This is quite an old story, told by Papuan grannies to their grandchildren in nights of the new moon. It tells about the origin of the new Moon, but let me first explain the term to those of you who don't know it.

You have seen an orange - like Moon, don't you? Absolutely round and orange, quite tasty by appearance. When it looks like that, most grown up people start to sigh with one voice:

- Oh, dear, a new Moon again! We shall not be able to sleep!

Have you noticed that too many things in the world keep the grown - up from nice sleep? Maybe it's so, because they have lost the habit to play. Sometimes I tend to believe that if they could remember their childhood games, especially at new Moon, they could have a much better sleep. But it's the point of a quite different talk. So, we had reached to the place where new Moon was mentioned.

After boasting days on end of her full cheeks, the Moon starts getting slimmer. At first only half of it is left, then a quarter, until in the end it totally disappears and the stars remain so lonely, twinkling in the sky. That's what people call " a new moon".

And here is an explanation of the fact, according to the inhabitants of Samoa and Fiji islands.

Long, long ago, when the Earth and the Ocean were still at war and there was no living creature whatsoever, the Moon used to shine all the same every night of the year - round or slightly flattened, like a mangrove fruit. And such it looked when the animals started to appear, and such it was when he birds come later, and such it shone even when the people came at last, but... it was not anymore like that when the Banana fish appeared. It was then an absolutely insignificant, tiny gray fish, which was not yet called a Banana fish, but who knows - it might even have no name at all, because one could not quite tell it from the gray pebbles on the bottom of lagoon or the gray sticks floating along the tide after storm. This could mean no wrong, of course, or so the Banana fish believed till the sea creatures decided to gather once in the Big Coral Valley to see each other and get closer.

Immediately the periwinkles started to blow their scallop shells and various kinds of little, big and tremendous fish began to gather. Every one was eager to boast as much as possible. The whale turned around and around, blew his cheeks and hummed in a deep voice, humming his whale-like chants. One of them sounded like that:

Look, I'm as huge as a hill
so I can say it to you still...
My throat is quite narrow
but you can be sure though
that as I eat only small fish
I remain hungry over my dish.

The sea echinus pointed his needles in all directions. The shark ground frightfully with her teeth and obviously imagined that it was the most pleasing underwater music. On the other hand the clown fish wiggled and tossed over as if to make you dizzy. Even the octopus that was constantly changing colors had a pride of his own. Only the Banana fish was staying in the corner - gray and shy, sadly sniffing as much as it was possible in deep water, of course.

So the little, big and tremendous fish kept showing off till some sea - spine, as spiteful as thin, noticed the Banana fish and got so indignant that she started speaking in rhyme:

Who dared to invite this creature? It looks like something from he bin. Remind me somehow for a preacher... only the color is too thin. Her garment is completely gray. For God's sake take her fare away.

So they chased her away. What's more, they bid her not to swim around until she fulfill the order - keep in mind that the wheels was always hungry...

So far, so good, but there were too many Banana fish in the Ocean. There were so many, that if they stood in a chain and each one bit the tail of the one in front, they would have reached from coast to coast and yet there would remain enough of them to make delicious breakfast for each of the little Papuans from Samoa and the Fiji Islands. Every one of the Banana fishes was grayer and shyer then the other. They ware all at a loss. What could they possibly do if the voracious whales decided suddenly to chase them? So they made up their minds to run away.

And they started running. They swam and swam all daylong to the place where the Sun sets down and in the evening they reached the point where the Sky and Sea join together. The water was quite shallow and the Moon had lain there in the cool. After the Sun set down, she rose up, shook the water from her and got ready to take her habitual place.

So far so good, but some tiny crabs had stuck to her back and as the Banana fishes were too hungry after running, one small Banana fish tried to swallow the delicious bits. She actually swallowed them, but accidentally she had a morsel of the Moon too. And then happened something really fantastic. The place, where the fish bit off remained darker than the rest, while the fish itself grew yellow and even started to glow in the duck. Oh, how she tossed about in her joy! She even began to sing a little funny song:

I was ugly, I was gray
shame and fare kept me away
but now I'm so nice and sweet
that I still don't know it -
whether to ask for the Moon's vow
or she's not worth of me now...

When they realized what had happened, all the other fishes rushed to lick the Moon's light and until she succeeded to rise up from the water she was so bitten that she looked like an ice-cream in the hands of a little gluttonous child. The same was repeated the following evening and the next one until finally she was left no light at all.

So far so good, but as the fishes had licked all the light, the nights became so dark, that the inhabitants of the Sea could't even to tell their noses, not to mention visiting each other like good neighbors. Most naturally, when they knew who had done the mischief they shouted with one voice onto the Banana fishes, telling them to give back immediately the light to the Moon, unless they wish to meet the hungry whales...

So far so good, but our acquaintances had already used to getting beautiful and nothing could keep them from licking the Moon again and again. They began doing it most cautiously, in order to get just a little fairer, but in the end bit it all...

"That's the reason - the Papuan grannies said - a new moon appears in the sky."

And they are probably right, because if you happen to be on the coast of Samoa or the Fiji islands on a moonless night and you have the chance, of course, you could see among the waters of tremendous dark Ocean a little glowing fish, looking very much like a lonely banana, thrown away by the hand of some Polynesian child. Yet it is quite difficult to do so, because the Banana fishes usually swim in large shining wings and then the Ocean itself looks festively shining as in a merry illumination. When the fishes reach the coasts of the Southern Islands, the local kids jump down from their little hammocks, squeeze into the lagoon and start The Play.Here's the song I heard once:

When the Sky is tender
when the Sea is shining
when the Southern Cross
goes down so near
that you can touch
the stars with a finger
then the children laugh
then the children sing
then the children play
not allowed by parents.

So in nights like these, the little naughty children from Samoa and the Fiji Islands go romping about as long as the dew falls down, but I can assure you that the day after is the only one when they don't get up together with the sunrise. I can also assure you that their parents are too much aware of the reason why and don't scold them at all. You now, every parent has been once a little child and has done just the same pranks!