A monkey lived in a great tree on a river bank. In the river there were many Crocodiles.
A Crocodile watched the Monkeys for a long time, and one day she said to her son:
“My son, get one of those Monkeys for me. I want the heart of a Monkey to eat.”
“How am I to catch a Monkey?” asked the little Crocodile. “I do not travel on land, and the Monkey does not go into the water.”
“Put your wits to work, and you’ll find a way,” said the mother.
And the little Crocodile thought and thought.
At last he said to himself: “I know what I’ll do. I’ll get that Monkey that lives in a big tree on the river bank. He wishes to go across the river to the island where the fruit is so ripe.”
So the Crocodile swam to the tree where the Monkey lived. But he was a stupid Crocodile.
“Oh, Monkey,” he called, “come with me over to the island where the fruit is so ripe.”
“How can I go with you?” asked the Monkey. “I do not swim.”
“No — but I do. I will take you over on my back,” said the Crocodile.
The Monkey was greedy, and wanted the ripe fruit, so he jumped down on the Crocodile’s back.
“Off we go!” said the Crocodile.
“This is a fine ride you are giving me!” said the Monkey.
“Do you think so? Well, how do you like this?” asked the Crocodile, diving.
“Oh, don’t!” cried the Monkey, as he went under the water. He was afraid to let go, and he did not know what to do under the water.
When the Crocodile came up, the Monkey sputtered and choked.
“Why did you take me under water, Crocodile?” he asked.
“I am going to kill you by keeping you under water,” answered the Crocodile. “My mother wants Monkey-heart to eat, and I’m going to take yours to her.”
“Why did you take me under water, Crocodile?” he asked.
“I wish you had told me you wanted my heart,” said the Monkey, “then I might have brought it with me.”
“How queer!” said the stupid Crocodile. “Do you mean to say that you left your heart back there in the tree?”
“That is what I mean,” said the Monkey. “If you want my heart, we must go back to the tree and get it. But we are so near the island where the ripe fruit is, please take me there first.”
“No, Monkey,” said the Crocodile, “I’ll take you straight back to your tree. Never mind the ripe fruit. Get your heart and bring it to me at once. Then we’ll see about going to the island.”
“Very well,” said the Monkey.
But no sooner had he jumped onto the bank of the river than — whisk! up he ran into the tree. From the topmost branches he called down to the Crocodile in the water below: “My heart is way up here! If you want it, come for it, come for it!”
The monkey soon moved away from that tree. He wanted to get away from the Crocodile, so that he might live in peace. But the Crocodile found him, far down the river, living in another tree.
In the middle of the river was an island covered with fruit-trees. Half-way between the bank of the river and the island, a large rock rose out of the water. The Monkey could jump to the rock, and then to the island. The Crocodile watched the Monkey crossing from the bank of the river to the rock, and then to the island. He thought to himself, “The Monkey will stay on the island all day, and I’ll catch him on his way home at night.”
The Monkey had a fine feast, while the Crocodile swam about, watching him all day. Toward night the Crocodile crawled out of the water and lay on the rock, perfectly still. When it grew dark among the trees, the Monkey started for home. He ran down to the river bank, and there he stopped. “What is the matter with the rock?” the Monkey thought to himself. “I never saw it so high before. The Crocodile is lying on it!”
But he went to the edge of the water and called: “Hello, Rock!”
Then he called again: “Hello, Rock!”
Three times the Monkey called, and then he said: “Why is it, Friend Rock, that you do not answer me to-night?”
“Oh,” said the stupid Crocodile to himself, “the rock answers the Monkey at night. I’ll have to answer for the rock this time.”
So he answered: “Yes, Monkey! What is it?”
The Monkey laughed, and said: “Oh, it is you, Crocodile, is it?”
“Yes,” said the Crocodile. “I am waiting here for you. I am going to eat you.”
“You have caught me in a trap this time,” said the Monkey. “There is no other way for me to go home. Open your mouth wide so I can jump right into it.”
The Monkey jumped.
Now the Monkey well knew that when Crocodiles open their mouths wide, they shut their eyes. While the Crocodile lay on the rock with his mouth wide open and his eyes shut, the Monkey jumped. But not into his mouth! Oh, no! He landed on the top of the Crocodile’s head, and then sprang quickly to the bank. Up he whisked into his tree.
When the Crocodile saw the trick the Monkey had played on him, he said: “Monkey, you have great cunning. You know no fear. I’ll let you alone after this.”
“Thank you, Crocodile, but I shall be on the watch for you just the same,” said the Monkey.
A king once had a lake made in the courtyard for the young princes to play in. They swam about in it, and sailed their boats and rafts on it. One day the king told them he had asked the men to put some fishes into the lake. Off the boys ran to see the fishes. Now, along with the fishes, there was a Turtle. The boys were delighted with the fishes, but they had never seen a Turtle, and they were afraid of it, thinking it was a demon. They ran back to their father, crying, “There’s a demon on the bank of the lake.”
The king ordered his men to catch the demon, and to bring it to the palace. When the Turtle was brought in, the boys cried and ran away. The king was very fond of his sons, so he ordered the men who had brought the Turtle to kill it.
“How shall we kill it?” they asked.
“Pound it to powder,” said some one.
“Bake it in hot coals,” said another.
