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The Monkey Husband
(A Tale from India)

ONE very hot day some children were bathing in a pool, when a Hanuman monkey snatched up the cloth which one of the girls had left on the bank, and ran up a tree with it. When the children came out of the water and went to take up their clothes, they found one missing, and looking about, they saw the monkey in the tree with it. They begged the Hanuman to give it back, but the monkey only said, "I will not give it unless its owner consents to marry me."

Then they began to throw sticks and stones at him, but he climbed to the top of the tree out of the way.

Then they ran and told the parents of the girl whose cloth had been stolen. And they called their neighbors and went with bows and arrows and threatened to shoot the monkey if he did not give up the cloth, but he still said that he would not, unless the girl would marry him. Then they shot all their arrows at him, but not one of them hit him.

Then the neighbors said, "This child is fated to belong to the monkey, and that is why we cannot hit him."

Then the girl's father and mother began to cry and sang:

Give the girl her cloth
Her silk cloth, monkey boy.
And he answered:

If she consents to marry me, I will give it.
If she consents, I will put it in her hand.
And as he did not listen to the father and mother, her father's younger brother and his wife sang the same song, but in vain. And then the girl herself begged for it, and thereupon the monkey let down one end of the cloth to her; and when she caught hold of it, he pulled her up into the tree, and there made her put on her cloth, and ran off with her on his back.

The girl was quite willing to go with him and called out as she was carried away, "Never mind, father and mother. I am going away."

The Hanuman took her to a cave in the mountains, and they lived on fruit: mangoes or jack or whatever fruit was in season. The monkey climbed the trees and shook the fruit down. But if the girl saw by the marks of teeth that the monkey had bitten off any fruit, instead of only shaking it down, she would not eat it, and pretended that she had had enough, for she would not eat the leavings of the monkey.

At last the girl got tired of having only fruit to eat, and demanded rice. So the monkey took her to a bazaar, and leaving her on the outskirts of the village under a tree, he went and stole some pots from a potter and rice and salt and turmeric and pulse and sweetmeats from other shops, and brought them to the girl. Then she collected sticks and lit a fire and cooked a meal. And the monkey liked the cooked food, and asked her to cook for him every day. So they stayed there several days.

Then the girl asked for more clothes, and the monkey tried to steal them too, but the shopkeepers were on the watch and drove him away.

The girl soon got tired of sleeping under a tree, so they went back to the cave, and the monkey gathered mangoes and jack-fruit and told her to go and sell them in the market, and then she would be able to buy cloth. But when she had sold the fruit, she stayed in the village and took service with a well-to-do shopkeeper, and never returned to the monkey.

The monkey watched for her and searched for her in vain, and returned sorrowfully to his hill. But the girl stayed on in the village and eventually married one of the villagers.

Bompas, Cecil Henry. Folklore of the Santal Parganas. London: David Nutt, 1909. no. 70, pp. 212-214.


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Page created 1/2007; Last updated 7/10/07