The Lilac Fairy Book HTML version
The Heart of a Monkey
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 grey 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 thrown 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 to-morrow 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 bye 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.