'My dear impudent child,' said the marabou stork, for he had good ears. 'If you were nearly a hundred years old and had lost your spectacles, you wouldn't exactly look pleased, either.' And then he turned his back to them and continued his search. 'Come along now,' said Moominmamma. 'We must look for your father.'
She took Moomintroll and the small creature by the hand and hurried on. After a while they saw something gleaming in the grass where the water had subsided. 'I bet it's a diamond!' cried the small creature. But when they looked more closely, they saw that it was only a pair of spectacles.
'Do you think they're the marabou stork's, mother?' asked Moomintroll. 'Of course,' she said. 'I suppose you had better run back and give them to him. But hurry up, for your poor father is sitting somewhere hungry and wet and all alone.'
Moomintroll ran as fast as he could on his short legs, and far away he saw the marabou stork poking about in the water. 'Hallo, hallo!' he cried. 'Here are your spectacles, Uncle Stork!'
'Really?' said the marabou stork, very pleased. 'Perhaps you are not such an impossible little child after all.' And then he put on his spectacles and turned his head this way and that.
'I'm afraid I must go at once,' said Moomintroll. 'You see, we're out looking too.' 'Well, well, I see,' said the marabou stork in a friendly voice. 'What are you looking for?'
'My father,' said Moomintroll. 'He's up a tree somewhere.'
The marabou stork thought for a long time. Then he said firmly: 'You will never manage it alone. But I will help you, because you found my spectacles.'
Then he picked up Moomintroll in his beak, very carefully, and put him on his back, flapped his wings a few times and sailed away over the shore.
Moomintroll had never flown before, and he thought it was tremendous fun, and a little uncanny. He was also quite proud when the marabou stork landed beside his mother and the small creature.
'I am most indebted to you for your inquiries, madam,' said the marabou stork, bowing to Moominmamma. 'If the family will climb on board we shall effect our departure at once. And then he lifted first her and then the small creature, who squeaked with excitement. 'Hold on tight,' said the marabou stork. 'We're going to fly out over the water now.'
'I think this is the most wonderful thing we've been through so far,' said Moominmamma. 'Why, flying is not nearly as frightening as I thought. Now keep a good look out for Moominpappa in all directions!' The marabou stork flew in wide circles and came in low over each treetop. They saw a lot of people sitting amidst the branches, but none of them was who they were looking for. 'I shall have to rescue those creeps over there later on,' said the marabou stork, whom the rescue expedition had made positively cheerful. He flew to and fro above the water for a long time, the sun began to set, and everything seemed quite hopeless. Suddenly Moominmamma cried: There he is!' and began to wave her arms so wildly that she nearly fell off.
'Papa!' shouted Moomintroll, and the small creature cried out too, just to keep him company.
There, on one of the highest branches of an enormous tree sat a wet, sad Moominpappa, staring out over the water. Beside him he had tied a distress flag. He was so amazed and delighted when the marabou stork landed in the tree, and the whole of his family climbed down on to the branches, that he could not say a word. 'Now we shall never be separated again,' sobbed Moominmamma, and took him in her arms. 'How are you? Have you got a cold? Where have you been all this time? Was the house you built a very fine one? Did you think of us often?'
'It was a very fine house, alas,' said Moominpappa. 'My dear little boy, how you have grown!'
'Well, well,' said the marabou stork, who was beginning to feel touched. 'I think I had better put you down on dry land and try to rescue a few more until the sun goes down. It's very pleasant, rescuing people.' And then he took them back to the shore while they all talked at the same time about all the dreadful things they had been through. All along the shore people had lit fires at which they were warming themselves and cooking food, for most had lost their homes. The marabou stork put down Moomintroll, his father and mother and the small creature at one of the bonfires, and with a hasty farewell he flew out over the water again. 'Good evening,' said the two angler fish who had lit the fire. 'Please sit down, the soup will be ready in a moment.'
'Thank you very much,' said Moominpappa. 'You have no idea what a fine house I had before the flood. Built it all by myself. But if I get a new one, you will be welcome there any time.'
'How big was it?' asked the small creature.
'Three rooms,' said Moominpappa. 'One sky-blue, one sunshine-yellow and one spotted. And a guest room in the attic for you, small creature.' 'Did you really mean us to live there too?' asked Moominmamma, very pleased. 'Of course,' he said. 'I looked for you always, everywhere. I could never forget our dear old stove.'
Then they sat and told one another about their experiences and ate soup until the moon had risen and the fires began to go out along the shore. Then they borrowed a blanket from the angler fish and curled up close next to one another and fell asleep.
Next morning the water had subsided a good way, and they all went out into the sunshine in a very good mood. The small creature danced in front of them and tied a bow in his tail because he was so happy. All day they walked, and wherever they went it was beautiful, for after the rain the most wonderful flowers had come out everywhere and the trees had both flowers and fruits. They only needed to shake a tree slightly, and the fruits fell down among them. At last they came to a small valley that was more beautiful than any they had seen earlier in the day. And there, in the midst of the meadow, stood a house that almost looked like a stove, very elegant and painted blue. 'Why, that's my house!' cried Moominpappa, quite beside himself with joy. 'It must have floated here, and here it is!'
'Hurrah!' shouted the small creature, and then they all rushed down into the valley to admire the house. The small creature even climbed up on the roof, and there he shouted even louder, for up on the chimney hung a necklace of real, large pearls that had lodged there during the flood.
'Now we are rich!' he cried. 'We can buy a car and an even bigger house!' 'No,' said Moominmamma. 'This house is the most beautiful one we shall ever have.'
And then she took Moomintroll by the hand and went into the sky-blue room. And there in the valley they spent the whole of their lives, apart from a few times when they left it and travelled for a change.
translated from Finland-Swedish by David McDuff
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 1
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 2
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 3
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 4
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 5
The Moomins and the Great Flood - 6