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The Story Of The Monkeys






Source: The Sa'-zada Tales

Such a row there had been all day in Animal Town.

Sa'-zada, the Keeper, had told Magh, the Orang-outang, that the Monkeys
were to tell stories that night at the usual meeting. That was the
cause of the excitement.

All day the Monkeys, living in a row of cages like dwellers in tenement
houses, had chattered to each other through the bars, and admonished
one another to think of just the cleverest things any of their family
or ancestors had ever done.

"We are like the Men-kind," Magh kept repeating; "we are the
Bandar-log, the Jungle People.

"Listen, Comrades, what is my name even? Orang-outang, which means
Chief of the Jungle People.

"See, even I have my Dog, as do the Men-kind," and she held up Blitz,
the Fox-Terrier Pup, by the ear until he squealed and bit her in the
arm. "See, he has bitten me even as he would a man," she cried,
triumphantly.

Two doors down were three little brown Monkeys caged with an Armadillo
who looked like a toy, iron-plated gun-boat.

"Oh, we are people who think," cried one of these, pouncing down on the
Armadillo. The little gun-boat drew his armor plate down about him like
a Mud-turtle. The Monkey caught the side of it with his hand, lifted it
up, bit the Armadillo in the soft flesh, and raced up on his shelf
where he chattered: "Oh, we are the people who think. That is not
instinct--my father was never caged with an Armadillo."

At last night came, and Sa'-zada, throwing down bars and opening cages,
had gathered as usual his animal friends in front of Tiger's cage.

"Ho, Little Brother," began Black Panther, speaking to Sa'-zada, "why
should we who are great in our own jungles listen to these empty-headed
Bandar-log? Was there ever any good at their hands?"

"Oo-oo! A-huk, a-huk!" cried Hanuman, "you of all the thieving slayers
should know of that matter. How many times have you been saved from
danger because of our watchfulness--and also Bagh the Killer! Many a
hard drive, the hunt drive of the Men-kind, has come to nothing because
of us--because we never sleep. When your stomach is full you sleep
soundly, trusting to a warning from us, the Bandar-log. Nothing can be
done in the jungles that we do not know. And do we steal silently away
as is your method? Not a bit of it. By the safety of Jungle-dwellers!
we give the cry of beware! Listen----

"A-huk, a-huk! Chee-chee-chee! Waugh, waugh, a-huk!" and the voice of
the gray-whiskered, black-faced ape reverberated on the dead night air
through the houses of Animal Town like the clangor of a cracked bell.

"That is quite true," declared Mor, the Peacock; "I also am one of the
Jungle Watchers--though I get little credit for it. None of the
Dwellers thank us; and sometimes in their anger the Sahibs who are
making the drive shoot us for our trouble, saying that we have spoiled
sport. Many a jungle life have I saved through my cry of 'Miaou!
Miaou!'"

"Disturbers of sleep!" sneered Black Panther; "there is little to
choose between you--you're a noisy lot of beggars."

"You are hardly fair, Pardus," remonstrated Sa'-zada. "I quite believe
what Hanuman says, for it is well known that some of the Monkey-tribe
saved Gibraltar to the British by their watchfulness, and the men are
more grateful than you, for to this day monkeys are protected and made
much of there."

"It was my people did that," cried Magot, the Rock Ape, blinking his
deep, narrow-set eyes. "We have lived there for a long time."

"And in Benares, where I lived once, we are people of great honor,"
added a white-whiskered Monkey. "I should like to see Black Pardus harm
one of us there."

The speaker was Entellus, the sacred Hanuman Monkey, whose rights of
protection in the City of Temples, Benares, was almost greater than
that of the human dwellers.

"You can't twiddle your thumbs! You can't twiddle your thumbs!" cried
Cockatoo, mockingly.

"But I can see my under lip," retorted Magh, angrily, sticking it out
and looking down at it, "and that's more than you can do, with your
lobster's claw of a nose."

Cockatoo had hit the truth about the thumbs, for no ape can make them
go around, only in and out straight to the palm. This matter of thumbs
is the great line of defence between man and his disputed Simian
ancestor.

"Our manner of life," began Hanuman, in the little silence that ensued,
"is to live in the tree-tops. Our families are raised there, and we are
seldom on the ground."

"No, the ground is a dangerous place," concurred Chimpanzee; "Leopards,
and Snakes, and Men, and evil things of that sort about all the time.
I, too, build a little house in the strong branches of a tree, and live
there until the fruit gets scarce; then, of course, I have to go to a
new part and build another."

"I thought I was the only animal that had sense enough to build a
house," grunted Wild Boar.

"Perhaps you are," said Chimpanzee; "I'm no animal."

"You are a Monkey----" began Boar, apologetically.

"I'm not a Monkey," insisted the other, very haughtily; "they go in
droves. But we, who are the Jungle People, build houses and have a wife
and family just like the Men."

"You can't twiddle your thumbs!" shrieked Cockatoo; but Hathi reached
up with his trunk and tweaked the bird's nose before he could repeat
the taunt.

