The Project Gutenberg EBook of South-African Folk-Tales, by James A. Honey

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Title: South-African Folk-Tales

Author: James A. Honey

Release Date: December 19, 2011 [EBook #38339]

Language: English

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New York


Copyright, 1910, by

Published, November, 1910



C. F. H. and F. I. G.



Origin of the Difference in Modes of
Life Between Hottentots and Bushmen
The Lost Message10
The Monkey's Fiddle14
The Tiger, the Ram, and the Jackal19
The Jackal and the Wolf22
A Jackal and a Wolf24
The Lion, the Jackal, and the Man25
The World's Reward28
The Lion and the Jackal33
The Lion and Jackal45
The Lion and Jackal48
The Hunt of Lion and Jackal53
The Story of Lion and Little Jackal56
The Lioness and the Ostrich62
Crocodile's Treason64
The Story of a Dam73
The Dance for Water or Rabbits'
Jackal and Monkey84
Lion's Share87
Jackal's Bride92
The Story of Hare94
The White Man and Snake101
Another Version of the Same Fable103
Cloud Eating105
Lion's Illness107
Jackal, Dove, and Heron109
Cock and Jackal111
Elephant and Tortoise112
Another Version of the Same Fable115
Tortoise Hunting Ostriches117
The Judgment of Baboon118
Lion and Baboon121
The Zebra Stallion122
When Lion Could Fly124
Lion Who Thought Himself Wiser Than
His Mother
Lion Who Took a Woman's Shape129
Why Has Jackal a Long Black Stripe
on His Back?
Horse Cursed by Sun138
Lion's Defeat139
The Origin of Death141
Another Version of the Same Fable143
A Third Version of the Same Fable144
A Fourth Version of the Same Fable146
A Zulu Version of the Legend of the
"Origin of Death"
Literature on South-African Folk-Lore148





In presenting these stories, which are of deep interest and value to South Africans, I hope they may prove of some value to those Americans who have either an interest in animals or who appreciate the folklore of other countries.

Many of these tales have appeared among English collections previous to 1880, others have been translated from the Dutch, and a few have been written from childhood remembrance. Consequently they do not pretend to be original or unique. Care has been taken not to spoil the ethnological value for the sake of form or structure; and in all cases they are as nearly like the original as a translation from one tongue to another will allow. They are all South-African folklore tales and mainly from the Bushmen. Some are perverted types from what were originally Bushmen tales, but have been taken[2] over by Hottentots or Zulus; a few are from the Dutch. Most of these last named will show a European influence, especially French.

Some of the animal stories have appeared in American magazines under the author's name, but this is the first time that a complete collection has appeared since Dr. Bleek published his stories in 1864. The object has been to keep the stories apart from those which have a mythological or religious significance, and especially to keep it an animal collection free from those in which man appears to take a part.

There will be found several versions of the same story, and as far as possible these will be put in the order of their importance in relation to the original. The author does not pretend to be an authority on South-African folklore, but has only a South-African-born interest in what springs from that country of sunshine. It is a difficult task to attempt to trace the origin of these stories, as there is no country where there have been so many distinct and primitive races dwelling together.

The Bushmen seem to trace back to the earli[3]est Egyptian days, when dwarfs were pictured on the tombs of the kings and were a distinct race. From then until now it has been their pride to say that before men were men, they were; or, to put it clearer, before Africa was inhabited by other races, they were there. As represented by some of these stories of the Bushmen, what races have not, then, had their influence on the folklore? According to Stow, they were a wandering primitive race of small men, painters and sculptors, hunters and herdsmen, and withal a race showing traces of wonderful reasoning and adaptability, with a keen sense of justice and a store of pride. Mythological some of their stories are, but whether this is due to the influence of the Hottentots, a later race, it is difficult to say. And, lastly, there are the Kaffirs spread over the whole of South Africa, domineering, but backward. The varied influences which may have affected these stories before they reached us show what enormous possibilities there are for error in tracing the origin of the animal tales here presented. Bleek finds that a greater congeniality exists between[4] the Hottentot and European mind than is found between the latter and any other of the black races of Africa. Whether he means that this indicates a European origin of the fables, I cannot say. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bushmen came from the north and were the primitive race of south and tropical Africa, the dwarfs of Livingstone, Stanley, and other explorers. Considering, then, the great antiquity of this race, it naturally follows that if these stories are not original with the Bushmen, they are at least so modified as to bear no resemblance to Egyptian, Phœnician, or any other ancient race which the Bushmen may have come in contact with. Herodotus described a race on the upper Nile which corresponds with later descriptions of the Bushmen in tropical and southern Africa.

I agree with what the South-African Folklore Journal stated twenty years or more ago, that with the "vast strides South Africa is making in the progress of civilization, the native races will either be swept away or so altered as to lose many of their ancient habits, cus[5]toms, traditions, or at least greatly to modify them."

Knowing that by a collection of this kind these stories could best be preserved, and feeling that others had not read them, I began this collection ten years ago. There is so much done now to preserve what is still Bushmen folklore that I feel this small volume is indeed only a small addition to the folklore world.

