Two Eastern Fables - Page 3 of 6

by Dr. José Rizal

(London, 1889)

English version

This is the Philippine tale of the monkey and the tortoise.  The Japanese fable, Saru kani kassen, or Battle of the Monkey and the Crab, as published by Kobunsha at Tokyo is as follows:

A monkey and a crab once met when going around a mountain.

The monkey had picked up a persimmon-seed, and the crab had a piece of toasted rice-cake.  The monkey seeing this, and wishing to get something that could be turned to good account at once, said; ‘Pray, exchange that rice-cake for this persimmon-seed.’  The crab, without a word, gave up his cake, and took the persimmon-seed and planted it.  At once it sprung up, and soon became a tree so high, one had to look up at it.  The tree was full of persimmons, but the crab had no means of climbing the tree.  So he asked the monkey to climb up and get the persimmons for him.  The monkey got up on a limb of the tree and began to eat the persimmons.  The unripe persimmons he threw at the crab, but all the ripe and good ones he put in his pouch.  The crab under the tree thus got his shell badly bruised, and only by good luck escaped into his hole, where he lay distressed with pain and not able to get up.  Now, when the relatives and household of the crab heard how matters stood, they were surprised and angry, and declared war and attacked the monkey, who leading forth a numerous following, bid defiance to the other party.  The crabs, finding themselves unable to meet and cope with this force, became still more exasperated and enraged, and retreated into their hole, and held a council of war.  Then came a rice mortar, a pounder, a bee, and an egg, and together they devised a deep-laid plot for revenge.

First, they requested that peace be made with the crabs; thus they introduced the king of the monkeys to enter their hole unattended, and seated him on the earth.  The monkey, not suspecting any plot, took the hibashi, or poker, to stir up the slumbering fire, when bang!  Went the egg, which was lying hidden in the ashes, and burned the monkey’s arm.  Surprised and alarmed, he plunged his arm in to the pickle-tub in the kitchen to relieve the pain of the burn.  Then the bee, which was hidden near the tub, stung him sharply in the face, already wet with tears.  Without waiting to brush off the bee, and howling bitterly, he rushed for the back door; but just then some sea-weed entangled his legs and made him slip.  Then came the pounder, tumbling on him from a shelf, and the mortar, too, came rolling down on him from the roof of the porch, and broke his back and so weakened him that he was unable to rise up.  Then out came the crabs in a crowd and brandishing on high their pincers, pinched the monkey to pieces.

Learn this Filipino word:

mabuti ang dilà