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This post continues my translation of the Moomin novels written by Tove Marika Jansson. To learn more about this project, please refer to my previous Moomin-posts:

  1. Moomin-troll and the Wizard Hat. Introduction
  2. Moomin-troll and the Wizard Hat. Chapter 1
  3. My Moomin-story disclaimer

Chapter 2

Where tells how Moomin-troll transformed into a beast and revenged the antlion, who lived nearby; and also about a mysterious adventure undertaken by Moomin-troll and Snoo-Smumrick.

One warm, nice and quiet, rainy summer day,  Moomin-house residents decided to play hide and seek. Sniff was chosen to be a seeker. So he turned to the corner, closed his face with his paws and started counting to ten. Then, he turned around and started seeking his friends, first in their usual places to hide, and then in unusual.

Moomin-troll hided himself under the table on the porch. However, he was uneasy with his choice, because it was definitely a wrong place to hide. He knew that Sniff will certainly raise the tablecloth and look there, and then Moomin-troll will be in trouble. Moomin-troll was desperately looking around for a better place. And suddenly he notices a black cylinder, which was pushed by someone into the corner.

One could not even think of anything better. No way, Sniff would be looking under the hat. And Moomin-troll started crawling (fast, but quiet) into the corner and towards the hat. He pulled the hat on himself. As it appears, it was little short on him and only reached his belly, but that was OK. He sat down and picked up his tail. And nobody would see him under this hat.

Moomin-troll was sitting under the hat and giggling silently, listening how Sniff was finding other players one by one. It looks like Hemul again was hiding under the sofa – he has no imagination for anything better. And now the whole herd was running around the house looking for him.

He was waiting and waiting, and then it appeared to him that they could be tired of looking for him. Thus, Moomin-troll climbed out of the hat, pushed his head through the door and said:

– I am here!

Sniff gave him a very long look and said with dangerous friendliness:

– I am also here.

– Who is that? – whispered Freken Snork.

The rest just shook their heads keeping looking steadfast on Moomin-troll.

Poor Moomin-troll! While he was in the Wizard’s hat, he transformed into some very strange creature. Everything that was rounded in his body physique was transformed into something narrow, everything that was small turned out to something big. And the most incredible – he could not see it, however everybody else could.

– Aha! How amazed you all are, – said Moomin-troll making a cautious step forward on his long, shaky legs. – You will never figure out where was I.

– But we don’t care, – said Snork. – As relative to that we are amazed, that is true. However, anyone could be amazed because you look so ugly.

– Why you are so angry on me? – asked Moomin-troll distressingly. – Oh, yes, you were searching for me for too long. But, what could I do with it now?

– First of all, you should introduce yourself, – said Freken Snork coldly, – because we don’t know who you are.

First, Moomin-troll stared at her with both his eyes, but then he decided that this is a new game. He laughed and said:

– I am a King of California!

– And I am a sister of Snork, – answered Freken Snork, – here is my brother.

– And I am Sniff, – said Sniff.

– And I am Snoo-Smumrick, – said Snoo-Smumrick.

-Oh, you are so boring – answered Moomin-troll. – Why did not you think of something more creative? Let’s go outside, it looks like weather gets better.

He stepped down from the porch and others followed him full of surprise and mistrust.

-Who is he? – asked Hemul, who was sitting next to the house wall and was very busy counting stamens of the sunflower.

– King of California, – answered Freken Snork with some irresolution in her voice, however.

– And he… Will he live with us? – asked Hemul.

-That is up to Moomin-troll, – said Sniff – I am actually puzzled, where is he?

– Oh, Sniff, you are so funny sometimes, – said Moomin-troll with giggle. – Imagine this! We should be looking for Moomin-troll!

– Do you know him? – asked Sniff.

– Ho-ho-ho – laughed Moomin-troll. – What are stupid questions you asking? – Of course, I know him!

It looked like, little more and Moomin-troll would burst from excitement. He enjoyed this new game more and more. And he believed that he plays his role perfectly.

-When did you meet him? – asked Freken Snork.

-We both were born the same day, – answered Moomin-troll trying hardly to restrain his enjoyment. – He is such a rascal! He should not be received in respectable homes.

– You must not talk like this about Moomin-troll! – said Freken Snork boiling with anger. – He is the best moomin in a world and we all love him very much!

Moomin-troll became very excited.

– Really! – answered he. – But I think, he is such a rascal.

Freken Snork has broken with tears.

– Hey, You! Get out of here! – said Snork with fury – Or we will beat you so hard, your mom would not recognize you.