"South-African folklore is," the South-African Folklore Journal says, "in its very nature plain, and primitive in its simplicity; not adorned with the wealth of palaces and precious stones to be met with in the folklore of more civilized nations, but descriptive in great measure of the events of everyday life, among those in a low state of civilization; and with the exception of evidences of moral qualities, and of such imagery as is connected with the phenomena of nature, very little that is grand or magnificent must be looked for in it."

Bain gives a story related by a Kaffir which shows "the distribution of animals after the creation." This story could not become typ[6]ically Kaffir until after the Kaffir came in contact with the European in the last two or three hundred years. However, the story will serve to illustrate the people whose stories appear in this volume and to close the Introduction.

Teco, in Kaffir, is the Supreme Being. Teco had every description of stock and property.

There were three nations created, viz., the Whites, the Amakosa, or Kaffirs, and the Amalouw, or Hottentots. A day was appointed for them to appear before the Teco to receive whatever he might apportion to each tribe. While they were assembling, a honey bird, or honey guide, came fluttering by, and all the Hottentots ran after it, whistling and making the peculiar noise they generally do while following this wonderful little bird. The Teco remonstrated with them about their behavior, but to no purpose. He thereupon denounced them as a vagrant race that would have to exist on wild roots and honey beer, and possess no stock whatever.

When the fine herds of cattle were brought, the Kaffirs became very much excited—the one[7] exclaiming, "That black and white cow is mine!" and another, "That red cow and black bull are mine!" and so on, till at last the Teco, whose patience had been severely taxed by their shouts and unruly behavior, denounced them as a restless people, who would only possess cattle.

The Whites patiently waited until they received cattle, horses, sheep, and all sorts of property. Hence, the old Kaffir observed, "You Whites have got everything. We Kaffirs have only cattle, while the Amalouw, or Hottentots, have nothing."

James A. Honeÿ.

Cambridge, Mass., June, 1910.



In the beginning there were two. One was blind, the other was always hunting. This hunter found at last a hole in the earth from which game proceeded and killed the young. The blind man, feeling and smelling them, said, "They are not game, but cattle."

The blind man afterwards recovered his sight, and going with the hunter to this hole, saw that they were cows with their calves. He then quickly built a kraal (fence made of thorns) round them, and anointed himself, just as Hottentots (in their native state) are still wont to do.

When the other, who now with great trouble had to seek his game, came and saw this, he wanted to anoint himself also. "Look here!" said the other, "you must throw the ointment[9] into the fire, and afterwards use it." He followed this advice, and the flames flaring up into his face, burnt him most miserably; so that he was glad to make his escape. The other, however, called to him: "Here, take the kirri (a knobstick), and run to the hills to hunt there for honey."

Hence sprung the race of Bushmen.



The ant has had from time immemorial many enemies, and because he is small and destructive, there have been a great many slaughters among them. Not only were most of the birds their enemies, but Anteater lived almost wholly from them, and Centipede beset them every time and at all places when he had the chance.

So now there were a few among them who thought it would be well to hold council together and see if they could not come to some arrangement whereby they could retreat to some place of safety when attacked by robber birds and animals.

But at the gathering their opinions were most discordant, and they could come to no decision.

There was Red-ant, Rice-ant, Black-ant,[11] Wagtail-ant, Gray-ant, Shining-ant, and many other varieties. The discussion was a true babel of diversity, which continued for a long time and came to nothing.

A part desired that they should all go into a small hole in the ground, and live there; another part wanted to have a large and strong dwelling built on the ground, where nobody could enter but an ant; still another wanted to dwell in trees, so as to get rid of Anteater, forgetting entirely that there they would be the prey of birds; another part seemed inclined to have wings and fly.

And, as has already been said, this deliberation amounted to nothing, and each party resolved to go to work in its own way, and on its own responsibility.

Greater unity than that which existed in each separate faction could be seen nowhere in the world; each had his appointed task, each did his work regularly and well. And all worked together in the same way. From among them they chose a king—that is to say some of the groups did—and they divided the la[12]bor so that all went as smoothly as it possibly could.

But each group did it in its own way, and not one of them thought of protecting themselves against the onslaught of birds or Anteater.

The Red-ants built their house on the ground and lived under it, but Anteater leveled to the ground in a minute what had cost them many days of precious labor. The Rice-ants lived under the ground, and with them it went no better. For whenever they came out, Anteater visited them and took them out sack and pack. The Wagtail-ants fled to the trees, but there on many occasions sat Centipede waiting for them, or the birds gobbled them up. The Gray-ants had intended to save themselves from extermination by taking to flight, but this also availed them nothing, because the Lizard, the Hunting-spider, and the birds went a great deal faster than they.

When the Insect-king heard that they could come to no agreement he sent them the secret of unity, and the message of Work-together.[13] But unfortunately he chose for his messenger the Beetle, and he has never yet arrived at the Ants, so that they are still to-day the embodiment of discord and consequently the prey of enemies.



Hunger and want forced Monkey one day to forsake his land and to seek elsewhere among strangers for much-needed work. Bulbs, earth beans, scorpions, insects, and such things were completely exhausted in his own land. But fortunately he received, for the time being, shelter with a great uncle of his, Orang Outang, who lived in another part of the country.