"Once upon a time," began Hooluk, solemnly, "there was a great Raja
sore troubled because those of my kind, the Apes, ate all the grain and
fruit in his country. To be sure, it was a year of much starvation. And
the King commanded that all the Bandar-log should be killed.

"Then Hanuman, the wise Ape, who was our cousin, asked of my people
what might be done; but we, being tender-hearted, and not knowing how
to pacify the King, hung with our heads down and wept in misery.

"Now this gave Hanuman, who is most wise, an idea. He ordered all the
other Bandar-log to go far into the jungles and hide, while we were to
remain and lament, and declare that our friends were dead. The Raja,
hearing our sad cry, relented, and commanded that the killing should
cease. And since that time we have always cried thus, and our faces
have been black, and all because of the dark sins of the other
Bandar-log."

"Was there ever such a lie----" began Pardus; but Jackal interrupted
him, declaring that he, too, cried at night because of the wickedness
of other Jungle Dwellers.

"By my lonesome life!" muttered Mooswa. "I have heard the Loon cry on
Slave Lake, but for a real, depressing night noise commend me to
Hooluk. I have no doubt his tale is quite true, a cry such as he has
could not have been given him for amusement."

"Scratch my head!" cried Cockatoo; "I think Hooluk's tale is quite
true, for even I, who am only appreciated because of my beauty----"

"Hide your nose," croaked Kauwa, the Crow.

"Because of my beauty," resumed Cockatoo, "I once saved the life of all
my Master's family. The bungalow was on fire and they were asleep.
Scree-ya ah-ah!' I cried; then, 'Quick, Pootai, bring the water----'"

"To be famous one must needs know a great lie and tell it," snarled
Pardus, disagreeably. "The way of all Jungle Dwellers is to kill
something; but here are pot-bellied, empty-headed Apes, and Birds of
little sense, all boasting of saving lives."

"Let me talk," cried Water Monkey, scratching his ribs with industry.
"If I tell not true tales then call Hornbill, and Jackal, and King
Cobra to stand against me, for we are all of the same land. We were a
big family, a full hundred of us at least, and every way was our
way--water, and land, and tree-top. We ate fruits, and nuts, and
grains, and things that are cast up by the waters. Talking of fishing,
you should have seen my mother. When the sea had gone back from the
shore we would all troop down. When the Crabs saw us coming they would
scuttle into holes and under rocks, and we'd catch every Crab on the
shore. It was my mother taught me the trick--wise old lady; I'd shove
my tail under the rock, the Crab would lay hold of it, and then out
he'd come.

"Oh, there was good eating on those shores. Fat Oysters the size of a
banana. It was mother showed me how to take a stone in my hand, and
break them off the rocks. And, as Magh has said, we are much like the
men, for not one of our family would eat an Oyster until he had washed
it in the water.

"But we poor people had lots of trials. Crossing the streams was worst
of all. If we made the Monkeys bridge from tree to tree, like as not
Python would be lying in wait to pick off one of our number. And if we
walked across on the bottom----"

"Walked on the bottom!" cried Sa'-zada, in astonishment.

"Yes, we never swim; we always walk across on the bottom; though,
sometimes, of course, we floated over on logs; but that was very
dangerous because of Magar the Crocodile."

"Ghurrgle-ugle-ugle, uh-hu!" said Sher Abi, "the long-tailed one is
right. I could tell a true story touching that matter. Whuff-f-f! but
it was a hot day. I was lying with my wife in the water near the bank.
I was hungry--I am always hungry; and getting food in a small way is
wearisome to one of my heavy habit. I was resting, and Black-head the
Magar Bird was running about inside of my jaws catching Flies for his
dinner. And, while I think of it, while I am by no means vain of my
sweet nature, I claim it was most good of me to hold my heavy lips open
for him. Suddenly Black-head gave his little cry of warning to me and
flew up in the air. 'Something is coming,' I whispered to Abni, my
wife; and, sure enough, it was the Bandar-log, the Water Monkeys,
chattering and yelling, and knocking down fruit from the trees as
though the whole jungle belonged to them.

"'The old trick,' I whispered to Abni; 'float across like a log.' You
know I can look wondrous like a log when I try; and a dinner of the
Bandar-log, even, was not to be despised in a time of great hunger.

"'Chee-chee, a-houp-a-houp, chickety-chee-chee!' You'd have thought
their throats would split with the uproar when they saw one log
floating across and another just starting.



"'Oh, ho!' cried the leader, swinging by his tail from a limb of the
Mangrove tree, and peering down at me; 'the wind is driving all the
dead trees from this side to the other. Get aboard, children, quick.'
And they all clambered on to my back, shoving and pushing like a lot of
Jackal pups----"

"Have I not said it," cried Gidar, the Jackal, "that Sher Abi is a
devourer of our young? Jackal pups--murderer!"

