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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Why Old Jackal slinks his Tail"

Why Old Jackal slinks his Tail

The little girl was full of excitement. Driving home with her mother from the “dorp,” she had seen Ou’ Jackalse himself—Mynheer Jackal—slinking across the veldt, and all the tales Old Hendrik had told her about him crowded her mind as she watched him. She could hardly contain herself now, as she stood before the old Hottentot pouring forth the story. There was only one regret in it—“He must have been in some trouble, Ou’ Ta’,” said she; “’cause all the time I watched him his tail was right down. I watched and I watched to see if it wouldn’t stick up, ’cause then I’d know he was thinking of a plan; but it never did.”

Old Hendrik smiled. “So his tail was a-hangin’ an’ a-slinkin’ ahter him, was it? An’ didn’t he look back at you over his shoulder as he went?”

“Yes, he did,” answered Annie, still more eager at finding how well Old Hendrik knew the ways and doings of Ou’ Jackalse. “I kept hoping he was thinking of fetching Ou’ Wolf to work for us, then I could tell Ou’ Wolf not to trust him any more, no matter what he said.”

Old Hendrik’s delight bubbled into a jeering shake of the head and a half laugh of derision over the subject as he repeated the name—“Ou’ Jackalse, hey! Ou’ Jackalse!”

“But you needn’t to be feared he’s a-gun’ to get Ou’ Wolf into much more trouble nowadays, Ainkye,” went on the old Hottentot. “He ain’t a-gun’ to get de best o’ so many more folks, not since he went to get even wid Young Tink Tinky, de littlest bird on de veldt. Little Missis Tinky got Ou’ Mammy Reyer, de Crane, to he’p her, an’ dat made all de difference. You seen how he slunk his tail along behind him?—well, dat’s why. He’s a-tinkin’ o’ what happened den, an’ he looked at you over his shoulder, wonderin’ all de time weder you’d heerd de tale or not. It happened dis while or two back, an’ since den he ain’t bin near so sa’cy as he used to was.”

“Oh, poor Old Jackalse!” cried the little girl, “what did happen? Do tell me, Ou’ Ta’.”

“Well,” began Old Hendrik, “if ever you sees Ou’ Jackalse tryin’ to fool Ou’ Wolf into trouble agen, you don’t ha’ to say on’y yust one ting.

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