Michael Ende. Momo

Translated by J. Maxwell Brownjohn
OCR: Юлия Крючкова

Published by the Penguin Group
27 Wrights Lane, London w8 5TZ, England
Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 2.3rd Street, New York, New York 10010.
USA Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 2,801 John Street, Markham, Ontario, Canada
L3R IB4 Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex,

First published in German as Momo, copyright K. Thienernanns Verlag.
Stuttgart, 1973
Original English language translation published as The Grey Gentlemen
copyright Burke Books Publishing Ltd., 1974

New English language translation copyright Doubleday & Company Inc.,
New York, and Penguin Books Ltd. 1984

First published in Great Britain in a paperback as Momo by Penguin
Books 1984 Published in Puffin Books 1985
Reprinted 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988
Alt rights reserved

Made and printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay Ltd. Bungay, Suffolk
Filmed in
Monophoto Sabon

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to
the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,
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published and without a similar condition including this condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are! Up above the
world so high, Like a diamond in the sky!

Jane Taylor (1783-1827) .


1 The Amphitheatre 11
2 Listening 17
3 Makebelieve 24
4 Two Special Friends 34
5 Tall Stories 41

6 The Timesaving Bank. 55
7 The Visitor 69
8 The Demonstration
9 The Trial 102
10 More Haste Less Speed 110
11 The Conference 111
12 Nowhere House 130


13 A Year and a Day 153
14 Three Lunches, No Answers 172
15 Found and Lost 179
16 Loneliness 188

17 The Square 196
18 The Pursuit 204
19 Under Siege 210

20 Pursuing the Pursuers 219
21 An End and a Beginning 227


    * PART ONE *

Momo and Her Friends


The Amphitheatre
long ago, when people spoke languages quite different from our
own, many fine, big cities already existed in the sunny lands of the world.
There were towering palaces inhabited by kings and emperors; there were
broad streets, narrow alleyways and winding lanes; there were sumptuous
temples filled with idols of gold and marble; there were busy markets
selling wares from all over the world; and there were handsome, spacious
squares where people gathered to discuss the latest news and make speeches
or listen to them. Last but not least, there were theatres -- or, more
properly, amphitheatres.
An amphitheatre resembled a modern circus, except that it was built
entirely of stone. Seats for spectators were arranged in tiers, one above
the other, like steps lining the crater of a man-made volcano. Many such
buildings were circular, others semicircular, others oval.
Some amphitheatres were as big as football stadiums, others could hold
no more than a few hundred people. Some were resplendent with columns and
statues, others plain and unadorned. Having no roofs, amphitheatres were
open to the sky. This was why, in the more luxurious ones, spectators were
shielded from the heat of the sun or from sudden downpours by
gold-embroidered awnings suspended above their seats. In simple
amphitheatres, mats woven of rushes or straw served the same purpose. In
short, people made their amphitheatres as simple or luxurious as they could
afford -just as long as they had one, for our ancestors were enthusiastic

Whenever they saw exciting or amusing incidents acted out on stage,
they felt as if these makebelieve happenings were more real, in some
mysterious way, than their own humdrum lives, and they loved to feast their
eyes and ears on this kind of reality.
Thousands of years have passed since then. The great cities of long ago
lie in ruins, together with their temples and palaces. Wind and rain, heat
and cold have worn away and eaten into the stonework. Ruins are all that
remain of the amphitheatres, too. Crickets now inhabit their crumbling
walls, singing a monotonous song that sounds like the earth breathing in its
A few of these ancient cities have survived to the present day,
however. Life there has changed, of course. People ride around in cars and
buses, have telephones and electric lights. But here and there among the
modem buildings one can still find a column or two, an archway, a stretch of
wall, or even an amphitheatre dating from olden times.
It was in a city of this kind that the story of Momo took place.
On the southern outskirts of the city, where the fields began and the
houses became shabbier and more tumbledown, the ruins of a small
amphitheatre lay hidden in a clump of pine trees. It had never been a grand
place, even in the old days, just a place of entertainment for poor folk.
When Momo arrived on the scene, the ruined amphitheatre had been almost
forgotten. Its existence was known to a few professors of archaeology, but
they took no further interest in it because there was nothing more to be
unearthed there. It wasn't an attraction to be compared with others in the
city, either, so the few stray tourists or sightseers who visited it from
time to time merely clambered around on the grass-grown tiers of seats, made
a lot of noise, took a couple of