When he had worked for quite a while he wanted to return home, and as recompense his great uncle gave him a fiddle and a bow and arrow and told him that with the bow and arrow he could hit and kill anything he desired, and with the fiddle he could force anything to dance.

The first he met upon his return to his own land was Brer Wolf. This old fellow told him all the news and also that he had since early[15] morning been attempting to stalk a deer, but all in vain.

Then Monkey laid before him all the wonders of the bow and arrow that he carried on his back and assured him if he could but see the deer he would bring it down for him. When Wolf showed him the deer, Monkey was ready and down fell the deer.

They made a good meal together, but instead of Wolf being thankful, jealousy overmastered him and he begged for the bow and arrow. When Monkey refused to give it to him, he thereupon began to threaten him with his greater strength, and so when Jackal passed by, Wolf told him that Monkey had stolen his bow and arrow. After Jackal had heard both of them, he declared himself unqualified to settle the case alone, and he proposed that they bring the matter to the court of Lion, Tiger, and the other animals. In the meantime he declared he would take possession of what had been the cause of their quarrel, so that it would be safe, as he said. But he immediately brought to earth all that was eatable, so there was a long[16] time of slaughter before Monkey and Wolf agreed to have the affair in court.

Monkey's evidence was weak, and to make it worse, Jackal's testimony was against him. Jackal thought that in this way it would be easier to obtain the bow and arrow from Wolf for himself.

And so fell the sentence against Monkey. Theft was looked upon as a great wrong; he must hang.

The fiddle was still at his side, and he received as a last favor from the court the right to play a tune on it.

He was a master player of his time, and in addition to this came the wonderful power of his charmed fiddle. Thus, when he struck the first note of "Cockcrow" upon it, the court began at once to show an unusual and spontaneous liveliness, and before he came to the first waltzing turn of the old tune the whole court was dancing like a whirlwind.

Over and over, quicker and quicker, sounded the tune of "Cockcrow" on the charmed fiddle, until some of the dancers, exhausted, fell down,[17] although still keeping their feet in motion. But Monkey, musician as he was, heard and saw nothing of what had happened around him. With his head placed lovingly against the instrument, and his eyes half closed, he played on, keeping time ever with his foot.

Wolf was the first to cry out in pleading tones breathlessly, "Please stop, Cousin Monkey! For love's sake, please stop!"

But Monkey did not even hear him. Over and over sounded the resistless waltz of "Cockcrow."

After a while Lion showed signs of fatigue, and when he had gone the round once more with his young lion wife, he growled as he passed Monkey, "My whole kingdom is yours, ape, if you just stop playing."

"I do not want it," answered Monkey, "but withdraw the sentence and give me my bow and arrow, and you, Wolf, acknowledge that you stole it from me."

"I acknowledge, I acknowledge!" cried Wolf, while Lion cried, at the same instant, that he withdrew the sentence.

Monkey gave them just a few more turns[18] of the "Cockcrow," gathered up his bow and arrow, and seated himself high up in the nearest camel thorn tree.

The court and other animals were so afraid that he might begin again that they hastily disbanded to new parts of the world.



Tiger (leopard) was returning home from hunting on one occasion, when he lighted on the kraal of Ram. Now, Tiger had never seen Ram before, and accordingly, approaching submissively, he said, "Good day, friend! What may your name be?"

The other in his gruff voice, and striking his breast with his forefoot, said, "I am Ram. Who are you?"

"Tiger," answered the other, more dead than alive, and then, taking leave of Ram, he ran home as fast as he could.

Jackal lived at the same place as Tiger did, and the latter going to him, said, "Friend Jackal, I am quite out of breath, and am half dead with fright, for I have just seen a terrible looking fellow, with a large and thick head, and[20] on my asking him what his name was, he answered, 'I am Ram.'"

"What a foolish fellow you are," cried Jackal, "to let such a nice piece of flesh stand! Why did you do so? But we shall go to-morrow and eat it together."

Next day the two set off for the kraal of Ram, and as they appeared over a hill, Ram, who had turned out to look about him, and was calculating where he should that day crop a tender salad, saw them, and he immediately went to his wife and said, "I fear this is our last day, for Jackal and Tiger are both coming against us. What shall we do?"

"Don't be afraid," said the wife, "but take up the child in your arms, go out with it, and pinch it to make it cry as if it were hungry." Ram did so as the confederates came on.

No sooner did Tiger cast his eyes on Ram than fear again took possession of him, and he wished to turn back. Jackal had provided against this, and made Tiger fast to himself with a leathern thong, and said, "Come on," when Ram cried in a loud voice, and pinching[21] his child at the same time, "You have done well, Friend Jackal, to have brought us Tiger to eat, for you hear how my child is crying for food."

On these dreadful words Tiger, notwithstanding the entreaties of Jackal to let him go, to let him loose, set off in the greatest alarm, dragged Jackal after him over hill and valley, through bushes and over rocks, and never stopped to look behind him till he brought back himself and half-dead Jackal to his place again. And so Ram escaped.



