One day a Monkey met a Turtle on the road, and asked, “Where are you going?”
“I am going to find something to eat, for I have had no food for three whole days,” said the Turtle.
“I too am hungry,” said the Monkey; “and since we are both hungry, let us go together and hunt food for our stomachs’ sake.”
They soon became good friends and chatted along the way, so that the time passed quickly. Before they had gone far, the Monkey saw a large bunch of yellow bananas on a tree at a distance.
“Oh, what a good sight that is!” cried he. “Don’t you see the bananas hanging on that banana-tree? [pointing with his first finger toward the tree]. They are fine! I can taste them already.”
But the Turtle was short-sighted and could not see them. By and by they came near the tree, and then he saw them. The two friends were very glad. The mere sight of the ripe, yellow fruit seemed to assuage their hunger.
But the Turtle could not climb the tree, so he agreed that the Monkey should go up alone and should throw some of the fruit down to him. The Monkey was up in a flash; and, seating himself comfortably, he began to eat the finest of the fruit, and forgot to drop any down to the Turtle waiting below. The Turtle called for some, but the Monkey pretended not to hear. He ate even the peelings, and refused to drop a bit to his friend, who was patiently begging under the tree.
At last the Turtle became angry, very angry indeed: “so he thought he would revenge” (as my informant puts it). While the Monkey was having a good time, and filling his stomach, the Turtle gathered sharp, broken pieces of glass, and stuck them, one by one, all around the banana-tree. Then he hid himself under a cocoanut-shell not far away. This shell had a hole in the top to allow the air to enter. That was why the Turtle chose it for his hiding-place.
The Monkey could not eat all the bananas, for there were enough to last a good-sized family several days; “but he ate all what he can,” and by and by came down the tree with great difficulty, for the glass was so sharp that it cut even the tough hand of the Monkey. He had a hard time, and his hands were cut in many places. The Turtle thought he had his revenge, and was not so angry as before.
But the Monkey was now very angry at the trick that had been played upon him, and began looking for the Turtle, intending to kill him. For some time he could not find his foe, and, being very tired, he sat down on the cocoanut-shell near by. His weariness increased his anger at the Turtle very much.
He sat on the shell for a long time, suffering from his wounds, and wondering where to find the Turtle,–his former friend, but now his enemy. Because of the disturbance of the shell, the Turtle inside could not help making a noise. This the Monkey heard; and he was surprised, for he could not determine whence the sound came. At last he lifted his stool, and there found his foe the Turtle.
“Ha! Here you are!” he cried. “Pray now, for it is the end of your life.”
He picked up the Turtle by the neck and carried him near the riverbank, where he meant to kill him. He took a mortar and pestle, and built a big fire, intending to pound him to powder or burn him to death. When everything was ready, he told the Turtle to choose whether he should die in the fire or be “grounded” in the mortar. The Turtle begged for his life; but when he found it was in vain, he prayed to be thrown into the fire or ground in the mortar,–anything except be thrown into the water. On hearing this, the Monkey picked the Turtle up in his bleeding fingers, and with all his might threw him into the middle of the stream.
Then the Turtle was very glad. He chuckled at his own wit, and laughed at the foolishness of the Monkey. He came up to the surface of the water and mocked at the Monkey, saying, “This is my home. The water is my home.”
This made the Monkey so angry that he lost his self-possession entirely. He jumped into the middle of the river after the Turtle, and was drowned.
Since that day monkeys and turtles have been bitter enemies.