"A wounded bird! a wounded bird!" cried the women; "we can easily catch it." Whereupon they set off in pursuit, but the cunning Partridge played a thousand tricks, till they became so excited over the chase that they put their bundles on the ground in order to pursue it more nimbly. The Jackal, meanwhile, seizing his opportunity, crept up, and made off with a good dinner.
"Are you satisfied now?" asked the Partridge.
"Well," returned the Jackal, "I confess you have given me a very good dinner; you have also made me laugh-and cry-ahem! But, after all, the great test of friendship is beyond you-you couldn't save my life!"
"Perhaps not," acquiesced the Partridge mournfully, "I am so small and weak. But it grows late-we should be getting home; and as it is a long way round by the ford, let us go across the river. My friend the Crocodile will carry us over."
Accordingly they set off for the river, and the Crocodile kindly consented to carry them across, so they sat on his broad back and he ferried them over. But just as they were in the middle of the stream the Partridge remarked. "I believe the Crocodile intends to play us a trick. How awkward if he were to drop you into the water!"
"Awkward for you, too!" replied the Jackal, turning pale.
"Not at all! not at all! I have wings, you haven't."
On this the Jackal shivered and shook with fear, and when the Crocodile, in a gruesome growl, remarked that he was hungry and wanted a good meal, the wretched creature hadn't a word to say.
"Pooh!" cried the Partridge airily, "don't try tricks on us-I should fly away, and as for my friend, the Jackal, you couldn't hurt him. He is not such a fool as to take his life with him on these little excursions; he leaves it at home, locked up in the cupboard."
"Is that a fact?" asked the Crocodile, surprised. "Certainly!" retorted the Partridge. Try to eat him if you like, but you will only tire yourself to no purpose.
"Dear me! how very odd!" gasped time Crocodile; and he was so taken aback that he carried the Jackal safe to shore.
"Well, are you satisfied now?" asked the Partridge.
"My dear madam!" quoth the Jackal, "you have made me laugh, you have made me cry, you have given me a good dinner, and you have saved my life; but, upon my honor, I think you are too clever for a friend so good-by!"
And the Jackal never went near the Partridge again.
THE JACKAL AND THE CROCODILE
By Flora Annie Steel
ONCE upon a time Mr. Jackal was trotting along gayly, when lie caught sight of a wild plum tree laden with fruit on the other side of a broad, deep stream. I could not get across anyhow, so he just sat down on the bank and looked at the ripe, luscious fruit until his mouth watered with desire.
Now it so happened that, just then, Miss Crocodile came floating down stream with her nose in the air.
"Good morning, my dear!" said Mr. Jackal politely; "how beautiful you look to-day, and how charmingly you swim! Now, if I could only swim too, what a fine feast of plums we two friends might have over there together!" And Mr. Jackal laid his paw on his heart, and sighed.
Now Miss Crocodile had a very inflammable heart, and when Mr. Jackal looked at her so admiringly, and spoke so sentimentally, she simpered and blushed, saying, "Oh! Mr. Jackal! how can you talk so? I could never dream of going out to dinner with you, unless-unless-"
"Unless what?" asked the Jackal persuasively.
"Unless we were going to be married!" simpered Miss Crocodile.
"And why shouldn't we be married, my charmer?" returned the Jackal eagerly. "I would go and fetch the barber to begin the betrothal at once, but I am so faint with hunger just at present that I should never reach the village. Now, if the most adorable of her sex would only take pity on her slave, and carry me over the stream, I might refresh myself with those plums, and so gain strength to accomplish the ardent desire of my heart!"
Here the Jackal sighed so piteously, and cast such sheep's eyes at Miss Crocodile, that she was unable to withstand him. So she carried him across to the plum tree, and then sat on the water's edge to think over her wedding dress, while Mr. Jackal feasted on the plums and enjoyed himself.
"Now for the barber, my beauty!" cried the gay Jackal, when he had eaten as much as he could. Then the blushing Miss Crocodile carried him back again, and bade him be quick about his business, like a dear good creature, for really she felt so flustered at the very idea that she didn't know what might happen.
"Now don't distress yourself, my dear!" quoth the deceitful Mr. Jackal, springing to the bank, "because it's not impossible that I may not find the barber, and then, you know, you may have to wait some time, a considerable time in fact, before I return. So don't injure your health for my sake, if you please." With that he blew her a kiss, and trotted away with his tail up.
Of course he never came back, though trusting Miss Crocodile waited patiently for him; at last she understood what a gay, deceitful fellow he was, and determined to have her revenge on him one way or another.
So she hid herself in the water, under the roots of a tree, close to a ford where the Jackal always came to drink. By and by, sure enough, he came lilting along in a self-satisfied way, and went right into the water for a good long draft. Whereupon Miss Crocodile seized him by the right legs and held on. He guessed at once what had happened, and called out, "Oh! my heart's adored! I'm drowning! I'm drowning! If you love me, leave hold of that old root and get a good grip of my leg- it is just next door!"
Hearing this, Miss Crocodile thought she must have made a mistake, and, letting go the Jackal's leg in a hurry, seized an old root close by, and held on. Whereupon Mr. Jackal jumped nimbly to shore, and ran off with his tail up, calling out, "Have a little patience, my beauty! The barber will come some day!"
But this time Miss Crocodile knew better than to wait, and being now dreadfully angry, she crawled away to the Jackal's hole, and, slipping inside, lay quiet.
By and by Mr. Jackal came lilting along with his tail up. "Ho! ho!
That is your game, is it?" said he to himself, when he saw the trail of the Crocodile in the sandy soil. So he stood outside, and said aloud, "Bless my stars! What has happened? I don't half like to go in, for whenever I come home my wife always calls out,
'Oh, dearest hubby hub!
What have you brought for grub
to me and the darling cub?'
and to-day she doesn't say anything!"
Hearing this, Miss Crocodile sang out from inside,
"Oh, dearest hubby hub!
What have you brought for grub
To me and the darling cub?"
The Jackal winked a very big wink, and, stealing in softly, stood at the doorway. Meanwhile Miss Crocodile, hearing him coming, held her breath, and lay, shamming dead, like a big log.
"Bless my stars!" cried Mr. Jackal, taking out his pocket handkerchief, "how very sad! Here's poor Miss Crocodile stone dead, and all for love of me! Dear! dear! Yet it is very odd, and I don't think she can be quite dead, you know-for dead folks always wag their tails!"
On this, Miss Crocodile began to wag her tail very gently, and Mr.
Jackal ran off, roaring with laughter, and saying. "Oho! oho! so dead folks always wag their tails!"
THE JACKAL AND THE IGUANA
By Flora Annie Steel
ONE moonlight night a miserable, half-starved Jackal, skulking through the village, found a worn-out pair of shoes in the gutter. They were too tough for him to eat, so, determined to make some use of them, he strung them to his ears like earrings, and, going down to the edge of the pond, gathered all the old bones he could find together and built a platform of them, plastering it over with mud.
On this he sat in a dignified attitude, and when any animal came to the pond to drink, he cried out in a loud voice, "Hi! stop! You must not taste a drop till you have done homage to me. So repeat these verses which I have composed in honor of the occasion:
'Silver is his dais, plastered o'er with gold;
In his ears are jewels,-some prince I must behold!'"
Now, as most of the animals were very thirsty, and in a great hurry to drink, they did not care to dispute the matter, but gabbled off the words without a second thought. Even the royal tiger, treating it as a jest, repeated the Jackal's rime, in consequence of which the latter became quite a cock-a-hoop, and really began to believe he was a personage of great importance.