What the Moon Saw-Summary

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Summary

What the Moon Saw has gone through all thirty-two of its nights, but I wanted to look back over the entirety of this story that took over a month to tell. I wanted to look back to the beginning and examine the story as a whole.

At the beginning of the story, an artist had recently moved to the city and felt very alone. When he looked at the night sky, he saw the familiar face of the moon. The moon promised to tell him a story each night. The artist might paint the story the moon told to him so that he would have a wonderful storybook.

The moon did come to the artist, not every night, but the moon did come many nights. The moon told the artist stories from all around the world to the artist. He spoke of Germany. He spoke of Sweden. He spoke of China. He spoke of India. He spoke of real things.

The things the Moon tells the artist are fascinating because many of them are real. Vreta Abbey is a real place. Gulte Rothschild is a real person, and she really did refuse to leave the home of her poorer days. Hans managed to include a world history lesson. I’m quite impressed with how much Hans seemed to know of the world outside of his country. He spoke of far away places with a fair amount of accuracy.

Hans didn’t have the internet; he had to get all of this information from traveling or from books; this meant Hans was either quite the traveler or quite the bookworm. Why wouldn’t Hans be a bookworm? He was a writer.

The Moon’s stories were great and varied, but there are some things I would have liked to have read in these stories.

Hans mainly sticks to European history, or near European history. Europe has had relations with China and India much longer than the other continents of the world. All the stories Hans tells are very European. I have to wonder why he didn’t think to include a story about Africa or the Americas. As widely read as Hans seemed to be, he must have heard stories about Africa and the Americas. The moon shows its face to all the world, not just Europe and Asia. I feel that the story would have been more complete with tales from other places.

The moon never goes back to speak directly to the artist after the introduction. We know the artist is there throughout the entire story, but the moon never has a heart-to-heart with him again. I would have liked to have known if the moon’s nightly stories helped the artist. Did the artist really make his storybook? Did he feel less lonely? Did he finally acclimate to living in the city? Did he become a successful artist? What happened to him? The moon leaves us hanging rather abruptly.

I have to wonder why Hans wrote thirty-two nights of the moon coming to see the artist. There are only thirty-one days in a month, or thirty, depending on what month it is. Hans would have had an entire cycle of the moon if he had only written thirty-one days. Hans obviously took some liberties with the moon and how often a person could see it. The artist wouldn’t have been able to see the moon every night. It might have been a new moon. It might have been raining. The moon wasn’t going to be there every night. The artist states that the moon did not come to him every night and there is a stretch of two weeks where the moon did not come at all to the artist, but this doesn’t exactly match up with the phases of the moon.

The number thirty-two doesn’t seem to match up with anything real. It almost seems as if Hans just got tired of writing about the moon. I’ll never know because Hans is gone.

Even though there are questions I have about the story, I still found it entertaining and interesting. I really like the idea of the moon going all these places and seeing all these things. I liked the idea of the moon looking down at us all and taking an interest in our lives. This artist was sad and lonely. The moon kept him company, if that’s not a nice thing to do, I don’t know what is.




What the Moon Saw-Thirty-Second Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Thirty-Second Evening

This story is the last evening the moon speaks to the artist. Let’s start off with a quote from the story.

“I love the children,” said the Moon, “especially the quite little ones—they are so droll. Sometimes I peep into the room, between the curtain and the window frame, when they are not thinking of me. It gives me pleasure to see them dressing and undressing. First, the little round naked shoulder comes creeping out of the frock, then the arm; or I see how the stocking is drawn off, and a plump little white leg makes its appearance, and a white little foot that is fit to be kissed, and I kiss it too.

Um…yeah, we’ll talk about that later.

The moon is looking upon a house seemingly full of children. There are several children whom all share a room together. They’re of various ages. The older ones are jumping about doing all manner of things. The mother often sits in the room until the children begin to fall asleep. The youngest child, a girl, is not very old but can say her prayers as well as any of the older children. Every single night she says the Lord’s Prayer. Every single night she amends the Lord’s Prayer with something mumbled and spoken so fast that the mother cannot understand.

This night the mother asks her daughter what she has been saying after, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The girl replies, “and plenty of butter on it.”

That was the thirty-second evening.



Hans was a weird dude. The more I learn about his personal life, the more I realize that Hans was just an oddball. He was definitely talented, but he was also definitely weird. He never married, although he fell head over heels for several people. He kept a diary, and he wrote about some of his loves, including self-love. Hans was not shy about writing about self-pleasure sessions in his journal. Maybe he thought no one would ever read it. I don’t know.

Even though, Hans was a weird guy; I’ve never read anything hinting at any inappropriate relationships with children. The bit of this story that I quote in the very beginning of this post seems a bit inappropriate. The wording is saying the moon likes the watch children undress. Look, it may have been ok at some point in history to say that you liked naked children, but it’s not appropriate today. You can’t ever tell someone that you like to watch children undress unless you want to go to prison.

