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The Battle Of The Ape And The Crab






Source: Japanese Fairy World

In the land where neither the monkeys or the cats have tails, and the
persimmons grow to be as large as apples and with seeds bigger than a
melon's, there once lived a land crab in the side of a sand hill. One day
an ape came along having a persimmon seed, which he offered to swap with
the crab for a rice-cake. The crab agreed, and planting the seed in his
garden went out every day to watch it grow.

By-and-by the ape came to visit the crab, and seeing the fine tree laden
with the yellow-brown fruit, begged a few. The crab, asking pardon of
the ape, said he could not climb the tree to offer him any, but agreed to
give the ape half, if he would mount the tree and pluck them.

So the monkey ran up the tree, while the crab waited below, expecting to
eat the ripe fruit. But the monkey sitting on a limb first filled his
pockets full, and then picking off all the best ones, greedily ate the
pulp, and threw the skin and stones in the crab's face. Every once in a
while, he would pull off a green sour persimmon and hit the crab hard,
until his shell was nearly cracked. At last the crab thought he would get
the best of the ape. So when his enemy had eaten his fill until he was
bulged out, he cried out,

"Now Mister Ape, I dare you to come down head-foremost. You can't do it."

So the ape began to descend, head downward. This was just what the crab
wanted, for all the finest persimmons rolled out of his pockets on the
ground. The crab quickly gathered them up, and with both arms full ran
off to his hole. Then the ape was very angry. He kindled a fire, and blew
the smoke down the hole, until the crab was nearly choked. The poor crab
to save his life had to crawl out.

Then the monkey beat him soundly, and left him for dead.

The crab had not been long thus, when three travelers, a rice-mortar, an
egg, and a wasp found him lying on the ground. They carried him into the
house, bound up his wounds and while he lay in bed they planned how they
might destroy the ape. They all talked of the matter over their cups of
tea, and after the mortar had smoked several pipes of tobacco, a plan was
agreed on.

So taking the crab along, stiff and sore as he was, they marched to the
monkey's castle. The wasp flew inside, and found that their enemy was
away from home. Then all entered and hid themselves. The egg cuddled up
under the ashes in the hearth. The wasp flew into the closet. The mortar
hid behind the door. They then waited for the ape to come home. The crab
sat beside the fire.

Towards evening the monkey arrived, and throwing off his coat (which was
just what the wasp wanted) he lighted a sulphur match, and kindling a
fire, hung on the kettle for a cup of tea, and pulled out his pipe for a
smoke. Just as he sat down by the hearth to salute the crab, the egg
burst and the hot yolk flew all over him and in his eye, nearly blinding
him. He rushed out to the bath-room to plunge in the tub of cold water,
when the wasp flew at him and stung his nose. Slipping down, he fell
flat on the floor, when the mortar rolled on him and crushed him to
death. Then the whole party congratulated the crab on their victory.
Grateful for the friendship thus shown, the whole party, crab, mortar and
wasp lived in peace together.

The crab married the daughter of a rich crab that lived over the hill,
and a great feast of persimmons was spread before the bride's relatives
who came to see the ceremony. By-and-by a little crab was born which
became a great pet with the mortar and wasp. With no more apes to plague
them, they lived very happily.





Next: The Wonderful Tea-kettle

Previous: The Fire-fly's Lovers



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