"Half way across," resumed Sher Abi, "I opened an eye to take a squint
at the general condition of these Bandar-log, as to which might be fat
and which might be lean, and, would you believe it, the leader of these
fool people saw me looking, and screamed with fright. I closed all the
valves of nostrils and eyes and sank in the water. The Bandar-log were
so excited that more than half of them jumped into my jaws, and Abni,
who came back, hearing the noise, took care of the others. Eh-hu!
Gluck! Monkeys are stupid, but not bad eating."

"Listen to that, Comrades," cried Water Monkey. "Sher Abi the Poacher
boasts of killing my people. Have I not said that our life is one of
danger? He and Python are as bad as Men. My mother was killed by a Man,
and all for the sake of a few mangoes."

"But how are we to know that Mango-tree was not as others in the
Jungle?" pleaded Monkey. "True it grew close to a bungalow, but what of
that? Close to the Jungle, trees and bungalows are so mixed up that
nobody knows which is free land and which is bond land. Have I not seen
even the Men-kind frightened over such matters, and killing each other.
But, as I have said, this Man, who was a Sahib, shot my mother as she
was in a tree. She clung to a limb, and, young as I was, I helped her,
holding on to her arms. All day she cried, and cried, and cried, just
as you have heard the young of the Men-kind; and all night she cried,
too. In the morning the Sahib came out, and I heard him say that he
hadn't slept all night because of the wailing that was like a babe's.
When he looked up at my mother she became so afraid that she fell dead
at his feet. Peeping down through the leaves I saw the fear look that
Hathi has spoken of come into the Man's eyes, only they did not look
evil as they had when he pointed the fire-stick at us. I swung down
from branch to branch to my mother, and sitting beside her, cried also,
being but a little chap and all alone in the Jungle. Then the Man took
me up in his arms and said: 'Poor little Oungea. It was a shame to kill
the old girl; I feel like a murderer----'

"He took me into the bungalow and I had a fine life of it, though he
taught me many things that were evil."

"I don't believe that," sneered Pardus.


CHAP AND ALL ALONE IN THE JUNGLE...."]

"Impossible! Caw-w!" laughed Kauwa.

"What evil tricks are there left to teach the Bandar-log?" queried
Hathi.

"He taught me to drink gin," answered Oungea; "at first a little gin
and much sugar, and after a time I could take it without sugar."

"This rather bears out Magh's claim that you Jungle People are like the
Men," said Sa'-zada.

"Still it was not good for me, this gin," continued Oungea; "leaving
one's head full of much soreness in the morning. But, of course, being
young, I was possessed of much mischief that was not of the Sahib's
teaching."

"He-he! no doubt, no doubt," cried Hornbill, "it was those of your
kind, both young and old, who plucked the feathers from my children
once upon a time. Plaintain-at-a-gulp! but their appearance was
unseemly. You can imagine what I should look like with my prominent
nose and no feathers."

"My Master carried in his pocket something that was forever crying
'tick, tick, tick.' I felt sure there must be Lizards or Spiders, or
other sweet ones of a small kind within; but one day when I had a fair
opportunity and pulled it apart, cracking it with a stone as I had the
Oysters, I got no eating at all, but in the end a sound beating.

"Once I ate the little berries that grow on the sticks that cause the
fire----"

"Matches," suggested Sa'-zada.

"Perhaps; I thought they were berries. Many pains! but I was sick, and
my kind Master saved my life with cocoanut oil."

"Magh knows something of that matter," declared Sa'-zada; "when she
first came here she ate her straw bedding and it nearly killed her."

"A fine record these Jungle People have," sneered Pardus. "I, who claim
not to be wise like the Men, have sense enough to stick to my meat."

"But Magh was wise," asserted Sa'-zada, "for if she had not helped us
in every way when we were trying to save her life she would surely have
died."

"In my Master's house," said Oungea, "was one of their young, a Babe;
and whenever I got loose, for they took to tying me up, I made straight
for his bed, borrowed his bottle of milk--there surely was no harm in
that, for we were babes together--and scuttled up a tree where I could
drink the milk in peace. When I dropped the bottle down so that they
might get it, it always broke, and I think it was because of this
mischief that they whipped me."

"Well," said Sa'-zada, "we were to have learned to-night why the
Bandar-log were Men of the Jungle, first cousins to the Men-kind; but
all I remember is that they ate matches and straw and got very sick.
For my part I am very sleepy."

"If you are tired, I will carry you, Hanuman," lisped Python, shoving
his ugly fat head forward.

"Even I, who find it a labor to walk on the land, will give any Monkey
who seeks it a ride," sighed Sher Abi. "This talking of eating has made
me hung----I mean ready to put myself out for my friends."

"Take your friends in, you mean," snarled Gidar, jumping back as the
heavy jaws of the Crocodile snapped within an inch of his nose.

"I think each one will look after himself," declared Sa'-zada; "it will
be safer. All to your cages."





Next: The Story Of Birds Of A Feather

Previous: The Story Of The Tribe Of King Cobra



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