snapshots, and went away again. Then silence returned to the stone
arena and the crickets started on the next verse of their interminable,
unchanging song.
The strange, round building was really known only to the folk who lived
in the immediate neighbourhood. They grazed their goats there, their
children played ball on what had once been the central stage, and
sweethearts would sometimes meet there in the evenings.
One day however, word went around that someone had moved into the
ruins. It was a child - a girl, most likely, though this was hard to say
because she wore such funny clothes. The newcomer's name was Momo.
Aside from being rather odd, Momo's personal appearance might well have
shocked anyone who set store by looking clean and tidy. She was so small and
thin that, with the best will in the world, no one could have told her age.
Her unruly mop of jet-black hair looked as if it had never seen a comb or a
pair of scissors. She had very big, beautiful eyes as black as her hair, and
feet of almost the same colour, for she nearly always went around barefoot.
Although she sometimes wore shoes in the wintertime, the only shoes she had
weren't a pair, and besides, they were far too big for her. This was because
Momo owned nothing apart from what she had found lying around or had been
given. Her ankle-length dress was a mass of patches of different colours,
and over it she wore a man's jacket, also far too big for her, with the
sleeves turned up at the wrist. Momo had decided against cutting them off
because she wisely reflected that she was still growing, and goodness only
knew if she would ever find another jacket as useful as this one, with all
its many pockets.
Beneath the grassy stage of the ruined amphitheatre, half choked with
rubble, were some underground chambers which could be reached by way of a
hole in the outer wall, and this was where Momo had set up house. One
afternoon, a group of men and women from the neighbourhood turned up and

tried to question her. Momo eyed them apprehensively, fearing that they
had come to chase her away, but she soon saw that they meant well. Being
poor like herself, they knew how hard life could be.
'So,' said one of the men, 'you like it here, do you?'
Momo nodded.
'And you want to stay here?'
'Yes, very much.'
'Won't you be missed, though?'
'I mean, shouldn't you go home?'
'This is my home,' Momo said promptly.
'But where do you come from?'
Momo gestured vaguely at some undefined spot in the far distance.
'Who are your parents, then?' the man persisted.
Momo looked blankly from him to the others and gave a little shrug. The
men and women exchanged glances and sighed.
'There's no need to be scared,' the man went on, 'we haven't come to
evict you. We'd like to help you, that's all.'
Momo nodded and said nothing, not entirely reassured.
'You're called Momo, aren't you?'
'That's a pretty name, but I've never heard it before. Who gave it to
'I did,' said Momo.
'You chose your own name?'
'When were you born?'
Momo pondered this. 'As far as I can remember,' she said at length,
'I've always been around.'
'But don't you have any aunts or uncles or grandparents? Don't you have
any relations at all who'd give you a home?'

Momo just looked at the man in silence for a while. Then she murmured,
'This is my home, here.'
'That's all very well,' said the man, 'but you're only a kid. How old
are you really?'
Momo hesitated. 'A hundred,' she said.
They all laughed because they thought she was joking.
'No, seriously, how old are you?'
'A hundred and two,' Momo replied, still more hesitantly.
It was some time before the others realized that she'd picked up a few
numbers but had no precise idea of their meaning because no one had ever
taught her to count.
'Listen,' said the man, after conferring with the others, 'would you
mind if we told the police you're here? Then you'd be put in a children's
home where they'd feed you and give you a proper bed and teach you reading
and writing and lots of other things. How does that appeal to you?'
Momo gazed at him in horror. 'No,' she said in a low voice, 'I've
already been in one of those places. There were other children there, too,
and bars over the windows. We were beaten every day for no good reason - it
was awful. One night I climbed the wall and ran away. I wouldn't want to go
back there.'
'I can understand that,' said an old man, nodding, and the others could
understand and nodded too.
'Very well,' said one of the women, 'but you're still so little.
Someone has to take care of you.'
Momo looked relieved. 'I can take care of myself.'
'Can you really?' said the woman.
Momo didn't answer at once. Then she said softly, 'I don't need much.'
Again the others exchanged glances and sighed.
'Know something, Momo?' said the man who had spoken first. 'We were
wondering if you'd like to move in with one of us. It's true we don't have
much room ourselves. and most of us already have a horde of children to

