Beside Too-ticky lay four small fish. One more, and she'd have her soup.
Suddenly she heard impatient steps coming nearer on the landing-stage. Up there Moomintroll rapped at the bathing-house door. He waited a moment and knocked again.
'Ho!' shouted Too-ticky. 'I'm under the ice!'
The echo raised its head somewhere to the left of her and shouted: 'Ho!' It went sliding back and forth several times and cried: 'Under the ice!'
After a while Moomintroll's snout cautiously appeared in the opening. His ears were decorated with limp gold ribbons.
He looked at the steaming, black water and at Too-ticky's four fish.
He shivered, and said: 'Well, he didn't come.'
'Who didn't?' asked Too-ticky.
'The sun!' cried Moomintroll.
'The sun,' repeated the echo. 'Sun, sun, sun...' farther and farther off, weaker and weaker.
Too-ticky hauled on her line.
'Dont't be in such a hurry,' she said. 'He's been coming on this day every year, so probably he'll do it now again. Pull up your snout so I can come out of here.'
Too-ticky clambered up to the surface and sat down on the bathing-house steps. She sniffed lightly nad listened. Then she said: 'Soon now. Sit down and wait.'
Little My came skating over the ice and sat down beside them. She had tied tin lids under her shoes for better speed.
'So here we're waiting for something wonderful again,' she said. 'Not that I wouldn't like a little daylight.'
Two old crows came flapping from the wood and alighted on the roof of the bathing-house. The minutes passed.
All at once the fluff on Moomintroll's back bristled, and in great excitement he saw a red light gathering on the dusky sky just over the horizon. It thickened to a narrow, red sliver of fire that threw long, red rays of light along the ice.
'There he is!' cried Moomintroll.
He lifted Little My in his arms and kissed her smack on the nose.
'Golly, what a fuss,' said Little My. 'What's all this to make such a noise about?'
'Of course!' cried Moomintroll. 'Spring! Warmth! Everybody'll wake up! How splendid.'
He took the four fish and threw them high in the air. He stood on his head. He had never felt so happy in his life.
And then the ice became dark again.
The crows took off and went slowly flapping over the shore. Too-ticky gathered up her fishes, and the little red strip had hidden itself under the horizon.
'Did he change his mind?' Moomintroll asked, horrified.
'No wonder after taking a peep at you,' said Little My, and skated off on her tin lids.
'He'll return tomorrow,' replied Too-ticky. 'And then he'll be a tiny bit bigger, about like a piece of cheese rind. Take it easy.'
And Too-ticky crept back under the ice to fill her soup-kettle with sea-water.
Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson