The Monkey's Heart

folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 91
selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 1998-2013


  1. The Monkey's Heart (India, Jataka Tales).

  2. The Monkey and the Crocodile (India, Suka Saptati; or, Seventy Tales of a Parrot)

  3. The Foolish Dragon (China).

  4. The Monkey and the Jellyfish (Japan).

  5. The Jellyfish and the Monkey (Japan).

  6. The Heart of a Monkey (Africa, Swahili).

  7. Brother Rabbit and the Gizzard-Eater. (African-American, Joel Chandler Harris).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Monkey's Heart

India, Jataka Tales

Once upon a time, while Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta came to life at the foot of the Himalayas as a monkey. He grew strong and sturdy, big of frame, well to do, and lived by a curve of the river Ganges in a forest haunt. Now at that time there was a crocodile dwelling in the Ganges. The crocodile's mate saw the great frame of the monkey, and she conceived a longing to eat his heart. So she said to her lord, "Sir, I desire to eat the heart of that great king of the monkeys!"

"Good wife," said the crocodile, "I live in the water and he lives on dry land. How can we catch him?"

"By hook or by crook," she replied, "he must be caught. If I don't get him, I shall die."

"All right," answered the crocodile, consoling her, "don't trouble yourself. I have a plan. I will give you his heart to eat."

So when the Bodhisatta was sitting on the bank of the Ganges, after taking a drink of water, the crocodile drew near, and said, "Sir Monkey, why do you live on bad fruits in this old familiar place? On the other side of the Ganges there is no end to the mango trees, and labuja trees, with fruit sweet as honey! Is it not better to cross over and have all kinds of wild fruit to eat?"

"Lord Crocodile," the monkey answered. "The Ganges is deep and wide. How shall I get across?"

"If you want to go, I will let you sit upon my back, and carry you over."

The monkey trusted him, and agreed. "Come here, then," said the crocodile. "Up on my back with you!" and up the monkey climbed. But when the crocodile had swum a little way, he plunged the monkey under the water.

"Good friend, you are letting me sink!" cried the monkey. "What is that for?"

The crocodile said, "You think I am carrying you out of pure good nature? Not a bit of it! My wife has a longing for your heart, and I want to give it to her to eat.!"

"Friend," said the monkey, "it is nice of you to tell me. Why, if our heart were inside us, when we go jumping among the tree tops it would be all knocked to pieces!"

"Well, where do you keep it?" asked the crocodile.

The Bodhisatta pointed out a fig tree, with clusters of ripe fruit, standing not far off. "See," said he, "there are our hearts hanging on yonder fig tree."

"If you will show me your heart," said the crocodile, "then I won't kill you."

"Take me to the tree, then, and I will point it out to you."

The crocodile brought him to the place. The monkey leapt off his back, and, climbing up the fig tree, sat upon it. "Oh silly crocodile!" said he. "You thought that there were creatures that kept their hearts in a treetop! You are a fool, and I have outwitted you! You may keep your fruit to yourself. Your body is great, but you have no sense."

And then to explain this idea he uttered the following stanzas:

Rose-apple, jack-fruit, mangoes, too, across the water there I see;
Enough of them, I want them not; my fig is good enough for me!
Great is your body, verily, but how much smaller is your wit!
Now go your ways, Sir Crocodile, for I have had the best of it.

The crocodile, feeling as sad and miserable as if he had lost a thousand pieces of money, went back sorrowing to the place where he lived.

The Monkey and the Crocodile

India, Suka Saptati; or, Seventy Tales of a Parrot

In a forest called Pushpâkara, lived a small monkey whose name was Vanapriya. One day he was walking close to the river bank, when he saw a crocodile basking in the sun.

"Friend Crocodile," said he, "are you tired of life that you have come so close into land?"

The crocodile heard what the monkey said and replied: "He who has a situation that suits him, he who receives due wages for his services, is perfectly content with the place in which he happens to be. For it has been said: Lanka is altogether made of gold, yet I care nothing for it. Ayodhya, the home of my fathers, is but poor, yet I delight in it. But there is something more than that, for your acquaintance has added additional pleasure to my existence. For it is written: A sacred bathing-place is only profitable sometimes. But the mere sight of a good man is always a source of purification. So now a piece of luck has happened to me, in that I have come across one who speaks such kindly words as you."

"My dear Crocodile," answered the monkey," from this day forward I shall be entirely devoted to you, for your words are indeed the words of friendship. As it has been said: Friendship, in the opinion of wise men, is the society of the good. Therefore," continued the monkey, "let me offer you such hospitality as I am capable of."

So saying he brought the crocodile some ripe fruit as sweet as nectar.

So after this every day the monkey used to bring his friend the crocodile plaintain fruit, and the crocodile took it home to his wife. One day she asked him where this fruit came from, and he told her the whole story, exactly as it all happened.

She thought to herself, "This monkey seems to enjoy excellent fruit, I wonder what his ordinary food is like," and so, being in a condition which gave her a craving for all sorts of strange out-of-the-way things, she said to her husband: "I must have some of that fruit which the monkey is always eating; if you don't get it for me I shall certainly die."

