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A Story for children age 4 to 6.
The jellyfish and the monkey.
From Japanese Fairy Tales.by Yei Theodora Ozaki.
Start of Story
Then the jelly fish, seeing how anxious the monkey looked, was sorry
for him, and told him everything. How the Dragon Queen had fallen ill,
and how the doctor had said that only the liver of a live monkey would
cure her, and how the Dragon King had sent him to find one.
"Now I have done as I was told, and as soon as we arrive at the Palace
the doctor will want your liver, so I feel sorry for you!" said the
silly jelly fish.
The poor monkey was horrified when he learnt all this, and very angry
at the trick played upon him. He trembled with fear at the thought of
what was in store for him.
But the monkey was a clever animal, and he thought it the wisest plan
not to show any sign of the fear he felt, so he tried to calm himself
and to think of some way by which he might escape.
"The doctor means to cut me open and then take my liver out! Why I
shall die!" thought the monkey. At last a bright thought struck him, so
he said quite cheerfully to the jelly fish:
"What a pity it was, Mr. Jelly Fish, that you did not speak of this
before we left the island!"
"If I had told why I wanted you to accompany me you would certainly
have refused to come," answered the jelly fish.
"You are quite mistaken," said the monkey. "Monkeys can very well spare
a liver or two, especially when it is wanted for the Dragon Queen of
the Sea. If I had only guessed of what you were in need. I should have
presented you with one without waiting to be asked. I have several
livers. But the greatest pity is, that as you did not speak in time, I
have left all my livers hanging on the pine-tree."
"Have you left your liver behind you?" asked the jelly fish.
"Yes," said the cunning monkey, "during the daytime I usually leave my
liver hanging up on the branch of a tree, as it is very much in the way
when I am climbing about from tree to tree. To-day, listening to your
interesting conversation, I quite forgot it, and left it behind when I
came off with you. If only you had spoken in time I should have
remembered it, and should have brought it along with me!"
The jelly fish was very disappointed when he heard this, for he
believed every word the monkey said. The monkey was of no good without
a liver. Finally the jelly fish stopped and told the monkey so.
"Well," said the monkey, "that is soon remedied. I am really sorry to
think of all your trouble; but if you will only take me back to the
place where you found me, I shall soon be able to get my liver."
The jelly fish did not at all like the idea of going all the way back
to the island again; but the monkey assured him that if he would be so
kind as to take him back he would get his very best liver, and bring it
with him the next time. Thus persuaded, the jelly fish turned his
course towards the Monkey Island once more.
No sooner had the jelly fish reached the shore than the sly monkey
landed, and getting up into the pine-tree where the jelly fish had
first seen him, he cut several capers amongst the branches with joy at
being safe home again, and then looking down at the jelly fish said:
"So many thanks for all the trouble you have taken! Please present my
compliments to the Dragon King on your return!"
The jelly fish wondered at this speech and the mocking tone in which it
was uttered. Then he asked the monkey if it wasn't his intention to
come with him at once after getting his liver.
The monkey replied laughingly that he couldn't afford to lose his
liver: it was too precious.
"But remember your promise!" pleaded the jelly fish, now very
"That promise was false, and anyhow it is now broken!" answered the
monkey. Then he began to jeer at the jelly fish and told him that he
had been deceiving him the whole time; that he had no wish to lose his
life, which he certainly would have done had he gone on to the Sea
King's Palace to the old doctor waiting for him, instead of persuading
the jelly fish to return under false pretenses.
"Of course, I won't GIVE you my liver, but come and get it if you can!"
added the monkey mockingly from the tree.
There was nothing for the jelly fish to do now but to repent of his
stupidity, and to return to the Dragon King of the Sea and to confess
his failure, so he started sadly and slowly to swim back. The last
thing he heard as he glided away, leaving the island behind him, was
the monkey laughing at him.
Meanwhile the Dragon King, the doctor, the chief steward, and all the
servants were waiting impatiently for the return of the jelly fish.
When they caught sight of him approaching the Palace, they hailed him
with delight. They began to thank him profusely for all the trouble he
had taken in going to Monkey Island, and then they asked him where the
Now the day of reckoning had come for the jelly fish. He quaked all
over as he told his story. How he had brought the monkey halfway over
the sea, and then had stupidly let out the secret of his commission;
how the monkey had deceived him by making him believe that he had left
his liver behind him.
The Dragon King's wrath was great, and he at once gave orders that the
jelly fish was to be severely punished. The punishment was a horrible
one. All the bones were to be drawn out from his living body, and he
was to be beaten with sticks.
The poor jelly fish, humiliated and horrified beyond all words, cried
out for pardon. But the Dragon King's order had to be obeyed. The
servants of the Palace forthwith each brought out a stick and
surrounded the jelly fish, and after pulling out his bones they beat
him to a flat pulp, and then took him out beyond the Palace gates and
threw him into the water. Here he was left to suffer and repent his
foolish chattering, and to grow accustomed to his new state of
From this story it is evident that in former times the jelly fish once
had a shell and bones something like a tortoise, but, ever since the
Dragon King's sentence was carried out on the ancestor of the jelly
fishes, his descendants have all been soft and boneless just as you see
them to-day thrown up by the waves high upon the shores of Japan.