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Why the Heron has a Crooked Neck

“‘But why did you let him eat them?’

“‘Because he said if I didn’t give him one he would fly up and eat them all. Oo-oo-oo!’

“Then Oom Reijer was very angry. He flapped his wings, and stretched out his long neck—so, my baasjes, just so” (the children hugged themselves in silent delight at Outa’s fine acting)—“and he opened and shut his long beak to show how he would like to peck out Oom Jakhals’s wicked eyes if he could only catch him.

“‘That vervlakste Jakhals!’ he said. ‘To tell such lies! But, Tante, you are stupid. Don’t you know Oom Jakhals can’t fly? Now listen to me. When he comes again, tell him you know he can’t fly, and that you won’t give him any more of your children.’

“The next day there came Oom Jakhals again with his old story, but Tante just laughed at him.

“‘Ach, no! you story-telling Bushytail!’ she said, ‘I won’t give you any more of my little children, and you needn’t say you’ll fly up and eat them, because I know you can’t.’

“‘Nier-r-r, nier-r-r!’ said Oom Jakhals, growling, ‘how do you know that?’

“‘Oom Reijer told me, so there!’ said Tante. ‘And you can just go to your mother!’

“My! but Tante was getting brave now that she knew she and her little children were safe. That was the worst insult you can ever give a grown-up jakhals, and Oom Jakhals growled more than ever.

“‘Never mind,’ he said at last, ‘Tante is only a vrouwmens; I won’t bother with her any more. But wait till I catch Oom Reijer. He’ll be sorry he poked his long nose into my business, the old meddler,’ and he trotted off to look for him.

“He hunted and hunted, and at last he found him standing on one leg at the side of the river, with his long neck drawn in and his head resting on his shoulders.

“‘Good day, Oom Reijer,’ he said politely. ‘How is Oom to-day?’

“‘I’m all right,’ answered Oom Reijer shortly, without moving an inch.

“Jakhals spoke in a little small voice—ach! toch so humble. ‘Oom, please come this way a little: I’m so stupid, but you are so wise and clever, and I want to ask your advice about something.

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