So off the crocodile started on his errand, and soon arrived at the river bank where he had met the monkey the first time. The monkey was there, and the crocodile said to him, "My dear friend! Your brother's wife is very anxious to see you; will you come with me to our house?"

The monkey accepted the invitation, and without any hesitation mounted the crocodile's back, and they started on their journey.

On the way the monkey became a little anxious, and said: "It has occurred to me how am I to find my way back?"

The crocodile recognized the monkey's difficulty, and explained carefully to him the way home.

The monkey replied, "My good crocodile! It is of no use your telling me all this, I am sure I should not recollect it. Besides, I think my affection for you has something lessened, so it is of no use my going home with you."

The crocodile rejoined, "Well, where shall I put you down?"

"My dear friend!" answered the monkey, "haven't you heard the saying: My heart is always in the fig tree; my desire always for the sacred fig? If you know what that means you will take me back at once."

The stupid crocodile at these words turned round and took the monkey back to the river bank, and as soon as they had got there, the monkey jumped off the crocodile's back, and scrambled up into the tree.

When he was well out of reach, he turned round and said with a jeer, "Go along with you! As long as I am up here I am out of your clutches. Wise men say, There can be no friendship between creatures that live on land and those that live in the water."

So the crocodile turned back and went sadly home, and the moral is: That he who has wit enough, can get out of difficulties, whatever they may be.

The Foolish Dragon


The part of the great Buddha legend referring to the dragon is as follows:

In years gone by, a dragon living in the great sea saw that his wife's health was not good. He, seeing her color fade away, said, "My dear, what shall I get you to eat?"

Mrs. Dragon was silent.

"Just tell me and I will get it," pleaded the affectionate husband.

"You cannot do it; why trouble?" quoth she.

"Trust me, and you shall have your heart's desire," said the dragon.

"Well," I want a monkey's heart to eat."

"Why, Mrs. Dragon, the monkeys live in the mountain forests! How can I get one of their hearts?"

"Well, I am going to die; I know I am."

Forthwith the dragon went on shore, and, spying a monkey on the top of a tree, said, "Hail, shining one, are you not afraid you will fall?"

"No, I have no such fear."

"Why eat of one tree? Cross the sea and you will find forests of fruit and flowers."

"How can I cross?"

"Get on my back."

The dragon with his tiny load went seaward, and then suddenly dived down.

"Where are you going?" said the monkey, with the salt water in his eyes and mouth.

"Oh! my dear sir! my wife is very sad and ill, and has taken a fancy to your heart."

"What shall I do?" thought the monkey. He then spoke, "Illustrious friend, why did not you tell me? I left my heart on the top of the tree; take me back, and I will get it for Mrs. Dragon."

The dragon returned to the shore. As the monkey was tardy in coming down from the tree, the dragon said, "Hurry up, little friend, I am waiting."

Then the monkey thought within himself, "What a fool this dragon is!"

Then Buddha said to his followers, "At this time I was the monkey."

The Monkey and the Jellyfish


Children must often have wondered why jellyfishes have no shells, like so many of the creatures that are washed up every day on the beach. In old times this was not so; the jellyfish had as hard a shell as any of them, but he lost it through his own fault, as may be seen in this story.

The sea-queen Otohime grew suddenly very ill. The swiftest messengers were sent hurrying to fetch the best doctors from every country under the sea, but it was all of no use; the queen grew rapidly worse instead of better. Everyone had almost given up hope, when one day a doctor arrived who was cleverer than the rest, and said that the only thing that would cure her was the liver of an ape.

Now apes do not dwell under the sea, so a council of the wisest heads in the nation was called to consider the question how a liver could be obtained. At length it was decided that the turtle, whose prudence was well known, should swim to land and contrive to catch a living ape and bring him safely to the ocean kingdom.

It was easy enough for the council to entrust this mission to the turtle, but not at all so easy for him to fulfil it. However, he swam to a part of the coast that was covered with tall trees, where he thought the apes were likely to be; for he was old, and had seen many things. It was some time before he caught sight of any monkeys, and he often grew tired with watching for them, so that one hot day he fell fast asleep, in spite of all his efforts to keep awake.

By and by some apes, who had been peeping at him from the tops of the trees, where they had been carefully hidden from the turtle's eyes, stole noiselessly down, and stood round staring at him, for they had never seen a turtle before, and did not know what to make of it. At last one young monkey, bolder than the rest, stooped down and stroked the shining shell that the strange new creature wore on its back. The movement, gentle though it was, woke the turtle. With one sweep he seized the monkey's hand in his mouth, and held it tight, in spite of every effort to pull it away. The other apes, seeing that the turtle was not to be trifled with, ran off, leaving their young brother to his fate.

Then the turtle said to the monkey, "If you will be quiet, and do what I tell you, I won't hurt you. But you must get on my back and come with me."

The monkey, seeing there was no help for it, did as he was bid; indeed he could not have resisted, as his hand was still in the turtle's mouth.

Delighted at having secured his prize, the turtle hastened back to the shore and plunged quickly into the water. He swam faster than he had ever done before, and soon reached the royal palace. Shouts of joy broke forth from the attendants when he was seen approaching, and some of them ran to tell the queen that the monkey was there, and that before long she would be as well as ever she was. In fact, so great was their relief that they gave the monkey such a kind welcome, and were so anxious to make him happy and comfortable, that he soon forgot all the fears that had beset him as to his fate, and was generally quite at his ease, though every now and then a fit of homesickness would come over him, and he would hide himself in some dark corner till it had passed away.

