The Monkey's Fiddle

: South-african Folk-tales

Hunger and want forced Monkey one day to forsake his land and to seek

elsewhere among strangers for much-needed work. Bulbs, earth beans,

scorpions, insects, and such things were completely exhausted in his own

land. But fortunately he received, for the time being, shelter with a

great uncle of his, Orang Outang, who lived in another part of the


When he had worked for quite a while he wanted to r
turn home, and as

recompense his great uncle gave him a fiddle and a bow and arrow and

told him that with the bow and arrow he could hit and kill anything he

desired, and with the fiddle he could force anything to dance.

The first he met upon his return to his own land was Brer Wolf. This old

fellow told him all the news and also that he had since early morning

been attempting to stalk a deer, but all in vain.

Then Monkey laid before him all the wonders of the bow and arrow that he

carried on his back and assured him if he could but see the deer he

would bring it down for him. When Wolf showed him the deer, Monkey was

ready and down fell the deer.

They made a good meal together, but instead of Wolf being thankful,

jealousy overmastered him and he begged for the bow and arrow. When

Monkey refused to give it to him, he thereupon began to threaten him

with his greater strength, and so when Jackal passed by, Wolf told him

that Monkey had stolen his bow and arrow. After Jackal had heard both of

them, he declared himself unqualified to settle the case alone, and he

proposed that they bring the matter to the court of Lion, Tiger, and the

other animals. In the meantime he declared he would take possession of

what had been the cause of their quarrel, so that it would be safe, as

he said. But he immediately brought to earth all that was eatable, so

there was a long time of slaughter before Monkey and Wolf agreed to

have the affair in court.

Monkey's evidence was weak, and to make it worse, Jackal's testimony was

against him. Jackal thought that in this way it would be easier to

obtain the bow and arrow from Wolf for himself.

And so fell the sentence against Monkey. Theft was looked upon as a

great wrong; he must hang.

The fiddle was still at his side, and he received as a last favor from

the court the right to play a tune on it.

He was a master player of his time, and in addition to this came the

wonderful power of his charmed fiddle. Thus, when he struck the first

note of "Cockcrow" upon it, the court began at once to show an unusual

and spontaneous liveliness, and before he came to the first waltzing

turn of the old tune the whole court was dancing like a whirlwind.

Over and over, quicker and quicker, sounded the tune of "Cockcrow" on

the charmed fiddle, until some of the dancers, exhausted, fell down,

although still keeping their feet in motion. But Monkey, musician as he

was, heard and saw nothing of what had happened around him. With his

head placed lovingly against the instrument, and his eyes half closed,

he played on, keeping time ever with his foot.

Wolf was the first to cry out in pleading tones breathlessly, "Please

stop, Cousin Monkey! For love's sake, please stop!"

But Monkey did not even hear him. Over and over sounded the resistless

waltz of "Cockcrow."

After a while Lion showed signs of fatigue, and when he had gone the

round once more with his young lion wife, he growled as he passed

Monkey, "My whole kingdom is yours, ape, if you just stop playing."

"I do not want it," answered Monkey, "but withdraw the sentence and give

me my bow and arrow, and you, Wolf, acknowledge that you stole it from


"I acknowledge, I acknowledge!" cried Wolf, while Lion cried, at the

same instant, that he withdrew the sentence.

Monkey gave them just a few more turns of the "Cockcrow," gathered up

his bow and arrow, and seated himself high up in the nearest camel thorn


The court and other animals were so afraid that he might begin again

that they hastily disbanded to new parts of the world.