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South-African Folk-Tales by James A. Honey

Jackal was very ready to do this


He

had a smooth tongue, could make quite a favorable speech, and especially with good effect could he expatiate on the backwardness of others. Underneath he really was the most unlettered man in the vicinity, but he had perfect control over his inborn cunningness, which allowed him for a long time to go triumphantly through life as a man of great ability.

One time, for instance, he lost his tail in an iron trap. He had long attempted to reach the Boer's goose pen, and had framed many good plans, but when he came to his senses, he was sitting in front of the goose pen with his tail in the iron trap, the dogs all the time coming for him. When he realized what it meant, he mustered together all his strength and pulled his tail, which he always thought so much of, clean off.

This would immediately have made him the butt of the whole neighborhood had he not thought of a plan. He called together a meeting of the jackals, and made them believe that Lion had issued a proclamation to the effect that all jackals in the future should be tailless, because their beautiful tails were a thorn in the eyes of more unfortunate animals.

In his smooth way he told them how he regretted that the king should have the barbaric right to interfere with his subjects. But so it was; and he thought the sooner he paid attention to it the safer. Therefore he had had his tail cut off already and he should advise

all his friends to do the same. And so it happened that once all jackals for a long time were without tails. Later on they grew again.

It was about the same time that Tiger hired Jackal as a schoolmaster. Tiger was in those days the richest man in the surrounding country, and as he had had to suffer a great deal himself because he was so untutored, he wanted his children to have the best education that could be obtained.

It was shortly after a meeting, in which it was shown how important a thing an education was, that Tiger approached Jackal and asked him to come and teach his children.

Jackal was very ready to do this. It was not exactly his vocation, he said, but he would do it to pass time and just out of friendship for his neighbor. His and Tiger's farm lands lay next each other.

That he did not make teaching his profession and that he possessed no degree was of no account in the eyes of Tiger.

"Do not praise my goodness so much, Cousin Jackal," laughed he. "We know your worth well enough. Much rather would I intrust my offspring to you than to the many so-called schoolmasters, for it is especially my wish, as well as that of their mother, to have our children obtain a progressive education, and to make such men and women of them that with the same ability as you have they can take their lawful places in this world."

"One condition," said Jackal, "I must state. It will be very inconvenient for me, almost impossible, to come here to your farm and hold school. My own farm would in that case go to pieces, and that I cannot let happen. It would never pay me."


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