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The Monkey's Bargains Post by :AdrianB Category :Short Stories Author :W.h.d. Rouse Date :November 2011 Read :2122

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The Monkey's Bargains

ONCE upon a time an old Woman was cooking, and she ran short of fuel. She was so anxious to keep up her fire, that she tore out the hairs of her head, and threw them upon the flame instead of fuel.

A Monkey came capering by, and saw the old Woman at her fire.

"Old Woman," said the Monkey, "why are you burning your hair? Do you want to be bald?"

"O Monkey!" quoth the old Woman, "I have no fuel, and my fire will go out."

"Shall I get you some fuel, mother?" said the Monkey.

"That's like your kind heart," said the old Woman. "Do get me some fuel, and receive an old Woman's blessing."

The Monkey scampered away to the woods, and brought back a large bundle of sticks. The old Woman piled the dry sticks on the fire, and made a fine blaze. She put on her cooking-plank, and made four cakes.

All this while, the Monkey sat on his tail, and watched her. But when the cakes were done, and gave forth a delightful odour, the Monkey got up on his hind legs, and began dancing and cutting all manner of capers round about the cakes.

"O Monkey," said the old Woman, "why do you caper and dance around my cakes?"

"I gave you fuel," said the Monkey, "and won't you give me a cake?"

It seems to me that she might have thought of that without being asked; but she did not, so the Monkey had to ask for it.

Well, the old Woman gave the Monkey one cake, and the Monkey took his cake in high glee, and capered away.

On the way, he passed by the house of a Potter; and at the door of the Potter's house sat the Potter's son, crying his eyes out.

"What is the matter, little boy?" asked the Monkey.

"I am very hungry," whimpered the Potter's son, "and I have nothing to eat."

"Will a cake be of any use?" asked the kind Monkey.

The Potter's little Boy stretched out his hand, and into his hand the Monkey put his cake. Then the little Boy stopped crying, and ate the cake, but he forgot to say thank you. Perhaps he had never been taught manners, but the Monkey felt sad, because that was not the kind of thing he was used to.

The Potter's little Boy then went into the shop, and brought out four little earthenware pots, and began to play with them. He took no more notice of the Monkey, now that he had eaten his cake; but when the Monkey saw these earthenware pots, he began to dance and cut capers round them, like mad.

"Why are you dancing round my pots?" asked the little Boy. "Are you going to break them, Monkey?"

The Monkey replied, capering about all the while--


"One old Woman, in a fix,
Made me go and gather sticks;
Then she gave me, for the sake
Of the fuel, one sweet cake.
That sweet cake to you I gave:
In return, one pot I crave."


The Potter's little Boy was very much afraid of this dancing and singing Monkey, and perhaps he was a little bit ashamed of his ingratitude; so he gave the Monkey one of his four pots.

Away capered the Monkey, in high glee, carrying his pot. By-and-by he came to a place, where was a Cowherd's wife making curds in a mortar.

"What an odd thing to do, Mrs. Cowherd," said the Monkey. "Have you a fancy for making curds in a mortar?"

"No," said the Cowherd's wife, "but I have nothing better to make my curds in."

"Here's a pot which will do better than a mortar to make curds in," said the Monkey, offering the pot which he had received from the little Boy.

"Thank you, kind Mr. Monkey," said the Cowherd's wife. She took the pot and made curds in it. She took out the curds from the pot, and put them ready for eating, and some butter beside them. The Monkey watched her, sitting upon his tail.

Then the Monkey got up off his tail, and began to dance and cut capers round the curds and the butter.

"Why are you dancing about my butter?" said the Cowherd's wife. "Do you want to spoil it?"

Then the Monkey began to sing, as he capered about--


"One old Woman, in a fix,
Made me go and gather sticks;
Then she gave me, for the sake
Of the fuel, one sweet cake.
Potter's son ate that, and he
Gave a pot instead to me.
Since to you I gave that pot,
Give me butter, will you not?"


The wife of the Cowherd was much pleased with this song, as she was fond of music. "If your kindness," said she, "had not already earned the butter, your pretty song would be worth it." Then she gave him a good lump of butter.

Off went the Monkey in high glee, capering along with the lump of butter wrapped up in a leaf. As he went, he came to another place, where a Cowherd was grazing his kine. The Cowherd was sitting down at that moment, and enjoying his dinner, which consisted of a hunk of dry bread.

"Why do you eat dry bread, Mr. Cowherd?" asked the Monkey. "Are you fasting?"

"I am eating dry bread," quoth the Cowherd, "because I have nothing to eat with it."

"What do you say to this?" said the Monkey, cutting a caper, and offering to the Cowherd his lump of butter, wrapped up in a leaf.

"Ah," said the Cowherd, "prime." Not another word said he, but spread the butter upon his dry bread, and set to, with much relish.

The Monkey sat on his tail, and watched the Cowherd eating his meal. When the meal was eaten, up jumped the Monkey, and began capering and dancing, hopping and skipping, round and round the herd of kine.

