The Jelly-fish Takes A Journey

: Japanese Fairy Tales

Once upon a time the jelly-fish was a very handsome fellow. His form was

beautiful, and round as the full moon. He had glittering scales and fins

and a tail as other fishes have, but he had more than these. He had

little feet as well, so that he could walk upon the land as well as swim

in the sea. He was merry and he was gay, he was beloved and trusted of

the Dragon King. In spite of all this, his grandmother always said he
r /> would come to a bad end, because he would not mind his books at school.

She was right. It all came about in this wise.

The Dragon King was but lately wed when the young Lady Dragon his wife

fell very sick. She took to her bed and stayed there, and wise folk in

Dragonland shook their heads and said her last day was at hand. Doctors

came from far and near, and they dosed her and they bled her, but no

good at all could they do her, the poor young thing, nor recover her of

her sickness.

The Dragon King was beside himself.

"Heart's Desire," he said to his pale bride, "I would give my life for


"Little good would it do me," she answered. "Howbeit, if you will fetch

me a monkey's liver I will eat it and live."

"A monkey's liver!" cried the Dragon King. "A monkey's liver! You talk

wildly, O light of mine eyes. How shall I find a monkey's liver? Know

you not, sweet one, that monkeys dwell in the trees of the forest,

whilst we are in the deep sea?"

Tears ran down the Dragon Queen's lovely countenance.

"If I do not have the monkey's liver, I shall die," she said.

Then the Dragon went forth and called to him the jelly-fish.

"The Queen must have a monkey's liver," he said, "to cure her of her


"What will she do with the monkey's liver?" asked the jelly-fish.

"Why, she will eat it," said the Dragon King.

"Oh!" said the jelly-fish.

"Now," said the King, "you must go and fetch me a live monkey. I have

heard that they dwell in the tall trees of the forest. Therefore swim

quickly, O jelly-fish, and bring a monkey with you back again."

"How will I get the monkey to come back with me?" said the jelly-fish.

"Tell him of all the beauties and pleasures of Dragonland. Tell him he

will be happy here and that he may play with mermaids all the day


"Well," said the jelly-fish, "I'll tell him that."

Off set the jelly-fish; and he swam and he swam, till at last he reached

the shore where grew the tall trees of the forest. And, sure enough,

there was a monkey sitting in the branches of a persimmon tree, eating


"The very thing," said the jelly-fish to himself; "I'm in luck."

"Noble monkey," he said, "will you come to Dragonland with me?"

"How should I get there?" said the monkey.

"Only sit on my back," said the jelly-fish, "and I'll take you there;

you'll have no trouble at all."

"Why should I go there, after all?" said the monkey. "I am very well off

as I am."

"Ah," said the jelly-fish, "it's plain that you know little of all the

beauties and pleasures of Dragonland. There you will be happy as the day

is long. You will win great riches and honour. Besides, you may play

with the mermaids from morn till eve."

"I'll come," said the monkey.

And he slipped down from the persimmon tree and jumped on the

jelly-fish's back.

When the two of them were about half-way over to Dragonland, the

jelly-fish laughed.

"Now, jelly-fish, why do you laugh?"

"I laugh for joy," said the jelly-fish. "When you come to Dragonland,

my master, the Dragon King, will get your liver, and give it to my

mistress the Dragon Queen to eat, and then she will recover from her


"My liver?" said the monkey.

"Why, of course," said the jelly-fish.

"Alas and alack," cried the monkey, "I'm grieved indeed, but if it's my

liver you're wanting I haven't it with me. To tell you the truth, it

weighs pretty heavy, so I just took it out and hung it upon a branch of

that persimmon tree where you found me. Quick, quick, let's go back for


Back they went, and the monkey was up in the persimmon tree in a


"Mercy me, I don't see it at all," he said. "Where can I have mislaid

it? I should not be surprised if some rascal has stolen it," he said.

Now if the jelly-fish had minded his books at school, would he have been

hoodwinked by the monkey? You may believe not. But his grandmother

always said he would come to a bad end.

"I shall be some time finding it," said the monkey. "You'd best be

getting home to Dragonland. The King would be loath for you to be out

after dark. You can call for me another day. Sayonara."

The monkey and the jelly-fish parted on the best of terms.

The minute the Dragon King set eyes on the jelly-fish, "Where's the

monkey?" he said.

"I'm to call for him another day," said the jelly-fish. And he told all

the tale.

The Dragon King flew into a towering rage. He called his executioners

and bid them beat the jelly-fish.

"Break every bone in his body," he cried; "beat him to a jelly."

Alas for the sad fate of the jelly-fish! Jelly he remains to this very


As for the young Dragon Queen, she was fain to laugh when she heard the


"If I can't have a monkey's liver I must needs do without it," she said.

"Give me my best brocade gown and I will get up, for I feel a good deal