It was during one of these attacks of sadness that a jellyfish happened to swim by. At that time jellyfishes had shells. At the sight of the gay and lively monkey crouching under a tall rock, with his eyes closed and his head bent, the jellyfish was filled with pity, and stopped, saying, "Ah, poor fellow, no wonder you weep; a few days more, and they will come and kill you and give your liver to the queen to eat."

The monkey shrank back horrified at these words and asked the jellyfish what crime he had committed that deserved death.

"Oh, none at all," replied the jellyfish, "but your liver is the only thing that will cure our queen, and how can we get at it without killing you? You had better submit to your fate, and make no noise about it, for though I pity you from my heart there is no way of helping you." Then he went away, leaving the ape cold with horror.

At first he felt as if his liver was already being taken from his body, but soon he began to wonder if there was no means of escaping this terrible death, and at length he invented a plan which he thought would do. For a few days he pretended to be gay and happy as before, but when the sun went in, and rain fell in torrents, he wept and howled from dawn to dark, till the turtle, who was his head keeper, heard him, and came to see what was the matter. Then the monkey told him that before he left home he had hung his liver out on a bush to dry, and if it was always going to rain like this it would become quite useless. And the rogue made such a fuss and moaning that he would have melted a heart of stone, and nothing would content him but that somebody should carry him back to land and let him fetch his liver again.

The queen's councilors were not the wisest of people, and they decided between them that the turtle should take the monkey back to his native land and allow him to get his liver off the bush, but desired the turtle not to lose sight of his charge for a single moment. The monkey knew this, but trusted to his power of beguiling the turtle when the time came, and mounted on his back with feelings of joy, which he was, however, careful to conceal.

They set out, and in a few hours were wandering about the forest where the ape had first been caught, and when the monkey saw his family peering out from the tree tops, he swung himself up by the nearest branch, just managing to save his hind leg from being seized by the turtle. He told them all the dreadful things that had happened to him, and gave a war cry which brought the rest of the tribe from the neighboring hills. At a word from him they rushed in a body to the unfortunate turtle, threw him on his back, and tore off the shield that covered his body. Then with mocking words they hunted him to the shore, and into the sea, which he was only too thankful to reach alive.

Faint and exhausted he entered the queen's palace, for the cold of the water struck upon his naked body, and made him feel ill and miserable. But wretched though he was, he had to appear before the queen's advisers and tell them all that had befallen him, and how he had suffered the monkey to escape. But, as sometimes happens, the turtle was allowed to go scot-free, and had his shell given back to him, and all the punishment fell on the poor jellyfish, who was condemned by the queen to go shieldless for ever after.

The Jellyfish and the Monkey


Long, 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 widespreading 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 a 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 splendour. 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 honour 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 those 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 (jellyfish). 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 jellyfish was then summoned to the king's presence, and was told by His Majesty what was required of him.

The jellyfish, on being told of the unexpected mission which was to be entrusted 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 jellyfish.

"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 jellyfish.

"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 jellyfish, 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 was 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 jellyfish. "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 jellyfish slowly walked towards the pine tree. In those ancient days the jellyfish 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 jellyfish. 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 jellyfish.

"I am very glad to see you," said the monkey.

"By-the-bye," said the jellyfish, "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 jellyfish.

"Is it so beautiful as all that?" asked the monkey in astonishment.

Then the jellyfish 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 jellyfish, 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 jellyfish, and taking the monkey on his back he stepped into the sea.

"Keep very still, Mr. Monkey," said the jellyfish. "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 jellyfish skimming through the waves with the monkey sitting on his back. When they were about half-way, the jellyfish, 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 jellyfish wanted with a liver.

"That is the most important thing of all," said the stupid jellyfish, "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 jellyfish.

The monkey grew more and more curious and suspicious, and urged the jellyfish 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 jellyfish, 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 jellyfish.

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 jellyfish: "What a pity it was, Mr. Jellyfish, that you did not speak of this before we left the island!"

"If I had told you why I wanted you to accompany me you would certainly have refused to come," answered the jellyfish.

"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 jellyfish.

"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. Today, 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 jellyfish 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 jellyfish 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 jellyfish 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 jellyfish turned his course towards the Monkey Island once more.

No sooner had the jellyfish reached the shore than the sly monkey landed, and getting up into the pine tree where the jellyfish had first seen him, he cut several capers amongst the branches with joy at being safe home again, and then looking down at the jellyfish said: "So many thanks for all the trouble you have taken! Please present my compliments to the Dragon King on your return!"

The jellyfish 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 jellyfish, now very discouraged. "That promise was false, and anyhow it is now broken!" answered the monkey.

Then he began to jeer at the jellyfish 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 jellyfish to return under false pretences.

"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 jellyfish to do now but to repent of his stupidity, and return to the Dragon King of the Sea and 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 jellyfish. 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 jellyfish. He quaked all over as he told his story. How he had brought the monkey half-way 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 jellyfish 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 jellyfish, 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 jellyfish, 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 jellyfish 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 today thrown up by the waves high upon the shores of Japan.