but we reckon one more won't make any difference. What do you say?'
'Thank you,' Momo said, smiling for the first time. 'Thank you very
much, but couldn't you just let me go on living here?'
After much deliberation, the others finally agreed. It occurred to them
that she would be just as well off here as with one of them, so they decided
to look after Momo together. It would be easier, in any case, for all of
them to do so than for one of them alone.
They made an immediate start by spring-cleaning Memo's dilapidated
dungeon and refurbishing it as best they could. One of them, a bricklayer by
trade, built her a miniature cooking stove and produced a rusty stovepipe to
go with it. The old man, who was a carpenter, nailed together a little table
and two chairs out of some packing cases. As for the womenfolk, they brought
along a decrepit iron bedstead adorned with curlicues, a mattress with only
a few rents in it, and a couple of blankets. The stone cell beneath the
stage of the ruined amphitheatre became a snug little room. The bricklayer,
who fancied himself as an artist, added the finishing touch by painting a
pretty flower picture on the wall. He even painted a pretend frame around it
and a pretend nail as well.
Last of all, the people's children came along with whatever food they
could spare. One brought a morsel of cheese, another a hunk of bread,
another some fruit, and so on. And because so many children came, the
occasion turned into a regular housewarming party. Memo's installation in
the old amphitheatre was celebrated as zestfully as only the poor of this
world know how.
And that was the beginning of her friendship with the people of the



Momo was comfortably off from now on, at least in her own estimation.
She always had something to eat, sometimes more and sometimes less,
depending on circumstances and on what people could spare. She had a roof
over her head, she had a bed to sleep in, and she could make herself a fire
when it was cold. Most important of all, she had acquired a host of good
You may think that Momo had simply been fortunate to come across such
friendly people. This was precisely what Momo herself thought, but it soon
dawned on her neighbours that they had been no less fortunate. She became so
important to them that they wondered how they had ever managed without her
in the past. And the longer she stayed with them, the more indispensable she
became - so indispensable, in fact, that their one fear was that she might
some day move on.
The result was that Momo received a stream of visitors. She was almost
always to be seen with someone sitting beside her, talking earnestly, and
those who needed her but couldn't come themselves would send for her
instead. As for those who needed her but hadn't yet realized it, the others
used to tell them, 'Why not go and see Momo?'
In time, these words became a stock phrase with the local inhabitants.
Just as they said, 'All the best!' or 'So long!' or 'Heaven only knows!', so
they took to saying, on all sorts of occasions, 'Why not go and see Momo?'
Was Momo so incredibly bright that she always gave good

advice, or found the right words to console people in need of
consolation, or delivered fair and far-sighted opinions on their problems?
No, she was no more capable of that than anyone else of her age.
So could she do things that put people in a good mood? Could she sing
like a bird or play an instrument? Given that she lived in a kind of circus,
could she dance or do acrobatics?
No, it wasn't any of these either.
Was she a witch, then? Did she know some magic spell that would drive
away troubles and cares? Could she read a person's palm or foretell the
future in some other way?
No, what Momo was better at than anyone else was listening.
Anyone can listen, you may say - what's so special about that? - but
you'd be wrong. Very few people know how to listen properly, and Momo's way
of listening was quite unique.
She listened in a way that made slow-witted people have flashes of
inspiration. It wasn't that she actually said anything | or asked questions
that put such ideas into their heads. She simply sat there and listened with
the utmost attention and sympathy, fixing them with her big, dark eyes, and
they suddenly became aware of ideas whose existence they had never
Momo could listen in such a way that worried and indecisive people knew
their own minds from one moment to the next, or shy people felt suddenly
confident and at ease, or downhearted people felt happy and hopeful. And if
someone felt that his life had been an utter failure, and that he himself
was only one among millions of wholly unimportant people who could be
replaced as easily as broken windowpanes, he would go and pour out his heart
to Momo. And, even as he spoke, he would come to realize

by some mysterious means that he was absolutely wrong:
that there was only one person like himself in the whole world, and
that, consequently, he mattered to the world in his own particular way.
Such was Momo's talent for listening.
One day, Momo received a visit from two close neighbours who had
quarrelled violently and weren't on speaking terms. Their friends had urged
them to 'go and see Momo' because it didn't do for neighbours to live at
daggers drawn. After objecting at first, the two men had reluctantly agreed.
One of them was the bricklayer who had built Momo's stove and painted
the pretty flower picture on her wall. Salvatore by name, he was a strapping
fellow with a black moustache that curled up at the ends. The other, Nino,
was skinny and always looked tired. Nino ran a small inn on the outskirts of
town, largely patronized by a handful of old men who spent the entire
evening reminiscing over one glass of wine. Nino and his plump wife,
Liliana, were also friends of Momo's and had often brought her good things
to eat.
So there the two men sat, one on each side of the stone arena, silently
scowling at nothing in particular.
When Momo saw how angry with each other they were, she couldn't decide
which one of them to approach first. Rather than offend either of them, she
sat down midway between them on the edge of the arena and looked at each in
turn, waiting to see what would happen. Lots of things take time, and time
was Momo's only form of wealth.
After the two of them had sat there in silence for minutes on end,
Salvatore abruptly stood up. 'I'm off,' he announced. 'I've shown my good
will by coming here, but the man's as stubborn as a mule, Momo, you can see
that for yourself.' And he turned on his heel.