“Throw the thing into the lake.”
So one plan after another was spoken of. Then an old man who had always been afraid of the water said:
“Throw the thing into the lake where it flows out over the rocks into the river. Then it will surely be killed.”
When the Turtle heard what the old man said, he thrust out his head and asked:
“Friend, what have I done that you should do such a dreadful thing as that to me? The other plans were bad enough, but to throw me into the lake! Don’t speak of such a cruel thing!”
When the king heard what the Turtle said, he told his men to take the Turtle at once and throw it into the lake.
The Turtle laughed to himself as he slid away down the river to his old home.
“Good!” he said, “those people do not know how safe I am in the water!”
There was once a merchant of Seri who sold brass and tinware. He went from town to town, in company with another man, who also sold brass and tinware. This second man was greedy, getting all he could for nothing, and giving as little as he could for what he bought.
When they went into a town, they divided the streets between them. Each man went up and down the streets he had chosen, calling, “Tinware for sale. Brass for sale.” People came out to their door-steps, and bought, or traded, with them.
In one house there lived a poor old woman and her granddaughter. The family had once been rich, but now the only thing they had left of all their riches was a golden bowl. The grandmother did not know it was a golden bowl, but she had kept this because her husband used to eat out of it in the old days. It stood on a shelf among the other pots and pans, and was not often used.
He threw the bowl on the ground.
The greedy merchant passed this house, calling, “Buy my water-jars! Buy my pans!” The granddaughter said: “Oh, Grandmother, do buy something for me!”
“My dear,” said the old woman, “we are too poor to buy anything. I have not anything to trade, even.”
“Grandmother, see what the merchant will give for the old bowl. We do not use that, and perhaps he will take it and give us something we want for it.”
The old woman called the merchant and showed him the bowl, saying, “Will you take this, sir, and give the little girl here something for it?”
The greedy man took the bowl and scratched its side with a needle. Thus he found that it was a golden bowl. He hoped he could get it for nothing, so he said: “What is this worth? Not even a halfpenny.” He threw the bowl on the ground, and went away.
By and by the other merchant passed the house. For it was agreed that either merchant might go through any street which the other had left. He called: “Buy my water-jars! Buy my tinware! Buy my brass!”
The little girl heard him, and begged her grandmother to see what he would give for the bowl.
“My child,” said the grandmother, “the merchant who was just here threw the bowl on the ground and went away. I have nothing else to offer in trade.”
“But, Grandmother,” said the girl, “that was a cross man. This one looks pleasant. Ask him. Perhaps he’ll give some little tin dish.”
“Call him, then, and show it to him,” said the old woman.
As soon as the merchant took the bowl in his hands, he knew it was of gold. He said: “All that I have here is not worth so much as this bowl. It is a golden bowl. I am not rich enough to buy it.”
“But, sir, a merchant who passed here a few moments ago, threw it on the ground, saying it was not worth a halfpenny, and he went away,” said the grandmother. “It was worth nothing to him. If you value it, take it, giving the little girl some dish she likes for it.”
But the merchant would not have it so. He gave the woman all the money he had, and all his wares.
“Give me but eight pennies,” he said.
So he took the pennies, and left. Going quickly to the river, he paid the boatman the eight pennies to take him across the river.
Soon the greedy merchant went back to the house where he had seen the golden bowl, and said:
“Bring that bowl to me, and I will give you something for it.”
“No,” said the grandmother. “You said the bowl was worthless, but another merchant has paid a great price for it, and taken it away.”
“It is a golden bowl.”
Then the greedy merchant was angry, crying out, “Through this other man I have lost a small fortune. That bowl was of gold.”
He ran down to the riverside, and, seeing the other merchant in the boat out in the river, he called: “Hallo, Boatman! Stop your boat!”
But the man in the boat said: “Don’t stop!”
So he reached the city on the other side of the river, and lived well for a time on the money the bowl brought him.
A turtle lived in a pond at the foot of a hill. Two young wild Geese, looking for food, saw the Turtle, and talked with him. The next day the Geese came again to visit the Turtle and they became very well acquainted. Soon they were great friends.
“Friend Turtle,” the Geese said one day, “we have a beautiful home far away. We are going to fly back to it to-morrow. It will be a long but pleasant journey. Will you go with us?”
“How could I? I have no wings,” said the Turtle.
“Oh, we will take you, if only you can keep your mouth shut, and say not a word to anybody,” they said.
“I can do that,” said the Turtle. “Do take me with you. I will do exactly as you wish.”
“How could I go with you?” said the Turtle.
So the next day the Geese brought a stick and they held the ends of it. “Now take the middle of this in your mouth, and don’t say a word until we reach home,” they said.
The Geese sprang into the air.
The Geese then sprang into the air, with the Turtle between them, holding fast to the stick.
The village children saw the two Geese flying along with the Turtle and cried out: “Oh, see the Turtle up in the air! Look at the Geese carrying a Turtle by a stick! Did you ever see anything more ridiculous in your life!”
The Turtle looked down and began to say, “Well, and if my friends carry me, what business is that of yours?” when he let go, and fell dead at the feet of the children.
As the two Geese flew on, they heard the people say, when they came to see the poor Turtle, “That fellow could not keep his mouth shut. He had to talk, and so lost his life.”