Read Moominland Midwinter Online
Authors: Tove Jansson
Tags: #General, #Fantasy, #Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #Nature & the Natural World, #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Family, #Classics, #Moomins (Fictitious Characters), #Environment, #Seasons, #Winter, #Concepts, #Surprise
'I don't belong here any more,' Moomintroll thought. 'Nor there. I don't even know what's waking and what's a dream.' And then in an instant he was asleep, and summer lilacs covered him in their friendly green shadow.
Little My lay in her frayed sleeping-bag, feeling very vexed. A wind had sprung up in the evening and blew straight into the cave. The wet cardboard box had burst in three different places, and most of the stuffing was confusedly blowing about from corner to corner in the cave.
'Hello, old sister,' Little My shouted, and knocked the Mymble in the back. But the Mymble slept. She didn't even move.
'I'm growing angry,' said Little My. 'When, for once, one could've had some use for a sister.'
She kicked herself free from the sleeping-bag. Then she crawled to the opening and looked out in the cold night with some delight.
'I'll show you all,' Little My muttered grimly and coasted down the slope.
The shore was lonelier than the end of the world (if indeed anybody has been there). With low whispers the snow was sweeping its large fans over the ice. Everything was dark, because the moon had set.
'Here we go,' said Little My and spread her skirts in the evil northern wind. She started to slide along between the snow-spots, swerving left and right, spacing her legs with the secure poise you usually have if you are a My.
The candle in the bathing-house had burned down long ago when Little My passed. She could only see the pointed roof outlined against the night sky. But she didn't think for a moment: There's our old bathing-house.' She sniffed the sharp and dangerous smells of winter and stopped by the shore to listen. The wolves were howling, far, far away in the Lonely Mountains.
'Makes the blood curdle,' Little My murmured, grinning to herself in the dark. Her nose told her that there was a path here that led to the Moomin valley and to the house where one could find some warm quilts and possibly even a new sleeping-bag. She dashed over the shore and straight in among the trees.
She was so small that her feet made no tracks at all in the snow.
The Great Cold
the clocks were running again. Moomintroll felt less lonely after he had wound them up. As time was lost anyway, he set them at different hours. Perhaps one of them would be right, he thought.
Every so often they struck, and now and then the alarm clock went off. It comforted him. But he could never forget the one terrible thing - that the sun didn't rise any longer. Yes, it's true; morning after morning broke in a kind of grey twilight and melted back again into the long winter night - but the sun never showed himself. He was lost, simply lost, perhaps he had rolled out into space. At first Moomintroll refused to believe it. He waited a long time.
Every day he went down to the shore and sat there to wait, with his snout to the south-east. But nothing happened. Then he went home again and closed the hatch in the roof and lit a row of candles on the drawing-room mantelpiece.
The Dweller Under the Sink had still not come out to eat but was probably living a secret and important life by himself.
The Groke sauntered about on the ice, deep in her own thoughts that no one would ever learn, and in the cupboard of the bathing-house something dangerous was lurking among the gowns. Whatever can one do about such things?
Such things just
but one never knows why, and one feels hopelessly apart.
Moomintroll found a large box of paper transfers in the attic and lapsed into longing admiration of their summerish beauty. They were pictures of flowers and sunrises and little carts with gaudy wheels, glossy and peaceful pictures that reminded him of the world he had lost.
First he spread them out on the drawing-room floor. Then he hit upon pasting them on the walls. He pasted slowly and carefully to make the job last, and the brightest pictures he pasted above his sleeping Mamma.
Moomintroll had pasted along all the way to the looking-glass before he noticed that the silver tray had disappeared. It had always hung to the right of the looking-glass in a red, cross-stitched tray hanger, and now there was only the hanger, and a dark oval on the wallpaper.
He felt very upset because he knew that Moomin-mamma loved the tray. It was a family treasure that no one was allowed to use, and it used to be the only thing that was polished for Midsummer.
Distractedly, Moomintroll hunted everywhere. He found no tray. But he discovered that several other
things were missing also, such as pillows and quilts, flour and sugar, and a kettle. Even the egg-cosy with the rose embroidery.
Moomintroll felt deeply offended, as he regarded himself as responsible on behalf of the sleeping family. At first he suspected the Dweller Under the Sink. He also thought of the Groke and of the mystery of the bathing-house cupboard. But the guilty one could indeed be anybody. The winter probably was peopled with strange creatures who acted mysteriously and freakishly.
'I must ask Too-ticky,' thought Moomintroll. 'True, I intended to punish the sun by staying at home until he comes back. But this is important.'
When Moomintroll stepped out in the grey twilight, a strange white horse was standing by the verandah, staring at him with luminous eyes. He cautiously approached and greeted it, but the horse didn't move.
Moomintroll now saw that it was made of snow. Its
tail was the broom from the woodshed, and its eyes were small mirrors. He could see his own picture in the mirror eyes, and this frightened him a little. So he made a detour by the bare jasmine bushes.
'If there only were a single soul here that I knew of old,' Moomintroll thought. 'Somebody who wouldn't be mysterious, just quite ordinary. Somebody who had also awakened and didn't feel at home. Then one could say: "Hello! Terribly cold, isn't it? Snow's a silly thing, what? Have you seen the jasmine bushes? Remember last summer, when...?"
'Or things like that.'
Too-ticky sat on the bridge parapet, singing.
'I'm Too-ticky, and I've made a horse,' she sang.
A wild, white horse that goes a-gallop
Stamping o'er the ice into the night,
A white and solemn horse that goes a-gallop
Carrying the Great Cold upon his back.
Then followed the refrain.
'How do you mean?' asked Moomintroll.
'I mean that we'll spill river water over him tonight,' Too-ticky said. 'Then he'll freeze during the night and become all ice. And when the Great Cold comes he'll gallop off and never return any more.'
Moomintroll was silent.
Then he said: 'Somebody's carrying off things from Daddy's house.'
'That's nice, isn't it,' replied Too-ticky cheerfully. 'You've got too many things about you. As well as things you remember, and things you're dreaming about.'
And she started the second stanza.
Moomintroll turned about and went away. 'She doesn't understand me,' he thought. Behind him the exultant chant went on.
'Sing all you want,' Moomintroll muttered, angry to the point of crying. 'Sing about your horrible winter with
black ice and unfriendly snow-horses, and people who never appear but only hide and are queer!'