The Heart of a Monkey

Africa, Swahili

A long time ago a little town made up of a collection of low huts stood in a tiny green valley at the foot of a cliff. Of course the people had taken great care to build their houses out of reach of the highest tide which might be driven on shore by a west wind, but on the very edge of the town there had sprung up a tree so large that half its boughs hung over the huts and the other half over the deep sea right under the cliff, where sharks loved to come and splash in the clear water.

The branches of the tree itself were laden with fruit, and every day at sunrise a big gray monkey might have been seen sitting in the topmost branches having his breakfast, and chattering to himself with delight.

After he had eaten all the fruit on the town side of the tree the monkey swung himself along the branches to the part which hung over the water. While he was looking out for a nice shady place where he might perch comfortably, he noticed a shark watching him from below with greedy eyes.

"Can I do anything for you, my friend?" asked the monkey politely.

"Oh! if you only would throw me down some of those delicious things, I should be so grateful," answered the shark. "After you have lived on fish for fifty years you begin to feel you would like a change. And I am so very, very tired of the taste of salt."

"Well, I don't like salt myself," said the monkey, "so if you will open your mouth I will throw this beautiful juicy kuyu into it," and, as he spoke, he pulled one off the branch just over his head. But it was not so easy to hit the shark's mouth as he supposed, even when the creature had turned on his back, and the first kuyu only struck one of his teeth and rolled into the water. However, the second time the monkey had better luck, and the fruit fell right in.

"Ah, how good!" cried the shark. "Send me another, please," and the monkey grew tired of picking the kuyu long before the shark was tired of eating them.

"It is getting late, and I must be going home to my children," he said, at length, "but if you are here at the same time tomorrow I will give you another treat."

"Thank you, thank you," said the shark, showing all his great ugly teeth as he grinned with delight. "You can't guess how happy you have made me," and he swam away into the shadow, hoping to sleep away the time till the monkey came again.

For weeks the monkey and the shark breakfasted together, and it was a wonder that the tree had any fruit left for them. They became fast friends, and told each other about their homes and their children, and how to teach them all they ought to know.

By and by the monkey became rather discontented with his green house in a grove of palms beyond the town, and longed to see the strange things under the sea which he had heard of from the shark. The shark perceived this very clearly, and described greater marvels. And the monkey, as he listened, grew more and more gloomy.

Matters were in this state when one day the shark said, "I really hardly know how to thank you for your kindness to me during these weeks. Here I have nothing of my own to offer you, but if you would only consent to come home with me, how gladly would I give you anything that might happen to take your fancy."

"I should like nothing better," cried the monkey, his teeth chattering, as they always did when he was pleased. "But how could I get there? Not by water, Ugh! It makes me ill to think of it!"

"Oh! don't let that trouble you," replied the shark. "You have only to sit on my back and I will undertake that not a drop of water shall touch you."

So it was arranged, and directly after breakfast next morning the shark swam close up under the tree, and the monkey dropped neatly on his back, without even a splash. After a few minutes -- for at first he felt a little frightened at his strange position -- the monkey began to enjoy himself vastly, and asked the shark a thousand questions about the fish and the seaweeds and the oddly shaped things that floated past them, and as the shark always gave him some sort of answer, the monkey never guessed that many of the objects they saw were as new to his guide as to himself.

The sun had risen and set six times when the shark suddenly said, "My friend, we have now performed half our journey, and it is time that I should tell you something."

"What is it?" asked the monkey. "Nothing unpleasant, I hope, for you sound rather grave."

"Oh, no! Nothing at all. It is only that shortly before we left I heard that the sultan of my country is very ill, and that the only thing to cure him is a monkey's heart."

"Poor man, I am very sorry for him," replied the monkey; "but you were unwise not to tell me till we had started."

"What do you mean?" asked the shark. But the monkey, who now understood the whole plot, did not answer at once, for he was considering what he should say.

"Why are you so silent?" inquired the shark again.

"I was thinking what a pity it was you did not tell me while I was still on land, and then I would have brought my heart with me."

"Your heart! Why isn't your heart here?" said the shark, with a puzzled expression.

"Oh, no! Of course not. Is it possible you don't know that when we leave home we always hang up our hearts on trees, to prevent their being troublesome? However, perhaps you won't believe that, and will just think I have invented it because I am afraid, so let us go on to your country as fast as we can, and when we arrive you can look for my heart, and if you find it you can kill me."

The monkey spoke in such a calm indifferent way that the shark was quite deceived, and began to wish he had not been in such a hurry.

"But there is no use going on if your heart is not with you," he said at last. "We had better turn back to the town, and then you can fetch it."

Of course, this was just what the monkey wanted, but he was careful not to seem too pleased.

"Well, I don't know," he remarked carelessly. "It is such a long way; but you may be right."

"I am sure I am," answered the shark, "and I will swim as quickly as I can," and so he did, and in three days they caught sight of the kuyu tree hanging over the water.

With a sigh of relief the monkey caught hold of the nearest branch and swung himself up.

"Wait for me here," he called out to the shark. "I am so hungry I must have a little breakfast, and then I will go and look for my heart," and he went further and further into the branches so that the shark could not see him. Then he curled himself up and went to sleep.

