The Foolish Dragon

In years gone by, a dragon living in the great sea saw that his wife’s health was not good. He, seeing her colour fade away, said: “My dear, what shall I get you to eat?” Mrs Dragon was silent. Just tell me and I will get it,” pleaded the affectionate husband. “You cannot do it; why trouble?” quoth she. “Trust me, and you shall have your heart’s desire,” said the dragon. “Well, I want a monkey’s heart to eat.” “Why, Mrs Dragon, the monkeys live in the mountain forests! How can I get one of their hearts?” “Well, I am going to die; I know I am.”

Forthwith the dragon went on shore, and, spying a monkey on the top of a tree, said: “Hail, shining one, are you not afraid you will fall?” “No, I have no such fear.” “Why eat of one tree? Cross the sea, and you will find forests of fruit and flowers.” “How can I cross?” “Get on my back.” The dragon with his tiny load went seaward, and then suddenly dived down. “Where are you going?” said the monkey, with the salt water in his eyes and mouth. “Oh! my dear sir! my wife is very sad and ill, and has taken a fancy to your heart.” “What shall I do?” thought the monkey. He then spoke, “Illustrious friend, why did not you tell me? I left my heart on the top of the tree; take me back, and I will get it for Mrs Dragon.” The dragon returned to the shore. As the monkey was tardy in coming down from the tree, the dragon said: “Hurry up, little friend, I am waiting.” Then the monkey thought within himself, “What a fool this dragon is!”

Then Buddha said to his followers: “At this time I was the monkey.”

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