[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
In a country which is full of wild beasts of all sorts there once lived a jackal and a hedgehog and, unlike though they were, the two animals made great friends and were often seen in each other's company.
One afternoon they were walking along a road together, when the jackal, who was the taller of the two, exclaimed: 'Oh! there is a barn full of corn; let us go and eat some.'
'Yes, do let us!' answered the hedgehog.
So they went to the barn and ate till they could eat no more. Then the jackal put on his shoes, which he had taken off so as to make no noise, and they returned to the high road.
After they had gone some way they met a panther, who stopped, and bowing politely, said: 'Excuse my speaking to you, but I cannot help admiring those shoes of yours. Do you mind telling me who made them?'
'Yes, I think they are rather nice,' answered the jackal; 'I made them myself, though.'
'Could you make me a pair like them?' asked the panther eagerly.
'I would do my best, of course,' replied the jackal; 'but you must kill me a cow, and when we have eaten the flesh, I will take the skin and make your shoes out of it.'
So the panther prowled about until he saw a fine cow grazing apart from the rest of the herd. He killed it instantly and then gave a cry to the jackal and hedgehog to come to the place where he was. They soon skinned the dead beast and spread its skin out to dry, after which they had a grand feast before they curled themselves up for the night and slept soundly.
Next morning the jackal got up early and set to work upon the shoes, while the panther sat by and looked on with delight. At last they were finished, and the jackal arose and stretched himself.
'Now go and lay them in the sun out there,' said he; 'in a couple of hours they will be ready to put on, but do not attempt to wear them before, or you will feel them most uncomfortable. But I see the sun is high in the heavens, and we must be continuing our journey.'
The panther, who always believed what everybody told him, did exactly as he was bid, and in two hours' time began to fasten on the shoes. They certainly set off his paws wonderfully, and he stretched out his forepaws and looked at them with pride. But when he tried to walk--ah! that was another story! They were so stiff and hard that he nearly shrieked every step he took, and at last he sank down where he was, and actually began to cry.
After some time, some little partridges who were hopping about heard the poor panther's groans and went up to see what was the matter. He had never tried to make his dinner off them, and they had always been quite friendly.
'You seem in pain,' said one of them, fluttering close to him; 'can we help you?'
'Oh, it is the jackal! He made me these shoes; they are so hard and tight that they hurt my feet, and I cannot manage to kick them off.'
'Lie still, and we will soften them,' answered the kind little partridge. And calling to his brothers, they all flew to the nearest spring and carried water in their beaks, which they poured over the shoes. This they did till the hard leather grew soft, and the panther was able to slip his feet out of them.
'Oh, thank you, thank you,' he cried, skipping round with joy. 'I feel a different creature. Now I will go after the jackal and pay him my debts.' And he bounded away into the forest.