Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Moomins and the Great Flood - 3

(continued)

'Well, that was the best I could do,' said the old gentleman, offended. 'But you like the garden, don't you?'

'Oh yes,' said Moomintroll, whose mouth was full of pebbles just then. (They were actually made of marzipan.) 'If you would like to stay here, I will build you a cake-house to live in,' said the old gentleman. 'I get a bit bored here sometimes all on my own.'

'That would be very nice,' said Moominmamma, 'but if you won't be hurt, I think we must be on our way. We were actually thinking of building a house in the real sunshine.'

'No, let's stay!' cried Moomintroll, the small creature and Tulippa. 'Well, children,' said Moominmamma. 'We'll see.' And she lay down to sleep under a chocolate bush.

When she woke up again she heard a fearful moaning, and realized at once that it was her Moomintroll, who had a sore stomach. (Moomins get sore stomachs very easily). It had become quite round from all he had eaten, and it was dreadfully sore. Beside him sat the small creature, who had got toothache from all the sweets, and was moaning even worse. Moominmamma did not scold, but took two powders from her handbag and gave them each one, and then she asked the old gentleman if he had a bowl of nice, hot porridge.

'No, I'm afraid not,' he said. 'But there's a bowl of whipped cream, and another one of jam.'

'Hm,' said Moominmamma. 'Porridge is good for them, you see: hot food is what they need. Where's Tulippa?'

'She says she can't get to sleep because the sun never goes down,' said the old gentleman, looking unhappy. 'I'm truly sorry that you don't like it here.'

'We'll come back again,' Moominmamma consoled him. 'But now I think I must see to it that we get out in the fresh air again.' And then she took Moomintroll by one hand, and the small creature by the other, and called for Tulippa. 'You'll do best to take the switch-back railway,' said the old gentleman politely. 'It goes right through the mountain and comes out in the middle of the sunshine.'

'Thank you,' said Moominmamma. 'Goodbye then.' 'Goodbye then,' said Tulippa. (Moomintroll and the small creature were not able to say anything, as they felt so horribly sick.) 'Don't mention it,' said the old gentleman.

And then they took the switch-back railway through the whole mountain at a dizzying speed. When they came out on the other side they were quite giddy and sat on the ground for a long time, recovering. Then they looked around them.

Before them lay the sea, glittering in the sunshine. 'I want to go for a bathe!' cried Moomintroll, for now he felt all right again. 'Me too,' said the small creature, and then they ran right out into the sun's beam on the water. Tulippa tied her hair up so it would not go out, and then she followed them and stepped in very cautiously.

'Phooh, it's so cold,' she said.

'Don't stay in too long,' called Moominmamma, and then she lay down to sun herself, for she was still quite tired.

All at once an ant-lion came strolling across the sand. He looked very cross and said: 'This is my beach! You must go away!'

'We certainly shan't,' said Moominmamma. 'So there!' Then the ant-lion began to kick sand in her eyes, he kicked and scratched until she could not see a thing. Closer and closer he came, and suddenly he began to dig himself into the sand, making the hole deeper and deeper around him. At last only his eyes could be seen at the bottom of the hole, and all the while he continued to throw sand at Moominmamma. She had begun to slide down into the hole, and was trying desperately to climb up again. 'Help, help!' she cried, spitting sand. 'Rescue me!'

Moomintroll heard her and came rushing up out of the water. He managed to catch hold of her ears and pulled and struggled with all his might while he shouted rude names at the ant-lion. The small creature and Tulippa came and helped too, and then, at last, they managed to haul Moominmamma over the edge, and she was rescued. (The ant-lion continued to dig himself in out of pure annoyance, and no one knows if he ever found the way up again.) It was a long while until they got the sand out of their eyes and managed to calm down a little. But by then they had lost all their desire to bathe, and instead went on their way along the seashore in order to look for a boat. The sun was already going down and behind the horizon threatening black clouds were gathering. It looked as though there was going to be a storm. Suddenly they caught sight of something moving further along the shore.

(to be continued)

translated from Finland-Swedish by David McDuff

The Moomins and the Great Flood - 1
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 2

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