The Buried Moon
ago, in my grandmother's time, the Carland was all in bogs, great pools
of black water, and creeping trickles of green water, and squishy mools
which squirted when you stepped on them.
Well, granny used to
say how long before her time the Moon herself was once dead and buried
in the marshes, and as she used to tell me, I'll tell you all about it.
Moon up yonder shone and shone, just as she does now, and when she
shone she lighted up the bog-pools, so that one could walk about almost
as safe as in the day.
But when she didn't shine, out came the
Things that dwelt in the darkness and went about seeking to do evil and
harm; Bogles and Crawling Horrors, all came out when the Moon didn't
Well, the Moon heard of this, and being kind and good—as
she surely is, shining for us in the night instead of taking her
natural rest—she was main troubled. "I'll see for myself, I will," said
she, "maybe it's not so bad as folks make out."
Sure enough, at
the month's end down she stept, wrapped up in a black cloak, and a
black hood over her yellow shining hair. Straight she went to the bog
edge and looked about her. Water here and water there; waving tussocks
and trembling mools, and great black snags all twisted and bent. Before
her all was dark—dark but for the glimmer of the stars in the pools,
and the light that came from her own white feet, stealing out of her
The Moon drew her cloak faster about and trembled,
but she wouldn't go back without seeing all there was to be seen; so on
she went, stepping as light as the wind in summer from tuft to tuft
between the greedy gurgling water holes. Just as she came near a big
black pool her foot slipped and she was nigh tumbling in. She grabbed
with both hands at a snag near by to steady herself with, but as she
touched it, it twined itself round her wrists, like a pair of
handcuffs, and gript her so that she couldn't move. She pulled and
twisted and fought, but it was no good. She was fast, and must stay
Presently as she stood trembling in the dark, wondering if
help would come, she heard something calling in the distance, calling,
calling, and then dying away with a sob, till the marshes were full of
this pitiful crying sound; then she heard steps floundering along,
squishing in the mud and slipping on the tufts, and through the
darkness she saw a white face with great feared eyes.
'T was a
man strayed in the bogs. Mazed with fear he struggled on toward the
flickering light that looked like help and safety. And when the poor
Moon saw that he was coming nigher and nigher to the deep hole, further
and further from the path, she was so mad and so sorry that she
struggled and fought and pulled harder than ever. And though she
couldn't get loose, she twisted and turned, till her black hood fell
back off her shining yellow hair, and the beautiful light that came
from it drove away the darkness.
Oh, but the man cried with
joy to see the light again. And at once all evil things fled back into
the dark corners, for they cannot abide the light. So he could see
where he was, and where the path was, and how he could get out of the
marsh. And he was in such haste to get away from the Quicks, and
Bogles, and Things that dwelt there, that he scarce looked at the brave
light that came from the beautiful shining yellow hair, streaming out
over the black cloak and falling to the water at his feet. And the Moon
herself was so taken up with saving him, and with rejoicing that he was
back on the right path, that she clean forgot that she needed help
herself, and that she was held fast by the Black Snag.
So off he
went; spent and gasping, and stumbling and sobbing with joy, flying for
his life out of the terrible bogs. Then it came over the Moon, she
would main like to go with him. So she pulled and fought as if she were
mad, till she fell on her knees, spent with tugging, at the foot of the
snag. And as she lay there, gasping for breath, the black hood fell
forward over her head. So out went the blessed light and back came the
darkness, with all its Evil Things, with a screech and a howl. They
came crowding round her, mocking and snatching and beating; shrieking
with rage and spite, and swearing and snarling, for they knew her for
their old enemy, that drove them back into the corners, and kept them
from working their wicked wills.
"Drat thee!" yelled the witch-bodies, "thou 'st spoiled our spells this year agone!"
"And us thou sent'st to brood in the corners!" howled the Bogles.
And all the Things joined in with a great "Ho, ho!" till the very tussocks shook and the water gurgled. And they began again.
"We'll poison her—poison her!" shrieked the witches.
And "Ho, ho!" howled the Things again.
"We'll smother her—smother her!" whispered the Crawling Horrors, and twined themselves round her knees.
And "Ho, ho!" mocked the rest of them.
And again they all shouted with spite and ill-will. And the poor Moon crouched down, and wished she was dead and done with.
they fought and squabbled what they should do with her, till a pale
grey light began to come in the sky; and it drew nigh the dawning. And
when they saw that, they were feared lest they shouldn't have time to
work their will; and they caught hold of her, with horrid bony fingers,
and laid her deep in the water at the foot of the snag. And the Bogles
fetched a strange big stone and rolled it on top of her, to keep her
from rising. And they told two of the Will-o-the-wykes to take turns in
watching on the black snag, to see that she lay safe and still, and
couldn't get out to spoil their sport.
