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AMERICAN STORIES - Many Moons

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Now, the VOA Special English program: American Stories. Our story today is called Many Moons, it was written by James Thurber. Here is Shep O'Neal.

Princess Lenore loved cakes. She once ate so many that she became sick. And the king's doctor could do nothing to help it. The king promised his little daughter anything she wanted if she would just get well. Lenore said she wanted the moon. She would get well if she had the moon.

The king called for his important official The Lord High Chamberlain. He was a big fat man who wore thick eye glasses. The king asked him to get the moon for the young princess. The king's official took a long list from his pocket and said: “ Your Majesty, I have gotten you many things. Here is a list of them: Ivory, Monkeys, peacocks, jewels, pink elephants, little blue dogs, gold insects, and the feathers of angels. And I have brought you giants and little men and women who live in the sea and singers and the dancers, a kilo of butter, a bag of sugar, and twenty four eggs. Oh, I'm sorry. My wife wrote that.”

The king said he did not remember any little blue dogs and did not want to talk about little blue dogs. He wanted the moon for his daughter and he wanted it quickly.

The Lord High Chamberlain said: “I have gotten things from far off places like Africa and Asia. But I cannot get the moon. The moon is sixty-thousand kilometers from the earth. It is bigger even than the Princess Lenore's room and it is made of hot copper. Nobody can touch it. Little blue dogs, yes. But the moon, No.

The king ordered the Lord High Chamberlain out of the room and sent for his mathematician-a little man with no hair on his head. He carried pencils behind his ear.

The king said to him: “ Don't tell me all the problems you have settled for me in the last forty years. I am not interested in them. I want the moon for Princess Lenore. Now, get it.

The mathematician said: “ Thank you, thank you for asking me. On this paper I have written all the problems I have answered for you in the last forty years. I have told you how far up is and how far down is. I showed you the distance between the letter A and Z between day and night.

The king got hot with anger. He said he didn't want to talk. He wanted the moon for his daughter.

But the mathematician said he could not get the moon. The moon is five-hundred-thousand kilometers away. It is almost as big as the king's country and it is made of asbestos and it is nailed to the sky. Nobody can get it.

The king pushed the mathematician out of the room. He called for his jester, the only man who made him laugh.

The jester came running into the room. He wore his funny clothes covered with bells. The king said: “ My daughter will stay sick until she gets the moon. All my officials say that they cannot get it.

The jester thought for a minute and said: “ Well, they are all wise men, but have different ideas about the moon. Why don't we ask Princess Lenore what ideas she has about the moon?

The king agreed. And the jester went to Lenore's room. The little girl spoke with difficulty. She asked the jester if he brought the moon.

He said he would get it but first he wanted to know how big she thought the moon was.

Lenore answered: “ It is as big as the nail on my finger. I know this is so because when I put my small finger in front of the moon my finger nail covers it.

The jester then asked her how far away she thought the moon was.

She said: “ that it was not as high as the tree near the window she knew this because sometimes the moon got caught in the top of the tree.”

The jester had one more question: “ What do you think the moon is made of?.”

The princess laughed and said: “ Of course, it is made of gold!”

The jester left Lenore and went to see the king's jeweler.

The jeweler made a round moon of gold a little smaller than the finger nail of the princess, then he put the moon on a gold chain so that Lenore could wear it on her neck.

The jester took the gold chain to Princess Lenore.

She was so happy that she quickly got well. The next day she got out of bed and played in the garden.

The king was happy. But then he began to worry. He knew the moon that night would be bright in the sky. If his daughter saw it she would know that the moon on her neck was not really the moon.

Again he asked his officials to see him.

The Lord High Chamberlain was first. The king asked what could be done so that Princess Lenore would not see the moon that night.

The Lord High Chamberlain thought for a long time. Then he said: “ If the Princess wore black glasses she would not be able to see anything.”

The king said that if his daughter could not see anything she would walk into the furniture and hurt herself and be back in bed.

He called for his mathematician.

The mathematician walked around in a circle. He said he had the answer: “ Fireworks, every night in the gardens so many bright lights shooting into the sky from the gardens would keep Princess Lenore from seeing the moon.”

The king told the mathematician that he was stupid: “ So much light in the sky would not let his daughter sleep.

The king looked out of his window. He saw the moon begin to rise. He quickly called for his jester and told him that his little daughter would see the moon this would make her sick again.

None of his officials knew what to do about it.

The jester said if these wise men do not know how to hide the moon then the moon cannot be hidden.

Again the king looked out of the window and saw that the moon was shining into Lenore's room.

The jester spoke to him: “ Who knew what the moon was made of and how far away it was. I think that Princess Lenore is wiser than your officials and knows more about the moon than they do. I will ask her to explain how the moon can be on her neck and in the sky.

The king could not stop him.

The jester went to Lenore's room. She was in bed but not sleeping. She was looking out of the window at the moon in the sky. She held the little moon that the jester had brought her.

The jester asked her: “ How can the moon shine in the sky when it is hanging around your neck?”

She looked at him and laughed. She said: “ That's a foolish question. When I lose a tooth a new one grows in its place, doesn't it?”

The jester answered: “ Of course, and when a deer loses its horns, new horns grow!”

She said: “ That's right. And when we cut the flowers in the garden other flowers grow in their places.”

The jester said: “ That's right! And after the night takes the place of the day, the day takes the place of the night!”

Princess Lenore said: “ It is the same with the moon. And I think it is the same with everything.” Her voice got lower and lower.

And the jester looked at her closely and saw that she was asleep. He covered her gently with the blankets and walked quietly out of her room on his toes.

You have just heard the American Story Many Moons. It was written by James Thurber. Your narrator was Shep O'Neal.

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