Thursday, August 19, 2010

"The Heart of a Monkey"

...the shark swam close up under the tree, and the monkey dropped neatly on his back, without even a splash. After a few minutes -- for at first he felt a little frightened at his strange position -- the monkey began to enjoy himself vastly, and asked the shark a thousand questions about the fish and the seaweeds and the oddly shaped things that floated past them, and as the shark always gave him some sort of answer, the monkey never guessed that many of the objects they saw were as new to his guide as to himself.

The sun had risen and set six times when the shark suddenly said, "My friend, we have now performed half our journey, and it is time that I should tell you something."

"What is it?" asked the monkey. "Nothing unpleasant, I hope, for you sound rather grave."

"Oh, no! Nothing at all. It is only that shortly before we left I heard that the sultan of my country is very ill, and that the only thing to cure him is a monkey's heart."

"Poor man, I am very sorry for him," replied the monkey; "but you were unwise not to tell me till we had started."

"What do you mean?" asked the shark. But the monkey, who now understood the whole plot, did not answer at once, for he was considering what he should say.

"Why are you so silent?" inquired the shark again.

"I was thinking what a pity it was you did not tell me while I was still on land, and then I would have brought my heart with me."

"Your heart! Why, isn't your heart here?" said the shark, with a puzzled expression.

"Oh, no! Of course not. Is it possible you don't know that when we leave home we always hang up our hearts on trees, to prevent their being troublesome? However, perhaps you won't believe that, and will just think I have invented it because I am afraid, so let us go on to your country as fast as we can, and when we arrive you can look for my heart, and if you find it you can kill me."

From "The Heart of a Monkey," a little folktale about deception. Read the whole story here.

The Monkey, Franz Marc, 1912

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