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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 546

Old Qfwfq recalls past times when he and his companions rowed out on the sea every month and climbed up to the moon. This was an enchanted time. Only for a short while, somewhere near the beginning of time as humans know it, did the moon orbit close enough to...

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Old Qfwfq recalls past times when he and his companions rowed out on the sea every month and climbed up to the moon. This was an enchanted time. Only for a short while, somewhere near the beginning of time as humans know it, did the moon orbit close enough to the earth for the group to climb up ladders from their rowboats and reach it.

The first half of the story tells about these moon visits in general, describing vividly the routine: The group would row the boats out to the place where the moon came closest to the earth, some would hold up ladders, and others would scurry up the ladders and grab onto the moon. The purpose of the visits was to gather moon milk, a cream-cheese-like substance composed of such ingredients as “vegetal juices, tadpoles, bitumen, lentils, honey, starch crystals, sturgeon eggs, molds [and] pollens.” Because the gravitational pull of the moon was strong, the moon milk had to be hurled off spoons into the sea, where it was collected, and the group had to jump as high as they could to escape the moon’s force so that they too would drop back into the sea or be caught by one of the boat’s occupants.

The Deaf One, Qfwfq’s cousin, loved the moon. Normally a solitary soul, he relished the monthly trips to the moon and was the most enthusiastic and adept at reaching it, retrieving milk, and returning. Qfwfq, who was usually with his cousin on the moon, most relished each return, when he reconnected with safety by grabbing the breasts or hips or silver arms of Mrs. Vhd Vhd, whom he loved. Mrs. Vhd Vhd, however, loved his deaf cousin.

The second half of the story relates the events of one strange night, the last of the moon visits. Most members of the group are unaware that the moon is moving farther away from the earth. On this night, Mrs. Vhd Vhd joins the deaf cousin and other sailors on the moon. Except for Mrs. Vhd Vhd, who seems to have purposely chosen this night to make her first moon visit, it is only after they all reach the moon that they realize how difficult it will be to return. The deaf cousin gets off first, and the other sailors do so only by clinging together to combine their weight against the increasing gravitational pull. Mrs. Vhd Vhd cannot get off, so Qfwfq jumps on the moon to rescue her. They are stuck on the moon for a month.

Captain Vhd Vhd seems pleased to have his wife gone. Mrs. Vhd Vhd pines for the deaf cousin, with whom she had hoped to be stranded on the moon. Qfwfq discovers that his love for Mrs. Vhd Vhd is not as strong as his love of life on earth; he pines for his return. When, a month later, the crew returns to rescue them, Qfwfq shimmies down the long rescue pole as fast as possible. Mrs. Vhd Vhd stays. If she cannot have the deaf cousin, she will become one with the moon, which the deaf cousin truly loves. It is said that Mrs. Vhd Vhd on the moon is what sets dogs—and Qfwfq—to howling at night.

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