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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Why the Hyena is Lame"

Why the Hyena is Lame

She lay in a bundle in the sand, crying, ‘My leg is cracked! my leg is cracked!’

“Jakhals came along very slowly—jump, jump, on three legs. Surely the thorn, that wasn’t there, was hurting him very much!

“‘Oo! oo!’ cried Hyena, ‘help me up, Grey Brother. My leg is broken.’

“‘And mine has a thorn in it. Foei toch, my poor sister! How can the sick help the sick? The only plan is for us to get home in the best way we can. Good-bye, and I will visit you to-morrow to see if you are all right.’

“And off he went—jump, jump, on three legs—very slowly; but as soon as Old Brown Sister could not see him, he put down the other one and—sh-h-h-h—he shot over the veld and got home just in time to have a nice supper of young ducks that Mrs. Jakhals and the children had caught at Oubaas van Niekerk’s dam.

“But poor Brown Sister lay in the sand crying over her sore places, and from that day she walks lame, because her left hind foot is smaller than the right one.”1

1. The Hyena, on first starting, appears lame in the hind legs—a fact accounted for by the Hottentots in the foregoing fable.

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