'Goodbye and good riddance!' Nino called after him. 'You needn't have
bothered to come in the first place. I wouldn't make it up with a vicious
brute like you.'
Salvatore swung around, puce with rage. 'Who's a vicious brute?' he
demanded menacingly, retracing his steps. 'Say that again -- if you dare!'
'As often as you like!' yelled Nino. 'I suppose you think you're too
big and tough for anyone to speak the truth to your face. Well, / will - to
you and anyone else that cares to listen. That's right, come here and murder
me the way you tried to the other day!'
'I wish I had!' roared Salvatore, clenching his fists. 'There you are,
Momo, you see the dirty lies he tells? All I did was take him by the scruff
of the neck and dunk him in the pool of slops behind that lousy inn of his.
You couldn't even drown a rat in that.' Readdressing himself to Nino, he
shouted, 'Yes, you're still alive and kicking, worse luck!'
Insults flew thick and fast after that, and for a while Momo was at a
loss to know what it was all about and why the pair of them were so furious
with each other. It transpired, by degrees, that Salvatore's only reason for
assaulting Nino was that Nino had slapped his face in the presence of some
customers, though Nino counterclaimed that Salvatore had previously tried to
smash all his crockery.
'That's another dirty lie!' Salvatore said angrily. 'I only threw a jug
at the wall, and that was cracked already.'
'Maybe,' Nino retorted, 'but it was my jug. You had no right to do such
a thing.'
Salvatore protested that he had every right, seeing that Nino had cast
aspersions on his professional skill. He turned to Momo. 'Know what he said
about me? He said I couldn't build a wall straight because I was drunk
twenty-four hours a day. My great-grandfather was the same, he said, and
he'd helped to build the Leaning Tower of Pisa.' 'But Salvatore,' said Nino,
'I was only joking.'

'Some joke,' growled Salvatore. 'Very funny, I don't think!'
It then emerged that Nino had only been paying Salvatore back for
another joke. He'd woken up one morning to find some words daubed on the
tavern door in bright red paint. They read: THISINNISOUT. Nino had found
that just as unamusing.
The two of them spent some time wrangling over whose had been the
better joke. Then, after working themselves up into a lather again, they
broke off.
Momo was staring at them wide-eyed, but neither man quite knew how to
interpret her gaze. Was she secretly laughing at them, or was she sad?
Although her expression gave no clue, they suddenly seemed to see themselves
mirrored in her eyes and began to feel sheepish.
'Okay,' said Salvatore, 'maybe I shouldn't have painted those words on
your door, Nino, but I wouldn't have done it if you hadn't refused to serve
me so much as a single glass of wine. That was against the law, as you know
full well. I've always paid up, and you'd no call to treat me that way.'
'Oh, hadn't I just!' Nino retorted. 'What about the St Anthony
business? Ah, that's floored you, hasn't it! You cheated me right, left and
centre, and I wasn't going to take it lying down.'
'I cheated you?' Salvatore protested, smiting his brow. 'You've got it
the wrong way around. It was you that tried to cheat me, but you didn't
The fact was, Nino had hung a picture of St Anthony on the wall of the
bar-room -- a clipping from an illustrated magazine which he had cut out and
framed. Salvatore offered to buy this picture one day, ostensibly because he
found it so beautiful. By dint of skilful haggling, Nino had persuaded
Salvatore to part with a radio in exchange, laughing up his sleeve to think
that Salvatore was getting the worst of the bargain.

