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Shooting the Moon

Shooting the moon

Long ages ago, when the first people roamed the land, a little yellow moon floated across the sky in the wake of the bigger one that is still shining. Melgasoway, a boy who – like other boys his age – would rather practice with his bow and arrows, go fishing and swimming, climb trees and pick berries than gather firewood and do errands, was sent by his mother to fetch a pumpkin out of a cornfield, for supper.

Melgasoway set off with the best intentions to gather the fruit and dutifully return with it, but he saw a rabbit, and he chased it so long that when the sun set, he found himself miles from home and pretty tired and hungry. The big moon set soon after the sun, so that the boy would not have been back until morning had it not been for the little moon’s light.

As this orb lifted into view, Melgasoway stood still and laughed aloud; for, seen through interlacing branches, it was wondrous like a pumpkin. Melgasoway did not dare to go back without what he had been sent for, but the cornfield was a mile or so out of his way, his mother was old and near-sighted, and this moon might pass for a pumpkin if only he could bring it down.

As it came swinging above him, Melgasoway drew his arrow and shot. The shaft passed out of his sight, and he thought he had missed his mark; but after a little the moon began to quiver, then it pitched out of the sky and tumbled toward the earth.

Now, it had been supposed that this little moon was just above the tree – tops and was no larger than a pumpkin. Great was the astonishment of Melgasoway when it grew and grew in his sight until he saw that he would be crushed if he stayed there any longer! So, he bounded off toward home, yelling with dismay, for while the falling mass was still at some distance from the earth, he saw that hundreds of devils were clinging to it, yellow creatures with long tails and claws.

Melgasoway was dismayed by what he had done. He knew he would be in great trouble with his mother and the elders, for he had destroyed a moon and released a company of imps into the woods. He hid himself in a thicket of brambles to calm himself and gather up his courage, then he went to confess his deed, dreading the terrible punishment that surely awaited him.  

When Melgasoway told his mother what had happened, she marched him in front of the elders of his village to confess. To his astonishment, the elders had met the yellow creatures roaming about in the neighborhood and discovered the moon stuck in the swamp with its light out. They were amazed when they realized a young boy was the source of this miraculous deed, which had changed the very face of the land where they lived. So, they praised the young rascal, calling him a hero for his “daring deed,” and made him a medicine-man for their people!

Melgasoway lived to the end of his days as an “honorable medicine man.” The elders built him a home in sight of the hill he had brought down from the sky, and they told the story of the “miracle” during all their great festivals. Only Melgasoway’s old mother knew the truth of the matter, and she never told!


Citation, Skinner, Charles M. American Myths and Legends. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott company, 1903. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.