Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: E. A. Ruskin - 1921

Translated into English
  by E. A. Ruskin - 1921

Original title (Mongo):
Ngila l'Ulu

Country of origin: Democratic Republic of Congo

Story type: The Fox and the Crane Invites Each Other (ATU 60)


English - aligned

Add a translation

The Black Monkey and the Turtoise

E. A. Ruskin

The Black monkey said to the Tortoise, "Tortoise, come and pay me a visit at my place. Do not fail to keep your promise."

The Tortoise accepted the invitation and went at the appointed time. The Black monkey made a great feast in honour of the Tortoise; and the wives of the Black monkey prepared a great deal of food — meat and fish of various kinds, manioca bitter and sweet, greens, pottage, palm oil chop, plantains and yams; all sorts of delicacies.

When the Tortoise arrived, the Black monkey greeted him in a friendly way, and shortly afterward said to him, "Tortoise, we are about to commence our feast; seat yourself in this high chair which I have prepared for you." He pointed to a very high chair with steps to reach it. The Tortoise gazed at it, and did not feel happy about it; the chair was so high, and the Tortoise knows nothing about height, he does not know how to climb. However, he tried, and tried, and tried again; but could not do it. Every time he tried, he fell back, and covered himself with dust and earth. At last, he became very angry, and said to his host, "You keep your feast! I am going home. After two nights, you come to my place."

The Black monkey waited until the two nights had passed, and then went to the home of the Tortoise. The Tortoise came out to meet him with shouts of welcome, crying, You have come? you have come? My wives, come, and prepare a feast for my friend the Black monkey."

At last the preparations were complete, and the feast ready. Then the Tortoise called for a basin of water, which was brought to him. He said, Black monkey, before you eat of my feast, wash your hands; I will not have you eat with those black hands. I want them to be quite clean and white like the hands of the Otter."

The Black monkey agreed; and proceeded to wash his hands. Wash, wash, and wash again; it was useless, his hands were as black as ever.

The Tortoise said, You are a dirty person; your hands are black! You certainly shall not eat my food with such black hands as those! At that the Black monkey flew into a rage; for he knew that his hands would not become white like those of the Otter; his fate had given him black ones, and it was useless to wash them.

The Tortoise said, You tricked me; now I have tricked you: we are quits!"

They shook hands; one said to the other, "Then you are a man of mature age after all;" and the other said, ''And you are a real man!"

After that they held a feast at the Black monkey's home, the guests sitting in comfort on mats; and another at the home of the Tortoise, when everything went off well; and from that time they were friends.