Princess Chana and the King of the Monkeys (or, How the Monkeys got their laugh)

I am sure you have all heard the monkeys laugh. Of course you have. As they climb and swing and dance in the trees, you have heard them screaming and crying out. That is their laugh! But do you ever wonder how they learned to laugh? Well…

Once upon a time, when the world was still young and innocent, there lived a beautiful princess, named Chana. She was adored by her family, cherished among her friends, and wanted for nothing.
But she was ever so wilful. Although kind in heart, and charitable in outlook, she could not calm this rebellious streak within her, and would often get herself into trouble. She would wander away from the grounds of her father’s beautiful palace, and have all kinds of adventures (some of which you may hear more about, one day). And because she was so sweet, and so loving, when she was caught where she should not be, she was always forgiven.

One day, not long after the sun had risen, one of princess Chana’s wilful moods came upon her, and she took herself off and out into the jungle that bordered her home on three sides.

The jungle was deep, and dark, and contained many dangerous animals. But this did not worry princess Chana, because she had never encountered a situation in which her looks, her smile, or her sweet personality could not get her out of. And if all else failed, because she was a princess, she was very rich and could offer money or gifts to extricate herself from trouble.

On this particularly bright morning, princess Chana took one of the darker paths through the trees and hanging leaves. The air, as it is in jungles, was damp and humid. But princess Chana had her light summer silks on, and her beautifully jewelled sandals, and was quite comfortable. As she walked further and further into this green world, she lost sight of the walls of her father’s palace, and began to feel as though she were in a whole different world.

Eventually, she came upon a clearing wherein she saw a fallen tree, perfect for her to rest a while on and gaze about herself. She perched herself on the trunk of the tree, took a deep breath, and said to herself “Well this is a lovely glade. Time and peace for me to rest and think”.

But, the peace was not long in lasting, as there came a rustling in the trees above her, and a voice spoke to her and said “Who is this, in my jungle, without my permission?”
Princess Chana looked about her, but because the jungle was so thick and deep, she could not see anything other than trees, and branches, and leaves.
“Who’s there?” she called. She was not afraid, merely curious as to who may have spoken to her.
“I’m there” replied the voice.
“And who is ‘I’?” said Princess Chana.
“You are I, but I am me” said the voice once more.
“Oh, this is silly”, said princess Chana, “I am a princess and am in no mood for silly games.”
With that, as princess Chana was about to raise herself from her seat, a large, black furred monkey dropped from the trees and landed in front of her with a thump.

“A princess?” said the monkey, “Well, I am a king! I am the king of the monkeys and you must address me as ‘Your Majesty'”.
“The king of the monkeys?” said the princess, “I have never heard of such. I know of the lion, who is king of the forest, and I know of the orca, who is king of the sea, but I never did hear of the king of the monkeys”.
“Well, it is I and I am me” said the king of the monkeys, “and to honour me, and to prove to all my subjects I am truly their king, I must marry a princess. So I will marry you.”.

Well, princess Chana was shocked! But once again, she was not scared, for she knew she could rely on her beauty, her smile, her charm, or at the very least her money, to get her out of trouble.

“Your majesty” said princess Chana (for although she was wilful, she was not stupid, and knew how to keep people happy), “I am far too young to marry, but I have something far more precious to give you in honour of your station. I will give you my laugh. My laugh is like music, sweet in melody and high in tone, and is truly a gift worthy of a king!”.
The king of the monkeys had not heard of a laugh, but being proud and a little stupid, did not admit to such.
“Your laugh? Well, that will indeed be a fine gift for a king. Tell me, is it beautiful? Is it regal? Will it make me the envy of all other animals in the jungle?”
“Yes, your majesty” replied the princess, “it is all those things and more”.
The king of the monkeys held out his hand and said “Give it to me then, princess, let me have this laugh”.
Princess Chana smiled and said “No, your majesty, to receive this gift you simply need copy the sounds I make”. And with that, she began to laugh. Softly at first, as though amused by a small joke;
“ha, ha, ha” she said.
The king of the monkeys repeated it, “ha, ha, ha”.
Princess Chana then laughed a little harder, as though amused by one of her court jesters antics;
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” she said.
The king of the monkeys repeated it again, “Ha! Ha! Ha!”.
Finally, princess Chana started to laugh as though she was being tickled by her father, which always made her feel happiest and made her laugh so much!
“HA! HA! HA!” she cried.
The kind of the monkeys repeated this, “HA! HA! HA!”, and realised how wonderful this felt! Why, monkeys had never laughed before, but oh what a feeling!
The king of the monkeys laughed, and laughed, and laughed! He became so weak, he fell down, and rolled around on the floor, laughing, and laughing and laughing.
The noise attracted his monkey subjects – they came creeping out from the trees and branches and leaves, to see what the noise and fuss was all about. They saw their king, rolling on the floor, making such a strange noise… they all started laughing too!
Soon, all the monkeys in the jungle were laughing, and screaming, and unable to control themselves.

Princess Chana, seeing her chance to quietly slip away, left the king of the monkeys, and all his monkey subjects, laughing themselves silly in the jungle. She made her way back to her father’s palace, and safely returned home.

That night, and for every night since, the monkeys can be heard laughing in the jungle, laughing at their king and his silly antics. All thanks to Princess Chana.