Once on a time Jackal, who lived on the borders of the colony, saw a wagon returning from the seaside laden with fish; he tried to get into the wagon from behind, but he could not; he then ran on before and lay in the road as if dead. The wagon came up to him, and the leader cried to the driver, "Here is a fine kaross for your wife!"

"Throw it into the wagon," said the driver, and Jackal was thrown in.

The wagon traveled on, through a moonlight night, and all the while Jackal was throwing out the fish into the road; he then jumped out himself and secured a great prize. But stupid old Wolf (hyena), coming by, ate more than his share, for which Jackal owed him a grudge, and he said to him, "You can get plenty of fish,[23] too, if you lie in the way of a wagon as I did, and keep quite still whatever happens."

"So!" mumbled Wolf.

Accordingly, when the next wagon came from the sea, Wolf stretched himself out in the road. "What ugly thing is this?" cried the leader, and kicked Wolf. He then took a stick and thrashed him within an inch of his life. Wolf, according to the directions of Jackal, lay quiet as long as he could; he then got up and hobbled off to tell his misfortune to Jackal, who pretended to comfort him.

"What a pity," said Wolf, "I have not got such a handsome skin as you have!"



Jackal and Wolf went and hired themselves to a man to be his servants. In the middle of the night Jackal rose and smeared Wolf's tail with some fat, and then ate all the rest of it in the house. In the morning the man missed the fat, and he immediately accused Jackal of having eaten it. "Look at Wolf's tail," said the rogue, "and you will see who is the thief." The man did so, and then thrashed Wolf till he was nearly dead.



It so happened one day that Lion and Jackal came together to converse on affairs of land and state. Jackal, let me say, was the most important adviser to the king of the forest, and after they had spoken about these matters for quite a while, the conversation took a more personal turn.

Lion began to boast and talk big about his strength. Jackal had, perhaps, given him cause for it, because by nature he was a flatterer. But now that Lion began to assume so many airs, said he, "See here, Lion, I will show you an animal that is still more powerful than you are."

They walked along, Jackal leading the way, and met first a little boy.

"Is this the strong man?" asked Lion.

"No," answered Jackal, "he must still become a man, O king."

After a while they found an old man walking[26] with bowed head and supporting his bent figure with a stick.

"Is this the wonderful strong man?" asked Lion.

"Not yet, O king," was Jackal's answer, "he has been a man."

Continuing their walk a short distance farther, they came across a young hunter, in the prime of youth, and accompanied by some of his dogs.

"There you have him now, O king," said Jackal. "Pit your strength against his, and if you win, then truly you are the strength of the earth."

Then Jackal made tracks to one side toward a little rocky kopje from which he would be able to see the meeting.

Growling, growling, Lion strode forward to meet the man, but when he came close the dogs beset him. He, however, paid but little attention to the dogs, pushed and separated them on all sides with a few sweeps of his front paws. They howled aloud, beating a hasty retreat toward the man.[27]

Thereupon the man fired a charge of shot, hitting him behind the shoulder, but even to this Lion paid but little attention. Thereupon the hunter pulled out his steel knife, and gave him a few good jabs. Lion retreated, followed by the flying bullets of the hunter.

"Well, are you strongest now?" was Jackal's first question when Lion arrived at his side.

"No, Jackal," answered Lion, "let that fellow there keep the name and welcome. Such as he I have never before seen. In the first place he had about ten of his bodyguard storm me. I really did not bother myself much about them, but when I attempted to turn him to chaff, he spat and blew fire at me, mostly into my face, that burned just a little but not very badly. And when I again endeavored to pull him to the ground he jerked out from his body one of his ribs with which he gave me some very ugly wounds, so bad that I had to make chips fly, and as a parting he sent some warm bullets after me. No, Jackal, give him the name."



Once there was a man that had an old dog, so old that the man desired to put him aside. The dog had served him very faithfully when he was still young, but ingratitude is the world's reward, and the man now wanted to dispose of him. The old dumb creature, however, ferreted out the plan of his master, and so at once resolved to go away of his own accord.

After he had walked quite a way he met an old bull in the veldt.

"Don't you want to go with me?" asked the dog.

"Where?" was the reply.

"To the land of the aged," said the dog, "where troubles don't disturb you and thanklessness does not deface the deeds of man."

"Good," said the bull, "I am your companion."[29]

The two now walked on and found a ram.

The dog laid the plan before him, and all moved off together, until they afterwards came successively upon a donkey, a cat, a cock, and a goose.

These joined their company, and the seven set out on their journey.

Late one night they came to a house and through the open door they saw a table spread with all kinds of nice food, of which some robbers were having their fill. It would help nothing to ask for admittance, and seeing that they were hungry, they must think of something else.

Therefore the donkey climbed up on the bull, the ram on the donkey, the dog on the ram, the cat on the dog, the goose on the cat, and the cock on the goose, and with one accord they all let out terrible (threatening) noises (cryings).

The bull began to bellow, the donkey to bray, the dog to bark, the ram to bleat, the cat to mew, the goose to giggle gaggle, and the cock to crow, all without cessation.

The people in the house were frightened per[30]fectly limp; they glanced out through the front door, and there they stared on the strange sight. Some of them took to the ropes over the back lower door, some disappeared through the window, and in a few counts the house was empty.

