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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Monkey in the Palace

A Monkey in the Palace

Sharif was going to be eight years old. The next day was his birthday and he was going to ask his father, the Sultan, for something very special. That night, as he sat on the big pillow next to the table, eating supper with his family, Sharif said, "Papa, I want a monkey for my birthday!"

"A monkey?" his papa replied. "That is a most unusual request. Do you know how much work a monkey can be?"

"Not much at all, Papa. Iíll feed it bananas and almonds and let it play in the trees," Sharif smiled.

Sharif and his family lived in a large palace, surrounded by beautiful gardens and ponds. There were plenty of trees for a monkey to play in. "All right, Sharif. I will get a monkey for your birthday. Perhaps your mama can have some clothes made for him," Papa said, winking at Mama.

The next morning Sharif woke up with the sun. He ran into the garden. The flowers were opening their petals and the birds were beginning to sing. "Whereís my monkey?" he shouted, searching behind every bush and waking everyone in the palace up.

"Here it is, Sharif," his papa yawned. He came out of the palace carrying a small monkey in his arms. "His name is Hassan. Your mama had these bright red baggy pants, a yellow and red striped vest, and yellow turban made for him." He began to laugh, "Take care of him and feed him well." Papa went back to bed, leaving his son and the monkey in the garden.

The Sultan had no sooner left than Hassan jumped out of Sharifís arms and ran into the rose garden. He started pulling all the petals off the beautiful, fragrant flowers. "No! No! Hassan, no! Those are Mamaís favorite flowers. Donít touch the yellow roses." Hassan ignored Sharif and tore the yellow roses to pieces. The grass around the flower garden was soon covered with the velvety petals. "Mamaís going to be angry." He grabbed the monkeyís tail and picked him up.

"Letís go into the orchard and find you a banana. There are many trees to climb," Sharif said. When the monkey saw the banana palms he wiggled out of Sharifís grasp. Instead of climbing them, Hassan ran into the melon patch. "No! No! Hassan, no! You can eat the bananas, but not the melons." He tried to catch Hassan but he was too quick for the boy. The monkey pulled one of the melons off the vine and threw it at Sharif. It burst open and splattered all over his clothes. Melons began exploding on the side of the white marble palace, making a thick, sticky mess. Orange cantaloupes, green honeydews, and red watermelons splattered on every wall, gate, and tower. Hassan threw a casaba at one of the swans that was gliding across a pond. Yellow fruit stuck to the beautiful birdís feathers. It honked and flew away. Sharif watched in horror as the monkey threw a melon at Khalil, the Sultanís favorite tiger. The tiger began to roar angrily and tried to grab the monkey with its sharp claws. Sharif could barely see its orange and black stripes from all the melon on its fur.

Sharif finally was able to grab hold of Hassanís long tail. He picked him up and held him tightly. "Khalil will eat you for breakfast if he catches you. Donít do that again. Letís go inside the palace. It is safer for you."

As they entered the beautiful palace, Sharif saw Ahmed, his servant. He explained to him about the mess Hassan had made with the melons and roses. Ahmed bowed and went outside to clean it up before the Sultan saw what Hassan had done.

Sharif put the monkey down on the mosaic-covered floor. It was polished and sparkled like diamonds. Hassan didnít waste a momentís time. He darted across the slippery floor and ran into the Treasury. "No! No! Hassan, no!" shouted Sharif. He was too late. Hassan had lifted the lid of one of the huge wooden chests sitting on the floor. Red rubies, green emeralds, blue sapphires, and sparkling diamonds went flying through the air as the monkey tossed them about. They bounced all over the room. Some rolled under the furniture and others rolled onto the Persian carpets.

"Not Papaís jewels," Sharif gulped. He got down on his hands and knees and tried to pick them up, but Hassan kept throwing them quicker than he could grab them. Sharif chased the monkey around the room and nearly caught him, but he jumped onto the chandalier. Hassan started swinging back and forth. "No! No! Hassan, no! That is very fragile and made of the finest glass from Venice. Come down!"

Sharif stood helpless, watching the monkey destroy the palace. He knocked over a huge glass jar filled with gold coins. They spread across the floor like lava oozing from a volcano. He ran into the kitchen and pulled all the copper pots off their hangers. They clanged and bounced across the floor. Sharif had to put his hands over his ears when Hassan began to bang them together.

The monkey ran into the bath and turned the taps on. Water came gushing out and ran all over the floor. Soon puddles covered the tiles. "Sharif! What is going on here!" shouted the Sultan. He stood with his arms on his waist. "Youíve had the monkey two hours and it has nearly destroyed the palace, inside and out, angered Khalil, my tiger, ruined your mamaís rose garden, and splattered every wall with melons. Do you know how much work it will take to clean this up?"

Ahmed snuck up behind Hassan and grabbed him with a large net. The monkey screeched angrily and tried to escape. "The monkey is going back where it came from; back to where it belongs - in the jungle!" his papa said.

Sharif knew he was right. Hassan was too wild to live in the Sultanís palace. Ahmed took the monkey away. Sharif went outside and sat next to the pond. His feet dangled in the water. Bright orange koi swam back and forth, hoping that the boy would toss them a crumb of bread, but he was feeling too sad to do that.

"Sharif! Come inside!" his papa shouted. Sharif walked into the palace, his face gloomy and head hanging low. "Since it is still your birthday, I bought you a different gift. It is much better than the monkey. I know you will like it. It is over there, in that box."

Sharifís eyes sparkled and he ran over to the wooden box. "A tiger cub!" he laughed, picking the tiny animal up. "Its claws are sharp!"

"His claws will become even more sharp and he will grow up to be a great tiger, like my Khalil. Ahmed will help you train him. Weíll keep him with Khalil and you can visit him every day," Papa said.

Sharif was delighted. "Iíll name him Raad."

"Raad is fitting for a tiger. Go with Ahmed and take Raad with you," the Sultan said.

Khalil welcomed the cub and helped teach him the tigerís way of doing things. Ahmed and Sharif went to visit every day and taught him to do tricks. "You were a much better birthday present than a monkey," Sharif said, hugging the cub.

"Yes, and he doesnít throw melons or destroy your mamaís rose garden," Ahmed laughed.

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