangers from beyond the mountains came into the town,
accompanied by a sentry. They wanted to see the city that had
risen from the grave illumined by my beams; and I showed them
the wheel-ruts in the streets paved with broad lava slabs; I
showed them the names on the doors, and the signs that hung
there yet: they saw in the little courtyard the basins of the
fountains, ornamented with shells; but no jet of water gushed
upwards, no songs sounded forth from the richly-painted
chambers, where the bronze dog kept the door.

'It was the City of the Dead; only Vesuvius thundered
forth his everlasting hymn, each separate verse of which is
called by men an eruption. We went to the temple of Venus,
built of snow-white marble, with its high altar in front of
the broad steps, and the weeping willows sprouting freshly
forth among the pillars. The air was transparent and blue, and
black Vesuvius formed the background, with fire ever shooting
forth from it, like the stem of the pine tree. Above it
stretched the smoky cloud in the silence of the night, like
the crown of the pine, but in a blood-red illumination. Among
the company was a lady singer, a real and great singer. I have
witnessed the homage paid to her in the greatest cities of
Europe. When they came to the tragic theatre, they all sat
down on the amphitheatre steps, and thus a small part of the
house was occupied by an audience, as it had been many
centuries ago. The stage still stood unchanged, with its
walled side-scenes, and the two arches in the background,
through which the beholders saw the same scene that had been
exhibited in the old times- a scene painted by nature herself,
namely, the mountains between Sorento and Amalfi. The singer
gaily mounted the ancient stage, and sang. The place inspired
her, and she reminded me of a wild Arab horse, that rushes
headlong on with snorting nostrils and flying mane- her song
was so light and yet so firm. Anon I thought of the mourning
mother beneath the cross at Golgotha, so deep was the
expression of pain. And, just as it had done thousands of
years ago, the sound of applause and delight now filled the
theatre. 'Happy, gifted creature!' all the hearers exclaimed.
Five minutes more, and the stage was empty, the company had
vanished, and not a sound more was heard- all were gone. But
the ruins stood unchanged, as they will stand when centuries
shall have gone by, and when none shall know of the momentary
applause and of the triumph of the fair songstress; when all
will be forgotten and gone, and even for me this hour will be
but a dream of the past.'

TWELFTH EVENING

'I looked through the windows of an editor's house,' said
the Moon. 'It was somewhere in Germany. I saw handsome
furniture, many books, and a chaos of newspapers. Several
young men were present: the editor himself stood at his desk,
and two little books, both by young authors, were to be
noticed. 'This one has been sent to me,' said he. 'I have not
read it yet; what think you of the contents?' 'Oh,' said the
person addressed- he was a poet himself- 'it is good enough; a
little broad, certainly; but, you see, the author is still
young. The verses might be better, to be sure; the thoughts
are sound, though there is certainly a good deal of
common-place among them. But what will you have? You can't be
always getting something new. That he'll turn out anything
great I don't believe, but you may safely praise him. He is
well read, a remarkable Oriental scholar, and has a good
judgment. It was he who wrote that nice review of my
'Reflections on Domestic Life.' We must be lenient towards the
young man.'

''But he is a complete hack!' objected another of the
gentlemen. 'Nothing worse in poetry than mediocrity, and he
certainly does not go beyond this.'

''Poor fellow,' observed a third, 'and his aunt is so
happy about him. It was she, Mr. Editor, who got together so
many subscribers for your last translation.'

''Ah, the good woman! Well, I have noticed the book
briefly. Undoubted talent- a welcome offering- a flower in the
garden of poetry- prettily brought out- and so on. But this
other book- I suppose the author expects me to purchase it? I
hear it is praised. He has genius, certainly: don't you think
so?'

''Yes, all the world declares as much,' replied the poet,
'but it has turned out rather wildly. The punctuation of the
book, in particular, is very eccentric.'

''It will be good for him if we pull him to pieces, and
anger him a little, otherwise he will get too good an opinion
of himself.'

''But that would be unfair,' objected the fourth. 'Let us
not carp at little faults, but rejoice over the real and
abundant good that we find here: he surpasses all the rest.'

''Not so. If he is a true genius, he can bear the sharp
voice of censure. There are people enough to praise him. Don't
let us quite turn his head.'

