THE OLD MAN IN THE MOON

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Once there was an old man in a village, and he earned his living by pounding rice on hire. He had no friend nor companion, except for an old rabbit. The whole day, and part of the night when there was a moon, the old man pounded the paddy, and the old rabbit crouched near by, eating the chaff that his master threw away.

One moonlit night the old man, while pounding the paddy, said to himself, ‘It is sheer waste of time sifting the grain from the chaff after pounding. If only I had an old woman with me, she could do the sifting besides keeping me and my rabbit company. The Moon-goddess heard his words, and felt sorry for him. The next day, assuming the form of an old woman, she came to old man and kept him company. The whole day she sifted with a sieve the grain from the chaff, while the old man pounded the paddy. At nightfall, she went back to the sky.

Every day the Moon-goddess assumed the form of an old woman, and kept the old man and the rabbit company. At nightfall she always went away, for if it was a moonlit night she had to go and look after her Moon, and if it was a moonless night the old man did not need her help as he did not work in the dark. Weeks went by in this manner, until the old man asked, ‘Who are you?’ Why do you go away when night falls?’ and the old woman replied that she was the Moon-goddess. ‘Take me and my rabbit to your Moon,’ pleaded the old man, ‘and let us live with you forever, for we are so lonely without you.’ So the Moon-goddess took the old man and the rabbit to her Moon, and let them stay with her forever.

When the moon is full little children now a days gaze at it carefully, for, provided they are not ‘cry-babies’, they will see in the moon the old man still pounding rice, and the old rabbit still eating the chaff that the old man throws away.

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