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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "WHow the Jackal got his Stripe"

WHow the Jackal got his Stripe

“The Sun was a strange little child,” said Outa. “He never had any Pap-pa or Mam-ma. No one knew where he came from. He was just found by the roadside.

“In the olden days when the men of the Ancient Race—the old, old people that lived so long ago—were trekking in search of game, they heard a little voice calling, calling. It was not a springbokkie, it was not a tarentaal, it was not a little ostrich. They couldn’t think what it was. But it kept on, it kept on.” Outa’s head nodded in time to his repetitions.

“Why didn’t they go and look?” asked Willem.

“They did, my baasje. They hunted about amongst the milk-bushes by the roadside, and at last under one of them they found a nice brown baby. He was lying quite still looking about him, not like a baby, baasjes, but like an old child, and sparks of light, as bright as the sparks from Outa’s tinderbox, seemed to fly out of his eyes. When he saw the men, he began calling again.

“‘Carry me, carry me! Pick me up and carry me!’

“‘Arré! he can talk,’ said the man. ‘What a fine little child! Where have your people gone? and why did they leave you here?’

“But the little Sun wouldn’t answer them. All he said was, ‘Put me in your awa-skin. I’m tired; I can’t walk.’

“One of the men went to take him up, but when he got near he said, ‘Soe! but he’s hot; the heat comes out of him. I won’t take him.’

“‘How can you be so silly?’ said another man. ‘I’ll carry him.’

“But when he got near, he started back. ‘Alla! what eyes! Fire comes out of them.’ And he, too, turned away.

“Then a third man went. ‘He is very small,’ he said; ‘I can easily put him in my awa-skin.’ He stooped and took the little Sun under his arms.

“‘Ohé! ohé! ohé!’ he cried, dropping the baby on to the red sand. ‘What is this for toverij! It is like fire under his arms. He burns me when I take him up.’

“The others all came round to see. They didn’t come too near, my baasjes, because they were frightened, but they wanted to see the strange brown baby that could talk, and that burned like a fire.

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