48 THE HEART OF A MONKEY
if you like, I will come a little nearer and tell you his story.'
' Very well,' said the shark sulkily, ' if you won't come, I suppose I may as well listen to that as do nothing.'
So the monkey began.
' A washerman once lived in the great forest on the other side of the town, and he had a donkey to keep him company and to carry him wherever he wanted to go. For a time they got on very well, but by and bye the donkey grew lazy and ungrateful for her master's kindness, and ran away several miles into the heart of the forest, where she did nothing but eat and eat and eat, till she grew so fat she could hardly move.
' One day as she was tasting quite a new kind of grass and wondering if it was as good as what she had had for dinner the day before, a hare happened to pass by.
' " Well, that is a fat creature," thought she, and turned out of her path to tell the news to a lion who was a friend of hers. Now the lion had been very ill, and was not strong enough to go hunting for himself, and when the hare came and told him that a very fat donkey was to be found only a few hundred yards off, tears of disappointment and weakness filled his eyes.
' " What is the good of telling me that ? " he asked, in a weepy voice ; " you know I cannot even walk as far as that palm."
' " Never mind," answered the hare briskly. " If you can't go to your dinner your dinner shall come to you," and nodding a farewell to the Hon she went back to the donkey.
' " Good morning," said she, bowing politely to the donkey, who lifted her head in surprise. " Excuse my interrupting you, but I have come on very important business."
' " Indeed," answered the donkey, "it is most kind