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The man in the moon.

From Mother Goose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Age Rating 4 to 6.

Start of Story

The Man in the Moon came tumbling down,
And enquired the way to Norwich;
He went by the south and burned his mouth
With eating cold pease porridge!

What! Have you never heard the story of the Man in the Moon? Then I must surely tell it, for it is very amusing, and there is not a word of truth in it. The Man in the Moon was rather lonesome, and often he peeked over the edge of the moon and looked down upon the earth and envied all the people who lived together, for he thought it must be vastly more pleasant to have companions to talk to than to be shut up in a big planet all by himself, where he had to whistle to keep himself company. One day he looked down and saw an alderman sailing up through the air towards him. This alderman was being translated (instead of being transported, owing to a misprint in the law) and as he came near the Man in the Moon called to him and said, "How is everything down on the earth?" "Everything is lovely," replied the alderman, "and I would n't leave it if I was not obliged to." "What 's a good place to visit down there?" enquired the Man in the Moon. "Oh, Norwich is a mighty fine place," returned the alderman, "and it 's famous for its pease porridge;" and then he sailed out of sight and left the Man in the Moon to reflect upon what he had said. The words of the alderman made him more anxious than ever to visit the earth, and so he walked thoughtfully home, and put a few lumps of ice in the stove to keep him warm, and sat down to think how he should manage the trip.

You see, everything went by contraries in the Moon, and when the Man wished to keep warm he knocked off a few chunks of ice and put them in his stove; and he cooled his drinking water by throwing red-hot coals of fire into the pitcher. Likewise, when he became chilly he took off his hat and coat, and even his shoes, and so became warm; and in the hot days of summer he put on his overcoat to cool off. All of which seems very queer to you, no doubt; but it was n't at all queer to the Man in the Moon, for he was accustomed to it. Well, he sat by his ice-cool fire and thought about his journey to the earth, and finally he decided the only way he could get there was to slide down a moonbeam. So he left the house and locked the door and put the key in his pocket, for he was uncertain how long he should be gone; and then he went to the edge of the moon and began to search for a good strong moonbeam. At last he found one that seemed rather substantial and reached right down to a pleasant-looking spot on the earth; and so he swung himself over the edge of the moon, and put both arms tight around the moonbeam and started to slide down. But he found it rather slippery, and in spite of all his efforts to hold on he found himself going faster and faster, so that just before he reached the earth he lost his hold and came tumbling down head over heels and fell plump into a river.

The cool water nearly scalded him before he could swim out, but fortunately he was near the bank and he quickly scrambled upon the land and sat down to catch his breath. By that time it was morning, and as the sun rose its hot rays cooled him off somewhat, so that he began looking about curiously at all the strange sights and wondering where on earth he was. By and by a farmer came along the road by the river with a team of horses drawing a load of hay, and the horses looked so odd to the Man in the Moon that at first he was greatly frightened, never before having seen horses except from his home in the moon, from whence they looked a good deal smaller. But he plucked up courage and said to the farmer, "Can you tell me the way to Norwich, sir?" "Norwich?" repeated the farmer musingly; "I do n't know exactly where it be, sir, but it 's somewhere away to the south." "Thank you," said the Man in the Moon.--But stop! I must not call him the Man in the Moon any longer, for of course he was now out of the moon; so I 'll simply call him the Man, and you 'll know by that which man I mean.


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