Why the Monkey Still Has a Tail (Fairy Tales from Brazil, 1917) by Elsie Spicer Eells

Once upon a time the monkey and the rabbit made a contract. The monkey was to kill all the butterflies and the rabbit was to kill all the snakes.

One day the rabbit was taking a nap when the monkey passed that way. The monkey thought that he would play a trick on the rabbit so he pulled the rabbit’s ears, pretending that he thought they were butterflies. The rabbit awoke very angry at the monkey and he plotted how he might revenge himself on the monkey.

The rabbit and the armadillo are very good friends. The armadillo is very, very strong, you know, so it was he whom the rabbit asked to help him.

One day the rabbit caught the monkey napping. He had watched and waited a long, long time to catch the monkey napping, but at last he succeeded. Even the monkey sometimes takes a nap. The rabbit called the armadillo at once and together they rolled a big stone upon the monkey’s tail. The monkey pulled so hard to get his tail out from under the stone that it broke off. The cat, who at that time had no tail of her own, spied the tail and ran away with it. The monkey was very angry at the rabbit. “O, we thought it was just a snake lying there,” said the rabbit. “When you pulled my ears, you know, you thought they were butterflies.”

That did not help the monkey to feel any better. How was he to live without his tail! How could he climb without it! He simply had to have it back so he at once set out to find the cat.

At last he found the cat and said to her, “O, kind cat, please give me back my tail.”

“I will give it to you,” replied the cat, “if you will get me some milk.”

“Where shall I get the milk?” asked the monkey.

“Go ask the cow for some,” replied the cat.

The monkey went to the cow and said, “O, kind cow, please give me some milk that I may give the milk to the cat so that the cat will give back my tail to me.”

“I will give you the milk,” replied the cow, “if you will get me some grass.”

“Where shall I get the grass?” asked the monkey.

“Go ask the farmer,” responded the cow.

The monkey went to the farmer and said, “O, kind farmer, please give me some grass that I may give the grass to the cow so that the cow will give me some milk so that I may give the milk to the cat so that the cat will give back my tail to me.”

The farmer said, “I will give you some grass if you will give me some rain.”

“Where shall I get the rain?” asked the monkey.

“Go ask the clouds,” responded the farmer.

The monkey went to the clouds and said, “O, kind clouds, please send me down some rain that I may give the rain to the farmer so that the farmer will give me some grass so that I may give the grass to the cow so that the cow will give me some milk so that I may give the milk to the cat so that the cat will give me back my tail.”

“I will give you some rain,” replied the clouds, “if you will get me some fog.”

“Where shall I get the fog?” asked the monkey.

“Go ask the rivers,” replied the clouds.

The monkey went to the river and said, “O, kind river, please give me a fog that I may give the fog to the clouds so that the clouds will give some rain so that I may give the rain to the farmer so that the farmer will give me some grass so that I may give the grass to the cow so that the cow will give me some milk so that I may give the milk to the cat so that the cat will give me back my tail.”

“I will give you a fog,” replied the river, “if you will find a new spring to feed me.”

“Where shall I find a spring?” asked the monkey.

“Go search for one among the rocks upon the hillside,” replied the river.

Then the monkey climbed up the steep hill and searched and searched among the rocks until at last he found a little spring to feed the river. He brought the spring to the river and the river gave him a fog. He took the fog to the clouds and the clouds gave him rain. He took the rain to the farmer and the farmer gave him grass. He took the grass to the cow and the cow gave him milk. He took the milk to the cat and the cat gave him back his tail. The monkey was so glad to have his tail again that he danced and danced with glee. Ever since that time the monkey has been very careful to guard his tail. He still has one and he is still happy because of it.

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