| The Jelly Fish And The Monkey |
ONG, LONG AGO, in old Japan, the Kingdom of the Sea was governed by a wonderful King. He was called Rin Jin, or the Dragon King of the Sea. His power was immense, for he was the ruler of all sea creatures both great and small, and in his keeping were the Jewels of the Ebb and Flow of the Tide. The Jewel of the Ebbing Tide when thrown into the ocean caused the sea to recede from the land, and the Jewel of the Flowing Tide made the waves to rise mountains high and to flow in upon the shore like a tidal wave.
The Palace of Rin Jin was at the bottom of the sea, and was so beautiful that no one has ever seen anything like it even in dreams. The walls were of coral, the roof of jadestone and chrysoprase, and the floors were of the finest mother-of-pearl. But the Dragon King, in spite of his wide-spreading Kingdom, his beautiful Palace and all its wonders, and his power which none disputed throughout the whole sea, was not at all happy, for he reigned alone. At last he thought that if he married he would not only be happier, but also more powerful. So he decided to take a wife. Calling all his fish retainers together, he chose several of them as ambassadors to go through the sea and seek for a young Dragon Princess who would be his bride.
At last they returned to the Palace bringing with them a lovely young dragon. Her scales were of glittering green like the wings of summer beetles, her eyes threw out glances of fire, and she was dressed in gorgeous robes. All the jewels of the sea worked in with embroidery adorned them.
The King fell in love with her at once, and the wedding ceremony was celebrated with great splendor. Every living thing in the sea, from the great whales down to the little shrimps, came in shoals to offer their congratulations to the bride and bridegroom and to wish them a long and prosperous life. Never had there been such an assemblage or such gay festivities in the Fish-World before. The train of bearers who carried the bride's possessions to her new home seemed to reach across the waves from one end of the sea to the other. Each fish carried a phosphorescent lantern and was dressed in ceremonial robes, gleaming blue and pink and silver; and the waves as they rose and fell and broke that night seemed to be rolling masses of white and green fire, for the phosphorus shone with double brilliancy in honor of the event.
Now for a time the Dragon King and his bride lived very happily. They loved each other dearly, and the bridegroom day after day took delight in showing his bride all the wonders and treasures of his coral Palace, and she was never tired of wandering with him through its vast halls and gardens. Life seemed to them both like a long summer's day.
Two months passed in this happy way, and then the Dragon Queen fell ill and was obliged to stay in bed. The King was sorely troubled when he saw his precious bride so ill, and at once sent for the fish doctor to come and give her some medicine. He gave special orders to the servants to nurse her carefully and to wait upon her with diligence, but in spite of all the nurses' assiduous care and the medicine that the doctor prescribed, the young Queen showed no signs of recovery, but grew daily worse.
Then the Dragon King interviewed the doctor and blamed him for not curing the Queen. The doctor was alarmed at Rin Jin's evident displeasure, and excused his want of skill by saying that although he knew the right kind of medicine to give the invalid, it was impossible to find it in the sea.
"Do you mean to tell me that you can't get the medicine here?" asked the Dragon King.
"It is just as you say!" said the doctor.
"Tell me what it is you want for the Queen?" demanded Rin Jin.
"I want the liver of a live monkey!" answered the doctor.
"The liver of a live monkey! Of course that will be most difficult to get," said the King.
"If we could only get that for the Queen, Her Majesty would soon recover," said the doctor.
"Very well, that decides it; we MUST get it somehow or other. But where are we most likely to find a monkey?" asked the King.
Then the doctor told the Dragon King that some distance to the south there was a Monkey Island where a great many monkeys lived.
"If only you could capture one of these monkeys?" said the doctor.
"How can any of my people capture a monkey?" said the Dragon King, greatly puzzled. "The monkeys live on dry land, while we live in the water; and out of our element we are quite powerless! I don't see what we can do!"
"That has been my difficulty too," said the doctor. "But amongst your innumerable servants you surely can find one who can go on shore for that express purpose!"
"Something must be done," said the King, and calling his chief steward he consulted him on the matter.
The chief steward thought for some time, and then, as if struck by a sudden thought, said joyfully:
"I know what we must do! There is the kurage (jelly fish). He is certainly ugly to look at, but he is proud of being able to walk on land with his four legs like a tortoise. Let us send him to the Island of Monkeys to catch one."
The jelly fish was then summoned to the King's presence, and was told by His Majesty what was required of him.
The jelly fish, on being told of the unexpected mission which was to be intrusted to him, looked very troubled, and said that he had never been to the island in question, and as he had never had any experience in catching monkeys he was afraid that he would not be able to get one.
"Well," said the chief steward, "if you depend on your strength or dexterity you will never catch a monkey. The only way is to play a trick on one!"
"How can I play a trick on a monkey? I don't know how to do it," said the perplexed jelly fish.
"This is what you must do," said the wily chief steward. "When you approach the Island of Monkeys and meet some of them, you must try to get very friendly with one. Tell him that you are a servant of the Dragon King, and invite him to come and visit you and see the Dragon King's Palace. Try and describe to him as vividly as you can the grandeur of the Palace and the wonders of the sea so as to arouse his curiosity and make him long to see it all!"
"But how am I to get the monkey here? You know monkeys don't swim?" said the reluctant jelly fish.
"You must carry him on your back. What is the use of your shell if you can't do that!" said the chief steward.
"Won't he be very heavy?" queried kurage again.
"You mustn't mind that, for you are working for the Dragon King," replied the chief steward.
"I will do my best then," said the jelly fish, and he swam away from the Palace and started off towards the Monkey Island. Swimming swiftly he reached his destination in a few hours, and landed by a convenient wave upon the shore. On looking round he saw not far away a big pine-tree with drooping branches and on one of those branches was just what he was looking for--a live monkey.
"I'm in luck!" thought the jelly fish. "Now I must flatter the creature and try to entice him to come back with me to the Palace, and my part will be done!"
So the jelly fish slowly walked towards the pine-tree. In those ancient days the jelly fish had four legs and a hard shell like a tortoise. When he got to the pine-tree he raised his voice and said:
"How do you do, Mr. Monkey? Isn't it a lovely day?"
"A very fine day," answered the monkey from the tree. "I have never seen you in this part of the world before. Where have you come from and what is your name?"
"My name is kurage or jelly fish. I am one of the servants of the Dragon King. I have heard so much of your beautiful island that I have come on purpose to see it," answered the jelly fish.
"I am very glad to see you," said the monkey.
"By the bye," said the jelly fish, "have you ever seen the Palace of the Dragon King of the Sea where I live?"
"I have often heard of it, but I have never seen it!" answered the monkey.
"Then you ought most surely to come. It is a great pity for you to go through life without seeing it. The beauty of the Palace is beyond all description--it is certainly to my mind the most lovely place in the world," said the jelly fish.
"Is it so beautiful as all that?" asked the monkey in astonishment.