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tale of a tortoise and of a mischievous monkey.
Start of Story
He waited till the man was just underneath the tree, then he hung from
a bough, and caught the gourd while the man looked up wondering, for he
was no tree-climber. Then the monkey rubbed the honey all over him, and
a quantity of leaves from a creeper that was hanging close by; he stuck
them all close together into the honey, so that he looked like a walking
bush. This finished, he ran to the pool to see the result, and, quite
pleased with himself, set out in search of adventures.
Soon the report went through the forest that a new animal had appeared
from no one knew where, and that when somebody had asked his name, the
strange creature had answered that it was Jack-in-the-Green. Thanks to
this, the monkey was allowed to drink at the pool as often as he liked,
for neither beast nor bird had the faintest notion who he was. And if
they made any inquiries the only answer they got was that the water of
which he had drunk deeply had turned his hair into leaves, so that they
all knew what would happen in case they became too greedy.
By-and-by the great rains began again. The rivers and streams filled up,
and there was no need for him to go back to the pool, near the home of
his enemy, the puma, as there was a large number of places for him to
choose from. So one night, when everything was still and silent, and
even the chattering parrots were asleep on one leg, the monkey stole
down softly from his perch, and washed off the honey and the leaves, and
came out from his bath in his own proper skin. On his way to breakfast
he met a rabbit, and stopped for a little talk.
'I am feeling rather dull,' he remarked; 'I think it would do me good to
hunt a while. What do you say?'
'Oh, I am quite willing,' answered the rabbit, proud of being spoken to
by such a large creature. 'But the question is, what shall we hunt?'
'There is no credit in going after an elephant or a tiger,' replied the
monkey stroking his chin, 'they are so big they could not possibly get
out of your way. It shows much more skill to be able to catch a small
thing that can hide itself in a moment behind a leaf. I'll tell you
what! Suppose I hunt butterflies, and you, serpents.'
The rabbit, who was young and without experience, was delighted with
this idea, and they both set out on their various ways.
The monkey quietly climbed up the nearest tree, and ate fruit most of
the day, but the rabbit tired himself to death poking his nose into
every heap of dried leaves he saw, hoping to find a serpent among them.
Luckily for himself the serpents were all away for the afternoon, at a
meeting of their own, for there is nothing a serpent likes so well for
dinner as a nice plump rabbit. But, as it was, the dried leaves were all
empty, and the rabbit at last fell asleep where he was. Then the monkey,
who had been watching him, fell down and pulled his ears, to the rage of
the rabbit, who vowed vengeance.
It was not easy to catch the monkey off his guard, and the rabbit waited
long before an opportunity arrived. But one day Jack-in-the-Green was
sitting on a stone, wondering what he should do next, when the rabbit
crept softly behind him, and gave his tail a sharp pull. The monkey gave
a shriek of pain, and darted up into a tree, but when he saw that it was
only the rabbit who had dared to insult him so, he chattered so fast in
his anger, and looked so fierce, that the rabbit fled into the nearest
hole, and stayed there for several days, trembling with fright.
Soon after this adventure the monkey went away into another part of
the country, right on the outskirts of the forest, where there was
a beautiful garden full of oranges hanging ripe from the trees. This
garden was a favourite place for birds of all kinds, each hoping to
secure an orange for dinner, and in order to frighten the birds away and
keep a little fruit for himself, the master had fastened a waxen figure
on one of the boughs.
Now the monkey was as fond of oranges as any of the birds, and when he
saw a man standing in the tree where the largest and sweetest oranges
grew, he spoke to him at once. 'You man,' he said rudely, 'throw me
down that big orange up there, or I will throw a stone at you.' The wax
figure took no notice of this request, so the monkey, who was easily
made angry, picked up a stone, and flung it with all his force. But
instead of falling to the ground again, the stone stuck to the soft wax.
At this moment a breeze shook the tree, and the orange on which the
monkey had set his heart dropped from the bough. He picked it up and
ate it every bit, including the rind, and it was so good he thought he
should like another. So he called again to the wax figure to throw him
an orange, and as the figure did not move, he hurled another stone,
which stuck to the wax as the first had done. Seeing that the man was
quite indifferent to stones, the monkey grew more angry still, and
climbing the tree hastily, gave the figure a violent kick.
But like the
two stones his leg remained stuck to the wax, and he was held fast. 'Let
me go at once, or I will give you another kick,' he cried, suiting the
action to the word, and this time also his foot remained in the grasp
of the man. Not knowing what he did, the monkey hit out, first with one
hand and then with the other, and when he found that he was literally
bound hand and foot, he became so mad with anger and terror that in his
struggles he fell to the ground, dragging the figure after him. This
freed his hands and feet, but besides the shock of the fall, they had
tumbled into a bed of thorns, and he limped away broken and bruised,
and groaning loudly; for when monkeys ARE hurt, they take pains that
everybody shall know it.
It was a long time before Jack was well enough to go about again; but
when he did, he had an encounter with his old enemy the puma. And this
was how it came about.
One day the puma invited his friend the stag to go with him and see a
comrade, who was famous for the good milk he got from his cows. The stag
loved milk, and gladly accepted the invitation, and when the sun began
to get a little low the two started on their walk. On the way they
arrived on the banks of a river, and as there were no bridges in those
days it was necessary to swim across it. The stag was not fond of
swimming, and began to say that he was tired, and thought that after
all it was not worth going so far to get milk, and that he would return
home. But the puma easily saw through these excuses, and laughed at him.
'The river is not deep at all,' he said; 'why, you will never be off
your feet. Come, pluck up your courage and follow me.'