Don’t take this bit of passage as inspiration or advice. Even though it may have been completely innocent in Hans’ day, it’s not innocent now. I know that says a lot about how we twist things, but it also says a lot about how there are a lot of pedophiles.


Kids are funny. This little girl prayed for butter on her bread. Everything is better with butter, even butter. That meme about Paula Deen and butter is the truth. Everything needs butter. Please don’t use margarine; it’s practically plastic.

Butter tastes good, that’s why people like it. This little girl liked butter. As a result, she prayed for her bread to have butter. The Lord’s Prayer is about daily life. It’s not about any extras. It’s just about living from day to day. Bread and water are subsistence foods. Living on bread may not taste that great, but it will keep you alive. You may be thrilled to live off of bread at first because freshly baked bread is amazing, but you would get tired of just eating bread. Butter on that stale bread would make your day and also add a few calories and some fat.

This family was probably a little on the poor side. There may not have always been butter. This girl had experienced a lack of butter and therefore did not take butter for granted. She thought it important enough to pray to God about.

Butter may be a little thing, but it was important enough for this little girl to pray for.



This story makes me want to have fresh bread and butter. Too bad about wheat making my gallbladder hurt.

Weigh In

What’s something funny a child in your life has prayed for?

Is everything really better with butter?

What the Moon Saw-Thirty-First Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Thirty-First Evening

The wind blew stormy and cold, the clouds flew hurriedly past; only for a moment now and then did the Moon become visible. He said, “I looked down from the silent sky upon the driving clouds, and saw the great shadows chasing each other across the earth. I looked upon a prison. A closed carriage stood before it; a prisoner was to be carried away. My rays pierced through the grated window towards the wall: the prisoner was scratching a few lines upon it, as a parting token; but he did not write words, but a melody, the outpouring of his heart. The door was opened, and he was led forth, and fixed his eyes upon my round disc. Clouds passed between us, as if he were not to see my face, nor I his. He stepped into the carriage, the door was closed, the whip cracked, and the horses galloped off into the thick forest, whither my rays were not able to follow him; but as I glanced through the grated window, my rays glided over the notes, his last farewell engraved on the prison wall—where words fail, sounds can often speak. My rays could only light up isolated notes, so the greater part of what was written there will ever remain dark to me. Was it the death-hymn he wrote there? Were these the glad notes of joy? Did he drive away to meet death, or hasten to the embraces of his beloved? The rays of the Moon do not read all that is written by mortals.”

That was the thirty-first evening.


This story reminds me of The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmund was also taken away in a wagon and he did not know where. Perhaps the prisoner in this story knew where he was going. The moon did not know and the moon did not follow. One thing we can observe about this prisoner is that he is a little more high-class than most prisoners. He did not write a note in letters; he wrote a note in music. The moon did not see the entire note, so we’ll never know how it ends.

Reading music wasn’t exactly a skill poor people had. If this man had been an average Joe, he probably wouldn’t have known how to read music. It wasn’t impossible; it just wasn’t likely. Music was a past time of all classes, but the upper classes were the more educated as far as music matters went. The people of poorer classes most likely learned how to play music by ear and by copycatting, which, honestly, takes some talent, perhaps more talent than an upper class person learning to play an instrument by reading music.

Guessing that this man was a little nobler in birth, it makes the reader wonder what he had done to end up in prison. White collar crime? Murder? A political prisoner? A scapegoat much like Edmund Dantes? Maybe he’s an intellectual prisoner? Maybe he had an idea people didn’t like, so he was thrown into prison. Who knows?



The moon does not read all that mortals write. That’s our point here. We can look at the Moon as a deity in these stories. The moon travels all over, looking down upon the people of Earth. The moon doesn’t really interfere, he just observes the way people run their lives. He could see so much more if he chose to, but he does not.

The idea in this story is really more of a religious view. Does God watch everything we do? Is he interested in every single aspect of our lives? On the inverse of that, does God kind of watch what we’re doing, but let us make our own choices? The answers to these questions depend on what your religious beliefs are. Maybe you do believe that God plays a part in every single little thing in your life, or maybe you believe he keeps you away from the cliff, but otherwise lets you go through life of your own accord.



It would have been neat to know more about the prisoner.

Weigh In

Are you watched every second?

If you were a prisoner and you were leaving your cell, what message would you carve into the wall?

What the Moon Saw-Thirtieth Evening

What the Moon Saw-Thirtieth EveningWhat the Moon Saw-Thirtieth Evening

On the thirtieth evening the moon was looking down upon a house. There a bear was tied up outside by himself. The man who minded the bear was in a tap room. In the attic, three children were playing by the light of the moon. They were young children, the youngest about two years old.

