THEY had no idea where they came from. All they knew was that they lived on the hill, and that the old man of the hill called them Jack and Jill. They had plenty of berries to eat, and when night came, they had soft beds of fir to sleep on. There were all kinds of animals on the hill, and they were friendly to the two children. They could have had a most delightful time playing all day long if it had not been for having to carry water.
Every morning, just as soon as the first rays of the sun could be seen from their home, they heard the voice of the old man of the hill calling, "Jack! Jill! Take your pail and get some water." Whenever they were having an especially pleasant game with some of the animals, they heard the same call, "Take your pail and get some water." It is no wonder that Jack awoke one night when no one called and said, "Jill, did he say we must get some water?" "I suppose so," answered Jill sleepily, and they went out with the pail.
The moon was shining down through the trees, and they imagined that she was nearer than ever before. The forest was not half so lonely with her gentle face looking down upon them. Soon they felt happier than at first, and they played little games together, running from tree to tree.
"We have spilled half the water," said Jill,
"There's plenty left," said Jack, "if half is spilled."
"Do you suppose there are any children who play games whenever they like and do not have to carry water?"
"Plenty of them," declared Jack.
"Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To get a pail of water,"
sang a voice so clear that it seemed close at hand, and so soft that it seemed far away.
Jack started, fell, and rolled down the hillside, and Jill came tumbling after. As for the water, what was left was spilled before Jack had rolled over once; and before he had rolled over twice, the same voice sang,--
"Jack fell down
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after."
"It is about us," cried Jill.
"I have not broken any crown," said Jack.
"It is the crown of your head," declared Jill.
"Oh!" said Jack; "but where's the water?"
"It has gone tumbling down the hill," answered the same voice.
"How can water go tumbling?" cried Jill. "He tumbled."
"Water tumbles too," replied the voice, "especially when it is frozen."
"Oh!" said Jack.
"Oh!" said Jill.
"The stream is frozen," called the voice. "What stream?" asked the children together.
"The stream that goes down the hill," answered the voice. "Did you not know that you were bringing water to keep the stream full?"
"No, indeed," said the children.
"The old man of the hill is only a rock, and what you thought his voice was only the water flowing around it."
"Oh!" cried Jack.
"Oh!" cried Jill.
"The stream is frozen," said the voice, "and the earth has a cloak of snow and ice."
"Who are you?" asked Jill shyly.
"Do you really not know? What a strange child you are! I am the moon, of course. Very pleasant people live with me, and I have come to invite you both to go home with me. Will you come?"
The children looked up through the trees, and there was the gentle face of the moon, looking more gentle and kind than ever. "Come," said she, and they went very willingly. They have lived in the moon many years, but they never again carried a pail of water for a stream. "That is the work of the clouds and the sun," says the moon.