Moomin-troll was taken aback with this statement.

-OK, OK, please calm down. – said he -This is just a game. I am very glad you love me so much.

-Nobody loves YOU! – cried Sniff with shrill. – Guys! Come on! Go ahead and beat him! Get him away, this ugly King. He will remember how to insult our Moomin-troll!

And they all attacked the poor King of California. He was too stunned to defend himself. And when he acquired his senses, it was too late. He was knocked down to the ground and was laying helpless under a screaming heap made of his friends’ bodies. And this heap was beating him with its multiple paws, tails, and hands.

And this very moment, Moomin-mama appeared on the porch attracted by the noise they made.

-What is going on, kids? – cried she -Stop it right away!

-We are beating the King of California. – answered Sniff and stopped fighting for a moment. – And he deserved it!

Moomin-troll used this as an opportunity to climb out of the heap. He was angry and out of breath.

-Mother! – he yelled  desperately.- They started it! – There were 3 of them against me.  This is not fair!

-I agree, – answered Moomin-mama, – But I think, you teased them and made them angry. By the way, who are you?

That last statement, made Moomin-troll cry:

-Stop it! I don’t like this stupid game anymore! – cried he. – I am Moomin-troll, and this is my mother!

– No, you are not Moomin-troll. – answered Freken Snork with disgust. – Moomin-troll has nice small ears, but yours are as big as burdocks.

Moomin-troll was very confused; he touched his head and did found a couple of huge and rather wrinkled ears.

– But I am Moomin-troll. – cried he in desperation. – I can’t believe you did not believe me?

-But Moomin-troll has a tail small and neat, but yours is huge and it looks like a brush for cleaning lamps. – said Snork.

Unfortunately, Snork was right. And Moomin-troll became convinced in it as soon as he touched his back with his shaking paws.

-And your eyes are like dinner plates. – said Sniff, – but Moomin-troll had nice, small and friendly eyes.

-This is right. – confirmed Snoo-Smumrick.

-You are an impostor. – concluded Hemul.

-Why no one believes me? – asked Moomin-troll desperately. – Mommy, please take a closer look at me, you must recognize your Moomin-kid.

Moomin-mama took a look to his frightened eyes; it was a very long look. And finally, she said:

– Yes, this is Moomin-troll.

And as soon as she uttered this, Moomin-troll‘s appearance had changed. His eyes, ears and tail got smaller and his nose and his belly got bigger. And here it is –  Moomin-troll in all his beauty, as good as he was.

-Come here, let me embrace you. – said Moomin-mama. – No matter what happens, I will always know my little, my pet boy.

Later the same day, Moomin-troll and Snork were sitting in one of their secret hiding places – under the jasmine bush in a rounded grotto made from green leaves, which enclosed the grotto and hide them from outside.

-OK, but someone should have enchanted you; there is no question about it. – said Snork.

Moomin-troll shook his head.

– No, I haven’t seen anything strange.  – I ate nothing unusual and I pronounced no dangerous words.

– May be you accidentally got into a magic circle?  – suggested Snork.

– I don’t know. – answered Moomin-troll. I spent all the time under the black hat, which we use as a paper-waste basket.

– You were inside this hat? – asked Snork with hunch.

– Yes.

They spent time in silence and thinking about it, and then they screamed in unison:

– The matter is in this hat, it is obvious!

And they looked at each other.

-Let’s go! – said Snork.

They climbed on the porch and approached the hat with caution.

-This is a very ordinary looking hat.- said Snork – Of course, if we would not keep in mind that this is a black cylinder. And the black cylinder is by no means an ordinary hat.

-But how could we confirm that the hat has done it? – asked Moomin-troll. – By no means’ I am going to climb inside it once more.

– May be we can decoy someone? – suggested Snork.

-No, this is dishonorably! – disagreed Moomin-troll. – Who knows, maybe this someone will never get back to himself.

– What if we use an enemy?

-H-m-m…- answered Moomin-troll, – Whom exactly?

– The porcupine. – said Snork.

Moomin-troll shook his head.

– The porcupine is too big for the hat.

– What about the antlion.

– That would work. – agreed Moomin-troll. – This antlion once dragged my mom to his hole, and then he sprinkled sand in her eyes.

They went to the seashore, where the treacherous antlion dug his holes. They found a huge jar with a heavy lid and took it with them. On the shore, Snork soon found a big round hollow in sand and fiercely waived to Moomin-troll to get his attention.

– Here he is, – whispered Snork. – But how do you think we can draw him into this jar?

