Chonguita the Monkey Wife
A Story of the Philippines
There was a king who had three sons, named Pedro, Diego, and Juan. One day the king ordered these three gentlemen to set out from the kingdom and seek their fortunes. The three brothers took different directions, but before they separated they agreed to meet in a certain place in the forest. After walking for many days, Don Juan met an old man on the road. This old man gave Don Juan bread, and told him to go to a palace which was a mile away. "But as you enter the gate," said the old man, "you must divide the bread which I have given you among the monkeys which are guarding the gate to the palace; otherwise you will not be able to enter." Don Juan took the bread; and when he reached the palace, he did as the old man had advised him. After entering the gate, he saw a big monkey. Frightened at the sight of the animal, Don Juan was about to run away, when the animal called to him, and said, "Don Juan, I know that your purpose in coming here was to find your fortune; and at this very moment my daughter Chonguita will marry you." The archbishop of the monkeys was called, and Don Juan and Chonguita were married without delay. A few days afterwards Don Juan asked permission from his wife to go to the place where he and his brothers had agreed to meet. When Chonguita's mother heard that Don Juan was going away, she said to him, "If you are going away, take Chonguita with you." Although Don Juan was ashamed to go with Chonguita because she was a monkey, he was forced to take her, and they set out together. When Don Juan met his two brothers and their beautiful wives at the appointed place, he could not say a word. Don Diego, noticing the gloomy appearance of his brother, said, "What is the matter with you? Where is your wife, Don Juan?" Don Juan sadly replied, "Here she is." "Where?" asked Don Pedro. "Behind me," replied Don Juan. When Don Pedro and Don Diego saw the monkey, they were very much surprised. "Oh!" exclaimed Don Pedro. "What happened to you? Did you lose your head?" Don Juan could say nothing to this question. At last, however, he broke out, "Let us go home! Our father must be waiting for us." So saying, Don Juan turned around and began the journey. Don Pedro and Don Diego, together with their wives, followed Don Juan. Chonguita walked by her husband's side. When the return of the three brothers was announced to the king, the monarch hastened to meet them on the stairs. Upon learning that one of his sons had married a monkey, the king fainted; but after he had recovered his senses, he said to himself, "This misfortune is God's will. I must therefore bear it with patience." The king then assigned a house to each couple to live in. But the more the king thought of it, the greater appeared to be the disgrace that his youngest son had brought on the family. So one day he called his three sons together, and said to them, "Tell your wives that I want each one of them to make me an embroidered coat. The one who fails to do this within three days will be put to death." Now, the king issued this order in the hope that Chonguita would be put to death, because he thought that she would not be able to make the coat; but his hope was disappointed. On the third day his daughters-in-law presented to him the coats that they had made, and the one embroidered by Chonguita was the prettiest of all. Still anxious to get rid of the monkey wife, the king next ordered his daughters-in-law to embroider a cap for him in two days, under penalty of death in case of failure. The caps were all done on time. At last, thinking of no other way by which he could accomplish his end, the king summoned his three daughters-in-law, and said, "The husband of the one who shall be able to draw the prettiest picture on the walls of my chamber within three days shall succeed me on the throne." At the end of the three days the pictures were finished. When the king went to inspect them, he found that Chonguita's was by far the prettiest, and so Don Juan was crowned king. A great feast was held in the palace in honor of the new king. In the midst of the festivities Don Juan became very angry with his wife for insisting that he dance with her, and he hurled her against the wall. At this brutal action the hall suddenly became dark; but after a while it became bright again, and Chonguita had been transformed into a beautiful woman.