They were playing with their various toys when they heard heavy steps upon the stairs. It turned out that it was the bear. The children hid in fright, but the bear soon sniffed them out. When it was realized the bear would do no harm, the children began to play with the bear. They gave him their toys and he stood at attention, although he didn’t hold a gun very well. The mother came up to see what was going on.


“Suddenly some one came to the door, which opened, and the mother of the children appeared. You should have seen her in her dumb terror, with her face as white as chalk, her mouth half open, and her eyes fixed in a horrified stare. But the youngest boy nodded to her in great glee, and called out in his infantile prattle, ‘We’re playing at soldiers.’ And then the bear leader came running up.”

That was the thirtieth evening.

ObservationsThe Adventure of the Speckled Band

In the story, the bear is called “bruin.” Bruin was actually a term people used to use to mean bear, specifically brown bears and mostly in fairy tales. “Bruin” actually means “brown” in Dutch. So if you’re wondering why this bear or any bear is ever called “bruin,” that’s why.

Let me tell you a sad story. Once upon a time there was a man named Timothy Treadwell. Timothy liked bears, a lot. He spent thirteen summers in Alaska pretty much living with bears. He got close to the bears. He gave them names. He touched them and their cubs. Do you want to know what happened to Timothy? Bears ate him. Bears ripped him apart and then ate him. They ate his girlfriend too.

Bears are not safe animals to be around. It doesn’t matter how tame you think that bear is, it can still kill you. Bears are volatile animals. There is a little show called Fatal Attraction that comes on Animal Planet. The show is all about people who are of the mindset that you can be around wild animals and be ok, but then those same people get attacked by leopards, lions, chimpanzees, big lizards, bulls, and so many types of animals. These animals may seem tame, but they will kill you and then they will eat you.

The situation in this story was very dangerous. This bear could have gobbled up all of these children and then had the mom for a snack



Now that I’ve gotten the point across about how dangerous this situation was, we can rebuke the bear leader. The man who was supposed to be watching this bear was in a bar drinking. He should have been watching his bear or he should have at least made sure the bear was more secure. He ran up those stairs in a hurry when he realized where his bear had gone.

Bottom line–if you have a responsibility that involves the safety of other people, you can’t wander off and go drinking while you’re supposed to be performing that responsibility. That’s why it’s not ok for police officers to stop in the bar when they’re on duty. This man should lose his bear leader license.


Bears are not your friends.

Weigh In

Would you have a pet bear?

Would you be anywhere near a bear?

What the Moon Saw-Twenty-Ninth Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw Twenty-Ninth Evening

“Close by the high-road,” said the Moon, “is an inn, and opposite to it is a great waggon-shed, whose straw roof was just being re-thatched. I looked down between the bare rafters and through the open loft into the comfortless space below. The turkey-cock slept on the beam, and the saddle rested in the empty crib. In the middle of the shed stood a travelling carriage; the proprietor was inside, fast asleep, while the horses were being watered. The coachman stretched himself, though I am very sure that he had been most comfortably asleep half the last stage. The door of the servants’ room stood open, and the bed looked as if it had been turned over and over; the candle stood on the floor, and had burnt deep down into the socket. The wind blew cold through the shed: it was nearer to the dawn than to midnight. In the wooden frame on the ground slept a wandering family of musicians. The father and mother seemed to be dreaming of the burning liquor that remained in the bottle. The little pale daughter was dreaming too, for her eyes were wet with tears. The harp stood at their heads, and the dog lay stretched at their feet.”

That was the twenty-ninth evening.


There isn’t a lot to this story. It’s really about a traveling group of people, but we can dissect it a little bit. When someone says, “I’m going to take the high road,” he or she means one of two things. It might mean that this person is taking the most traveled route. Once upon a time when people said “high road” they meant the main road. If it was the road everybody was taking, it was the high road. Now, this person might have meant they were making the morally superior decision. Somewhere along the line, people chose to make “taking the high road” mean that they were making the more grown-up choice.


There are a few things we see in this short little story. These travelers are lodged in rough lodgings. They’re sharing them with other people, with animals, and with the weather. They’ve traveled many miles and are weary. In their dreams, they can be somewhere else. The little girls’ eyes are wet with tears, no doubt dreaming of a warm bed or a warm meal. In her waking hours she knows traveling, hunger, and other hardships of life on the road, but in the world of dreams, she could be anywhere.


This sounds like a bad family vacation.

Dad: It’ll be fun.

Mom: I don’t know.

Dad: Oh, come on! We’ll sleep out under the stars. It’ll be great.

Mom: Well, ok.

Weigh In

What is the worst lodging you have ever had?

In your life, how do you take the high road?