The People of Gibraltar

1941 - Francis Margaret Fox - True Monkey Stories

Francis Margaret Fox was an American authoress born in 1870 who was well known in her time as a writer children's books. The one below - a piece of whimsy that has very little to do about Gibraltar other than in the nationality of the main character - appeared as a short story in her book True Monkey Stories published in 1941.
Francis Margaret Fox

A Young Man from Gibraltar and the Monkeys

Long, long before “The United States of America” was printed on any map, there was a young man of Gibraltar who worked in a barber shop. He was not happy, because he longed to go travelling. Yet day after day he cut men’s hair, and he curled men’s hair, while he listened to their stories of the wide, wide world. Snip, snip, he would cut with his scissors, all the time thinking of the swish-swish of the waves against the sides of ships that were sailing, sailing over the deep blue seas.

Yet there he had to stand day after day, cutting hair and curling hair for gentlemen at Gibraltar, while they talked one to another. He heard words like these: “Tomorrow I sail for India,” or “Tomorrow I am bound for the Cape of Good Hope.” He heard Egypt spoken of, and Java. He heard them tell of Virginia over in North America, where the Indians lived, and even of Borneo, far, far away. He heard the talk of sailors, merchants and peddlers.

One day he was listening to a peddler telling another in the same business about what fun he had been having selling this and that from his pack. The barber was so interested that he was careless with his shears. He poked his peddler in the ear with the sharp point of his shears, and the peddler said, 
“Ouch - ouch! What do you think you are doing!”

The peddler was not a fine gentleman, but he meant well, and the prick of the sheers made him think about the barber and they became friends. One day the peddler tied up his pack and said he must be  moving on.

 “I wish I could follow you,” the barber replied.
“Why don’t you?” asked the peddler.
“Why, indeed?” thought the barber.

So the next day the young man of Gibraltar counted the money he had saved, and fared forth to seek his fortune as the peddler had advised. He said good-bye to the barber shop, good-bye to Gibraltar, and sailed across the strait to Ceuta, in North Africa.

There he spent all his money for red caps with red tassels, the kind that were worn in Turkey. He thought they were so beautiful that he could sell them easily to travellers on their way to Turkey. Then he would buy more and more caps to sell, and soon he would be so rich that he could go seeking adventures in strange lands beyond the blue sea.

The next morning after he had spent all the money that he had saved since he was a little boy, he started on his travels before the sun was up. He had to walk, because he had no camel, but he was so happy that he whistled and sang as he went through the forest.

At last, when the sun was high in the sky at noontime, the young man from Gibraltar sat under a tree to rest. He opened his pack of treasures and took out a beautiful red cap. He took off his hat, laid it on the ground, and put on the cap. Then he stretched himself under the tree and fell asleep. 

He snored—Krrrer—rrumph! Krrrer—rrumph— sometimes the sound went up, sometimes down, while he breathed heavily. Of course he didn’t know that he was snoring so loudly, because he was dreaming that. he had made his fortune and was sailing, Krrrer—rrumph, Krrrer—rrumph, sailing, sailing over the deep blue sea.

And all this time the monkeys in the treetops had been watching every move the man made. When that young man from Gibraltar was snoring the loudest and they were sure he was sound asleep, down came the monkeys, hundreds of monkeys, and helped themselves to red caps. Every monkey put on a red cap, and then back they all went skipping to the treetops, with red tassels bobbing on their heads.

They chattered and talked and laughed so loud that the young man from Gibraltar dreamed that pirates had come on board his ship, and he was so frightened that he awoke. Suddenly his eyes were round as saucers. His treasure pack was empty. He looked up and saw the jabbering monkeys, and every monkey was wearing a red cap.

 The poor young man from Gibraltar was filled with despair. His caps were gone, and he had no money left, nor friends, nor a bite to eat. He stood up and shook his fist at the monkeys. They shook their fists at him.

“Oh, what shall I do! Oh, what shall I do!” moaned that young man from Gibraltar.
“Woo, woo-woo, woo-woo, oo-o0,” answered the monkeys as they gathered together in the treetops, nearer and nearer, to see what this interesting young man might do next.

“Oh, woe is me, woe is me!” cried the poor fellow, and again the monkeys mocked him. This made the young man angry. He stamped his feet and yelled. The watching monkeys yelled too.

The young man from Gibraltar then snatched off his cap and threw it on the ground. Every monkey snatched off his red cap and threw it on the ground. The red caps, tassels and all, landed in a pile at the young man’s feet. He picked them up, packed them carefully, and went on his way rejoicing. He sold those caps, bought more, and more and soon was so rich that all his dreams came true.

And that is the story of the first monkeys who ever wore red caps!