After the deal had been struck, it turned out that nestling between the
picture and its cardboard backing was a banknote of which Nino had known
nothing. Discovering that he had been outwitted, Nino angrily demanded the
money back because it hadn't been included in the bargain. Salvatore refused
to hand it over, whereupon Nino refused to serve him any more, and that was
how it had all begun.
Once they had traced their vendetta back to its original cause, the men
fell silent for a while.
Then Nino said, 'Be honest, Salvatore, did you or didn't you know about
that money before we made the deal?'
'Of course I knew, or I wouldn't have gone through with it.'
'In other words, you diddled me.'
'What? You mean you really didn't know about the money?'
'No, I swear I didn't.'
'There you are, then! It was you that tried to diddle me, or you
wouldn't have taken my radio in exchange for a worthless scrap of
'How did you know about the money?' 'I saw another customer tuck it
into the back as a thank-you to St Anthony, a couple of nights before.' Nino
chewed his lip. 'Was it a lot of money?' 'Only what my radio was worth,'
said Salvatore. 'I see,' Nino said thoughtfully. 'So that's what all this is
about -- a clipping from a magazine.'
Salvatore scratched his head. 'I guess so,' he growled. 'You're welcome
to have it back, Nino.'
'Certainly not,' Nino replied with dignity. 'A deal's a deal. We shook
hands on it, after all.'
Quite suddenly, they both burst out laughing. Clambering down the stone
steps, they met in the middle of the grassy arena, exchanged bear-hugs and
slapped each other on the back. Then they hugged Momo and thanked her

When they left a few minutes later, Momo stood waving till they were
out of sight. She was glad her two friends had made up.
Another time, a little boy brought her his canary because it wouldn't
sing. Momo found that a far harder proposition. She had to sit and listen to
the bird for a whole week before it started to trill and warble again.
Momo listened to everyone and everything, to dogs and cats, crickets
and tortoises -- even to the rain and the wind in the pine trees - and all
of them spoke to her after their own fashion.
Many were the evenings when, after her friends had gone home, she would
sit by herself in the middle of the old stone amphitheatre, with the sky's
starry vault overhead, and simply listen to the great silence around her.
Whenever she did this, she felt she was sitting at the centre of a
giant ear, listening to the world of the stars, and she seemed to hear soft
but majestic music that touched her heart in the strangest way. On nights
like these, she always had the most beautiful dreams.
Those who still think that listening isn't an art should see if they
can do it half as well.



Although Momo listened to grown-ups and children with equal sympathy
and attention, the children had a special reason for enjoying their visits
to the amphitheatre as much as they did. Now that she was living there, they
found they could play better games than ever before. They were never bored
for an instant, but not because she contributed a lot of ingenious
suggestions. Momo was there and joined in, that was all, but for some reason
her mere presence put bright ideas into their heads. They invented new games
every day, and each was an improvement on the last.
One hot and sultry afternoon, a dozen or so children were sitting
around on the stone steps waiting for Momo, who had gone for a stroll
nearby, as she sometimes did. From the look of the sky, which was filled
with fat black clouds, there would soon be a thunderstorm.
'I'm going home,' said one girl, who had a little sister with her.
'Thunder and lightning scares me.'
'What about when you're at home?' asked a boy in glasses. 'Doesn't it
scare you there?' 'Of course it does,' she said. 'Then you may as well
stay,' said the boy. The girl shrugged her shoulders and nodded. After a
while she said, 'But maybe Momo won't turn up.'
'So what?' another voice broke in. It belonged to a rather ragged and
neglected-looking boy. 'Even if she doesn't, we can still play a game.'

All right, but what?'
'1 don't know. Something or other.'
'Something or other's no good. Anyone got an idea?'
'I know,' said a fat boy with a high-pitched voice. 'Let's pretend the
amphitheatre's a ship, and we sail off across uncharted seas and have
adventures. I'll be the captain, you can be first mate, and you can be a
professor - a scientist, because it's a scientific expedition. The rest of
you can be sailors.'
'What about us girls?' came a plaintive chorus. 'What'll we be?'
'Girl sailors. It's a ship of the future.'
The fat boy's idea sounded promising. They tried it out, but everyone
started squabbling and the game never got under way. Before long they were
all sitting around on the steps again, waiting.
Then Momo turned up, and everything changed.
The Argo's bow rose and fell, rose and fell, as she swiftly but
steadily steamed through the swell towards the South Coral Sea. No ship in
living memory had ever dared to sail these perilous waters, which abounded
with shoals, reefs and mysterious sea monsters. Most deadly of all was the
so-called Travelling Tornado, a waterspout that forever roamed this sea like
some cunning beast of prey. The waterspout's route was quite unpredictable,
and any ship caught up in its mighty embrace was promptly reduced to
Being a research vessel, of course, the Argo had been specially
designed to tackle the Travelling Tornado. Her hull was entirely constructed
of adamantium, a steel as tough and flexible as a sword blade, and had been
cast in one piece by a special process that dispensed with rivets and welded
For all that, few captains and crews would have had the courage to face
such incredible hazards. Captain Gordon of the Argo had that courage. He
gazed down proudly from the

