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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Who was the Thief?"

Who was the Thief?

“Yes, my baasjes, so was Oom Jakhals: he always made as if he forgot all about what he had done, and he made as if he thought all the others forgot too, quick-quick. He is maar so schelm.”

Here Outa took full advantage of the pinch of snuff he held between his right forefinger and thumb, sneezed with evident enjoyment two or three times, and continued:

“When Jakhals thought Hyena was quite well, he went to visit her.

“‘It’s very dull here in the veld,’ he said, ‘and food is so scarce, so I’m going to hire myself to a farmer. He’ll give me lots to eat and drink, and when I’m nice and fat I’ll come home again. Would you like to go too, Brown Sister?’

“Hyena smacked her lips when she heard about the nice things to eat. She thought it a very good plan. So they went to a farm, and Jakhals talked so nicely that the farmer hired them both to work for him.

“Ach! it was a beautiful place; lots of chickens and little ducks, and Afrikander sheep with large fat tails that could be melted out for soap and candles, and eggs, and doves and pigeons—all things that Jakhals liked. He just felt in his stomach that he was going to have a jolly life.

“During the day Jakhals peeped all about, in this corner, in that corner, and he found out where the farmer kept the nice fat that was melted out of the sheep’s tails. In the middle of the night, when all the people were fast asleep, he got up and went quietly, my baasjes, quietly, like a shadow on the ground, to the place where the fat was. He took a big lump and smeared it all over Brown Sister’s tail while she was asleep. Then he ate all that was left—n-yum, n-yum, n-yum—and went to sleep in the waggon-house.

“Early in the morning, when the farmer went out to milk the cows, he missed the fat.

“‘Lieve land! Where is all my fat?’ he said. ‘It must be that vagabond Jakhals. But wait, I’ll get him!’

“He took a thick riem and his sjambok, and went to the waggon-house to catch Jakhals and give him a beating. But when he asked about the fat, Jakhals spoke in a little, little voice.

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