"Are you there?" cried the shark, who was soon tired of swimming about under the cliff, and was in haste to be gone.

The monkey awoke with a start, but did not answer.

"Are you there?" called the shark again, louder than before, and in a very cross voice.

"Oh, yes. I am here," replied the monkey; "but I wish you had not wakened me up. I was having such a nice nap."

"Have you got it?" asked the shark. "It is time we were going."

"Going where?" inquired the monkey.

"Why, to my country, of course, with your heart. You can't have forgotten!"

"My dear friend," answered the monkey, with a chuckle, "I think you must be going a little mad. Do you take me for a washerman's donkey?"

"Don't talk nonsense," exclaimed the shark, who did not like being laughed at. "What do you mean about a washerman's donkey? And I wish you would be quick, or we may be too late to save the sultan."

"Did you really never hear of the washerman's donkey?" asked the monkey, who was enjoying himself immensely. "Why, he is the beast who has no heart. And as I am not feeling very well, and am afraid to start while the sun is so high lest I should get a sunstroke, if you like, I will come a little nearer and tell you his story."

"Very well," said the shark sulkily, "if you won't come, I suppose I may as well listen to that as do nothing."

So the monkey began.

A washerman once lived in the great forest on the other side of the town, and he had a donkey to keep him company and to carry him wherever he wanted to go. For a time they got on very well, but by and by the donkey grew lazy and ungrateful for her master's kindness, and ran away several miles into the heart of the forest, where she did nothing but eat and eat and eat, till she grew so fat she could hardly move.

One day as she was tasting quite a new kind of grass and wondering if it was as good as what she had had for dinner the day before, a hare happened to pass by.

"Well, that is a fat creature," thought she, and turned out of her path to tell the news to a lion who was a friend of hers. Now the lion had been very ill and was not strong enough to go hunting for himself, and when the hare came and told him that a very fat donkey was to be found only a few hundred yards off, tears of disappointment and weakness filled his eyes.

"What is the good of telling me that?" he asked in a weepy voice. "You know I cannot even walk as far as that palm."

"Never mind," answered the hare briskly. "If you can't go to your dinner, your dinner shall come to you," and nodding a farewell to the lion she went back to the donkey.

"Good morning," said she, bowing politely to the donkey, who lifted her head in surprise. "Excuse my interrupting you, but I have come on very important business."

"Indeed," answered the donkey, "it is most kind of you to take the trouble. May I inquire what the business is?"

"Certainly," replied the hare. "It is my friend the lion who has heard so much of your charms and good qualities that he has sent me to beg that you will give him your paw in marriage. He regrets deeply that he is unable to make the request in person, but he has been ill and is too weak to move."

"Poor fellow! How sad!" said the donkey. "But you must tell him that I feel honored by his proposal and will gladly consent to be Queen of the Beasts."

"Will you not come and tell him so yourself?" asked the hare.

Side by side they went down the road which led to the lion's house. It took a long while, for the donkey was so fat with eating she could only walk very slowly, and the hare, who could have run the distance in about five minutes, was obliged to creep along till she almost dropped with fatigue at not being able to go at her own pace.

When at last they arrived the lion was sitting up at the entrance, looking very pale and thin. The donkey suddenly grew shy and hung her head, but the lion put on his best manners and invited both his visitors to come in and make themselves comfortable.

Very soon the hare go up and said, "Well, as I have another engagement I will leave you to make acquaintance with your future husband," and winking at the lion she bounded away.

The donkey expected that as soon as they were left alone the lion would begin to speak of their marriage, and where they should live, but as he said nothing she looked up.

To her surprise and terror she saw him crouching in the corner, his eyes glaring with a red light, and with a loud roar he sprang towards her. But in that moment the donkey had had time to prepare herself, and jumping on one side dealt the lion such a hard kick that he shrieked with the pain. Again and again he struck at her with his claws, but the donkey could bite too, as well as the lion, who was very weak after his illness, and at last a well planted kick knocked him right over, and he rolled on the floor, groaning with pain.

The donkey did not wait for him to get up, but ran away as fast as she could and was lost in the forest.

Now the hare, who knew quite well what would happen, had not gone to do her business, but hid herself in some bushes behind the cave, where she could hear quite clearly the sounds of the battle. When all was quiet again she crept gently out, and stole round the corner.

"Well, lion, have you killed her?" asked she, running swiftly up the path.

"Killed her, indeed!" answered the lion sulkily, "it is she who has nearly killed me. I never knew a donkey could kick like that, though I took care she should carry away the marks of my claws."

"Dear me! Fancy such a great fat creature being able to fight!" cried the hare. "But don't vex yourself. Just lie still, and your wounds will soon heal," and she bade her friend good-bye, and returned to her family.

Two or three weeks passed, and only bare places on the donkey's back showed where the lion's claws had been, while, on his side, the lion had recovered from his illness and was now as strong as ever. He was beginning to think that it was almost time for him to begin hunting again, when one morning a rustle was heard in the creepers outside, and the hare's head peeped through.

"Ah! there is no need to ask how you are," she said. "Still you mustn't overtire yourself, you know. Shall I go and bring you your dinner?"

