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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The jelly fish and the monkey"

The jelly fish and the monkey

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!

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