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
He tramped up the slope, he kicked at the snow, his tears froze on his snout, and suddenly he started to sing his own song.
He sang it at the top of his voice, so that Too-ticky would hear it and be put out.
This was Moomintroll's angry summer song:
Listen, winter creatures, who have sneaked the sun away,
Who are hiding in the dark and making all the valley grey:
I am utterly alone, and I'm tired to the bone. And I'm sick enough of snowdrifts just to lay me down and groan.
I want my blue verandah and the glitter of the sea And I tell you one and all that your winter's not for me!
'Just you wait until my sun's coming back to look at you, and then you'll look silly, all of you,' Moomintroll shouted and didn't even care about his rhymes any more.
Because then I'll dance on a sunflower disk
And lie on my stomach in the warm sand
And keep my window open all the day
On the garden and bumblebees
And on the sky-blue sky
And my own great
The silence was oppressive when Moomintroll finished his song of defiance.
He stood listening for a while, but nobody opposed him.
'Something's bound to happen,' he thought with a tremble. And something did happen.
High up, from near the top of the hill, something came coasting along. It shot downwards in a plume of glittering snow, and it shouted: 'Stand aside! Keep clear!'
Moomintroll could only stare.
Straight towards him rushed the silver tray, and on it sat the missing egg-cosy. 'Too-ticky must have poured river-water on them,' Moomintroll had time to reflect. 'And now they're alive and galloping away and won't ever return any more...'
The collision came. Moomintroll was thrown deep into the snow, and even under the surface he could hear Too-ticky's laughter.
There was also another laugh, a laugh that could belong only to one person in the whole world.
'Little My!' shouted Moomintroll with his mouth full of snow. He clambered to his feet, beside himself with happiness and expectation.
Yes, there she was sitting in the snow. She had cut holes for her head and arms in the tea-cosy, and an embroidered rose adorned the middle of her stomach.
'Little My!' cried Moomintroll once again. 'Oh, you can't even guess... It's been so strange, so lonely... Remember last summer when...?'
'But now it's winter,' said Little My and fished for the silver tray in the snow. 'We took a good jump, didn't we?'
'I woke up and couldn't go to sleep again,' Moomintroll told her. 'The door had stuck, and the sun was lost, and not even the Dweller Under the Sink would...'
'Quite, quite,' Little My said cheerfully. 'So then you started pasting transfers on the walls. You're the same old Moomintroll. Now I wonder if it would speed up this tray a bit to rub it with candle-grease?'
'That's an idea,' said Too-ticky.
'I suppose I'll get quite a kick out of it on the ice,' said Little My. 'If one can find something for a sail in the Moominhouse.'
Moomintroll looked at them and thought a while.
Then he said quietly: 'You can always borrow my sun tent.'
The same afternoon Too-ticky felt in her nose that the Great Cold was on its way. She poured river water over the horse and carried armfuls of wood to the bathing-house.
'Keep inside today, because she'll be coming,' Too-ticky said.
The invisible shrews nodded, and an agreeing rustle was heard from the cupboard. Too-ticky went out to warn the others.
'Take it easy,' said Little My. 'I'll be coming in all right when I feel the pinch in my toes. And I can always throw some straw over the Mymble.' My steered her silver tray out on the ice.
Too-ticky continued her way towards the valley. On the path she met the squirrel with the marvellous tail. 'Keep at home tonight, because the Great Cold is coming,'said Too-ticky.
'Yes,' said the squirrel. 'You haven't seen a spruce cone I left here somewhere?'
'I haven't,' said Too-ticky. 'But promise that you
won't forget what I told you. Stay at home after twilight. It's important.'
The squirrel nodded absentmindedly.
Too-ticky went on to the Moominhouse and climbed the rope ladder that Moomintroll had hung out. She opened the hatch and called to him.
Moomintroll was darning the family's bathing trunks with red cotton yarn.
'I just wanted to tell you that the Great Cold's on her way,' Too-ticky said.
