folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 68A
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2001-2009


  1. The Boy and the Filberts (Aesop).

  2. Capturing Monkeys (India).

  3. The Greedy Monkey (Pakistan).

  4. The Monkey and the Nuts (USA, Ambrose Bierce).

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The Boy and the Filberts


A boy put his hand into a jar of filberts and grasped as many as his fist could possibly hold. But when he tried to pull it out again, he found he couldn't do so, for the neck of the jar was too small to allow of the passage of so large a handful. Unwilling to lose his nuts but unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears.

A bystander, who saw where the trouble lay, said to him, "Come, my boy, don't be so greedy. Be content with half the amount, and you'll be able to get your hand out without difficulty."

Do not attempt too much at once.

Capturing Monkeys


The mango trees [at Muddunpillay] were the resort of a great colony of monkeys, and we were told that the natives had caught many of them by placing on the ground coconuts in which holes had been cut, and which they had half filled with grain. These holes were only just large enough to admit the monkey's open hand. It was said that when Jockoo had grasped a good fistful of grain and could not withdraw it, the natives rushed out from an ambush close by, threw a cumbly (native blanket) over his head, and captured him, as he could not draw out his fist full, and would not let go his lawful prize of grain!

This is the story as told to us; but, in the interests of my veracity, I must say that we did not ourselves see the thing done.

The Greedy Monkey


Once upon a time a monkey noticed some wheat which had fallen into a small hollow in a rock. Thrusting in his hand, he filled it with the grain, but the entrance was so narrow that he was unable to draw it out without relinquishing most of his prize. This, however, he was unwilling to do, greedily desiring to have it all. So the consequence was that he remained without any, and finally went hungry away.

The Monkey and the Nuts

USA, Ambrose Bierce

A certain city desiring to purchase a site for a public deformatory procured an appropriation from the government of the country. Deeming this insufficient for purchase of the site and payment of reasonable commissions to themselves, the men in charge of the matter asked for a larger sum, which was readily given. Believing that the fountain could not be dipped dry, they applied for still more and more yet. Wearied at last by their importunities, the government said it would be damned if it gave anything.

So it gave nothing and was damned all the harder.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised July 5, 2009.