Fall, 2007

G. David Schwartz

The Monkey Chase

-----very loosely adapted from the Talmud story

Long before you were born--long before even I was born--Gelahshinke was called away on a trip. On his return home some days later, he thought it wise to bring his wife a very fine present to show her he was thinking about her. After much thought he ended thinking a peacock would be a nice gift. The peacock would strut in the garden and fan her features. My, what a beautiful sight that would be.

But no! Gelahshike thought his wife might receive the bird and think it would be a fitting dinner. Perhaps she would like some jewelry. Some fine diamonds or rubies would certainly highlight the sparkle which was in her eyes. No, he thought, she is already beautiful. She did not need any jewelry.

Next he thought a fine leather bound book would make a pleasant gift for his wife. Books are always welcomed. They can not be eaten, so they last longer.  Also you can put them aside until you want to read them again. Further, when you are not reading books, they are very nice ornaments to show to visitors. But Gelahshike decided against buying the book. Perhaps the book would suggest she occupied her time by reading. But what was wrong with reading?  You can not only spend delightful time, but you can learn something you did not know before. Also the book may make her think he must leave soon. No, a book would not be appreciated. But what was wrong with reading?  You can not only spend delightful time, but you can learn something you did not know before. Also the book may make her think he must leave soon. No, a book would not be appreciated. he must leave soon. No, a book would not be appreciated.

Then Gelahshike thought the most wondrous thought. What could he get his wife which could not be eaten, would be pretty, and would not suggest that he was soon leaving once more? Flowers. "Perfect," he thought. I will buy my wife some lovely flowers.

Soon Gelahshike found two sailors who were willing to purchase some flowers for his wife while he concluded his affairs and put his baggage together. By the time Gelahshike had neatly packed his shirt and trousers, made his bunk, and paid his respects to the captain of the vessel, the two sailors returned. "Where are the flowers I sent you to buy?" Both sailors looked shamefully toward the ground. Neither moved nor spoke.

"Well?" Gelahshike demanded. "Sir, we are very sorry. You gave us a large sum of money to purchase a gift for your wife and you said that we could keep the sum of money which was left over after we had payed for the present." "That is so," Gelahshike agreed, "Now where are the flowers?"

"Sir," the other sailor said, "we do not want you to think we have paid a small sum for the article we have produced for your wife," "Please get to the point  if you have one," Gelahshike said in a shrill voice. Then one of the sailors reached behind his back and brought forth a monkey.

"What is that?" Gelahshike demanded to know with his loud and protruding voice. "A monkey," the first sailor answered in a tweed voice. "I know it is a monkey," Gelahshike responded. "What I want to know is what you expect me to do with the monkey?" "This monkey would make an excellent gift for your wife," the first sailor replied.

"Nor would I," shouted Gelahshike. "That monkey will eat everything in sight and he will make my wife want to leave the city, and leave me behind with him. Furthermore, he is such an ugly animal--he smells and extracts a vapor which could burn the forest to the ground." "Oh my," the two sailors raised their hands up to their ears in fright. "Now I want you to take this monkey back to where you bought it, get your money back, and bring me some fresh and beautiful flowers to give to my wife."

 But when the sailors covered their ears, the monkey ran away. The sailors, thinking they had made a bad bargain, and had angered Gelahshike, ran away. Gelahshike considered the situation. He had given the sailors his last few coins. He had been generous enough that he had given them plenty of money, and much should have been left over for all of his troubles. Now all that he had to show for his good intentions was running up the dock and through the marketplace. Gelahshike had no alternative but to chase the monkey and take him home to his wife.
    You should have seen the old man run
    Chasing monkey up the street
    Oh, my child, such good fun
    Yet he was very fast upon his feet.

Everybody laughed as this pair ran through the market place. The monkey upset the cart of one of the merchants, causing his pottery to fall to the ground and shatter in a zillion pieces. But the sight of Gelahshike pursuing the animal was so humorous that the merchant was laughing hysterically. He was laughing instead of getting angry. The monkey ran through another man's legs, almost tripping him, and causing him to fall over backwards. Gelahshike hobbled around the corner and very nearly pushed a third man into the basket he was offering at the market. "Excuse me, excuse me." Gelahshike called to him, "I must get the monkey, the monkey."

'The basket man was watching in astonishment. Soon all the merchants were crowding around him, and laughing as the monkey was followed by Gelahshike. As they walked quickly the monkey suddenly ran up the hill outside the town. Deep in the forest at the top of the hill Gelahshike saw the monkey run into a hole in the side of the mountain. He dropped to his knees and crawled after him. And what do you think he found inside the cave?
Gelahshike looked around him in every direction, and one he had even invented by himself. There he saw the monkey laughing on top of a beautiful Persian carpet. The monkey was resting, trying to catch his breath. Watching them both was a great peacock with bright yellow, red and purple plumage. There were also several leather bound books, and a most beautiful basket of flowers of golds, blues and bright tangerine colored flowers.

One more thing was found in the vicinity. It was a very large chest which contained many riches in the form of jewelry and gold. The monkey willingly helped Gelahshike carry the chest with the books and flowers, and loaded them on top of the carpet. The peacock agreed to go with the two of them, for he had never lived in the city and was promised a pleasant home with Gelahshike and his wife.

And the first thing Gelahshike did was promise his wife never to go on long journeys ever again. And she said that promise was the greatest gift he had ever brought her from where ever he went. And what is the moral of this tale, my child? The moral is quite simply that--

Ahhh, well, but you are asleep now.

Sleep well, my little treasure.