[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the African Stories (Lang) unit. Story source: The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang and illustrated by H. J. Ford (1906).
Adventures of a Jackal (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)But the jackal had been very cunning and had trotted backwards and forwards and in and out, so that it was very difficult to know which track he had really followed. At length, however, the panther caught sight of his enemy, at the same moment that the jackal had caught sight of him.
The panther gave a loud roar and sprang forward, but the jackal was too quick for him and plunged into a dense thicket where the panther could not follow.
Disgusted with his failure, but more angry than ever, the panther lay down for a while to consider what he should do next and, as he was thinking, an old man came by.
'Oh! Father, tell me how I can repay the jackal for the way he has served me!' And without more ado he told his story.
'If you take my advice,' answered the old man, 'you will kill a cow and invite all the jackals in the forest to the feast. Watch them carefully while they are eating, and you will see that most of them keep their eyes on their food. But if one of them glances at you, you will know that is the traitor.'
The panther, whose manners were always good, thanked the old man and followed his counsel. The cow was killed, and the partridges flew about with invitations to the jackals, who gathered in large numbers to the feast.
The wicked jackal came amongst them, but as the panther had only seen him once he could not distinguish him from the rest. However, they all took their places on wooden seats placed round the dead cow, which was laid across the boughs of a fallen tree, and began their dinner, each jackal fixing his eyes greedily on the piece of meat before him.
Only one of them seemed uneasy, and every now and then glanced in the direction of his host. This the panther noticed, and suddenly made a bound at the culprit and seized his tail, but again the jackal was too quick for him and, catching up a knife, he cut off his tail and darted into the forest, followed by all the rest of the party. And before the panther had recovered from his surprise he found himself alone.
'What am I to do now?' he asked the old man, who soon came back to see how things had turned out.
'It is very unfortunate, certainly,' answered he, 'but I think I know where you can find him. There is a melon garden about two miles from here, and as jackals are very fond of melons, they are nearly sure to have gone there to feed. If you see a tailless jackal you will know that he is the one you want.' So the panther thanked him and went his way.
Now the jackal had guessed what advice the old man would give his enemy, and so, while his friends were greedily eating the ripest melons in the sunniest corner of the garden, he stole behind them and tied their tails together. He had only just finished when his ears caught the sound of breaking branches, and he cried: 'Quick! quick! here comes the master of the garden!' And the jackals sprang up and ran away in all directions, leaving their tails behind them. And how was the panther to know which was his enemy?
'They none of them had any tails,' he said sadly to the old man, 'and I am tired of hunting them. I shall leave them alone and go and catch something for supper.'
Of course the hedgehog had not been able to take part in any of these adventures, but as soon as all danger was over, the jackal went to look for his friend, whom he was lucky enough to find at home.