And there lay the poor
Moon, dead and buried in the bog, till some one would set her loose;
and who'd know where to look for her.
Well, the days passed, and
't was the time for the new moon's coming, and the folk put pennies in
their pockets and straws in their caps so as to be ready for her, and
looked about, for the Moon was a good friend to the marsh folk, and
they were main glad when the dark time was gone, and the paths were
safe again, and the Evil Things were driven back by the blessed Light
into the darkness and the waterholes.
But days and days passed,
and the new Moon never came, and the nights were aye dark, and the Evil
Things were worse than ever. And still the days went on, and the new
Moon never came. Naturally the poor folk were strangely feared and
mazed, and a lot of them went to the Wise Woman who dwelt in the old
mill, and asked if so be she could find out where the Moon was gone.
said she, after looking in the brewpot, and in the mirror, and in the
Book, "it be main queer, but I can't rightly tell ye what's happened to
her. If ye hear of aught, come and tell me."
So they went their
ways; and as days went by, and never a Moon came, naturally they
talked—my word! I reckon they did talk! their tongues wagged at home,
and at the inn, and in the garth. But so came one day, as they sat on
the great settle in the Inn, a man from the far end of the bog lands
was smoking and listening, when all at once he sat up and slapped his
knee. "My faicks!" says he, "I'd clean forgot, but I reckon I kens
where the Moon be!" and he told them of how he was lost in the bogs,
and how, when he was nigh dead with fright, the light shone out, and he
found the path and got home safe.
So off they all went to the
Wise Woman, and told her about it, and she looked long in the pot and
the Book again, and then she nodded her head.
"It's dark still,
childer, dark!" says she, "and I can't rightly see, but do as I tell
ye, and ye 'll find out for yourselves. Go all of ye, just afore the
night gathers, put a stone in your mouth, and take a hazel-twig in your
hands, and say never a word till you're safe home again. Then walk on
and fear not, far into the midst of the marsh, till ye find a coffin, a
candle, and a cross. Then ye'll not be far from your Moon; look, and
m'appen ye 'll find her."
So came the next night in the
darklings, out they went all together, every man with a stone in his
mouth, and a hazel-twig in his hand, and feeling, thou may'st reckon,
main feared and creepy. And they stumbled and stottered along the paths
into the midst of the bogs; they saw nought, though they heard sighings
and flutterings in their ears, and felt cold wet fingers touching them;
but all at once, looking around for the coffin, the candle, and the
cross, while they came nigh to the pool beside the great snag, where
the Moon lay buried. And all at once they stopped, quaking and mazed
and skeery, for there was the great stone, half in, half out of the
water, for all the world like a strange big coffin; and at the head was
the black snag, stretching out its two arms in a dark gruesome cross,
and on it a tiddy light flickered, like a dying candle. And they all
knelt down in the mud, and said, "Our Lord, first forward, because of
the cross, and then backward, to keep off the Bogles; but without
speaking out, for they knew that the Evil Things would catch them, if
they didn't do as the Wise Woman told them."
Then they went
nigher, and took hold of the big stone, and shoved it up, and
afterwards they said that for one tiddy minute they saw a strange and
beautiful face looking up at them glad-like out of the black water; but
the Light came so quick and so white and shining, that they stept back
mazed with it, and the very next minute, when they could see again,
there was the full Moon in the sky, bright and beautiful and kind as
ever, shining and smiling down at them, and making the bogs and the
paths as clear as day, and stealing into the very corners, as though
she'd have driven the darkness and the Bogles clean away if she could.
|All English Fairy Tales
THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
JACK THE GIANT-KILLER
THE PIED PIPER OF FRANCHVILLE
THE STORY OF THE THREE BEARS
TOM TIT TOT
THE THREE SILLIES
THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG
HOW JACK WENT TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE
NIX NOUGHT NOTHING
MOUSE AND MOUSER
CAP O' RUSHES
THE MASTER AND HIS PUPIL
TITTY MOUSE ND TATTY MOUSE
JACK AND HIS GOLDEN SNUFF-BOX
THE RED ETTIN
MASTER OF ALL MASTERS.
THE GOLDEN ARM
THE HISTORY OF TOM THUMB
EARL MAR'S DAUGHTER
WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT
THE STRANGE VISITOR
THE LAIDLY WORM OF SPINDLESTON HEUGH
THE CAT AND THE MOUSE.
THE FISH AND THE RING.
THE MAGPIE'S NEST
THE CAULD LAD OF HILTON
THE ASS, THE TABLE, AND THE STICK
THE WELL OF THE WORLD'S END.
THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL