THE ADVENTURES OF THE JACKAL’S ELDEST SON
Now, though the jackal was dead, he had left two sons
behind him, every whit as cunning and tricky as their
father. The elder of the two was a fine handsome
creature, who had a pleasant manner and made many
friends. The animal he saw most of was a hyena; and
one day, when they were taking a walk together, they
picked up a beautiful green cloak, which had evidently
been dropped by some one riding across the plain on a
camel. Of course each wanted to have it, and they
almost quarrelled over the matter; but at length it was
settled that the hyena should wear the cloak by day and
the jackal by night. After a little while, however, the
jackal became discontented with this arrangement, declaring
that none of his friends, who were quite different
from those of the hyena, could see the splendour of the
mantle, and that it was only fair that he should sometimes
be allowed to wear it by day. To this the hyena would
by no means consent, and they were on the eve of a
quarrel when the hyena proposed that they should ask
the lion to judge between them. The jackal agreed to
this, and the hyena wrapped the cloak about him, and
they both trotted off to the lion’s den.
The jackal, who was fond of talking, at once told the
story; and when it was finished the lion turned to the hyena
and asked if it was true.
‘Quite true, your majesty,’ answered the hyena.
‘Then lay the cloak on the ground at my feet,’ said the
lion, ‘and I will give my judgment.’ So the mantle
was spread upon the red earth, the hyena and the jackal
standing on each side of it.
There was silence for a few moments, and then the
lion sat up, looking very great and wise.
‘My judgment is that the garment shall belong
wholly to whoever first rings the bell of the nearest
mosque at dawn to-morrow. Now go; for much business
All that night the hyena sat up, fearing lest the
jackal should reach the bell before him, for the mosque
was close at hand. With the first streak of dawn he
bounded away to the bell, just as the jackal, who had
slept soundly all night, was rising to his feet.
‘Good luck to you,’ cried the jackal. And throwing
the cloak over his back he darted away across the plain,
and was seen no more by his friend the hyena.
After running several miles the jackal thought he was
safe from pursuit, and seeing a lion and another hyena
talking together, he strolled up to join them.
‘Good morning,’ he said; ‘may I ask what is the matter?
You seem very serious about something.’
‘Pray sit down,’ answered the lion. ‘We were wondering
in which direction we should go to find the best dinner.
The hyena wishes to go to the forest, and I to the mountains.
What do you say?’
‘Well, as I was sauntering over the plain, just now,
I noticed a flock of sheep grazing, and some of them had
wandered into a little valley quite out of sight of the
shepherd. If you keep among the rocks you will never
be observed. But perhaps you will allow me to go with
you and show you the way?’
‘You are really very kind,’ answered the lion. And
they crept stealthily along till at length they reached the
mouth of the valley where a ram, a sheep and a lamb
were feeding on the rich grass, unconscious of their
‘How shall we divide them?’ asked the lion in a whisper
to the hyena.
‘Oh, it is easily done,’ replied the hyena. ‘The lamb
for me, the sheep for the jackal, and the ram for the lion.’
‘So I am to have that lean creature, which is nothing
but horns, am I?’ cried the lion in a rage. ‘I will teach
you to divide things in that manner!’ And he gave the
hyena two great blows, which stretched him dead in a
moment. Then he turned to the jackal and said: ‘How
would you divide them?’
‘Quite differently from the hyena,’ replied the jackal.
‘You will breakfast off the lamb, you will dine off the
sheep, and you will sup off the ram.’
‘Dear me, how clever you are! Who taught you such
wisdom?’ exclaimed the lion, looking at him admiringly.
‘The fate of the hyena,’ answered the jackal, laughing,
and running off at his best speed; for he saw two men
armed with spears coming close behind the lion!
The jackal continued to run till at last he could run no
longer. He flung himself under a tree panting for breath,
when he heard a rustle amongst the grass, and his father’s
old friend the hedgehog appeared before him.