"Ah," said the Bumpkin, "what are you a-doing that for?" The Bumpkin was so ignorant that he thought the Monkey wanted to bewitch his cattle, and dry up all their milk.

The Monkey went on with his skips and capers, and as he capered, he sang this ditty:--


"One old Woman, in a fix,
Made me go and get her sticks;
Then she gave me, for the sake
Of the fuel, one sweet cake.
Potter's son the sweet cake got,
Gave me, in return, one pot.
Cow-wife had the pot, and she
Butter gave instead to me.
This I gave to you just now:
Will you give me, please, one cow?"


"Ah," said the Bumpkin, "'spose I must." He was afraid of the Monkey's spells, and so he gave him a cow.

Away capered the Monkey, in high glee, leading his cow by a string. "I am indeed getting on in the world," said he.

By-and-by, what should he see coming along the road, but the King himself. The King was fastened to the shafts of a cart, which he was slowly dragging along; and jogging by the side of this cart was an ox; and upon the ox sat the Queen. This King had very simple tastes, and so had the Queen.

"O King," said the Monkey, "why are you dragging your cart with your own royal hands?"

"This is the reason, O Monkey!" said the King. "My ox died in the forest, and I drag the cart because this cart will not drag itself."

"Come, sire," said the Monkey, "I don't like to see a King doing draught-work. Take this cow of mine, and welcome."

"Thank you, good and faithful Monkey," said the King. He mopped his brow, and yoked in the cow.

The Monkey began to dance and caper, jump and skip, round the Queen.

"What is the matter, worthy Monkey?" asked the King.

The Monkey began his ditty:--


"One old Woman, in a fix,
Made me go and gather sticks;
Then she gave me, for the sake
Of the fuel, one sweet cake.
Potter's son the sweet cake got,
Gave me in its place, one pot.
Cow-wife had the pot, and she
Butter gave instead to me.
Bumpkin ate the butter, then
Paid me with this cow again.
Keep the cow, but don't be mean:
All I ask for, is the Queen."


This seemed reasonable enough, so the King gave his Queen to the Monkey.

Away went the Monkey, capering along, and the Queen walked after (you see the King could not part with his ox as well as the Queen).

By-and-by they came to a Man sewing a button on to his shirt.

"Why, Man," said the Monkey, "why do you sew on your own buttons?"

"Because my wife is dead," said the Man.

"Here is a nice wife for you," said the Monkey. He gave the Queen to the Man. The Monkey then began his capers again, but all he could find to caper about, was a drum.

"You may have that drum, if you like," said the Man. "I only kept it because its voice reminded me of my wife, and now I have another."

"Thank you, thank you!" said the Monkey. "Now I am rich indeed!" Then he began to beat upon the drum, and sang:--


"One old Woman, in a fix,
Made me go and gather sticks;
Then she gave me, for the sake
Of the fuel, one sweet cake.
Potter's son the sweet cake got,
Gave me in its place, one pot.
Cow-wife had the pot, and she
Butter gave instead to me.
Bumpkin ate the butter, then
Gave a cow to me again.
King took cow, but was not mean,
For he paid me with a Queen.
Now I have a drum, that's worth
More than any drum on earth.
You are worth a queen, my drum!
Rub-a-dub-dub, dhum dhum dhum!"

So the Monkey capered away into the forest in
high glee, beating upon his drum, and he
has never been heard of since.

NOTES

(The Monkey's Bargains:


Told and recorded by RAMESWAR-PURI, teacher, Khairwá
village school, district Mirzápur.


The Story of Gangá Bûrhi (name of the old woman). No change in the incidents, except that the cowherd is grinding corn, and the last sentence is added. The verses are:--


Wáh, jangle men se lakari láyá,
Wáh, lakari main burhyá ko dinh,
Burhiyá monkon roti dinh,
Wáh rotiyá main tokôn dinh
Kyá tun mokôn mataki na degá? 5


"Hullo! I brought fuel from the forest. (2) I gave it to the old woman. (3) The old woman gave me cake. (4) I gave that cake to thee. (5) Wilt not thou give me jugs?"


U roti main kohrá ko dinh, 4
Kohrá monkôn metuki dinh,
U metuki main tokôn dinh,
Kyá tu mujhko makkhan na degá?


"I gave that cake to the Potter. (5) The Potter gave me an earthen vessel. (6) I gave that earthen vessel to thee. (7) Wilt not thou give me butter?"


Wáh roti main kumhará ko dinh, 5
Kumhará monkon metuki dinh,
Wáh metuki main gwálin ko dinh
Gwálin monkon londi dinh,
Wáh londi main tokôn dinh,
Kyá tu monkôn ek bail bhí na degá?


"(6) I gave that earthen vessel to the cowherd's wife. (7) The cowherd's wife gave me a lump of butter. (8) I gave that lump to thee. (9) Wilt not thou give me an Ox?"

The others are not given, except the last lines:--


Baj meri dholaki dhámak dhûn;
Râni ke badle ái tun.


"O my drum, make sounds like dhámak dhûn: thou art come in exchange for a Queen."


(The end)
W.H.D. Rouse's short story: Monkey's Bargains

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