How The Monkey's Colour Became Grey

: Folk-tales Of The Khasis

In olden times the monkeys had long hair of different colours covering

their bodies, and they were much more handsome than they are in the

present day. They were very inquisitive animals and liked to meddle

in the affairs of other people, and they caused a lot of trouble in

the world.

One day a monkey wandering on the plains met Ram, the god of the

Hindus, searching for the goddess Sita. Ram, thinking tha
the monkey

by his inquisitiveness and audacity might help to find her, bribed

him to come to his service.

After making enquiries far and near, the monkey heard at last that Ka

Sita was confined in a fort in the island of Ceylon, so he went and

told the god Ram. Thereupon Ram gathered together a great host to go

and fight the king of the island of Ceylon, but they found the place

infested with dragons and goblins of the most hostile disposition,

so that they dared not venture to land.

The hosts of Ram then held a consultation, and they decided that,

as the monkey had been the cause of their coming there, he must find

out a way for them to land without being destroyed by the dragons. The

monkey, not knowing what to say, suggested that they should burn down

the forests of Ceylon so that the dragons could have no place to hide.

Upon this the hosts of Ram declared that the monkey himself must

go over to put his plan into execution. So they dipped a long piece

of cloth in oil and tied one end of it to the monkey's tail and set

fire to the other end of it, and the monkey went over to the island

and ran hither and thither dragging the flaming cloth behind him and

setting the forests on fire everywhere he went, until all the forests

of Ceylon were in flames.

Before he could get back to his companions he saw with dismay that

the cloth was nearly burnt out, and the heat from the fire behind him

began to singe his long hair; whereupon, fearing to be burnt alive,

he plunged into the sea and the flames were extinguished. From that

time the monkey's hair has been grey and short as a sign that he once

set the forests of Ceylon on fire.