| The Jelly Fish And The Monkey |
HEN THE JELLY fish saw his chance, and went on describing to the best of his ability the beauty and grandeur of the Sea King's Palace, and the wonders of the garden with its curious trees of white, pink and red coral, and the still more curious fruits like great jewels hanging on the branches. The monkey grew more and more interested, and as he listened he came down the tree step by step so as not to lose a word of the wonderful story.
"I have got him at last!" thought the jelly fish, but aloud he said:
"Mr. Monkey. I must now go back. As you have never seen the Palace of the Dragon King, won't you avail yourself of this splendid opportunity by coming with me? I shall then be able to act as guide and show you all the sights of the sea, which will be even more wonderful to you--a land-lubber."
"I should love to go," said the monkey, "but how am I to cross the water! I can't swim, as you surely know!"
"There is no difficulty about that. I can carry you on my back."
"That will be troubling you too much," said the monkey.
"I can do it quite easily. I am stronger than I look, so you needn't hesitate," said the jelly fish, and taking the monkey on his back he stepped into the sea.
"Keep very still, Mr. monkey," said the jelly fish. "You mustn't fall into the sea; I am responsible for your safe arrival at the King's Palace."
"Please don't go so fast, or I am sure I shall fall off," said the monkey.
Thus they went along, the jelly fish skimming through the waves with the monkey sitting on his back. When they were about half-way, the jelly fish, who knew very little of anatomy, began to wonder if the monkey had his liver with him or not!
"Mr. Monkey, tell me, have you such a thing as a liver with you?"
The monkey was very much surprised at this queer question, and asked what the jelly fish wanted with a liver.
"That is the most important thing of all," said the stupid jelly fish, "so as soon as I recollected it, I asked you if you had yours with you?"
"Why is my liver so important to you?" asked the monkey.
"Oh! you will learn the reason later," said the jelly fish.
The monkey grew more and more curious and suspicious, and urged the jelly fish to tell him for what his liver was wanted, and ended up by appealing to his hearer's feelings by saying that he was very troubled at what he had been told.
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 discouraged.
"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 monkey was.
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 bonelessness.
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.