Under the Moon – January 1910

It was Christmas night, and a party of us went out to shut up the hens. There had been a slight thaw, which melted the surface snow and spread a sheet of ice over the roads and the hollows in the fields.

Locomotion was possible only by stepping carefully on sods sticking out of the ice, and skirting round the most dangerous places. Thus we were glad to pause sometimes to look round the glittering ridges of the landscape, or up at the glorious sky where, one remarked, Venus was wearing a halo.

“Well, that’s a new ornament for the goddess of beauty,” said a scoffing young man: “I never heard of her pretending to a halo, either in ancient or modern times.”…. … …. “Let us call it her girdle, then, or her veil; it’s rather like a pinky, gauzy veil. What does it mean?” … … … “It means that you’ll get a red nose my girl, if you stand gazing at Venus instead of locking in those roosters. I believe I see a fox stealing through that hedge. Quick, run!”

The youngest here drew attention to the moon riding at full on the other side of the heavens, and suggested to the young man that if he couldn’t see a halo round Venus, perhaps he could see the Gibson Girl in the moon; the left eye of the Man-in-the-Moon is her hair dressed high, his nose and mouth form her profile and neck.

We soon saw the artful beauty with her tilted chin much more clearly than we ever saw the ugly features of the Man — with the exception of our extremely unimpressionable young man, who stood with his feet wide apart on two sods and wanted to know whether the moony girl was looking at the North Pole or the South.

When we rallied him upon his defect of vision, he reminded us that it took a Scotchman three weeks to see a joke, and a whole month to make out a girl’s face. We agreed that if there had not been a bright moon we could never have made our way from coop to coop over frozen furrows, icy gateways, slippery planks across the sprawling stream and up and down glacial slopes where I required the assistance of my gloved hands to get along at all.

In the darkness of the houses, scarcely a fowl could be seen. They had withdrawn themselves to the innermost and highest perches. We discussed the possibility of skating on the broad sheet of ice which we were skirting — if the frost continued and mothers approved.

But was it the exercise which made us glow so that woollen gloves became uncomfortable and we looked dubiously at the halo which imparted an unusual air of modesty to the beauty of Venus. That night we were wakened by the rattling of the window-frames and a furious blatter of rain on the glass.

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