The Jackal and the Camel, A Hindu Tale

The Jackal stood looking across the river where the crabs lay in the sun on the sand.

“Oh,” said the Jackal, “if I could only swim, how good those crabs would be! I wish I had a boat or a canoe!”

Just then the Camel came out of the woods. “Now,” said the Jackal, “if I can only get the Camel to take me across the river! I can ride high up on his hump, and it will be just as good as a boat.”

“Good morning, friend,” said the Jackal to the Camel. “Are you hungry? I know a place where the sugar cane grows higher and sweeter than anywhere else.”

“Where? Where?” cried the Camel. “Tell me, and I will go there at once.”

“I could take you to the place,” said the Jackal, “but it is across the river, and I cannot swim.”

“Oh,” said the Camel, “that is all right. Get up on my back and I will take you across, and you can show me where the sugar cane is.”

“All right,” said the Jackal, “and I will look along the bank of the river and see if I can find any fat crabs on that side.”

“Jump up quickly,” said the Camel, “it makes me hungry just to think of sugar cane.”

So the Jackal jumped up on the Camel’s back, and the Camel swam across the river, and the Jackal did not get the least bit wet, even the tip of his tail. (The Jackal does not like to get even the tip of his tail wet.)

When they were across the river the Camel went off to the patch of sugar cane, and the Jackal ate the crabs which lay out in the sun on the sand. It was not long until he had eaten as many crabs as he could, and wanted to go back to the other side of the river. So he went to where the Camel stood in the cane patch.

“Why, have you finished your crabs?” asked the Camel.

“Yes. I cannot eat another one. Let us go back.”

“Oh,” said the Camel, “I have hardly begun to eat yet.”

“Very well,” said the Jackal, “I will go out to the edge of the patch and lie down and wait for you.”

But the Jackal did not lie down. He was in a hurry to go home, now that he had eaten all the crabs he wanted. So he said: “I do not want to wait here. I know a little song I can sing that will make that Camel hurry.”

So he began to sing. Of course, the Camel did not pay any attention, but the farmer heard, as the Jackal knew he would, and came running out with sticks to chase the Jackal. But the Jackal hid in the high cane, and the farmer could not find him. He did find the Camel, however, and called to his boys, and they beat the Camel with sticks and drove him out of the cane.

When the farmer and his boys had gone, the Jackal came out of the cane and found the Camel lying on the sand bruised with the beating he had gotten.

“Oh, friend,” he exclaimed, “where have you been? I have been hunting for you in the cane.”

“Do not call me friend,” said the Camel. “Why did you sing that song that made the farmer come out and beat me?”

“Oh,” said the Jackal, “did the farmer come out and beat you? That is too bad. But I always sing a song after dinner.”

“Ah, do you?” said the Camel. “I did not know that. Very well. Let us go home. Climb up while I am lying down.”

So the Jackal climbed upon the Camel’s back, and he entered the water and began to swim across the river, the Jackal riding high on the hump of the camel so as not to get wet, even to the tip of his tail.

When they were about the middle of the stream the Camel said: “I believe that I shall roll over.”

“Do not do that,” exclaimed the Jackal, “for I shall get wet and be drowned.”

“Maybe you will,” said the Camel; “but you see I always roll over after dinner.”

So he rolled over in the water, and the Jackal got wet—first the tip of his tail, and then all over, and was drowned.