‘Well, that was the best I could do,’ said the old gentleman, offended. ‘But you like the garden, don’t you?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Moomintroll, whose mouth was full of pebbles just then. (They were actually made of marzipan.) ‘If you would like to stay here, I will build you a cake-house to live in,’ said the old gentleman. ‘I get a bit bored here sometimes all on my own.’
‘That would be very nice,’ said Moominmamma, ‘but if you won’t be hurt, I think we must be on our way. We were actually thinking of building a house in the real sunshine.’
‘No, let’s stay!’ cried Moomintroll, the small creature and Tulippa. ‘Well, children,’ said Moominmamma. ‘We’ll see.’ And she lay down to sleep under a chocolate bush.
When she woke up again she heard a fearful moaning, and realized at once that it was her Moomintroll, who had a sore stomach. (Moomins get sore stomachs very easily). It had become quite round from all he had eaten, and it was dreadfully sore. Beside him sat the small creature, who had got toothache from all the sweets, and was moaning even worse. Moominmamma did not scold, but took two powders from her handbag and gave them each one, and then she asked the old gentleman if he had a bowl of nice, hot porridge.
‘No, I’m afraid not,’ he said. ‘But there’s a bowl of whipped cream, and another one of jam.’
‘Hm,’ said Moominmamma. ‘Porridge is good for them, you see: hot food is what they need. Where’s Tulippa?’
‘She says she can’t get to sleep because the sun never goes down,’ said the old gentleman, looking unhappy. ‘I’m truly sorry that you don’t like it here.’
‘We’ll come back again,’ Moominmamma consoled him. ‘But now I think I must see to it that we get out in the fresh air again.’ And then she took Moomintroll by one hand, and the small creature by the other, and called for Tulippa. ‘You’ll do best to take the switch-back railway,’ said the old gentleman politely. ‘It goes right through the mountain and comes out in the middle of the sunshine.’
‘Thank you,’ said Moominmamma. ‘Goodbye then.’ ‘Goodbye then,’ said Tulippa. (Moomintroll and the small creature were not able to say anything, as they felt so horribly sick.) ‘Don’t mention it,’ said the old gentleman.
And then they took the switch-back railway through the whole mountain at a dizzying speed. When they came out on the other side they were quite giddy and sat on the ground for a long time, recovering. Then they looked around them.
Before them lay the sea, glittering in the sunshine. ‘I want to go for a bathe!’ cried Moomintroll, for now he felt all right again. ‘Me too,’ said the small creature, and then they ran right out into the sun’s beam on the water. Tulippa tied her hair up so it would not go out, and then she followed them and stepped in very cautiously.
‘Phooh, it’s so cold,’ she said.
‘Don’t stay in too long,’ called Moominmamma, and then she lay down to sun herself, for she was still quite tired.
All at once an ant-lion came strolling across the sand. He looked very cross and said: ‘This is my beach! You must go away!’
‘We certainly shan’t,’ said Moominmamma. ‘So there!’ Then the ant-lion began to kick sand in her eyes, he kicked and scratched until she could not see a thing. Closer and closer he came, and suddenly he began to dig himself into the sand, making the hole deeper and deeper around him. At last only his eyes could be seen at the bottom of the hole, and all the while he continued to throw sand at Moominmamma. She had begun to slide down into the hole, and was trying desperately to climb up again. ‘Help, help!’ she cried, spitting sand. ‘Rescue me!’
Moomintroll heard her and came rushing up out of the water. He managed to catch hold of her ears and pulled and struggled with all his might while he shouted rude names at the ant-lion. The small creature and Tulippa came and helped too, and then, at last, they managed to haul Moominmamma over the edge, and she was rescued. (The ant-lion continued to dig himself in out of pure annoyance, and no one knows if he ever found the way up again.) It was a long while until they got the sand out of their eyes and managed to calm down a little. But by then they had lost all their desire to bathe, and instead went on their way along the seashore in order to look for a boat. The sun was already going down and behind the horizon threatening black clouds were gathering. It looked as though there was going to be a storm. Suddenly they caught sight of something moving further along the shore.
