39. Monkey Business
A monkey lived in a forest. Once, as he leapt from tree to tree, a splinter broke in his tail. He was sitting on a branch howling in pain and nursing his tail when he saw a barber walking that way. He called the man closer and begged of him: “Brother Barber, Brother Barber, a thorn or something is hurting my tail. Please take it out with your razor, bless you.”
When the barber was taking out the splinter, which was in a tricky place, the whole tail broke off with a snap. The monkey began to cry in a loud voice, “Give me my tail back! My tail, my tail!”
The barber didn't know what to do. So he said, “Take my razor instead of your tail.”
The monkey took the barber's razor and began to walk. On his way, he saw a potter patting clay and turning a pot. The monkey said, “Take this razor,” and gave it to him. The potter took it and put it to one of the pots to cut an edge, but the razor broke in his hand. The monkey set up a howl: “You broke my razor! My razor, my razor!”
So the potter gave him a pot in exchange for the razor.
The monkey was walking along with the pot when he saw a farmer watering cucumber plants with his bare hands. So the monkey gave the pot to the farmer. Before he could water two cucumbers with it, the pot slipped from his hands and shattered. The monkey wailed again, “Give me back my pot! My pot, my pot!”
The farmer gave him a cucumber in exchange.
Next the monkey met a peasant who was eating dry bread. So the monkey gave him the cucumber. But as soon as he finished eating it with his bread, the monkey howled, “My cucumber! Give me back my cucumber!”
The peasant, the good man, didn't want any trouble. So he gave the monkey his old ox.
The monkey now rode the ox till he saw some acrobats carrying bamboo poles and drums and things on their heads. The monkey said to them, “Why do you want to carry all that stuff on your heads? Put it all on this ox's back.”
The acrobats were glad to load the ox with everything they had and walk next to it swinging their hands. The ox was very old and could not really bear the burden. He soon sank to the ground and fell down dead. The monkey jumped up and down and cried, “My ox, my ox! Give me back my ox!”
The acrobats couldn't stand this monkey business and gave him his big drum.
The monkey beat his drum and began to sing:
Out went the tail,
in came the razor, dum dum!
Out went the razor, in came the pot, dum dum!
Out went the pot, in came the cuke, dum dum!
Out went the cuke, in came the ox, dum dum!
Out went the ox, in came the drum, dum dum!
Out went the tail, in came the drum, the drum, the drum,
dum dum dum! dum dum dum!
[AT 2037A*, Series of Trick Exchanges: razor-pot-bride-drum by tricky fox (IO).]