"If you will bring me that donkey I will tear it in two," cried the lion savagely, and the hare laughed and nodded and went on her errand.

This time the donkey was much further than before, and it took longer to find her. At last the hare caught sight of four hoofs in the air, and ran towards them. The donkey was lying on a soft cool bed of moss near a stream, rolling herself backwards and forwards from pleasure.

"Good morning," said the hare politely, and the donkey got slowly onto her legs, and looked to see who her visitor could be.

"Oh, it is you, is it?" she exclaimed. "Come and have a chat. What news have you got?"

"I mustn't stay," answered the hare; "but I promised the lion to beg you to pay him a visit, as he is not well enough to call on you."

"Well, I don't know," replied the donkey gloomily. "The last time we went he scratched me very badly, and really I was quite afraid."

"He was only trying to kiss you," said the hare, "and you bit him, and of course that made him cross."

"If I were sure of that," hesitated the donkey.

"Oh, you may be quite sure," laughed the hare. "I have a large acquaintance among lions. But let us be quick," and rather unwillingly the donkey set out.

The lion saw them coming and hid himself behind a large tree. As the donkey went past, followed by the hare, he sprang out, and with one blow of his paw stretched the poor foolish creature dead before him.

"Take this meat and skin it and roast it," he said to the hare; "but my appetite is not so good as it was, and the only part I want for myself is the heart. The rest you can either eat yourself or give away to your friends."

"Thank you," replied the hare, balancing the donkey on her back as well as she was able, and though the legs trailed along the ground she managed to drag it to an open space some distance off, where she made a fire and roasted it.

As soon as it was cooked, the hare took out the heart and had just finished eating it when the lion, who was tired of waiting, came up.

"I am hungry," said he. "Bring me the creature's heart. It is just what I want for supper."

"But there is no heart," answered the hare, looking up at the lion with a puzzled face.

"What nonsense!" said the lion. "As if every beast had not got a heart. What do you mean?"

"This is a washerman's donkey," replied the hare gravely.

"Well, and suppose it is?"

"Oh, fie!" exclaimed the fare. "You, a lion and a grown-up person, and ask questions like that. If the donkey had had a heart would she be here now? The first time she came she knew you were trying to kill her, and ran away. Yet she came back a second time. Well, if she had had a heart would she have come back a second time? Now would she?"

And the lion answered slowly, "No, she would not."

"So you think I am a washerman's donkey?" said the monkey to the shark, when the story was ended. "You are wrong. I am not. And as the sun is getting low in the sky, it is time for you to begin your homeward journey. You will have a nice cool voyage, and I hope you will find the sultan better. Farewell!"

And the monkey disappeared among the green branches, and was gone.

Brother Rabbit and the Gizzard-Eater

Joel Chandler Harris

Brer Rabbit was a mighty man at a frolic. I don't expect he'd show up much in these days, but in the times when the creatures were bossing their own jobs, Brer Rabbit was up for pretty nigh everything that was going on, if there wasn't too much work in it. There couldn't be a dance or a quilting anywhere around but what he'd be there. He was the first to come and the last to go.

Well, there was one time when he went too far and stayed too late, because a big rain came during the time when they were playing and dancing, and when Brer Rabbit put out for home, he found that a big freshet had come and gone. The drains had got to be creeks, the creeks had got to be rivers, and the rivers -- well, I'm not going to tell you what the rivers were, because you'd think that I'd told the truth good-bye.

By making big jumps and going out of his way, Brer Rabbit managed to get as close to home as the creek, but when he got there, the creek was so wide that it made him feel like he'd been lost so long that his family had forgotten him. Many and many a time he'd crossed that creek on a log, but the log was gone, and the water was spread out all over creation. The water was wide, but that wasn't more than half -- it looked like it was the wettest water that Brer Rabbit had ever laid eyes on.

There was a ferry there for times like this, but it looked like it was a bigger freshet than what they had counted on. Brer Rabbit, he sat on the bank and wiped the damp out of his face and eyes, and then he hollered for the man that ran the ferry. He hollered and hollered, and by and by he heard someone answer him, and he looked a little closer, and there was the man -- his name was Jerry -- way up in the top limbs of a tree. And he looked still closer, and he saw that Jerry had company, because there was old Brer Bear sitting at the foot of the tree waiting for Jerry to come down, so he could tell him howdy.

Well, sir, Brer Rabbit took notice that there was something more than dampness between them, and he started to holler again, and he hollered so loud and he hollered so long that he woke up old Brer Alligator.

Now it didn't make old Brer Alligator feel good to be woken up at that hour, because he'd just had a nice supper of pine-nuts and sweet potatoes and was lying out at full length on his mud bed. He allowed to himself, he did, "Who in the nation is this trying to holler the bottom out of the creek?"

He listened, and then he turned over and listened again. He shut one eye, and then he shut the other one, but there was no sleeping in that neighborhood.

Jerry in the tree, he hollered back, "Can't come -- got company!"

Brer Alligator, he heard this, and he said to himself that if nobody else can come, he can, and he rose to the top with no more fuss than a featherbed makes when you leave it alone. He rose, he did, and his two eyes looked exactly like two bullets floating on the water. He rose and winked his eye and asked Brer Rabbit howdy, and more especially how was his daughter.