It was a mass of small, pale creatures, pushing a sail-boat out. Moominmamma looked at them for a long time, and then she called loudly: ‘Those are the wanderers! Those are the Hattifatteners!’ and began to run towards them as fast as she was able. When Moomintroll, the small creature and Tulippa got there, Moominmamma was standing in the midst of the Hattifatteners (who only came up to her waist), talking and asking questions and waving her arms, and very excited. She asked over and over again if they really had not seen Moominpappa, but the Hattifatteners only looked at her for a moment with their round, colourless eyes and then went on pulling the boat towards the water. ‘Oh dear,’ Moominmamma exclaimed, ‘I was in such a hurry that I forgot they can’t speak, or hear anything!’ And she drew a handsome Moomintroll in the sand with a big question-mark after him. But the Hattifatteners did not care about her at all, they had got the boat down into the sea and were busy hoisting the sails. (It is also possible that they did not understand what she meant, for Hattifatteners are very stupid.)
The black bank of cloud had now risen higher, and waves were beginning to move on the sea.
‘There’s nothing for it, we shall have to go with them,’ said Moominmamma, at last. ‘The shore looks gloomy and deserted, and I don’t feel like meeting another ant-lion. Jump into the boat, children!’
‘Well, it’s not on my head!’ mumbled the small creature, but he climbed on board after the others all the same. The boat steered out to sea with a Hattifattener at the helm. The sky grew darker and darker all around, the tops of the waves had white foam on them, and far away thunder was rumbling. As it fluttered in the gale, Tulippa’s hair glowed with a very faint light.
‘Now I’m frightened again,’ said the small creature. ‘I’m almost beginning to wish I hadn’t come with you.’
‘Phooh,’ said Moomintroll, but then he lost the desire to say any more and crept down beside his mother. Now and then came a wave that was bigger than all the others and splashed in over the prow. The boat sailed on with stretched sails at a furious speed. Sometimes they saw a mermaid dance by on the crests of the waves, sometimes they glimpsed a whole flock of little sea-trolls. The thunder rumbled louder and the lightning ran criss-cross over the sky. ‘Now I’m sea-sick, too,’ said the small creature, and then he was sick while Moominmamma held his head. The sun had set long ago, but in the gleam of the lightning they noticed a sea-troll that kept trying to keep abreast of the boat. ‘Hello there!’ cried Moomintroll through the storm, to show that he was not afraid. ‘Hello, hello,’ said the sea-troll. ‘You look as though you might be a relation.’
‘That would be nice,’ cried Moomintroll, politely. (But he thought it was probably a very distant relation, because Moomintrolls are a much species than sea-trolls.)
‘Jump into the boat,’ Tulippa called to the sea-troll, ‘otherwise you’ll be left behind!’
The sea-troll took a leap over the edge of the boat and shook the water off himself like a dog. ‘Grand weather,’ he said. ‘Where are you bound for?’
‘Anywhere, as long as we can go ashore,’ groaned the small creature, who was quite green in the face with sea-sickness.
‘In that case I had better take the helm for a bit,’ said the sea-troll. ‘If you keep to this course, you’ll go straight out to sea.’
And then he took over from the Hattifattener who sat at the helm, and made the boat alter course. It was strange how much easier it was now that they had the sea-troll with them. The boat danced along, and sometimes it made long leaps over the tops of the waves.
The small creature began to look more cheerful, and Moomintroll shouted with delight. Only the Hattifatteners sat staring indifferently at the horizon. They did not care about anything except travelling on from one strange place to the other.
‘I know a fine harbour,’ said the sea-troll. ‘But the entrance is so narrow that only superior navigators like myself can manage it.’ He laughed loudly and made the boat make a mighty leap over the waves. Then they saw land rising out of the sea under the forked lightning. Moominmamma thought it was a wild and dismal land. ‘Is there anything to eat?’ she asked.
‘There’s anything you like,’ said the sea-troll. ‘Hold on, now, for we’re going to sail right into the harbour now!’
At that same moment the boat rushed into a black ravine where the storm howled between the enormously high faces of rock. The sea foamed white against the rocks and it looked as though the boat was plunging straight towards them. But it flew light as a bird into a large harbour where the transparent water was calm and green as in a lagoon.