Then the seven old animals climbed down from one another, stepped into the house, and satisfied themselves with the delicious food.

But when they had finished, there still remained a great deal of food, too much to take with them on their remaining journey, and so together they contrived a plan to hold their position until the next day after breakfast.

The dog said, "See here, I am accustomed to watch at the front door of my master's house," and thereupon flopped himself down to sleep; the bull said, "I go behind the door," and there he took his position; the ram said, "I will go up on to the loft"; the donkey, "I at the middle door"; the cat, "I in the fireplace"; the goose, "I in the back door"; and the cock said, "I am going to sleep on the bed."

The captain of the robbers after a while sent[31] one of his men back to see if these creatures had yet left the house.

The man came very cautiously into the neighborhood, listened and listened, but he heard nothing; he peeped through the window, and saw in the grate just two coals still glimmering, and thereupon started to walk through the front door.

There the old dog seized him by the leg. He jumped into the house, but the bull was ready, swept him up with his horns, and tossed him on to the loft. Here the ram received him and pushed him off the loft again. Reaching ground, he made for the middle door, but the donkey set up a terrible braying and at the same time gave him a kick that landed him in the fireplace, where the cat flew at him and scratched him nearly to pieces. He then jumped out through the back door, and here the goose got him by the trousers. When he was some distance away the cock crowed. He thereupon ran so that you could hear the stones rattle in the dark.

Purple and crimson and out of breath, he came back to his companions.[32]

"Frightful, frightful!" was all that they could get from him at first, but after a while he told them.

"When I looked through the window I saw in the fireplace two bright coals shining, and when I wanted to go through the front door to go and look, I stepped into an iron trap. I jumped into the house, and there some one seized me with a fork and pitched me up on to the loft, there again some one was ready, and threw me down on all fours. I wanted to fly through the middle door, but there some one blew on a trumpet, and smote me with a sledge hammer so that I did not know where I landed; but coming to very quickly, I found I was in the fireplace, and there another flew at me and scratched the eyes almost out of my head. I thereupon fled out of the back door, and lastly I was attacked on the leg by the sixth with a pair of fire tongs, and when I was still running away, some one shouted out of the house, 'Stop him, stop h—i—m!'"



Not because he was exactly the most capable or progressive fellow in the neighborhood, but because he always gave that idea—that is why Jackal slowly acquired among the neighbors the name of a "progressive man." The truly well-bred people around him, who did not wish to hurt his feelings, seemed to apply this name to him, instead of, for instance, "cunning scamp," or "all-wise rat-trap," as so many others often dubbed him. He obtained this name of "a progressive man" because he spoke most of the time English, especially if he thought some of them were present who could not understand it, and also because he could always hold his body so much like a judge on public occasions.

He had a smooth tongue, could make quite a favorable speech, and especially with good effect could he expatiate on the backwardness of[34] 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 re[35]gretted 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.[36]

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."

Tiger answered that it was not exactly necessary either. In spite of their attachment to the little ones, they saw that it would probably be to their benefit to place them for a while in a stranger's house.[37]

Jackal then told of his own bringing up by Wolf. He remembered well how small he was when his father sent him away to study with Wolf. Naturally, since then, he had passed through many schools, Wolf was only his first teacher. And only in his later days did he realize how much good it had done him.

"A man must bend the sapling while it is still young," said he. "There is no time that the child is so open to impressions as when he is plastic, about the age that most of your children are at present, and I was just thinking you would be doing a wise thing to send them away for quite a while."

He had, fortunately, just then a room in his house that would be suited for a schoolroom, and his wife could easily make some arrangement for their lodging, even if they had to enlarge their dwelling somewhat.

It was then and there agreed upon. Tiger's wife was then consulted about one thing and another, and the following day the children were to leave.

"I have just thought of one more thing," re[38]marked Jackal, "seven children, besides my little lot, will be quite a care on our hands, so you will have to send over each week a fat lamb, and in order not to disturb their progress, the children will have to relinquish the idea of a vacation spent with you for some time. When I think they have become used to the bit, I will inform you, and then you can come and take them to make you a short visit, but not until then.

"It is also better," continued he, "that they do not see you for the first while, but your wife can come and see them every Saturday and I will see to all else."

On the following day there was an unearthly howling and wailing when the children were to leave. But Tiger and their mother showed them that it was best and that some day they would see that it was all for their good, and that their parents were doing it out of kindness. Eventually they were gone.

The first Saturday dawned, and early that morning Mrs. Tiger was on her way to Jackal's dwelling, because she could not defer the time any longer.[39]

She was still a long way off when Jackal caught sight of her. He always observed neighborly customs, and so stepped out to meet her.

After they had greeted each other, Mrs. Tiger's first question was: "Well, Cousin Jackal, how goes everything with the small team? Are they still all well and happy, and do they not trouble you, Cousin Jackal, too much?"

"Oh, my goodness, no, Mrs. Tiger," answered Jackal enthusiastically, "but don't let us talk so loud, because if they heard you, it certainly would cause them many heartfelt tears and they might also want to go back with you and then all our trouble would have been for nothing."