''Decided talent,' wrote the editor, 'with the usual
carelessness. that he can write incorrect verses may be seen
in page 25, where there are two false quantities. We recommend
him to study the ancients, etc.'

'I went away,' continued the Moon, 'and looked through the
windows in the aunt's house. There sat the be-praised poet,
the tame one; all the guests paid homage to him, and he was
happy.

'I sought the other poet out, the wild one; him also I
found in a great assembly at his patron's, where the tame
poet's book was being discussed.

''I shall read yours also,' said Maecenas; 'but to speak
honestly- you know I never hide my opinion from you- I don't
expect much from it, for you are much too wild, too fantastic.
But it must be allowed that, as a man, you are highly
respectable.'

'A young girl sat in a corner; and she read in a book
these words:

''In the dust lies genius and glory,
But ev'ry-day talent will pay.
It's only the old, old story,
But the piece is repeated each day.''

THIRTEENTH EVENING

The Moon said, 'Beside the woodland path there are two
small farm-houses. The doors are low, and some of the windows
are placed quite high, and others close to the ground; and
whitethorn and barberry bushes grow around them. The roof of
each house is overgrown with moss and with yellow flowers and
houseleek. Cabbage and potatoes are the only plants cultivated
in the gardens, but out of the hedge there grows a willow
tree, and under this willow tree sat a little girl, and she
sat with her eyes fixed upon the old oak tree between the two
huts.

'It was an old withered stem. It had been sawn off at the
top, and a stork had built his nest upon it; and he stood in
this nest clapping with his beak. A little boy came and stood
by the girl's side: they were brother and sister.

''What are you looking at?' he asked.

''I'm watching the stork,' she replied: 'our neighbors
told me that he would bring us a little brother or sister
to-day; let us watch to see it come!'

''The stork brings no such things,' the boy declared, 'you
may be sure of that. Our neighbor told me the same thing, but
she laughed when she said it, and so I asked her if she could
say 'On my honor,' and she could not; and I know by that the
story about the storks is not true, and that they only tell it
to us children for fun.'

''But where do babies come from, then?' asked the girl.

''Why, an angel from heaven brings them under his cloak,
but no man can see him; and that's why we never know when he
brings them.'

'At that moment there was a rustling in the branches of
the willow tree, and the children folded their hands and
looked at one another: it was certainly the angel coming with
the baby. They took each other's hand, and at that moment the
door of one of the houses opened, and the neighbour appeared.

''Come in, you two,' she said. 'See what the stork has
brought. It is a little brother.'

'And the children nodded gravely at one another, for they
had felt quite sure already that the baby was come.'

FOURTEENTH EVENING

'I was gliding over the Luneburg Heath,' the Moon said. 'A
lonely hut stood by the wayside, a few scanty bushes grew near
it, and a nightingale who had lost his way sang sweetly. He
died in the coldness of the night: it was his farewell song
that I heard.

'The morning dawn came glimmering red. I saw a caravan of
emigrant peasant families who were bound to Hamburgh, there to
take ship for America, where fancied prosperity would bloom
for them. The mothers carried their little children at their
backs, the elder ones tottered by their sides, and a poor
starved horse tugged at a cart that bore their scanty effects.
The cold wind whistled, and therefore the little girl nestled
closer to the mother, who, looking up at my decreasing disc,
thought of the bitter want at home, and spoke of the heavy
taxes they had not been able to raise. The whole caravan
thought of the same thing; therefore, the rising dawn seemed
to them a message from the sun, of fortune that was to gleam
brightly upon them. They heard the dying nightingale sing; it
was no false prophet, but a harbinger of fortune. The wind
whistled, therefore they did not understand that the
nightingale sung, 'Fare away over the sea! Thou hast paid the
long passage with all that was thine, and poor and helpless
shalt thou enter Canaan. Thou must sell thyself, thy wife, and
thy children. But your griefs shall not last long. Behind the
broad fragrant leaves lurks the goddess of Death, and her
welcome kiss shall breathe fever into thy blood. Fare away,
fare away, over the heaving billows.' And the caravan listened
well pleased to the song of the nightingale, which seemed to
promise good fortune. Day broke through the light clouds;
country people went across the heath to church; the
black-gowned women with their white head-dresses looked like
ghosts that had stepped forth from the church pictures. All
around lay a wide dead plain, covered with faded brown heath,
and black charred spaces between the white sand hills. The
women carried hymn books, and walked into the church. Oh,
pray, pray for those who are wandering to find graves beyond
the foaming billows.'

