SOME people were steaming peas under a tree, in order to make a meal for their horses. Up in the branches sat a Monkey, who watched with his restless eyes what they were doing.
"Aha!" thought the Monkey. "I spy my dinner!"
So when they had finished steaming the peas, and turned away for a moment to look after the horses, gently, gently, the Monkey let himself down from the tree. He grabbed at the peas, and stuffed his mouth with them, and both hands as full as they could hold, then he clambered up to his perch as best he could. There he sat, his wizened old face happy and cunning, eating the peas.
Suddenly one pea fell.
"O dear, O dear! O my pea, my pea!" cried the Monkey, gibbering in distress. The other peas began to fall out of his mouth, but he did not notice them. He wrung his hands in despair, and the peas began to fall out of his hands too, but he took no notice. All he thought of was this, that one pea was gone.
So he shinned down the trunk, and scrambled about on the ground, hunting for his lost pea, but he could not find it anywhere.
By this time the men had come back, after seeing to their horses. When they saw a monkey meddling with their cooking-pots they all waved their arms, and called out, "Shoo! shoo!" Then they picked up stones, and began to pelt the Monkey with them. This terrified the Monkey so much that he gave one jump to the nearest branch, and swung himself up to the top of the tree.
"After all," said he to himself, "it was only one pea." But he ought to have thought of that before, for now like a thunderclap, it came home to him, that somehow or other all the other peas had gone too.
That day the Monkey had to content himself with the smell of boiled peas for dinner, and I hope the loss taught him not to be so greedy in future.