The moon resembled a little fingernail clipping in the sky this morning. The dark part was so obvious, I couldn’t imagine anyone thinking that the moon actually changed shape. It was so pretty; it brought to mind a children’s story.
The emperor was planning a birthday party for his daughter. He asked her what she wanted in all the world, and she replied, “It’s so pretty; I want the moon.”
He went to his advisers and asked them if there was any way to get the moon for his young daughter. They couldn’t think of anything. He consulted an astrologist and an astronomist; neither could think of any way to tug the moon to earth for his daughter.
The emperor put out a request: If anyone could think of a way to get the moon for his daughter, he could name his price. Someone low on the social register — I think the court jester — asked to talk to the princess.
“Tell me why you want the moon,” the jester said to the princess.
“It’s so pretty,” she replied. “I want to see it all the time, not just at night.”
“And how big is the moon?” asked the jester.
“Oh, it’s small,” she answered. “When I hold my hand up to the night sky, the moon is as big as my thumbnail.”
The jester went to the royal jeweler and had him craft a small gold disc, polished as bright as the shining moon, and put it on a necklace for the princess. When the jester presented it to the emperor’s daughter, she squealed with delight. She had her very own moon to look at and admire whenever she wanted.
The moral of the story, I suppose, is that the simplest answer is usually the right one to any question. Either that, or talk to your children and ask more questions when they say they want something. Or perhaps the moral is that sometimes common sense beats out book-learning.
I don’t recall what the court jester received as his prize either — maybe that was equally simple — a place to live or maybe the daughter’s hand in marriage.
As I recall, this was a story included in a book of fairy tales from around the world. The illustrations that went with it make me think it came from China or Japan. The other story that stuck with me was about the laziest man. His wife made him a necklace of biscuits to eat while she was away, but he starved anyway because he couldn’t be bothered to turn the necklace around.
OK, so I’m a bookworm from way back. There were lots of books on the shelves at home, and they weren’t wasted, Mom.