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The Adventures Of The Younger Son Of The Jackal

from The Orange Fairy Book





Now that the father and elder brother were both dead, all that was left
of the jackal family was one son, who was no less cunning than the
others had been. He did not like staying in the same place any better
than they, and nobody ever knew in what part of the country he might be
found next.

One day, when we was wandering about he beheld a nice fat sheep, which
was cropping the grass and seemed quite contented with her lot.

'Good morning,' said the jackal, 'I am so glad to see you. I have been
looking for you everywhere.'

'For ME?' answered the sheep, in an astonished voice; 'but we have
never met before!'

'No; but I have heard of you. Oh! You don't know what fine things I
have heard! Ah, well, some people have all the luck!'

'You are very kind, I am sure,' answered the sheep, not knowing which
way to look. 'Is there any way in which I can help you?'

'There is something that I had set my heart on, though I hardly like to
propose it on so short an acquaintance; but from what people have told
me, I thought that you and I might keep house together comfortably, if
you would only agree to try. I have several fields belonging to me,
and if they are kept well watered they bear wonderful crops.'

'Perhaps I might come for a short time,' said the sheep, with a little
hesitation; 'and if we do not get on, we can part company.'

'Oh, thank you, thank you,' cried the jackal; 'do not let us lose a
moment.' And he held out his paw in such an inviting manner that the
sheep got up and trotted beside him till they reached home.

'Now,' said the jackal, 'you go to the well and fetch the water, and I
will pour it into the trenches that run between the patches of corn.'
And as he did so he sang lustily. The work was very hard, but the
sheep did not grumble, and by-and-by was rewarded at seeing the little
green heads poking themselves through earth. After that the hot sun
ripened them quickly, and soon harvest time was come. Then the grain
was cut and ground and ready for sale.

When everything was complete, the jackal said to the sheep:

'Now let us divide it, so that we can each do what we like with his
share.'

'You do it,' answered the sheep; 'here are the scales. You must weigh
it carefully.'

So the jackal began to weigh it, and when he had finished, he counted
out loud:

'One, two, three, four, five, six, seven parts for the jackal, and one
part for the sheep. If she likes it she can take it, if not, she can
leave it.'

The sheep looked at the two heaps in silence- -one so large, the other
so small; and then she answered:

'Wait for a minute, while I fetch some sacks to carry away my share.'

But it was not sacks that the sheep wanted; for as soon as the jackal
could no longer see her she set forth at her best pace to the home of
the greyhound, where she arrived panting with the haste she had made.

'Oh, good uncle, help me, I pray you!' she cried, as soon as she could
speak.

'Why, what is the matter?' asked the greyhound, looking up with
astonishment.

'I beg you to return with me, and frighten the jackal into paying me
what he owes me,' answered the sheep. 'For months we have lived
together, and I have twice every day drawn the water, while he only
poured it into the trenches. Together we have reaped our harvest; and
now, when the moment to divide our crop has come, he has taken seven
parts for himself, and only left one for me.'

She finished, and giving herself a twist, passed her woolly tail across
her eyes; while the greyhound watched her, but held his peace. Then he
said:

'Bring me a sack.' And the sheep hastened away to fetch one. Very
soon she returned, and laid the sack down before him.

'Open it wide, that I may get in,' cried he; and when he was
comfortably rolled up inside he bade the sheep take him on her back,
and hasten to the place where she had left the jackal.

She found him waiting for her, and pretending to be asleep, though she
clearly saw him wink one of his eyes. However, she took no notice, but
throwing the sack roughly on the ground, she exclaimed:

'Now measure!'

At this the jackal got up, and going to the heap of grain which lay
close by, he divided it as before into eight portions--seven for
himself and one for the sheep.

'What are you doing that for?' asked she indignantly. 'You know quite
well that it was I who drew the water, and you who only poured it into
the trenches.'

'You are mistaken,' answered the jackal. 'It was I who drew the water,
and you who poured it into the trenches. Anybody will tell you that!
If you like, I will ask those people who are digging there!'

'Very well,' replied the sheep. And the jackal called out:

'Ho! You diggers, tell me: Who was it you heard singing over the work?'

'Why, it was you, of course, jackal! You sang so loud that the whole
world might have heard you!'

'And who it is that sings--he who draws the water, or he who empties
it?'

'Why, certainly he who draws the water!'

'You hear?' said the jackal, turning to the sheep. 'Now come and carry
away your own portion, or else I shall take it for myself.'

'You have got the better of me,' answered the sheep; 'and I suppose I
must confess myself beaten! But as I bear no malice, go and eat some
of the dates that I have brought in that sack.' And the jackal, who
loved dates, ran instantly back, and tore open the mouth of the sack.
But just as he was about to plunge his nose in he saw two brown eyes
calmly looking at him. In an instant he had let fall the flap of the
sack and bounded back to where the sheep was standing.

'I was only in fun; and you have brought my uncle the greyhound. Take
away the sack, we will make the division over again.' And he began
rearranging the heaps.

'One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, for my mother the sheep, and
one for the jackal,' counted he; casting timid glances all the while at
the sack.

'Now you can take your share and go,' said the sheep. And the jackal
did not need twice telling! Whenever the sheep looked up, she still
saw him flying, flying across the plain; and, for all I know, he may be
flying across it still.

[Contes Berberes, par Rene Basset.]





Next: The Three Treasures Of The Giants

Previous: The Adventures Of The Jackal's Eldest Son



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