Select the desired text size
Quarrel of the monkey and the crab
Start of Story
When the wicked monkey saw that he had killed the crab he ran away from
the spot as fast as he could, in fear and trembling, like a coward as
Now the crab had a son who had been playing with a friend not far from
the spot where this sad work had taken place. On the way home he came
across his father dead, in a most dreadful condition--his head was
smashed and his shell broken in several places, and around his body lay
the unripe persimmons which had done their deadly work. At this
dreadful sight the poor young crab sat down and wept.
But when he had wept for some time he told himself that this crying
would do no good; it was his duty to avenge his father's murder, and
this he determined to do. He looked about for some clue which would
lead him to discover the murderer. Looking up at the tree he noticed
that the best fruit had gone, and that all around lay bits of peel and
numerous seeds strewn on the ground as well as the unripe persimmons
which had evidently been thrown at his father. Then he understood that
the monkey was the murderer, for he now remembered that his father had
once told him the story of the rice-dumpling and the persimmon-seed.
The young crab knew that monkeys liked persimmons above all other
fruit, and he felt sure that his greed for the coveted fruit had been
the cause of the old crab's death. Alas!
He at first thought of going to attack the monkey at once, for he
burned with rage. Second thoughts, however, told him that this was
useless, for the monkey was an old and cunning animal and would be hard
to overcome. He must meet cunning with cunning and ask some of his
friends to help him, for he knew it would be quite out of his power to
kill him alone.
The young crab set out at once to call on the mortar, his father's old
friend, and told him of all that had happened. He besought the mortar
with tears to help him avenge his father's death. The mortar was very
sorry when he heard the woful tale and promised at once to help the
young crab punish the monkey to death. He warned him that he must be
very careful in what he did, for the monkey was a strong and cunning
enemy. The mortar now sent to fetch the bee and the chestnut (also the
crab's old friends) to consult them about the matter. In a short time
the bee and the chestnut arrived. When they were told all the details
of the old crab's death and of the monkey's wickedness and greed, they
both gladly consented to help the young crab in his revenge.
After talking for a long time as to the ways and means of carrying out
their plans they separated, and Mr. Mortar went home with the young
crab to help him bury his poor father.
While all this was taking place the monkey was congratulating himself
(as the wicked often do before their punishment comes upon them) on all
he had done so neatly. He thought it quite a fine thing that he had
robbed his friend of all his ripe persimmons and then that he had
killed him. Still, smile as hard as he might, he could not banish
altogether the fear of the consequences should his evil deeds be
discovered. IF he were found out (and he told himself that this could
not be for he had escaped unseen) the crab's family would be sure to
bear him hatred and seek to take revenge on him. So he would not go
out, and kept himself at home for several days. He found this kind of
life, however, extremely dull, accustomed as he was to the free life of
the woods, and at last he said:
"No one knows that it was I who killed the crab! I am sure that the old
thing breathed his last before I left him. Dead crabs have no mouths!
Who is there to tell that I am the murderer? Since no one knows, what
is the use of shutting myself up and brooding over the matter? What is
done cannot be undone!"
With this he wandered out into the crab settlement and crept about as
slyly as possible near the crab's house and tried to hear the
neighbors' gossip round about. He wanted to find out what the crabs
were saving about their chief's death, for the old crab had been the
chief of the tribe. But he heard nothing and said to himself:
"They are all such fools that they don't know and don't care who
murdered their chief!"
Little did he know in his so-called "monkey's wisdom" that this seeming
unconcern was part of the young crab's plan. He purposely pretended not
to know who killed his father, and also to believe that he had met his
death through his own fault. By this means he could the better keep
secret the revenge on the monkey, which he was meditating.
So the monkey returned home from his walk quite content. He told
himself he had nothing now to fear.
One fine day, when the monkey was sitting at home, he was surprised by
the appearance of a messenger from the young crab. While he was
wondering what this might mean, the messenger bowed before him and said:
"I have been sent by my master to inform you that his father died the
other day in falling from a persimmon tree while trying to climb the
tree after fruit. This, being the seventh day, is the first anniversary
after his death, and my master has prepared a little festival in his
father's honor, and bids you come to participate in it as you were one
of his best friends. My master hopes you will honor his house with your