THE JACKAL AND THE CROCODILE
By Flora Annie Steel
ONCE upon a time Mr. Jackal was trotting along gayly, when lie
sight of a wild plum tree laden with fruit on the other side of
broad, deep stream. I could not get across anyhow, so he just
on the bank and looked at the ripe, luscious fruit until his mouth
watered with desire.
Now it so happened that, just then, Miss Crocodile came floating
stream with her nose in the air.
"Good morning, my dear!" said Mr. Jackal politely;
"how beautiful you
look to-day, and how charmingly you swim! Now, if I could only
too, what a fine feast of plums we two friends might have over
together!" And Mr. Jackal laid his paw on his heart, and
Now Miss Crocodile had a very inflammable heart, and when Mr.
looked at her so admiringly, and spoke so sentimentally, she simpered
and blushed, saying, "Oh! Mr. Jackal! how can you talk so?
never dream of going out to dinner with you, unless-unless-"
"Unless what?" asked the Jackal persuasively.
"Unless we were going to be married!" simpered Miss
"And why shouldn't we be married, my charmer?" returned
eagerly. "I would go and fetch the barber to begin the betrothal
once, but I am so faint with hunger just at present that I should
reach the village. Now, if the most adorable of her sex would
take pity on her slave, and carry me over the stream, I might
myself with those plums, and so gain strength to accomplish the
desire of my heart!"
Here the Jackal sighed so piteously, and cast such sheep's eyes
Crocodile, that she was unable to withstand him. So she carried
across to the plum tree, and then sat on the water's edge to think
her wedding dress, while Mr. Jackal feasted on the plums and enjoyed
"Now for the barber, my beauty!" cried the gay Jackal,
when he had
eaten as much as he could. Then the blushing Miss Crocodile carried
him back again, and bade him be quick about his business, like
good creature, for really she felt so flustered at the very idea
she didn't know what might happen.
"Now don't distress yourself, my dear!" quoth the deceitful
springing to the bank, "because it's not impossible that
I may not find
the barber, and then, you know, you may have to wait some time,
considerable time in fact, before I return. So don't injure your
health for my sake, if you please." With that he blew her
a kiss, and
trotted away with his tail up.
Of course he never came back, though trusting Miss Crocodile
patiently for him; at last she understood what a gay, deceitful
he was, and determined to have her revenge on him one way or another.
So she hid herself in the water, under the roots of a tree, close
ford where the Jackal always came to drink. By and by, sure enough,
he came lilting along in a self-satisfied way, and went right
water for a good long draft. Whereupon Miss Crocodile seized him
the right legs and held on. He guessed at once what had happened,
called out, "Oh! my heart's adored! I'm drowning! I'm drowning!
you love me, leave hold of that old root and get a good grip of
it is just next door!"
Hearing this, Miss Crocodile thought she must have made a mistake,
letting go the Jackal's leg in a hurry, seized an old root close
and held on. Whereupon Mr. Jackal jumped nimbly to shore, and
with his tail up, calling out, "Have a little patience, my
barber will come some day!"
But this time Miss Crocodile knew better than to wait, and being
dreadfully angry, she crawled away to the Jackal's hole, and,
inside, lay quiet.
By and by Mr. Jackal came lilting along with his tail up. "Ho!
That is your game, is it?" said he to himself, when he saw
the trail of
the Crocodile in the sandy soil. So he stood outside, and said
"Bless my stars! What has happened? I don't half like to
go in, for
whenever I come home my wife always calls out,
'Oh, dearest hubby hub!
What have you brought for grub
to me and the darling cub?'
and to-day she doesn't say anything!"
Hearing this, Miss Crocodile sang out from inside,
"Oh, dearest hubby hub!
What have you brought for grub
To me and the darling cub?"
The Jackal winked a very big wink, and, stealing in softly, stood
the doorway. Meanwhile Miss Crocodile, hearing him coming, held
breath, and lay, shamming dead, like a big log.
"Bless my stars!" cried Mr. Jackal, taking out his
"how very sad! Here's poor Miss Crocodile stone dead, and
all for love
of me! Dear! dear! Yet it is very odd, and I don't think she can
quite dead, you know-for dead folks always wag their tails!"
On this, Miss Crocodile began to wag her tail very gently, and
Jackal ran off, roaring with laughter, and saying. "Oho!
dead folks always wag their tails!"