Brer Rabbit, he said that there was no telling how his daughter was, because when he left home her head was swelling. He said that some of the neighbors' children had come and flung rocks at her and one of them had hit her on top of the head right where the cowlick is, and he had had to run after the doctor.

Brer Alligator allowed, "You don't tell me, Brer Rabbit, that it's come to this! Your children getting chunked by your neighbors' children. Well, well, well! I wish you'd tell me where it's all going to end. Why it'll get after a while that there's no peace anywhere except at my house in the bed of the creek."

Brer Rabbit said, "Isn't it the truth? And not only do Brer Fox's children chunk my children on their cowlicks, but no sooner have I gone after the doctor than here comes the creek a-rising. I may be wrong, but I'm not scared to say that it beats anything I have ever laid eyes on. Over yonder in the far wood is where my daughter is lying with a headache, and here is her pa, and between us is the boiling creek. If I were to try to wade, ten to one the water would be over my head, and if that's not bad, all the pills that the doctor gave me would melt in my pocket. And they might poison me, because the doctor didn't say that they were to be taken outside."

Old Brer Alligator floated on the water like he didn't weigh more than one of these here postage stamps, and he tried to drop a tear. He groaned, he did, and floated backwards and forwards like a tired canoe.

He said, "Brer Rabbit, if there ever was a rover, you are one. Up you come and off you go, and there is no more keeping up with you than if you had wings. If you think you can stay in one place long enough, I'll try to put you across the creek."

Brer Rabbit kind of rubbed his chin while he wiggled his nose. He allowed, said he, "Brer Gator, how deep is that water that you are floating in?"

Brer Alligator said, "Brer Rabbit, if my old woman and I were to join heads, and I were to stand on the tip end of my tail, there'd still be room enough for all of my children before we touched bottom."

Brer Rabbit, he fell back like he was going to faint. He allowed, "Brer Gator, you don't tell me! You surely don't mean those last words! Why you make me feel like I'm further from home than those who are done lost for good! How in the name of goodness are you going to put me across this slippery water?"

Brer Alligator, he blew a bubble or two out of his nose, and then he said, "If you can stand still in one place long enough, I'm going to take you across on my back. You needn't say "thank you," but I want you to know that I'm not everybody's water-horse."

Brer Rabbit allowed, said he, "I can well believe that, Brer Gator, but somehow I kind of got a notion that your tail is mighty limber. I hear old folks say that you can knock a chip from the back of your head with the tip end of your tail and never half try."

Brer Alligator smacked his mouth and said, "Limber my tail may be, Brer Rabbit, and far reaching, but don't blame me. It was that way when it was given to me. It's all jointed up according to nature."

Brer Rabbit, he studied and he studied, and the more he studied, the worse he liked it. But he pleased to go home -- there were no two ways about that -- and he allowed, said he, "I suspect what you say is somewhere in the neighborhood of the truth, Brer Gator, and more than that, I believe that I'll go along with you. If you'll ride up a little closer, I'll make up my mind, so I won't keep you waiting."

Brer Alligator, he floated by the side of the bank the same as a cork out of a pickle bottle. He didn't do like he was in a hurry, because he dropped a word or two about the weather, and he said that the water was mighty cold down there in the slushes. But Brer Rabbit took notice that when he smiled one of his smiles, he showed up a double row of tusks that looked like they'd do mighty good work in a sawmill.

Brer Rabbit, he began to shake like he was having a chill. He allowed, "I feel that damp, Brer Gator, that I might just as well be in water up to my chin!"

Brer Alligator didn't say anything, but he couldn't hide his tusks. Brer Rabbit looked up, he looked down, and he looked all around. He scarcely knew what to do. He allowed, "Brer Gator, your back is mighty rough. How am I going to ride on it?"

Brer Alligator said, "The roughness will help you to hold on, because you'll have to ride a-straddle. You can just get your feet on the bumps and kind of brace yourself when you think you see a log floating at us. You can just sit up there the same as if you were sitting at home in your rocking chair.

Brer Rabbit shook his head, but he got on, he did, and he had no sooner gotten on than he wished mighty hard that he was off.

Brer Alligator said, "You can pant if you want to, but I'll do the paddling," and he slipped through the water just like he was greased.

Brer Rabbit sure was scared, but he kept his eyes open, and by and by he took notice that Brer Alligator wasn't making for the place where the landing was at, and he up and said so. He allowed, "Brer Gator, if I'm not much mistaken, you're not heading for the landing."

Brer Alligator said, "You sure have got mighty good eyes, Brer Rabbit. I've been waiting for you a long time, and I'm the worst kind of waiter. I must know you haven't forgot that day in the stubble when you said you were going to show me Old Man Trouble. Well, you didn't only show him to me, but you made me shake hands with him. You set the dry grass afire and burned me scandalously. That's the reason my back is so rough, and that's the reason my hide is so tough. Well, I've been a-waiting since that time, and now here you are. You burned me until I had to quench the burning in the big quagmire."

Brer Alligator laughed, but he had the laugh all on his side, because that was one of the times when Brer Rabbit didn't feel like giggling. He sat there a-shaking and a-shivering. By and by he allowed, said he, "What are you going to do, Brer Gator?"

