A Prince of Monkeys

Once upon a time there was a cruel monkey king who ruled in the Himalayas. All the monkeys in his band were his own wives and children. He was afraid that one of his sons might grow up and take over as king. So it was his policy to bite each son just after he was born. This altered him so he would be too weak to ever challenge his father. A certain wife of the monkey king was pregnant. Just in case the unborn one was a son, she wanted to protect him from the cruel policy of her husband. So she ran away to a forest at the foot of a distant mountain. There she soon gave birth to a bright little baby boy monkey.

Before long this baby grew up to be big and strong. One day he asked his mother, “Where is my father?” She told him, “He is king of a band of monkeys living at the foot of a far-off mountain. That makes you a prince!”

The prince of monkeys said, “Kindly take me to my father.” His mother said, “No my son, I am afraid to do so. Your father bites all his sons in order to weaken them for life. He is afraid one of his sons will replace him as king.” The prince said, “Don’t be afraid for me, mother. I can take care of myself.” This gave her confidence, so she agreed and took him to his father.

When the cruel old king saw his strong young son, he thought. “I have no doubt that when this my son grows stronger he will steal my kingdom from me. Therefore I must kill him while I still can! I will hug him, pretending it is out of love for him. But really I will squeeze him to death!”

The king welcomed his son, saying, “Ah, my long lost son! Where have you been all this time? I have missed you dearly.” Then he took him in his arms and hugged him. He kept squeezing harder and harder, trying to squeeze the life out of him! But the prince of monkeys was as strong as an elephant. He hugged his father right back. He squeezed him tighter and tighter, until he could feel the old king’s rib bones starting to crack!

After this terrible greeting, the monkey king was even more terrified that one day his son would kill him. He thought, “Nearby there is a pond possessed by a water demon. It would be easy to get him to eat my son. Then my problems would be over!”

The monkey king said, “Oh my dear son, now is the perfect time for you to come home. For I am old and I would like to hand over my band of monkeys to you. But I need flowers for the coronation ceremony. Go to the nearby pond and bring back two kinds of white water lilies, three kinds of blue water lilies and five types of lotuses.”

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The prince of monkeys said, “Yes my father, I will go and get them.”

When he arrived at the pond, he saw that there were many kinds of water lilies and lotuses growing all over it. But instead of jumping right in and picking them, he investigated carefully. He walked slowly along the bank. He noticed there were footprints going into the pond, but none coming out! After considering, he realized this was a sure sign the pond was possessed by a water demon. He also realized his father must have sent him there to be killed.

He investigated further, until he found a narrow part of the pond. There, with great effort, he was able to jump from one side clear across to the other. In the midst of his leap he reached down and picked flowers, without actually getting into the water. Then he jumped back again, picking more flowers. He continued jumping back and forth,