[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the The Monkey King unit. Story source: "The Ape Sun Wu Kung" in The Chinese Fairy Book, ed. by R. Wilhelm and translated by Frederick H. Martens (1921).
Handsome King of the Apes
Now this rock, from the very beginning of the world, had absorbed all the hidden seed power of heaven and earth and sun and moon, which endowed it with supernatural creative gifts. One day the rock burst, and out came an egg of stone. And out of this stone egg a stone ape was hatched by magic power. When he broke the shell he bowed to all sides.
Then he gradually learned to walk and to leap, and two streams of golden radiance broke from his eyes which shot up to the highest of the castles of heaven, so that the Lord of the Heavens was frightened.
So he sent out the two gods, Thousandmile-Eye and Fine-Ear, to find out what had happened. The two gods came back and reported: “The rays shine from the eyes of the stone ape who was hatched out of the egg which came from the magic rock. There is no reason for uneasiness.”
Little by little the ape grew up, ran and leaped about, drank from the springs in the valleys, ate the flowers and fruits, and time went by in unconstrained play.
One day during the summer, when he was seeking coolness together with the other apes on the island, they went to the valley to bathe. There they saw a waterfall which plunged down a high cliff.
Said the apes to each other: “Whoever can force his way through the waterfall without suffering injury shall be our king.”
The stone ape at once leaped into the air with joy and cried: “I will pass through!” Then he closed his eyes, bent down low, and leaped through the roar and foam of the waters. When he opened his eyes once more, he saw an iron bridge which was shut off from the outer world by the waterfall as though by a curtain.
At its entrance stood a tablet of stone on which were graven the words: “This is the heavenly cave behind the water-curtain on the Blessed Island of Flowers and Fruits.” Filled with joy, the stone ape leaped out again through the waterfall and told the other apes what he had found.
They received the news with great content and begged the stone ape to take them there. So the tribe of apes leaped through the water on the iron bridge and then crowded into the cave castle where they found a hearth with a profusion of pots, cups and platters. But all were made of stone.
Then the apes paid homage to the stone ape as their king, and he was given the name of Handsome King of the Apes.
He appointed long-tailed, ring-tailed and other monkeys to be his officials and counselors, servants and retainers, and they led a blissful life on the Mountain, sleeping by night in their cave castle, keeping away from birds and beasts, and their king enjoyed untroubled happiness.
In this way some three hundred years went by.
Next: The Great Sea