Brer Alligator said, "It looks to me like since you set the dry grass afire, I've been having symptoms. That's what the doctor said. He looked at my tongue, and he felt my pulse, and he shook his head. He said that beings he's my friend, he didn't mind telling me that my symptoms are getting worse than what they have been, and if I don't take something I'll be falling into one of these here inclines that make folks flabby and weak."

Brer Rabbit, he shook and he shivered. He allowed, "What else did the doctor say, Brer Gator?"

Brer Alligator kept on a-slipping along. He said, "The doctor didn't only look at my tongue. He measured my breath, and he hit me on my bosom -- tip-tap-tap! -- and he said there was but one thing that will cure me. I asked him what it is, and he said it's rabbit gizzard."

Brer Alligator slipped and slid along and waited to see what Brer Rabbit was going to say to that. He didn't have to wait long, because Brer Rabbit did his thinking like one of these here machines that has lightning in it. He allowed, he said, "It's a mighty good thing you struck up with me this day, Brer Gator, because I have exactly the kind of physic you are looking for. All the neighbors say I'm mighty queer, and I suspect I am, but queer or not queer, I've long been looking for the gizzard-eater."

Brer Alligator didn't say anything. He just slid through the water and listened to what Brer Rabbit was saying.

Brer Rabbit allowed, he said, "The last time I took sick the doctor came in a hurry, and he sat up with me all night -- not a wink of sleep did that man get. He said he could tell by the way I was going on, rolling and tossing, and moaning and groaning, that no physic was going to do me any good. I've never seen a doctor scratch his head like that doctor did. He acted like he was stumped, he sure did. He said he had never seen anybody with my kind of trouble, and he went off and called in one of his brer doctors, and the two knocked their heads together, and they said my trouble all comes from having a double gizzard. When my old woman heard that she just flung her apron over her head and fell back in a dead faint, and a little more and I'd have had to pay a doctor bill on her account. When she squalled, some of my children got scared and took to the wood, and they hadn't all got back when I left home last night."

Brer Alligator, he just went a-slipping along through the water. He listened, but he didn't say anything.

Brer Rabbit allowed, said he, "It's the fatal truth, all this that I'm a-telling you. The doctor, he flew around until he fetched my old woman to, and then he said there was no need to be skittish on account of my having a double gizzard, because all I had to do was to be kind of careful with my chewings and gnawings, and my comings and goings. He said that I'd have to suffer with it until I find the gizzard-eater. I asked him whereabouts he is, and he said that I'd know him when I see him, and if I fail to know him, he'll make himself known to me. This kind of irritates me, because when a man's a doctor, and he's got the idea of curing anybody, there is no need of dealing in riddles. But he said that there was no use in telling all you know, especially before dinner."

Brer Alligator went a-sliding along through the water. He listened and smacked his mouth, but he didn't say anything.

Brer Rabbit, he talked on. He allowed, said he, "And there was one thing he told me plainer than all the rest. He said that when anybody was afflicted with the double gizzard, they daresn't cross water with it, because if there's anything that a double gizzard won't stand, it's the smell of water."

Brer Alligator went slipping along through the water, but he felt like the time had come when he pleased to say something. He said, "How come you are crossing water now, if the doctor told you that?"

This made Brer Rabbit laugh. He allowed, "Maybe I oughtn't tell you, but before I can cross water, that double gizzard has got to come out. The doctor told me that if she ever smells water, there'll be such a swelling up that my skin won't hold me. And no longer ago than last night, before I came to cross this creek -- it was a creek then, whatsoever you may call it now -- I took out my double gizzard and hid it in a hickory hollow. And if you are the gizzard-eater, now is your chance, because if you put it off, you may rue the day. If you are in the notion, I'll take you right there and show you the stump where I hid it at -- and if you want to be lonesome about it, I'll let you go by yourself and I'll stay right here."

Brer Alligator, he slipped and slid through the water. He said, "Where'd you say you'd stay?"

Brer Rabbit allowed, said he, "I'll stay right here, Brer Gator, or anywhere else you may choose. I don't care much where I stay or what I do, so long as I get rid of that double gizzard that's been a-terrifying me. You better go by yourself, because bad as that double gizzard has done me, I got kind of a tendersome feeling for it, and I'm afraid if I were to go along with you and see you grab it, there'd be some boo-hooing done. If you go by yourself, just rap on the stump and say, 'If you are ready, I'm ready and a little more so,' and you won't have any trouble with her. She's hid right in those woods yonder, and the hollow hickory stump isn't so mighty far from where the bank of the creek ought to be."

Brer Gator didn't have much more sense than what it'd take to climb a fence after someone had pulled it down, and so he kind of slewed himself around and steered for the woods -- the same woods where there are so many trees, and where old Sis Owl starts all the whirlwinds by fanning her wings. Brer Alligator swam and steered until he came close to land, and when he did that, Brer Rabbit made a big jump and landed on solid ground. He might have got his feet wet, but if he did, that was all. He allowed, said he:

You poor old Gator, if you'd have known A from Izzard,
You'd know mighty well that I'd keep my Gizzard.

And with that he was done gone -- done clean gone!

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised April 16, 2013.