The heavens were a stainless blue, and the Moon shone out of them arrayed in silvery garments. One by one the sky’s matchless jewels, the stars, peeped out, studding that great ceiling with flashing diamond-points, until the whole dome was a glittering mass of blue and silver. The Ocean below seemed a big mirror, made to catch and reflect the bewildering beauty above, for, shimmering softly, he carried in his shining depths all those myriad lights.
Calm and majestic the Moon glided over her star-studded pathway; but, in spite of her glorious beauty and brilliancy, she was really sad and sick at heart. Ethelda, her best beloved, the youngest and dearest of her children, had just made a request the granting of which caused her that night bitterest sorrow.
There was an old custom among the Moon maidens that on her marriage each one of them might ask whatever she most desired, and the thing which she asked could not be denied her. Now, Ethelda of the starry eyes and the shining spun-gold hair had asked a fearful gift at her mother’s hands. She was betrothed to the Sun Prince Dorion, a handsome youth, strong of limb, and a goodly sight to look upon, and he had long loved her. He had seen this dainty maiden in all her varying moods, so he knew her well. Sometimes, with her Moon maidens merrily engaged at play, she romped happy as a child; or later, with the stately tread of a young princess, she came and went in her big white palace. She often wore a pale blue gown with silver trimmings, and a crown of flashing stars upon her head, and then it was the brilliantly beautiful girl looked the daughter of the skies.
Prince Dorion had watched the slender maiden until every strand of her glittering hair was dear to his heart. Later his father’s golden chariot brought him daily to her palace.
How Ethelda loved to watch him as he drove the fiery steeds with a master’s hands, guiding them surely and steadily to her palace gates! He was the finest of the Sun God’s sons, and Ethelda’s heart beat proudly as she looked upon her chosen one. The Moon Mother was happy too, in her daughter’s choice, and all would have been well in the wedding festivities save for Ethelda’s unheard-of request. How the Moon hated to grant it! But she had reasoned with Ethelda long and patiently without effect. For the wilful little Princess was bent upon this mad whim. “Alas! no good can come of it,” sighed the Moon heavily, and she gazed down sadly upon the Earth as she spoke. “No good can come of it,” she repeated. “What could have possessed the child to want it?”
For Ethelda had asked no less than this: to visit the Earth and spend her honeymoon there!
The young Sun Prince, though at first reluctant to take his beautiful bride upon such a wild trip, had finally yielded to her persuasions, and now, being won by her tender pleadings, was as anxious to go as she.
But the Moon Mother had no such faith in the foolish journey. Her mind misgave her, and as she swung around the great circle in celestial glory, her heart grew tremulous with fear for her daughter’s safety. The request must be granted: that she knew; but she was devoutly thankful for a wise law requiring a Moon maiden to revisit her own home yearly. At most, then, they could stay but a twelvemonth upon the Earth. Reason as she would, however, the Queen Mother’s heart was heavy, for with the daughter upon the Earth the mother’s happiness would be gone. But the maiden’s joy at the consent consoled her somewhat, and with an unselfish mother’s love the Queen determined to hide her own grief and make the wedding trip a brilliant and a joyous one.