‘Thank goodness,’ said Moominmamma, for she had not really trusted the sea-troll. ‘It certainly looks nice here.’
‘It depends on how you judge it,’ said the sea-troll. ‘I suppose I like it more when a storm is raging. I’d best be off out there again before the waves get smaller.’ And then he somersaulted down into the sea, and was gone.
When the Hattifatteners saw an unknown land before them, they livened up; some began to furl the slack sails and others put out the oars and rowed eagerly towards the flowering green shore. The boat put in at a meadow that was full of wild flowers, and Moomintroll jumped ashore with the mooring-rope.
‘Now bow and thank the Hattifatteners for the voyage,’ said Moominmamma. And Moomintroll made a deep bow, and the small creature wagged his tail gratefully.
‘Thank you very much,’ said Moominmamma and Tulippa, and they curtsied down to the ground. But when they all looked up again, the Hattifatteners had gone on their way. ‘I expect they made themselves invisible,’ said the small creature. ‘Funny folk.’
Then all four of them went in among the flowers. The sun was rising now, and there was a glittering and gleaming in the dew. ‘I should like to live here,’ said Tulippa. ‘These flowers are even more beautiful than my old tulip. Besides, my hair never really matched it properly.’ ‘Look, a house made of real gold!’ shouted the small creature suddenly, pointing. In the middle of the meadow stood a tower with the sun reflecting itself in its long row of windows. The top storey was made entirely of glass, and the sunlight gleamed in it like burning red gold. ‘I wonder who lives there,’ said Moominmamma. ‘Perhaps it’s too early to wake them.’
‘But I’m so horribly hungry,’ said Moomintroll. ‘Me too,’ said the small creature and Tulippa, and then they all looked at Moominmamma. ‘Well – all right, then,’ she said, and then she went up to the tower and knocked on the door. After a little while a hatch in the door opened and a boy with completely red hair looked out. ‘Have you been shipwrecked?’ he asked. ‘Almost,’ said Moominmamma. ‘But we’re quite certainly hungry.’ Then the boy opened the door wide and invited them to come in. And when he caught sight of Tulippa, he made a deep bow, for he had never seen such beautiful blue hair before. And Tulippa curtseyed just as deeply, for she thought his red hair was quite charming. Then they all followed him up the spiral staircase, all the way to the top storey made of glass, where they could see out over the sea in all directions. In the midst of the tower-room was a table on which there was an enormous, steaming sea-pudding.
‘Is it really for us?’ asked Moominmamma. ‘Of course,’ said the boy. ‘I keep look-out here when there’s a storm out at sea, and all who escape into my harbour are invited to sea-pudding. That’s how it’s always been.’ Then they sat round the table and after a very short while the whole basin was empty. (The small creature, who sometimes did not have very good manners, took the bowl with him under the table and licked it completely clean.)
‘Thank you very, very much,’ said Moominmamma. ‘You must have invited a lot of people up here for sea-pudding, I should think.’
‘Oh yes,’ said the boy. ‘People from every corner of the world. Snufkins, Sea-ghosts, Little Creeps and Big Folk, Snorks and Hemulens. And the odd angler fish, too.’
‘I suppose you haven’t seen any Moomins, by any chance?’ asked Moominmmma, and she was so excited that her voice quivered.
‘Yes, one,’ said the boy. ‘That was after the cyclone last Monday.’ ‘I wonder if that could have been Papa?’ cried Moomintroll. ‘Did he keep putting his tail in his pocket?’
‘Yes, he did, actually,’ said the boy. ‘I remember it quite particularly, because it looked so funny.’ Then Moomintroll and his mother were so happy that they fell into each other’s arms, and the small creature jumped up and down and cried ‘hurrah’.
‘Where did he go?’ asked Moominmamma. ‘Did he say anything particular? Where is he? How was he?’
‘Fine,’ said the boy. ‘He took the road to the south.’
‘Then we must go after him at once,’ said Moominmamma. ‘Perhaps we’ll catch up with him. Hurry, children. Where’s my handbag?’ And then she rushed down the spiral staircase so fast that they could scarcely follow her.