bridge at the men and women of his crew, all of whom were experts in
their particular field. Beside him stood his first mate, Jim Ironside, an
old salt who had already survived a hundred and twenty-seven hurricanes.
Stationed on the sun-deck further aft were Professor Eisen-stein, the
expedition's senior scientist, and his assistants Moira and Sarah, who had
as much information stored in their prodigious memories as a whole reference
library. All three were hunched over their precision instruments, quietly
conferring in complicated scientific jargon.
Seated cross-legged a little apart from them was Momosan, a beautiful
native girl. Now and again the professor would consult her about some
special characteristic of the South Coral Sea, and she would reply in her
melodious Hula dialect, which he alone could understand.
The purpose of the expedition was to discover what caused the
Travelling Tornado and, if possible, make the sea safe for other ships by
putting an end to it. So far, however, there had been no sign of the tornado
and all was quiet.
Quite suddenly, the captain's thoughts were interrupted by a shout from
the lockout in the crow's-nest. 'Captain!' he called down, cupping his hands
around his mouth. 'Unless I'm crazy, there's a glass island dead ahead of
The captain and Jim Ironside promptly levelled their telescopes.
Professor Eisenstein and his two assistants hurried up, bursting with
curiosity, but the beautiful native girl calmly remained seated. The
peculiar customs of her tribe forbade her to seem inquisitive.
When they reached the glass island, as they very soon did, the
professor scrambled down a rope ladder and gingerly stepped ashore. The
surface was not only transparent but so slippery that he found it hard to
keep his footing.
The island was circular and about fifty feet across, with a sort of
dome in the centre. On reaching the summit, the professor could distinctly
make out a light flashing deep in

the heart of the island. He passed this information to tne others, who
were eagerly lining the ship's rail.
'From what you say,' said Moira, 'it must be a Blanc-mangius viscosus.'
'Perhaps,' Sarah chimed in, 'though it could equally be a Jellybeania

Professor Eisenstein straightened up and adjusted his glasses. 'In my
opinion,' he said, 'we're dealing with a variety of the common Chocolatus
but we can't be sure till we've examined it from below.'
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when three girl sailors, all
of whom were world-famous scuba divers and had already pulled on their
wetsuits, plunged over the side and vanished into the blue depths.
Nothing could be seen for a while but air bubbles. Then one of the
girls, Sandra, shot to the surface. 'It's a giant jellyfish!' she gasped.
'The other two are caught up in its tentacles and can't break loose. We must
save them before it's too late!' So saying, she disappeared again.
Without hesitation, a hundred frogmen led by Commander Franco,
nicknamed 'the Dolphin' because of his skill and experience, dived into the
sea. A tremendous battle raged beneath the surface, which soon became
covered with foam, but the gigantic creature's strength was such that not
even a hundred brave men could release the girls from its terrible embrace.
The professor turned to his assistants with a puzzled frown. 'Something
in these waters seems conducive to the growth of abnormally large sea
creatures,' he observed. 'What an interesting phenomenon!'
Meanwhile, Captain Gordon and his first mate had come to a decision.
'Back!' shouted Jim Ironside. 'All hands back on board! We'll have to
slice the monster in half - it's the girls' only hope.'

'Dolphin' Franco and his frogmen climbed back on board. After going
astern for a short distance, the Argo headed straight for the jellyfish at
maximum speed. The steel ship's bow was as sharp as a razor. Without a sound
- almost without a jolt - it sliced the huge creature in half. Although this
manoeuvre was fraught with danger for the girls entangled in its tentacles,
Jim Ironside had gauged his course to within a hair's breadth and steered
right between them. Instantly, the tentacles on each half of the jellyfish
went limp and lifeless, and the trapped girls managed to extricate
They were welcomed back on board with joy. Professor Eisenstein hurried
over to them. 'It was all my fault,' he said. 'I should never have sent you
down there. Forgive me for risking your lives like that.'
'There's nothing to forgive. Professor,' one of the girls replied with
a carefree laugh. 'It's what we came for, after all.'
'Danger's our trade,' the other girl put in.
But there was no time to say more. Because of the rescue operation, the
captain and his crew had completely forgotten to keep watch on the sea. Only
now, in the nick of time, did they become aware that the Travelling Tornado
had appeared on the horizon and was racing towards them.
An immense roller tossed the Argo into the air, hurled her on to her
side, and sent her plummeting into a watery abyss. Any crew less courageous
and experienced than the Argo's would have been washed overboard or
paralysed with fear by this very first onslaught, but Captain Gordon stood
foursquare on his bridge as though nothing had happened, and his sailors
were just as unperturbed. Momosan, the beautiful native girl, being
unaccustomed to such storm-tossed seas, was the only person to take refuge
in a lifeboat.
The whole sky turned pitch-black within seconds. Shrieking and roaring,
the tornado flung itself at the Argo,

