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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Jelly-Fish takes a Journey"

The Jelly-Fish takes a Journey

Once upon a time the jelly-fish was a very handsome fellow. His form was beautiful, and round as the full moon. He had glittering scales and fins and a tail as other fishes have, but he had more than these. He had little feet as well, so that he could walk upon the land as well as swim in the sea. He was merry and he was gay, he was beloved and trusted of the Dragon King. In spite of all this, his grandmother always said he would come to a bad end, because he would not mind his books at school. She was right. It all came about in this wise.

The Dragon King was but lately wed when the young Lady Dragon his wife fell very sick. She took to her bed and stayed there, and wise folk in Dragonland shook their heads and said her last day was at hand. Doctors came from far and near, and they dosed her and they bled her, but no good at all could they do her, the poor young thing, nor recover her of her sickness.

The Dragon King was beside himself.

“Heart’s Desire,” he said to his pale bride, “I would give my life for you.”

“Little good would it do me,” she answered. “Howbeit, if you will fetch me a monkey’s liver I will eat it and live.”

“A monkey’s liver!” cried the Dragon King. “A monkey’s liver! You talk wildly, O light of mine eyes. How shall I find a monkey’s liver? Know you not, sweet one, that monkeys dwell in the trees of the forest, whilst we are in the deep sea?”

Tears ran down the Dragon Queen’s lovely countenance.

“If I do not have the monkey’s liver, I shall die,” she said.

Then the Dragon went forth and called to him the jelly-fish.

“The Queen must have a monkey’s liver,” he said, “to cure her of her sickness.”

“What will she do with the monkey’s liver?” asked the jelly-fish.

“Why, she will eat it,” said the Dragon King.

“Oh!” said the jelly-fish.

“Now,” said the King, “you must go and fetch me a live monkey. I have heard that they dwell in the tall trees of the forest. Therefore swim quickly, O jelly-fish, and bring a monkey with you back again.”

“How will I get the monkey to come back with me?

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