‘Oh, is it you?’ asked the little creature; ‘how strange
that we should meet so far from home!’
‘I have just had a narrow escape of my life,’ gasped the
jackal, ‘and I need some sleep. After that we must think
of something to do to amuse ourselves.’ And he lay down
again and slept soundly for a couple of hours.
‘Now I am ready,’ said he; ‘have you anything to
‘In a valley beyond those trees,’ answered the hedgehog,
‘there is a small farm-house where the best butter
in the world is made. I know their ways, and in an
hour’s time the farmer’s wife will be off to milk the cows,
which she keeps at some distance. We could easily get
in at the window of the shed where she keeps the butter,
and I will watch, lest some one should come unexpectedly,
while you have a good meal. Then you shall watch, and
I will eat.’
‘That sounds a good plan,’ replied the jackal; and they
set off together.
But when they reached the farm-house the jackal said
to the hedgehog: ‘Go in and fetch the pots of butter, and
I will hide them in a safe place.’
‘Oh no,’ cried the hedgehog, ‘I really couldn’t. They
would find out directly! And, besides, it is so different
just eating a little now and then.’
‘Do as I bid you at once,’ said the jackal, looking at the
hedgehog so sternly that the little fellow dared say no more,
and soon rolled the jars to the window where the jackal
lifted them out one by one.
When they were all in a row before him he gave a sudden
‘Run for your life,’ he whispered to his companion; ‘I
see the woman coming over the hill!’ And the hedgehog,
his heart beating, set off as fast as he could. The
jackal remained where he was, shaking with laughter, for
the woman was not in sight at all, and he had only sent
the hedgehog away because he did not want him to know
where the jars of butter were buried. But every day he
stole out to their hiding-place and had a delicious feast.
At length, one morning, the hedgehog suddenly said:
‘You never told me what you did with those jars?’
‘Oh, I hid them safely till the farm people should have
forgotten all about them,’ replied the jackal. ‘But as
they are still searching for them we must wait a little longer,
and then I’ll bring them home, and we will share them between
So the hedgehog waited and waited; but every time
he asked if there was no chance of getting the jars of
butter the jackal put him off with some excuse. After a
while the hedgehog became suspicious, and said:
‘I should like to know where you have hidden them.
To-night, when it is quite dark, you shall show me the
‘I really can’t tell you,’ answered the jackal. ‘You
talk so much that you would be sure to confide the secret
to somebody, and then we should have had our trouble
for nothing, besides running the risk of our necks being
broken by the farmer. I can see that he is getting
disheartened, and very soon he will give up the search.
Have patience just a little longer.’
The hedgehog said no more, and pretended to be
satisfied; but when some days had gone by he woke the
jackal, who was sleeping soundly after a hunt which had
lasted several hours.
‘I have just had notice,’ remarked the hedgehog,
shaking him, ‘that my family wish to have a banquet
to-morrow, and they have invited you to it. Will you
‘Certainly,’ answered the jackal, ‘with pleasure. But
as I have to go out in the morning you can meet me on the
‘That will do very well,’ replied the hedgehog. And
the jackal went to sleep again, for he was obliged to be
Punctual to the moment the hedgehog arrived at the
place appointed for their meeting, and as the jackal was
not there he sat down and waited for him.
‘Ah, there you are!’ he cried, when the dusky yellow
form at last turned the corner. ‘I had nearly given you
up! Indeed, I almost wish you had not come, for I hardly
know where I shall hide you.’
‘Why should you hide me anywhere?’ asked the jackal.
‘What is the matter with you?’
‘Well, so many of the guests have brought their dogs
and mules with them, that I fear it may hardly be safe
for you to go amongst them. No; don’t run off that
way,’ he added quickly, ‘because there is another troop
that are coming over the hill. Lie down here, and I will
throw these sacks over you; and keep still for your life,
And what did happen was, that when the jackal was
lying covered up, under a little hill, the hedgehog set a
great stone rolling, which crushed him to death.