– Trust me, – whispered Moomin-troll back.

He took the jar and buried it into sand so its open side was up and aligned with the sand’s surface. When he finished, he said very loudly:

– Antlions are wretched gnats.

Then, he signaled to Snork and they looked intently into the hollow. Sand on its bottom moved slightly, but nobody appeared.

-They are just miserable, wretched, slow gnats, – repeated Moomin-troll. – They cannot even dig themselves into sand quickly, it takes them eternity to do that.

– It is so, but, – started Snork with concern.

– Ah, forget about it, – interrupted him Moomin-troll desperately – They are just slowpokes.

Moomin-troll and Ant-lion. 1948 Tove Marika Jansson

And that very moment, a terrible head with bulging eyes appeared from the hole.

– You said slowpokes, – hissed the ant-lion angrily. – But I can dig into sand in 3 minutes.

-Oh, in that case, dear Uncle Antlion, may be you can show us how you do that, so we can watch it with our own eyes, – said Moomin-troll in a very sweet voice.

-OK, but I will bury you in sand with me, and when you are in my hole, I will eat you. – heatedly said the ant-lion.

-Please don’t do it, – said Snork with mocking fright. – Please, show us only how you can dig yourself backwards into sand in just 3 minutes.

– And if you would be so kind and show us your art here, so we can see it better. – said Moomin-troll pointing to the place where they buried the jar, – that would be really nice of you.

– Do you think I have nothing to do, but to show tricks to amuse little children? – answered the antlion. However, the temptation to demonstrate his skills and his cleverness was big. Grunting contemptuously, he climbed out of his hole and asked with arrogance:

– Well, where do you want me to dig in?

– Please, here, – answered Moomin-troll and pointed to the right place.

The antlion shrugged his shoulders and ruffed his mane to make it look scary. Then he yelled:

-Now, you, little chips-minnows, look carefully!  I am digging down now, but when I come back I will eat you! One, two, three!

And spinning like a propeller, the antlion went backwards into sand, and obviously into the jar. It was fast – 3 seconds or, may be, even less in 2.5 seconds, because the antlion was really angry.

– The lid, quickly! – commanded Moomin-troll.

They quickly whipped sand from the jar’s top and screwed the lid to the top of the jar. Then, they dug out the jar and rolled it back home. Inside the jar, the ant-lion cried and yelled and cursed them. But the thick layer of sand muffled his voice , so they almost could not her him.

Moomin-troll carrying the jar with the ant-lion. 1948 Tove Marika Jansson

-He rages and fumes, – said Snork. – I can’t imagine what could happen if he would manage to get out of the jar.

-He would not, – said Moomin-troll calmly. – And when we let him to get out, I hope, he would be already transformed into something really unpleasant and ugly.

When they arrived to the Moomin-house, Moomin-troll put his both paws in his mouth and made 3 long whistles, which means “something really extraordinary has happened”. All his friends run to see him and Snork and gathered around the jar.

-What is this? – asked Sniff.

-This is the antlion.  – answered Moomin-troll with proud .- The real, angry antlion and we caught him.

-Oh, you guys are so brave! – said Freken Snork with admiration.

– And now we would like to put him into the wizard hat. – said Snork.

– We want to make him transformed into a fright, as it just happened to me. – added Moomin-troll.

– Could you please to speak straight, so we can understand you? – asked Hemul.

– Well, I was hiding myself in this cylinder, that’s why I got transformed, I believe. – explained Moomin-troll. –  To prove this, we want to set up an experiment and put the antlion into the cylinder, to see if he also would be transformed.

– But he can get transformed into anything! – exclaimed Sniff. – And when he became even more terrifying than any antlion.  And what if he eats all of us?!

For some time, they all stood quietly, in fearful silence, looking at the jar and listening muffled cries, which could be heard from it.

-Oh,- uttered Freken Snork, – Oh – cried she again. And suddenly she became absolutely discolored. (Snorks are known to lose all their coloration when they are in distress.)

-For the time period that needs for his transformation, we will hide ourselves under the table. And we will put the big, fat book on top of the hat, – assured them Moomin-troll.- The one who makes experiments is always at risk. So, let’s put him down into the hat.

Sniff dashed under the table. Moomin-troll, Hemul and Snoo-Smumrick were holding the jar under the Wizard hat, while Freken Snork was busy carefully unscrewing a lid. The antlion fell down into the hat making the whirlwinds of sand. The same moment, Snork covered the hat with the fat Dictionary of Foreign Words. Then, they all rushed under the table and hide themselves there. But nothing had happened.