alternately catapulting her sky-high and sucking her down into
cavernous troughs. Its fury seemed to grow with every passing minute as it
strove in vain to crush the ship's steel hull.
The captain calmly gave orders to the first mate, who passed them on to
the crew in a stentorian voice. Everyone remained at his or her post.
Professor Eisenstein and his assistants, far from abandoning their
scientific instruments, used them to estimate where the eye of the storm
must be, for that was the course to steer. Captain Gordon secretly marvelled
at the composure of these scientists, who were not, after all, as closely
acquainted with the sea as himself and his
A shaft of lightning zigzagged down and struck the ship's hull,
electrifying it from stem to stern. Sparks flew whenever the crew touched
anything, but none of them worried. Everyone on board had spent months
training hard for just such an emergency. The only trouble was, the thinner
parts of the ship - cables and stanchions, for instance - began to glow like
the filament in an electric light bulb, and this made the crew's work harder
despite the rubber gloves they were wearing.
Fortunately, the glow was soon extinguished by a downpour heavier than
anyone on board, with the exception of Jim Ironside, had ever experienced.
There was no room for any air between the raindrops - they were too close
together - so they all had to put on masks and breathing apparatus.
Flashes of lightning and peals of thunder followed one another in quick
succession, the wind howled, and mast-high breakers deluged everything with
foam. With all engines running full ahead, the Argo inched her way forward
against the elemental might of the storm. Down below in the boiler rooms,
engineers and stokers made superhuman efforts. They had lashed themselves in
place with stout ropes so that the ship's violent pitching and tossing would
not hurl them into the open furnaces.

But when, at long last, the Argo and her crew reached the innermost eye
of the storm, what a sight confronted them!
Gyrating on the surface of the sea, which had been ironed flat as a
pancake by the sheer force of the storm, was a huge figure. Seemingly poised
on one leg, it grew wider the higher one looked, like a mountainous
humming-top rotating too fast for the eye to make it out in any detail.
'A Teetotum elasticumi' the professor exclaimed gleefully, holding on
to his glasses to prevent them from being washed off his nose by the rain.
'Maybe you'd care to translate that,' growled Jim Ironside. 'We're only
simple seafaring folk, and -'
'Don't bother the professor now,' Sarah broke in, 'or you'll ruin a
unique opportunity. This spinning-top creature probably dates from the
earliest phase of life on earth - it must be over a billion years old. The
one variety known today is so small you can only see it under a microscope.
It's sometimes found in tomato ketchup, or, even more rarely, in chewing
gum. A specimen as big as this may well be the only one in existence.'
'But we're here to eliminate it,' said the captain, shouting to make
himself heard above the sound of the storm. 'All right, Professor, tell us
how to stop that infernal thing.'
'Your guess is as good as mine,' the professor replied. 'We scientists
have never had a chance to study it.'
'Very well,' said the captain. 'We'll try a few shots at it and see
what happens.'
'What a shame,' the professor said sadly. 'Fancy shooting the sole
surviving specimen of a Teetotum elasticum\'
But the antifriction gun had already been trained on the giant
'Fire!' ordered the captain.
The twin barrels emitted a tongue of flame a mile long. There was no
bang, of course, because an antifriction gun, as everyone knows, bombards
its target with proteins.

The flaming missiles streaked towards the Teetotum but were caught and
deflected. They circled the huge figure a few times, travelling ever faster,
ever higher, until they disappeared into the black clouds overhead.
'It's no use,' Captain Gordon shouted. 'We'll simply have to get
'We can't, sir,' Jim Ironside shouted back. 'The engines are already
running full ahead, and that's only just enough to keep us from being blown
'Any suggestions. Professor?' the captain asked, but Professor
Eisenstein merely shrugged. His assistants were equally devoid of ideas. It
looked as if the expedition would have to be abandoned as a failure.
Just then, someone tugged at the professor's sleeve. It was Momosan,
the beautiful native girl.
ЧЛаШтЬа,' she said, gesturing gracefully. 'Malumba oisitu sono. Erweini
samba insaitu lolobindra. Kramuna heu beni beni sadogau.'

The professor raised his eyebrows. 'Babaluf he said inquiringly. 'Didi
maha feinosi intu ge doinen malumba?'