FIFTEENTH EVENING

'I know a Pulcinella,' the Moon told me. 'The public
applaud vociferously directly they see him. Every one of his
movements is comic, and is sure to throw the house into
convulsions of laughter; and yet there is no art in it all- it
is complete nature. When he was yet a little boy, playing
about with other boys, he was already Punch. Nature had
intended him for it, and had provided him with a hump on his
back, and another on his breast; but his inward man, his mind,
on the contrary, was richly furnished. No one could surpass
him in depth of feeling or in readiness of intellect. The
theatre was his ideal world. If he had possessed a slender
well-shaped figure, he might have been the first tragedian on
any stage; the heroic, the great, filled his soul; and yet he
had to become a Pulcinella. His very sorrow and melancholy did
but increase the comic dryness of his sharply-cut features,
and increased the laughter of the audience, who showered
plaudits on their favourite. The lovely Columbine was indeed
kind and cordial to him; but she preferred to marry the
Harlequin. It would have been too ridiculous if beauty and
ugliness had in reality paired together.

'When Pulcinella was in very bad spirits, she was the only
one who could force a hearty burst of laughter, or even a
smile from him: first she would be melancholy with him, then
quieter, and at last quite cheerful and happy. 'I know very
well what is the matter with you,' she said; 'yes, you're in
love!' And he could not help laughing. 'I and Love,' he cried,
'that would have an absurd look. How the public would shout!'
'Certainly, you are in love,' she continued; and added with a
comic pathos, 'and I am the person you are in love with.' You
see, such a thing may be said when it is quite out of the
question- and, indeed, Pulcinella burst out laughing, and gave
a leap into the air, and his melancholy was forgotten.

'And yet she had only spoken the truth. He did love her,
love her adoringly, as he loved what was great and lofty in
art. At her wedding he was the merriest among the guests, but
in the stillness of night he wept: if the public had seen his
distorted face then, they would have applauded rapturously.

'And a few days ago, Columbine died. On the day of the
funeral, Harlequin was not required to show himself on the
boards, for he was a disconsolate widower. The director had to
give a very merry piece, that the public might not too
painfully miss the pretty Columbine and the agile Harlequin.
Therefore Pulcinella had to be more boisterous and extravagant
than ever; and he danced and capered, with despair in his
heart; and the audience yelled, and shouted 'bravo,
bravissimo!' Pulcinella was actually called before the
curtain. He was pronounced inimitable.

'But last night the hideous little fellow went out of the
town, quite alone, to the deserted churchyard. The wreath of
flowers on Columbine's grave was already faded, and he sat
down there. It was a study for a painter. As he sat with his
chin on his hands, his eyes turned up towards me, he looked
like a grotesque monument- a Punch on a grave- peculiar and
whimsical! If the people could have seen their favourite, they
would have cried as usual, 'Bravo, Pulcinella; bravo,
bravissimo!''

SIXTEENTH EVENING

Hear what the Moon told me. 'I have seen the cadet who had
just been made an officer put on his handsome uniform for the
first time; I have seen the young bride in her wedding dress,
and the princess girl-wife happy in her gorgeous robes; but
never have I seen a felicity equal to that of a little girl of
four years old, whom I watched this evening. She had received
a new blue dress, and a new pink hat, the splendid attire had
just been put on, and all were calling for a candle, for my
rays, shining in through the windows of the room, were not
bright enough for the occasion, and further illumination was
required. There stood the little maid, stiff and upright as a
doll, her arms stretched painfully straight out away from the
dress, and her fingers apart; and oh, what happiness beamed
from her eyes, and from her whole countenance! 'To-morrow you
shall go out in your new clothes,' said her mother; and the
little one looked up at her hat, and down at her frock, and
smiled brightly. 'Mother,' she cried, 'what will the little
dogs think, when they see me in these splendid new things?''



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