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

Who was the Thief?

” asked Willem.

“Yes, my baasje. It’s a bad end, but Outa can’t help it. It does maar end so.”

“And where was Jakhals all the time?” enquired Pietie, severely.

“Jakhals, my baasje, was sitting on the waggon saying his prayers—so, my baasjes.” Outa put his crooked hands together and cast his twinkling eyes upwards till only the yellows showed.

“‘Bezie, bezie, brame,

Hou jouw handjes same.’

In English: “Berry, berry, blackberry,

Hold your hands together.”

“And every time Hyena screamed, Jakhals begged her not to steal again, but to try and behave like a good Christian.”

“But Jakhals was the thief,” said little Jan, indignantly. “He was always the wicked one, and he was never punished. How was that, Outa?”

A whimsical smile played over the old man’s face, and though his eyes danced as wickedly as ever, his voice was sober as he answered.

“Ach! my little master, how can Outa tell? It is maar so in this old world. It’s like the funny thing Baas Willem saw in the Kaap (Cape Town),that runs down a place so quickly that it just runs up on the other side, and then it can’t stop, but it has to run down again, and so it keeps on—up and down, up and down.”

“You mean the switchback?” asked Willem.

“Ach, yes! baasje, Outa means so. And in the world it is the same—up and down, up and down. And often the good ones are down and the bad ones are up. But the thing—Outa can’t get the name right—goes on, and it goes on, and by-and-by the good ones are up and the bad ones are down.”

“But Jakhals seemed always to be up,” remarked Willem.

“Yes, my baasje,” said the old man, soberly. “Jakhals seemed always to be up. It goes so sometimes, it goes so,” but his eyes suddenly had a far-away look, and one could not be certain that he was thinking of Jakhals.

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