TALE OF A TORTOISE AND A MONKEY 331
rays struck the trunk of the tree the stag started off, and was soon far out of the sight of the tortoise. Every now and then he would turn his head as he ran, and call out: ' How are you getting on ? ' and the tortoise who happened to be nearest at that moment would answer: ' All right, I am close up to you.'
Full of astonishment, the stag would redouble his efforts, but it was no use. Each time he asked : ' Are you there ?' the answer would come : ' Yes, of course, where else should I be ? ' And the stag ran, and ran, and ran, till he could run no more, and dropped down dead on the grass.
And the tortoise, when he thinks about it, laughs still.
But the tortoise was not the only creature of whose tricks stories were told in the forest. There was a famous monkey who was just as clever and more mischievous, because he was so much quicker on his feet and with his hands. It was quite impossible to catch him and give him the thrashing he so often deserved, for he just swung himself up into a tree and laughed at the angry victim who was sitting below. Sometimes, however, the inhabitants of the forest were so foolish as to provoke him, and then they got the worst of it. This was what happened to the barber, whom the monkey visited one morning, saying that he wished to be shaved. The barber bowed politely to his customer, and begging him to be seated, tied a large cloth round his neck, and rubbed his chin with soap ; but instead of cutting off his beard, the barber made a snip at the end of his tail. It was only a very little bit, and the monkey started up more in rage than in pain. ' Give me back the end of my tail,' he roared, ' or I will take one of your razors.' The barber refused to give back the missing piece, so the monkey caught up a razor from the table and ran away with it, and no one in the forest could be shaved for days, as there was not another to be got for miles and miles.