"But I would like to see them, Cousin Jackal," said Mrs. Tiger a little disturbed.

"Why certainly, Mrs. Tiger," was his answer, "but I do not think it is wise for them to see you. I will lift them up to the window one by one, and then you can put your mind at rest concerning their health and progress."

After Mr. and Mrs. Jackal and Mrs. Tiger had sat together for some time drinking coffee[40] and talking over one thing and another, Jackal took Tiger's wife to a door and told her to look through it, out upon the back yard. There he would show her the children one by one, while they would not be able to see her. Everything was done exactly as Jackal had said, but the sixth little tiger he picked up twice, because the firstborn he had the day before prepared in pickle for their Sunday meal.

And so it happened every Saturday until the last little tiger—which was the youngest—had to be lifted up seven times in succession.

And when Mrs. Tiger came again the following week all was still as death and everything seemed to have a deserted appearance on the estate. She walked straight to the front door, and there she found a letter in the poll grass near the door, which read thus:

"We have gone for a picnic with the children. From there we will ride by Jackalsdance for New Year. This is necessary for the completion of their progressive education."



Saturday after Saturday did Mrs. Tiger go and look, but every time Jackal's house seemed to look more deserted; and after a while there was a spider's web over the door and the trail of Snake showed that he, too, had taken up his abode there.



The birds wanted a king. Men have a king, so have animals, and why shouldn't they? All had assembled.

"The Ostrich, because he is the largest," one called out.

"No, he can't fly."

"Eagle, on account of his strength."

"Not he, he is too ugly."

"Vulture, because he can fly the highest."

"No, Vulture is too dirty, his odor is terrible."

"Peacock, he is so beautiful."

"His feet are too ugly, and also his voice."

"Owl, because he can see well."

"Not Owl, he is ashamed of the light."

And so they got no further. Then one shouted aloud, "He who can fly the highest will be king." "Yes, yes," they all screamed, and[43] at a given signal they all ascended straight up into the sky.

Vulture flew for three whole days without stopping, straight toward the sun. Then he cried aloud, "I am the highest, I am king."

"T-sie, t-sie, t-sie," he heard above him. There Tink-tinkje was flying. He had held fast to one of the great wing feathers of Vulture, and had never been felt, he was so light. "T-sie, t-sie, t-sie, I am the highest, I am king," piped Tink-tinkje.

Vulture flew for another day still ascending. "I am highest, I am king."

"T-sie, t-sie, t-sie, I am the highest, I am king," Tink-tinkje mocked. There he was again, having crept out from under the wing of Vulture.

Vulture flew on the fifth day straight up in the air. "I am the highest, I am king," he called.

"T-sie, t-sie, t-sie," piped the little fellow above him. "I am the highest, I am king."

Vulture was tired and now flew direct to earth. The other birds were mad through and[44] through. Tink-tinkje must die because he had taken advantage of Vulture's feathers and there hidden himself. All flew after him and he had to take refuge in a mouse hole. But how were they to get him out? Some one must stand guard to seize him the moment he put out his head.

"Owl must keep guard; he has the largest eyes; he can see well," they exclaimed.

Owl went and took up his position before the hole. The sun was warm and soon Owl became sleepy and presently he was fast asleep.

Tink-tinkje peeped, saw that Owl was asleep, and z-zip away he went. Shortly afterwards the other birds came to see if Tink-tinkje were still in the hole. "T-sie, t-sie," they heard in a tree; and there the little vagabond was sitting.

White-crow, perfectly disgusted, turned around and exclaimed, "Now I won't say a single word more." And from that day to this White-crow has never spoken. Even though you strike him, he makes no sound, he utters no cry.



Lion had now caught a large eland which lay dead on the top of a high bank. Lion was thirsty and wanted to go and drink water. "Jackal, look after my eland, I am going to get a drink. Don't you eat any."

"Very well, Uncle Lion."

Lion went to the river and Jackal quietly removed a stone on which Lion had to step to reach the bank on his return. After that Jackal and his wife ate heartily of the eland. Lion returned, but could not scale the bank. "Jackal, help me," he shouted.

"Yes, Uncle Lion, I will let down a rope and then you can climb up."

Jackal whispered to his wife, "Give me one of the old, thin hide ropes." And then aloud he added, "Wife, give me one of the strong, buffalo ropes, so Uncle Lion won't fall."

His wife gave him an old rotten rope. Jackal[46] and his wife first ate ravenously of the meat, then gradually let the rope down. Lion seized it and struggled up. When he neared the brink Jackal gave the rope a jerk. It broke and down Lion began to roll—rolled the whole way down, and finally lay at the foot near the river.

Jackal began to beat a dry hide that lay there as he howled, cried, and shouted: "Wife, why did you give me such a bad rope that caused Uncle Lion to fall?"

Lion heard the row and roared, "Jackal, stop beating your wife. I will hurt you if you don't cease. Help me to climb up."

"Uncle Lion, I will give you a rope." Whispering again to his wife, "Give me one of the old, thin hide ropes," and shouting aloud again, "Give me a strong, buffalo rope, wife, that will not break again with Lion."

