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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "What the Man in the Moon Did"

What the Man in the Moon Did

Long ago there was a poor little orphan boy who had no home and no one to protect him. All the inhabitants of the village neglected and abused him. He was not allowed to sleep in any of the huts, but one family permitted him to lie outside in the cold passage among the dogs who were his pillows and his quilt. They gave him no good meat, but flung him bits of tough walrus hide such as they gave to the dogs, and he was obliged to gnaw it as the dogs did, for he had no knife.

The only one who took pity on him was a young girl, and she gave him a small piece of iron for a knife. "You must keep it hidden, or the men will take it from you," she said.

He did not grow at all because he had so little food. He remained poor little Quadjaq, and led a miserable life. He did not dare even to join in the play of the boys, for they called him a "poor little shriveled bag of bones," and were always imposing upon him on account of his weakness.

When the people gathered in the singing house he used to lie in the passage and peep over the threshold. Now and then a man would take him by the nose and lift him into the house and make him carry out a jar of water. It was so large and heavy that he had to take hold of it with both hands and his teeth. Because he was so often lifted by his nose, it grew very large, but he remained small and weak.

At last the Man in the Moon, who protects all the Eskimo orphans, noticed how the men ill-treated Quadjaq, and came down to help him. He harnessed his dappled dog to his sledge and drove down. When he was near the hut he stopped the dog and called, "Quadjaq, come out."

The boy thought it was one of the men who wanted to plague him, and he said, "I will not come out. Go away."

"Come out, Quadjaq," said the Man from the Moon, and his voice sounded softer than the voices of the men. But still the boy hesitated, and said, "You will cuff me."

"No, I will not hurt you. Come out," said the Moon Man.

Then Quadjaq came slowly out, but when he saw who it was he was even more frightened than if it had been one of the men standing there.

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