'A still greater one?' asked Moomintroll. 'How big do they grow?'
'This is the most dangerous of them all,' said Too-ticky. 'And she'll come in the afternoon, when the sky changes to green, straight in from the sea.'
'It's a she then?' asked Moomintroll.
'Yes, and very beautiful,' said Too-ticky. 'But if you look her in the face you'll be frozen to ice. You'll be hard like a biscuit and not even crumble. That's why you'd better keep at home tonight.'
Too-ticky crawled back out on the roof. Moomintroll went down in the cellar and filled more peat into the central-heating stove. He also spread some carpets over the sleeping family.
Then he wound the clocks and went out. He felt like having some company when the Lady of the Cold would make her visit.
As Moomintroll reached the bathing-house, the sky was already paler and greener than before. The wind had gone to sleep, and the dead reeds sprouted stiff and immobile from the ice by the shore.
He listened, and he thought that he could hear a very low, deep and softly humming tone in the silence itself. Perhaps it came from the ice that was freezing itself deeper and deeper down in the sea.
The bathing-house felt well warmed, and on the table stood Moominmamma's blue teapot.
He sat down in the garden chair and asked: 'When is she coming?'
'Quite soon now,' said Too-ticky. 'But don't worry.'
'Well, the Lady of the Cold doesn't worry me any,' said Moomintroll. 'I'm worried by
Those that I don't know anything about. Like the Dweller Under the Sink. And that one in the cupboard. Or the Groke that only looks at you and never says a word.'
Too-ticky rubbed her nose and thought.'Well, it's like this,' she said. There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that's a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don't fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything's quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep - then they appear.'
know them?' asked Moomintroll.
'Some of them,' replied Too-ticky. 'The Dweller Under the Sink, for instance, quite well. But I believe that he wants to lead a secret life, so I can't introduce you to each other.'
Moomintroll kicked at the table leg and sighed. 'I see, I see,' he replied. 'But I don't want to lead a secret life. Here one comes stumbling into something altogether new and strange, and not a soul even asking one in what kind of a world one has lived before. Not even Little My wants to talk about the
'And how does one tell which one is the real one?' said Too-ticky with her nose pressed against a pane. 'Here she is.'
The door was pushed open, and Little My sent the silver tray clattering in along the floor.
'The sail's not bad,' she said. 'But what I really need now is a muff. Your Mamma's eggwarmer'll never do, no matter where I cut the holes. Already it looked like something one wouldn't even have the cheek to give away to a displaced hedgehog.'
'I can see that,' replied Moomintroll with a bleak look at the eggwarmer.
Little My threw it on the floor, and it was immediately tidied off into the stove by an invisible shrew.
'Well, is she coming?' said Little My.
'I think so,' said Too-ticky quietly. 'Let's take a look outside.'
They went out on to the landing-stage and sniffed towards the sea. The evening sky was green all over, and all the world seemed to be made of thin glass. All was silent, nothing stirred, and slender stars were shining everywhere and twinkling in the ice. It was terribly cold.
'Yes, she's on her way,' said Too-ticky. 'We'd better go inside.'
The shrew stopped playing under the table.
Far out on the ice came the Lady of the Cold. She was pure white, like the candles, but if one looked at her through the right pane she became red, and seen through the left one she was pale green.
Suddenly Moomintroll felt the pane become so cold that it hurt, and he drew back his snout in rather a fright.
They sat down by the stove and waited.
'Don't look,' said Too-ticky.
'Hello, here's someone crawling into my lap,' cried Little My surprisedly and looked down at her empty skirt.
'It's my shrews,' said Too-ticky. 'They're scared. Sit still, and they'll go away soon.'
Now the Lady of the Cold was walking past the bathing-house. Perhaps she did cast an eye through the window, because an icy draught suddenly swept through the room and darkened the red-hot stove for a moment. Then it was over. Feeling a little embarrassed, the invisible shrews jumped down from Little My's lap, and everybody rushed to the window and looked out.