Jackal gave out the rope, and when Lion had nearly reached the top, he cut the rope through. Snap! and Lion began to roll to the bottom. Jackal again beat on the hide and shouted, "Wife, why did you give me such a rotten rope? Didn't I tell you to give me a strong one?" Lion[47] roared, "Jackal, stop beating your wife at once. Help me instantly or you will be sorry."

"Wife," Jackal said aloud, "give me now the strongest rope you have," and aside to her, "Give me the worst rope of the lot."

Jackal again let down a rope, but just as Lion reached the top, Jackal gave a strong tug and broke the rope. Poor old Lion rolled down the side of the hill and lay there roaring from pain. He had been fatally hurt.

Jackal inquired, "Uncle Lion, have you hurt yourself? Have you much pain? Wait a while, I am coming directly to help you." Jackal and his wife slowly walked away.



The Lion and the Jackal agreed to hunt on shares, for the purpose of laying in a stock of meat for the winter months for their families.

As the Lion was by far the more expert hunter of the two, the Jackal suggested that he (himself) should be employed in transporting the game to their dens, and that Mrs. Jackal and the little Jackals should prepare and dry the meat, adding that they would take care that Mrs. Lion and her family should not want.

This was agreed to by the Lion, and the hunt commenced.

After a very successful hunt, which lasted for some time, the Lion returned to see his family, and also to enjoy, as he thought, a plentiful supply of his spoil; when, to his utter surprise, he found Mrs. Lion and all the young Lions on the point of death from sheer hunger, and in a[49] mangy state. The Jackal, it appeared, had only given them a few entrails of the game, and in such limited quantities as barely to keep them alive; always telling them that they (i. e., the Lion and himself) had been most unsuccessful in their hunting; while his own family was reveling in abundance, and each member of it was sleek and fat.

This was too much for the Lion to bear. He immediately started off in a terrible fury, vowing certain death to the Jackal and all his family, wherever he should meet them. The Jackal was more or less prepared for a storm, and had taken the precaution to remove all his belongings to the top of a krantz (i. e., a cliff), accessible only by a most difficult and circuitous path, which he alone knew.

When the Lion saw him on the krantz, the Jackal immediately greeted him by calling out, "Good morning, Uncle Lion."

"How dare you call me uncle, you impudent scoundrel," roared out the Lion, in a voice of thunder, "after the way in which you have behaved to my family?"[50]

"Oh, Uncle! How shall I explain matters? That beast of a wife of mine!" Whack, whack was heard, as he beat with a stick on dry hide, which was a mere pretence for Mrs. Jackal's back; while that lady was preinstructed to scream whenever he operated on the hide, which she did with a vengeance, joined by the little Jackals, who set up a most doleful chorus. "That wretch!" said the Jackal. "It is all her doing. I shall kill her straight off," and away he again belabored the hide, while his wife and children uttered such a dismal howl that the Lion begged of him to leave off flogging his wife. After cooling down a little, he invited Uncle Lion to come up and have something to eat. The Lion, after several ineffectual attempts to scale the precipice, had to give it up.

The Jackal, always ready for emergencies, suggested that a reim should be lowered to haul up his uncle. This was agreed to, and when the Lion was drawn about halfway up by the whole family of Jackals, the reim was cleverly cut, and down went the Lion with a tremendous[51] crash which hurt him very much. Upon this, the Jackal again performed upon the hide with tremendous force, for their daring to give him such a rotten reim, and Mrs. Jackal and the little ones responded with some fearful screams and yells. He then called loudly out to his wife for a strong buffalo reim which would support any weight. This again was lowered and fastened to the Lion, when all hands pulled away at their uncle; and, just when he had reached so far that he could look over the precipice into the pots to see all the fat meat cooking, and all the biltongs hanging out to dry, the reim was again cut, and the poor Lion fell with such force that he was fairly stunned for some time. After the Lion had recovered his senses, the Jackal, in a most sympathizing tone, suggested that he was afraid that it was of no use to attempt to haul him up onto the precipice, and recommended, instead, that a nice fat piece of eland's breast be roasted and dropped into the Lion's mouth. The Lion, half famished with hunger, and much bruised, readily accepted the offer, and sat eagerly awaiting the fat morsel.[52] In the mean time, the Jackal had a round stone made red-hot, and wrapped a quantity of inside fat, or suet, round it, to make it appear like a ball of fat. When the Lion saw it held out, he opened his capacious mouth to the utmost extent, and the wily Jackal cleverly dropped the hot ball right into it, which ran through the poor old beast, killing him on the spot.

It need hardly be told that there was great rejoicing on the precipice that night.



Lion and Jackal, it is said, were one day lying in wait for Eland. Lion shot (with a bow) and missed, but Jackal hit and sang out, "Hah! hah!"

Lion said, "No, you did not shoot anything. It was I who hit."

Jackal answered, "Yea, my father, thou hast hit."

Then they went home in order to return when the eland was dead, and cut it up. Jackal, however, turned back, unknown to Lion, hit his nose so that the blood ran on the spoor of the eland, and followed their track thus, in order to cheat Lion. When he had gone some distance, he returned by another way to the dead eland, and creeping into its carcass, cut out all the fat.

