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Contents > Author > Sara Cone Bryant > The Little Jackals and the Lion 1873- Unknown
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Sara Cone Bryant
The Little Jackals and the Lion
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[The four stories of the little Jackal, in this book, are
adapted from stories in Old Deccan Days, a collection of orally
transmitted Hindu folk tales, which every teacher would gain by
knowing. In the Hindu animal legends the Jackal seems to
play the role assigned in Germanic lore to Reynard the Fox,
and to "Bre'r Rabbit" in the stories of our Southern negroes:
he is the clever and humorous trickster who comes out of every
encounter with a whole skin, and turns the laugh on every
enemy, however mighty.]


Once there was a great big jungle; and in
the jungle there was a great big Lion; and
the Lion was king of the jungle. Whenever
he wanted anything to eat, all he had to
do was to come up out of his cave in the
stones and earth and ROAR. When he had
roared a few times all the little people of
the jungle were so frightened that they
came out of their holes and hiding-places
and ran, this way and that, to get away.
Then, of course, the Lion could see where
they were. And he pounced on them,
killed them, and gobbled them up.

He did this so often that at last there
was not a single thing left alive in the jungle
besides the Lion, except two little Jackals,
--a little father Jackal and a little mother
Jackal.

They had run away so many times that
they were quite thin and very tired, and
they could not run so fast any more. And
one day the Lion was so near that the little
mother Jackal grew frightened; she said,--

"Oh, Father Jackal, Father Jackal! I
b'lieve our time has come! the Lion will
surely catch us this time!"

"Pooh! nonsense, mother!" said the
little father Jackal. "Come, we'll run on
a bit!"

And they ran, ran, ran very fast, and the
Lion did not catch them that time.

But at last a day came when the Lion
was nearer still and the little mother Jackal
was frightened about to death.

"Oh, Father Jackal, Father Jackal!"
she cried; "I'm sure our time has come!
The Lion's going to eat us this time!"

"Now, mother, don't you fret," said the
little father Jackal; "you do just as I tell
you, and it will be all right."

Then what did those cunning little Jackals
do but take hold of hands and run up
towards the Lion, as if they had meant
to come all the time. When he saw them
coming he stood up, and roared in a terrible
voice,--

"You miserable little wretches, come
here and be eaten, at once! Why didn't
you come before?"

The father Jackal bowed very low.

"Indeed, Father Lion," he said, "we
meant to come before; we knew we ought
to come before; and we wanted to come
before; but every time we started to come,
a dreadful great lion came out of the woods
and roared at us, and frightened us so that
we ran away."

"What do you mean?" roared the Lion.
"There's no other lion in this jungle, and
you know it!"

"Indeed, indeed, Father Lion," said the
little Jackal, "I know that is what everybody
thinks; but indeed and indeed there
is another lion! And he is as much bigger
than you as you are bigger than I! His face
is much more terrible, and his roar far, far
more dreadful. Oh, he is far more fearful
than you!"

At that the Lion stood up and roared so
that the jungle shook.

"Take me to this lion," he said; "I'll
eat him up and then I'll eat you up."

The little Jackals danced on ahead, and
the Lion stalked behind. They led him to
a place where there was a round, deep well
of clear water. They went round on one
side of it, and the Lion stalked up to the
other.

"He lives down there, Father Lion!"
said the little Jackal. "He lives down
there!"

The Lion came close and looked down
into the water,--and a lion's face looked
back at him out of the water!

When he saw that, the Lion roared and
shook his mane and showed his teeth. And
the lion in the water shook his mane and
showed his teeth. The Lion above shook
his mane again and growled again, and
made a terrible face. But the lion in the
water made just as terrible a one, back.
The Lion above couldn't stand that. He
leaped down into the well after the other
lion.

But, of course, as you know very well,
there wasn't any other lion! It was only
the reflection in the water!

So the poor old Lion floundered about
and floundered about, and as he couldn't
get up the steep sides of the well, he was
drowned dead. And when he was drowned
the little Jackals took hold of hands and
danced round the well, and sang,--

"The Lion is dead! The Lion is dead!

"We have killed the great Lion who
would have killed us!

"The Lion is dead! The Lion is dead!

"Ao! Ao! Ao!"

 

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