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 The Monkey King


Once upon a time . . . a long time ago, there was a thick jungle where many
kinds of animals lived in harmony together. Their ruler was a wise old lion.
But one sad day, the king died and the animals had to decide who was to be
their new ruler. The dead king had a gold crown, encrusted with precious gems,
and it was decided that all the candidates for the throne were to come forward
and each would try on the crown, and the ruler would be the animal whose head
it fitted. Now, though many tried on the crown, it fitted no one. Some heads
were too big, others too small, a few had horns and some had big ears. The
fact was that the old king's crown did not fit any of the animals. Then a
cheeky monkey snatched up the crown and started to amuse the crowd with clever
tricks. First, he slipped the crown round his waist and whirled it round and
round his middle without letting it fall to the ground. Then he tossed it
higher and higher into the air and caught it as it came down. He then stood on
his head and twirled the crown on the tips of his toes, before jumping to his
feet again and catching it in his hands. All the animals laughed delightedly
at the nimble monkey's skill and clapped in excitement. Pleased at the great
applause, the monkey went on with his show, till the enthusiastic crowd
decided to award him the crown and proclaim him king.
The only animal to disagree was the fox. "A silly creature like that can't
be our king!" he said. "I'm going to do all I can to make him lose the throne."
One day, having just managed to avoid a trap that men had set at the edge
of the jungle, the fox took it unseen to the tree where the monkey lived.
Covering the trap with dead leaves, the fox picked a large bunch of bananas
and called up to the monkey: "Sire! Sire! Can you help me? I have some ripe
bananas I'd like to present you with, but I can't climb trees as easily as you
do! Would you please come down and accept my gift?" The unsuspecting monkey
shinned down the tree, and just as he reached for the bananas, the trap
suddenly clamped shut over his legs. The fox began to laugh: "What a foolish
king we have! Fancy falling into a trap for a handful of bananas!" And calling
all the other animals, he went on: "Just look at our sovereign! Isn't he
stupid? He can't even avoid being caught in a trap. If he isn't able to watch
out for himself, how can we expect him to look after us?" All the animals let
themselves be persuaded by the fox's words, and in a twinkling the monkey king
was deprived of the crown. And from that day on, this particular jungle was
the only one whose animals made do without a king.

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