Santal: The Jackal and the Crow

This story is part of the Santal Folklore unit. Story source: Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas (1909).

The Jackal and the Crow

Once upon a time, a crow and a jackal became bosom friends, and they agreed that the crow should support the jackal in the hot weather and the jackal support the crow in the rainy season.

By-and-by the jackal got discontented with the arrangement and vowed that it would not go on supporting an animal of another species, but would take some opportunity of eating it up.

But he did not let this appear, and one day he invited the crow to a feast and gave him as many frogs and grasshoppers as he could eat and treated him well and they parted very affectionately.

Then a few days later, the crow invited the jackal to dinner in return, and when the jackal arrived, the crow led him to an ant-hill and showed him a hollow gourd which he had filled with live mice and said, “Here is your dinner.”

The jackal could not get his nose into the hole of the gourd so, to get at the mice, he had to break it. And the mice ran all over the place, and the jackal jumped about here and there trying to catch them.

At this sight the crow stood and laughed, and the jackal said to himself, “Very well, my friend, you invited me here to have a laugh at me; wait till I have finished with the mice — then it will be your turn.”

So when he had caught all the mice he could, he declared that he had had as much as he could eat and would like to go and sleep off his meal. As they said farewell and were salaaming to each other, the jackal pounced on the crow and ate him up; not a bone or a claw was left. Then the jackal began to skip with joy and sang:

“I ate a gourdful of mice
And by the side of the ant-hill
I ate the crow: Hurrah!”

And singing thus, he went skipping homewards, and on the way, he met a fowl and called to it to get out of the way or he would eat it — singing —

“I ate a gourdful of mice,
And by the side of the ant-hill
I ate the crow: Hurrah!”

And as the fowl did not move, he ate it up; then he skipped on and came to a goat, and he sang his verse and told it to get out of the way and as it did not, he ate it; and in the same way he met and killed a sheep and a cow, and he ate the liver and lungs of the cow, and then he killed a buffalo and ate its liver and lungs, and by this time he was as full as he could hold.

Then he came to a pool of water and he called to it to get out of the way or he would drink it up and, as it did not move, he drank it dry.

Then he came to a post and said, “Get out of my way or I will jump over you —

“I ate a gourdful of mice
And by the side of the ant-hill
I ate the crow: Hurrah!”

And so saying he tried to jump over it, but he was so full of what he had eaten and drunk that he leaped short and fell on the point of the stake and was transfixed, so that he died.


(600 words)








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