The Clothes Moth and the Luna Moth

A clothes moth who lived in a closet and had never done anything, or wanted to do anything, except eat wool and fur, flew out of his closet one twilight just in time to see a lovely Luna moth appear on the outside of a windowpane.

The Luna moth fluttered against the lighted glass as gracefully as a drifting autumn leaf, and she was dressed in a charming evening gown. What interested her was the flame of a candle burning in the room, burning on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, but the clothes moth thought she was making signs at him, and he conceived a great desire for her.

“I have to have you,” said the clothes moth, but the Luna moth laughed, and her laughter was like the bells of elfland faintly tinkling.

“Go eat a shroud,” said the Luna moth haughtily. “You are as vulgar as a tent moth, or a gypsy moth, and nowhere near as handsome as a tiger moth.”

“If you come to live with me I will feed you on sweaters and stoles,” said the clothes moth, whose ardor was only increased by the lovely Luna’s scorn.

“You are a flug, who can flugger, but not fly or flutter,” said the Luna moth, trying to get through the windowpane and reach the star on the mantelpiece.

“You can have wedding dresses and evening clothes and a mink coat,” panted the clothes moth, and again the Luna moth’s laughter was like the bells of elfland faintly tinkling.

“I live on twilight and the stars,” she said.

“It was love at first flight,” the clothes moth protested. “It was love at first flutter.”

The Luna moth’s tiny silvery tone became sharper. “You are a mulch,” she said, “a mulbus, a crawg, and a common creeb.”

All these words were words a nice moth rarely uses, but they had no effect upon the passion of the clothes moth. “I know you have one wing in the grave,” he told her. “I know you’re not long for this world, and so I must have you as soon as I can. A thing of beauty is a joy for such a little time.”

The lovely Luna moth tried to cajole her admirer into opening the window—so that she could fly to the fascinating flame above the fireplace, but she did not tell him this. She let him believe that his drab gray lovemaking had won her heart.

In his desire to reach her, he flew against the windowpane time and time again, and finally made a small opening in it, and then fluggered crazily to the floor, dead of a broken head and wings and body. The lovely Luna, whose desire for the star is a matter of immortal record, flew swiftly and gracefully toward the candle on the mantelpiece and was consumed in its flame with a little zishing sound like that made by a lighted cigarette dropped in a cup of coffee.

MORAL: Love is blind, but desire just doesn’t give a good goddam.

The Clothes Moth and the Luna Moth

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

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