After a certain amount of time waiting, they looked out from under the tablecloth, but again nothing had happened. They looked out again and waited. Their anxiety had grown. But it was all quiet in the hat.

-It is all nonsense,- said Sniff.

And that very moment the Dictionary of Foreign Words started shrinking. Suddenly, Sniff bite off Hemul’s finger in excitement.

– Careful! – yelled Hemul – You just sank your teeth into my finger.

– Oh, I am sorry, – said Sniff – I thought it was my finger.

The Dictionary kept shrinking. It became smaller and smaller. Its pages were like withered leaves now. All foreign words left the book and were crawling around the kitchen floor.

– Wow! – cried Moomin-troll.

Suddenly, something really strange had happened. Water started dripping from the brim of the hat. Then it started pouring. And then, huge flows of water streamed on the carped and the kitchen floor, so foreign words were forced to find their refuge on the kitchen walls.

-The ant-lion was transformed into water. That’s it, – said Snoo-Smumrick with disappointment.

– I think, it was rather sand that was transformed into water, – whispered Snork. – And we about to see the antlion himself now.

"And then, a little hedgehog appeared on the hat’s brim." 1948 Tove Marika Jansson

They kept waiting and that was almost unbearable. Freken Snork put her face on Moomin-troll’s breast. Sniff was squeaking from fear. And then, a little hedgehog appeared on the hat’s brim. He was wet and disheveled. He was very shy, carefully moving its nose and helplessly screwing his eyes.

First, it was a dead silence in the room. And then, suddenly, Snoo-Smumrick started laughing. When he stopped to catch his breath, the others continued. They were not just laughing; they roared and rolled on the floor and under the kitchen table. Only Hemul did not laugh. He looked on his friends with astonishment and said:

– OK, but we all already knew that the antlion would be transformed! And I can’t understand why you are always making such fuss about things so trivial?

Meanwhile, the hedgehog proceeded to the exit and moved down from the porch. He looked very solemn and little sad. In the meantime, water stopped streaming from the hat and made a big pool on the porch. And the ceiling was full of foreign words crawling around.

When Moomin-mama and Moomin-papa were told about what had happened, they took it very seriously. They decided to destroy the Wizard Hat. So, they took it away to the river and dropped it into water. Standing on the shore and watching how the hat was drifting away, Moomin-mama said:

-Now, I know from where we got these clouds and this Gorgon.

-But the clouds were so wonderful,- said Moomin-troll. He was little sad. – I don’t mind if we have more such clouds.

-Oh, yes, and also more water and crawling foreign words, – said Moomin-mama. – Oh my God, have you seen what happened with the porch!? And I have no idea how to get rid of all this small fry -they are crawling and cluttering everywhere in the house.

-Whatever, – said Moomin-troll – the clouds were really cool.

He could not fall asleep this night. He lied in his bed and looked into a light June night, which was full of lonely cries, dances, and rustles from sneaking steps. Its air was thick of fragrance from early flowers.

In such nights Snoo-Smumrick was often walking alone with his harmonica. He had not returned yet. But this night Moomin-troll could not hear his harmonica. Maybe, Snoo-Smumrick went to a long trip to make some discovery. Soon, he will move to the riverbank to live in his tent and they would not see him often in the Moomin-house. Moomin-troll sighed. He was sad; however, there was nothing really to be sad about.

That very moment, Moomin-troll could hear a soft whistle under his window. His hart jumped from excitement. This type of whistle meant “Absolutely confidential”. He moved to the window and looked outside. Below, next to the rope ladder, he saw Snoo-Smumrick.

-Can you keep secrets? – whispered Snoo-Smumrick when Moomin-troll came down.

Moomin-troll eagerly shook his head.

Snoo-Smumrick bent towards Moomin-troll and said even more softly:

– I saw the hat on a shore, on a sandbank, down to the river.

Moomin-troll’s eyes blinked with excitement.

– Do you agree? – asked Snoo-Smumrick by moving his eyebrows.

– Of course! – answered Moomin-troll by quietly moving his ears.

Like shadows, they slipped away through the garden, wet and dark, and soon reached the river.

-This is two bends far from here, – said Snoo-Smumrick in a very low voice. As a matter of fact, this is our obligation to save this hat, because water that goes into it becomes as red as blood. Everybody who lives downstream will be frightened to death when this bloody water reaches them.

-We should have thought about it from the beginning, – answered Moomin-troll.

He was very glad and proud of this opportunity to go out at night with Snoo-Smumrick. Before, Snoo-Smumrick always went alone to his night travels.

-It is somewhere nearby, – said Snoo-Smumrick. – Can you see a dark band in the water? Here it is.

– Not really, – answered Moomin-troll, who was walking warily stumbling on each step. – I can’t see in darkness as good as you can.

-I have no idea how we can reach it,  – thought out loud Snoo-Smumrick. – It is so unfortunate that your father doesn’t have a boat.

Moomin-troll considered this for a minute.

-I can swim fairy well, – said he then and added, – If water is not very cold, of course.

– I don’t think you can, – said Snoo-Smumrick doubtfully.

-What if I do? – insisted Moomin-troll and suddenly all his nervousness disappeared. – Where is it?

-Over there, go diagonally, and very soon it becomes shallow and you will reach a sand bank. But be careful, don’t put your paws into the hat, hold it by its crown.

Moomin-troll slipped into warm water and started making short laps like a dog.  At the beginning, he felt himself not very comfortable, because the current there was strong. But soon he noticed the sand bank and something black on it.  He used his tail to adjust his move towards it; and soon he was able to touch a bottom with his paws.

– Are you OK? – called Snoo-Smumrick softly from the coast.

– Yes! – responded Moomin-troll and  climbed to the bank.

The Wizard Hat in a river with fish and canary birds

The Wizard Hat in a river with fish and canary birds. Figure credit: OV

He noticed a dark stream that stretched from the Wizard Hat deep into the river. It was definitely made from that bloody water that was mentioned by Snoo-Smumrick. Moomin-troll put his paw in this water and licked it gently.

-Wow! –  murmured he. – This is a real fruit juice.  Imagine, now we can have as much fruit juice as we want. We only need to fill out the hat with normal water and it will transform it into juice.

And, forgetting himself from joy, he shouted his happiest combat cry: “Pi-Hou!”

– Did you find it? – asked warily Snoo-Smumrick from the coast.

– I am swimming back! – answered Moomin-troll and stepped back into water. He used his tail to hold the Wizard Hat.

Now he had to swim against the current and  to drag the heavy hat. And that was hard. So he felt totally exhausted when he reached the coast.

-Here it is. – said he panting, but with proud.

– Good! – said Snoo-Smumrick. – But where we should hide it?

– Not in Moomin-house, – answered Moomin-troll, – and not in the garden. They will find it there.

– What about the grotto? –  suggested Snoo-Smumrick.

– In that case we should tell Sniff about our secret, – said Moomin-troll, – because the grotto is his.

-This is the best place, sure, – said Snoo-Smumrick thoughtfully, – But Sniff is too small to be trusted such a big secret.

– You are right, – said Moomin-troll. – You know, this is the first time we have to do something secretly from Moomin-mama and Moomin- papa.

Snoo-Smumrick took the hat and headed back home. He walked along the riverbank,  and when he reached the bridge, he suddenly stopped.

-What happened? – whispered Moomin-troll.

– Canary birds! – answered Snoo-Smumrick. – Can you three yellow canaries sitting on the railings? I wonder why they are spending night here, but not at home.

– I am not a canary, – squeaked a canary, the one which was closed to Moomin-troll. – I am a fish; actually, I am a European roach.

– We all are respectable fish, – squeaked her girlfriends.

Snoo-Smumrick shook his head regretfully.

– Can’t you see, it all was done this hat, – said he. –  These poor fish probably swam into the hat from a pure curiosity, and then they got transformed. So let’s go to the grotto and hide the hat there, we have no choice.

While they were going through the forest, Moomin-troll tried to keep himself close to Snoo-Smumrick. On both sides of the path, they could hear various noises and soft rustling of sneaking steps. Dark forest radiated horror. Sometimes they could see tiny shiny eyes watching them from behind the trees. Now and then somebody was calling them from the ground or from the trees.

– What a wonderful night! – someone whispered behind the Moomin-troll’s back.

– Oh, yes!  A wonderful night, – answered Moomin-troll. (He had to gather all his courage, to do this.) And a small shadow slipped in darkness behind him.

When they reached a sea shore, it became lighter. Here, sea and sky joined into a single light-blue shimmering space.  They could hear lonely birds’ cries reaching then from far away. Morning was coming. Snoo-Smumrick and Moomin-troll crawled into the grotto and put the hat there. They hide it into the most secluded corner, and made sure it stays crown up, assuring that nobody (as well as nothing) would not accidentally fall into it.

 End of chapter