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Contents > Author > Sara Cone Bryant > The Little Jackal and the Alligator 1873- Unknown
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Sara Cone Bryant
The Little Jackal and the Alligator
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The little Jackal was very fond of shell-
fish. He used to go down by the river and
hunt along the edges for crabs and such
things. And once, when he was hunting
for crabs, he was so hungry that he put his
paw into the water after a crab without
looking first,--which you never should
do! The minute he put in his paw, SNAP!
--the big Alligator who lives in the mud
down there had it in his jaws.

"Oh, dear!" thought the little Jackal;
"the big Alligator has my paw in his
mouth! In another minute he will pull me
down and gobble me up! What shall I
do? what shall I do?" Then he thought,
suddenly, "I'll deceive him!"

So he put on a very cheerful voice, as if
nothing at all were the matter, and he
said,--

"Ho! ho! Clever Mr. Alligator! Smart
Mr. Alligator, to take that old bulrush
root for my paw! I'll hope you'll find it
very tender!"

The old Alligator was hidden away
beneath the mud and bulrush leaves, and
he couldn't see anything. He thought,
"Pshaw! I've made a mistake." So he
opened his mouth and let the little Jackal
go.

The little Jackal ran away as fast as he
could, and as he ran he called out,--

"Thank you, Mr. Alligator! Kind Mr.
Alligator! SO kind of you to let me go!"

The old Alligator lashed with his tail
and snapped with his jaws, but it was
too late; the little Jackal was out of
reach.

After this the little Jackal kept away
from the river, out of danger. But after
about a week he got such an appetite for
crabs that nothing else would do at all;
he felt that he must have a crab. So he
went down by the river and looked all
around, very carefully. He didn't see the
old Alligator, but he thought to himself,
"I think I'll not take any chances." So
he stood still and began to talk out loud
to himself. He said,--

"When I don't see any little crabs on
the land I most generally see them sticking
out of the water, and then I put my
paw in and catch them. I wonder if there
are any fat little crabs in the water today?"

The old Alligator was hidden down in
the mud at the bottom of the river, and
when he heard what the little Jackal said,
he thought, "Aha! I'll pretend to be a
little crab, and when he puts his paw in,
I'll make my dinner of him." So he stuck
the black end of his snout above the water
and waited.

The little Jackal took one look, and
then he said,--

"Thank you, Mr. Alligator! Kind Mr.
Alligator! You are EXCEEDINGLY kind to
show me where you are! I will have dinner
elsewhere." And he ran away like the
wind.

The old Alligator foamed at the mouth,
he was so angry, but the little Jackal was
gone.

For two whole weeks the little Jackal
kept away from the river. Then, one day
he got a feeling inside him that nothing
but crabs could satisfy; he felt that he
must have at least one crab. Very
cautiously, he went down to the river and
looked all around. He saw no sign of the
old Alligator. Still, he did not mean to
take any chances. So he stood quite still
and began to talk to himself,--it was
a little way he had. He said,--

"When I don't see any little crabs on
the shore, or sticking up out of the water,
I usually see them blowing bubbles from
under the water; the little bubbles go PUFF,
PUFF, PUFF, and then they go POP, POP, POP,
and they show me where the little juicy
crabs are, so I can put my paw in and
catch them. I wonder if I shall see any
little bubbles to-day?"

The old Alligator, lying low in the mud
and weeds, heard this, and he thought,
"Pooh! THAT'S easy enough; I'll just
blow some little crab-bubbles, and then
he will put his paw in where I can get it."

So he blew, and he blew, a mighty blast,
and the bubbles rose in a perfect whirlpool,
fizzing and swirling.

The little Jackal didn't have to be told
who was underneath those bubbles: he
took one quick look, and off he ran. But
as he went, he sang,--

"Thank you, Mr. Alligator! Kind Mr.
Alligator! You are the kindest Alligator
in the world, to show me where you are, so
nicely! I'll breakfast at another part of
the river."

The old Alligator was so furious that he
crawled up on the bank and went after
the little Jackal; but, dear, dear, he
couldn't catch the little Jackal; he ran
far too fast.

After this, the little Jackal did not like to
risk going near the water, so he ate no more
crabs. But he found a garden of wild figs,
which were so good that he went there every
day, and ate them instead of shell-fish.

Now the old Alligator found this out,
and he made up his mind to have the little
Jackal for supper, or to die trying. So
he crept, and crawled, and dragged himself
over the ground to the garden of wild figs.
There he made a huge pile of figs under
the biggest of the wild fig trees, and hid
himself in the pile.

After a while the little Jackal came
dancing into the garden, very happy and
care-free,--BUT looking all around. He
saw the huge pile of figs under the big fig
tree.

"H-m," he thought, "that looks
singularly like my friend, the Alligator. I'll
investigate a bit."

He stood quite still and began to talk
to himself,--it was a little way he had. He
said,--

"The little figs I like best are the fat,
ripe, juicy ones that drop off when the
breeze blows; and then the wind blows
them about on the ground, this way and
that; the great heap of figs over there is
so still that I think they must be all bad
figs."

The old Alligator, underneath his fig
pile, thought,--

"Bother the suspicious little Jackal,
I shall have to make these figs roll about,
so that he will think the wind moves
them." And straightway he humped himself
up and moved, and sent the little figs
flying,--and his back showed through.

The little Jackal did not wait for a
second look. He ran out of the garden
like the wind. But as he ran he called
back,--

"Thank you, again, Mr. Alligator; very
sweet of you to show me where you are; I
can't stay to thank you as I should like:
good-by!"

At this the old Alligator was beside
himself with rage. He vowed that he
would have the little Jackal for supper
this time, come what might. So he crept
and crawled over the ground till he came
to the little Jackal's house. Then he crept
and crawled inside, and hid himself there
in the house, to wait till the little Jackal
should come home.

By and by the little Jackal came dancing
home, happy and care-free,--BUT
looking all around. Presently, as he came
along, he saw that the ground was all
scratched up as if something very heavy
had been dragged over it. The little Jackal
stopped and looked.

"What's this? what's this?" he said.

Then he saw that the door of his house
was crushed at the sides and broken, as
if something very big had gone through it.

"What's this? What's this?" the little
Jackal said. "I think I'll investigate a
little!"

So he stood quite still and began to talk
to himself (you remember, it was a little
way he had), but loudly. He said,--

"How strange that my little House
doesn't speak to me! Why don't you
speak to me, little House? You always
speak to me, if everything is all right,
when I come home. I wonder if anything
is wrong with my little House?"

The old Alligator thought to himself
that he must certainly pretend to be the
little House, or the little Jackal would
never come in. So he put on as pleasant
a voice as he could (which is not saying
much) and said,--

"Hullo, little Jackal!"

Oh! when the little Jackal heard that,
he was frightened enough, for once.

"It's the old Alligator," he said, "and
if I don't make an end of him this time he
will certainly make an end of me. What
shall I do?"

He thought very fast. Then he spoke
out pleasantly.

"Thank you, little House," he said,
"it's good to hear your pretty voice, dear
little House, and I will be in with you in a
minute; only first I must gather some
firewood for dinner."

Then he went and gathered firewood,
and more firewood, and more firewood;
and he piled it all up solid against the door
and round the house; and then he set fire
to it!

And it smoked and burned till it smoked
that old Alligator to smoked herring!
 

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