Three generations sat around the campfire, watching and listening to it slowly crackling away. An owl announced the night, somewhere in the distance and mosquitoes were desperately trying to find an entrance to a tent-zipper left unclosed.
“Grandpa, tell us another legend” Hunter asked wide-eyed and full of excitement. Tim smiled at the eagerness of his only son. This was their first camping trip, well, real camping trip, not counting the countless sleepless nights he had to spend in a sleeping bag in the small red and blue tent in their backyard.
Grandpa Mike smiled and nodded while taking a sip of his brandy, the ice cubes clicking against the glass.
“Alright, let me see. Some believe that this happened here in this very woods. To this day, if you listen closely you might hear him run and hide away from the villagers”.
“Who grandpa?” Hunter asked, again with huge excitement and curiosity. Grandpa Mike leaned in closer. “The thief of moons” he whispered.
“Many, many years ago, too many to count, there was a small village just behind the hill over there. Every morning the women of the village would wake up, stack logs and logs of wood and create a big fire right in the middle of the homes to prepare breakfast for their husbands before they would go into the woods, off to do the days work. This happened every morning, until one fateful day.
The men had all returned from a hard days work in the woods when an old man was seen crawling towards the village, clearly hurt and in distress. The men hurried to help the old man and gave him something to drink and a place to sleep. The next morning the old man thanked them for their generosity and was just about to leave when one of the men saw golden coins hidden in the man’s pocket. He knew that the man would be too old to notice and stole them from him while helping him pack up his belongings.
As soon as the old man was out of sight, he revealed the coins to the rest of the men of the village and shared the coins amongst themselves, saving it for when they would travel to the village a few kilometers down the road. That very night a dark mist entered the village which frightened them terribly. Suddenly the old man was seen standing in the centre, demanding his coins to be returned to him. When the men of the village refused, he cursed them and promised that he would steal the moon every night for the next seven thousand years to come, soon after the old man placed this curse on them he disappeared along with the mist.
Grandpa Mike paused and took another sip of his brandy, placing another log on the fire between him and his grandson, the light of the fire illuminating this youngster’s face, the light dancing in his eyes.
“Grandpa, what happened next? Did the moon disappear?” Hunter asked impatiently, glancing up trying to find the moon. Tim laughed silently, amused by his curios and over-trusting son.
Grandpa Mike glanced up at the sky, Hunter following his gaze unsure.
“Well, after a week of the moon nowhere to be found, the men of the village took it upon themselves to find the old man and return the coins to him, in order for him to return the moon. The searched high and low but could not find him. Each night they would hear him laugh and run around the village tormenting them, but they never saw him and they could never catch him either”.
Hunter looked over at his father, a frown forming between his eyes.
“Dad” he whispered.”Yes Hunter?” Tim answered, knowing his son is going to need details of the story his father just fabricated.
“Dad, I think the brandy went to grandpa’s head, we need to get him to bed” he said, still staring at the night sky, desperately searching for the moon.
Grandpa Mike laughed and stood up from his camp chair. “Look!” he exclaimed in excitement. “The thief of moons brought back the moon, perhaps the curse was lifted, just in time for our camping trip?”.
Hunter looked at his grandpa and then back at his father. A few minutes of silence passed when Hunter finally stood up and opened the zipper of the tent.
“Grandpa Mike, you need to work on your story telling techniques, they aren’t very good” he said angrily and closed the zipper of the tent.