The beautiful native girl nodded eagerly. 'Dodo um aufa shulamat va
she replied.
'О" о",' said the professor, thoughtfully stroking his chin. 'What does
she say?' asked the first mate. 'She says,' explained the professor, 'that
her tribe has a very ancient song that would send the Travelling Tornado to
sleep -- or would, if anyone were brave enough to sing it to the creature.'
'Don't make me laugh!' growled Jim Ironside. 'Whoever heard of singing
a tornado to sleep?'
'What do you think. Professor?' asked Sarah. 'Is it scientifically
'One should always try to keep an open mind,' said the professor. 'Many
of these native traditions contain a grain of truth. The Teetotum elasticum
may be sensitive to certain

sonic vibrations. We simply know too little about its mode of
'It can't do any harm,' the captain said firmly, 'so let's give it a
try. Tell her to carry on.'
The professor turned to Momosan and said, 'Malumba didi oisafal huna
huna, vavaduf

She nodded and began to sing a most peculiar song. It consisted of a
handful of notes repeated over and over again:
'Eni meni allubeni, vanna tai susura teni."
As she sang, she clapped her hands and pranced around in time to the
The tune and the words were so easy to remember that the rest joined
in, one after another, until the entire crew was singing, clapping and
cavorting around in time to the music. Nothing could have been more
astonishing than to see the professor himself and that old sea dog, Jim
Ironside, singing and clapping like children in a playground.
And then, lo and behold, the thing they never thought would happen came
to pass: the Travelling Tornado rotated more and more slowly until it came
to a stop and began to sink beneath the waves. With a thunderous roar, the
sea closed over it. The storm died away, the rain ceased, the sky became
blue and cloudless, the waves subsided. The Argo lay motionless on the
glittering surface as if nothing but peace and tranquillity had ever reigned
'Members of the crew,' said Captain Gordon, with an appreciative glance
at each in turn, 'we pulled it off!' The captain never wasted words, they
all knew, so they were doubly delighted when he added, 'I'm proud of you.'
'I think it must really have been raining,' said the girl who had
brought her little sister along. 'I'm soaked, that's for sure.'

She was right. The real storm had broken and moved on, and no one was
more surprised than she to find that she had completely forgotten to be
scared of the thunder and lightning while sailing aboard the Argo.
The children spent some time discussing their adventurous voyage and
swapping personal experiences. Then they said goodbye and went home to dry
The only person slightly dissatisfied with the outcome of the game was
the boy who wore glasses. Before leaving, he said to Momo, 'I still think it
was a shame to sink the Teetotum elasticum, just like that. The last
surviving specimen of its kind, imagine! I do wish I could have taken a
closer look at it.'
But on one point they were all agreed: the games they played with Momo
were more fun than any others.


Two Special Friends

Even when people have a great many friends, there are always one or two
they love best of all, and Momo was no exception.
She had two very special friends who came to see her every day and
shared what little they had with her. One was young and the other old, and
Momo could not have said which of them she loved more.
The old one's name was Beppo Roadsweeper. Although he must have had a
proper surname, everyone including Beppo himself used the nickname that
described his job, which was sweeping roads.
Beppo lived near the amphitheatre in a home-made shack built of bricks,
corrugated iron and tar paper. He was not much taller than Momo, being an
exceptionally small man and bent-backed into the bargain. He always kept his
head cocked to one side -- it was big, with a single tuft of white hair on
top -- and wore a diminutive pair of steel-rimmed spectacles on his nose.
Beppo was widely believed to be not quite right in the head. This was
because, when asked a question, he would give an amiable smile and say
nothing. If, after pondering the question, he felt it needed no answer, he
still said nothing. If it did, he would ponder what answer to give. He could
take as long as a couple of hours to reply, or even a whole day. By this
time the person who had asked the question would have forgotten what it was,
so Beppo's answer seemed peculiar in the extreme.

Only Momo was capable of waiting patiently enough to grasp his meaning.
She knew that Beppo took as long as he did because he was determined never
to say anything untrue. In his opinion, all the world's misfortunes stemmed
from the countless untruths, both deliberate and unintentional, which people
told because of haste or carelessness.
Every morning, long before daybreak, Beppo rode his squeaky old bicycle
to a big depot in town. There, he and his fellow roadsweepers waited in the
yard to be issued brooms and pushcarts and told which streets to sweep.
Beppo enjoyed these hours before dawn, when the city was still asleep, and
he did his work willingly and well. It was a useful job, and he knew it.
He swept his allotted streets slowly but steadily, drawing a deep
breath before every step and every stroke of the broom Step, breathe, sweep,
breathe, step, breathe, sweep ... Every so often he would pause a while,