Meanwhile Lion followed the blood-stained[54] spoor of Jackal, thinking that it was eland blood, and only when he had gone some distance did he find out that he had been deceived. He then returned on Jackal's spoor, and reached the dead eland, where, finding Jackal in its carcass, he seized him by his tail and drew him out with a swing.

Lion upbraided Jackal with these words: "Why do you cheat me?"

Jackal answered: "No, my father, I do not cheat you; you may know it, I think. I prepared this fat for you, father."

Lion said: "Then take the fat and carry it to your mother" (the lioness); and he gave him the lungs to take to his own wife and children.

When Jackal arrived, he did not give the fat to Lion's wife, but to his own wife and children; he gave, however, the lungs to Lion's wife, and he pelted Lion's little children with the lungs, saying:

"You children of the big-pawed one!
You big-pawed ones!"

He said to Lioness, "I go to help my father" (the lion); but he went far away with his wife and children.



Little Jackal one day went out hunting, when he met Lion. Lion proposed that they should hunt together, on condition that if a small antelope was killed it was to be Little Jackal's, and if a large one was killed it was to be Lion's. Little Jackal agreed to this.

The first animal killed was a large eland. Lion was very glad, and said to Little Jackal: "I will continue hunting while you go to my house and call my children to carry the meat home."

Little Jackal replied: "Yes, I agree to that."

Lion went away to hunt. When he had gone, Little Jackal went to his own house and called his own children to carry away the meat. He said: "Lion takes me for a fool if he thinks[57] I will call his children while my own are dying with hunger."

So Little Jackal's children carried the meat to their home on the top of a high rock, where the only way to get to their house was by means of a rope.

Lion caught nothing more, and after a time he went home and asked his wife where the meat was. She told him there was no meat. He said: "Did not Little Jackal bring a message to my children to carry meat?"

His wife replied: "No, he was not here. We are still dying with hunger."

Lion then went to Little Jackal's house, but he could not get up the rock to it. So he sat down by the water, waiting. After a time Little Jackal went to get some water. He was close to the water when he saw Lion. He at once ran away, and Lion ran after him. He ran into a hole under a tree, but Lion caught his tail before he got far in. He said to him: "That is not my tail you have hold of; it is a root of the tree. If you do not believe me, take a stone and strike it, and see if any blood comes."[58]

Lion let go the tail, and went for a stone to prove what it was. While he was gone for the stone, Little Jackal went far into the hole. When Lion returned he could not be found. Lion lay down by the hole and waited. After a long time Little Jackal wanted to come out. He went to the entrance and looked round, but he could not see Lion. To make sure, he said: "Ho, I see you, my master, although you are in hiding."

Lion did not move from the place where he lay concealed. Then Little Jackal went out, and Lion pursued him, but he got away.

Lion watched for him, and one day, when Little Jackal was out hunting, he came upon him in a place where he could not escape. Lion was just about to spring upon him, when Little Jackal said softly: "Be still, do you not see that bushbuck on the other side of the rock? I am glad you have come to help me. Just remain here while I run round and drive him toward you."

Lion did so, and Little Jackal made his escape.[59]

At another time there was a meeting of the animals, and Lion was the chief at the meeting. Little Jackal wanted to attend, but there was a law made that no one should be present unless he had horns. So Little Jackal took wax out of a nest of bees, and made horns for himself with it. He fastened the horns on his head, and went to the meeting. Lion did not know him on account of the horns. But he sat near the fire and went to sleep, when the horns melted.

Lion looked at him and saw who it was. He immediately tried to catch him, but Little Jackal was quick in springing away. He ran under an overhanging rock and sang out: "Help! help! this rock is falling upon me!"

Lion went for a pole to prop up the rock that he might get at Little Jackal. While he was away, Little Jackal escaped.

After that they became companions again, and went hunting another time. They killed an ox. Lion said: "I will watch it while you carry the pieces away."

Lion gave him the breast, and said: "Take this to my wife."[60]

Little Jackal took it to his own wife. When he returned, Lion gave him a shin, and said: "Take this to your wife."

Little Jackal took the shin to Lion's house. Lion's wife said: "I cannot take this because it should not come here."

Little Jackal thereupon struck Lion's wife in the face, and went back to the place where the ox was killed. Lion gave him a large piece of meat and said: "Take this to my wife."

Little Jackal took it to his own wife. This continued till the ox was finished. Then they both went home. When Lion arrived at his house he found there was weeping in his family.

His wife said: "Is it you who sent Little Jackal to beat me and my children, and is it you who sent this shin? Did I ever eat a shin?"

When Lion heard this he was very angry and at once went to Little Jackal's house. When he reached the rock, Little Jackal looked down and said: "Who are you, and what is your name, and whose son are you, and where are you from, and where are you going to, and whom do you want, and what do you want him for?"[61]

Lion replied: "I have merely come to see you. I wish you to let down the rope."

Little Jackal let down a rope made of mouse skins, and when Lion climbed a little way up, the rope broke, and he fell and was hurt. He then went home.



It is said, once a lioness roared, and the ostrich also roared. The lioness went toward the place where the ostrich was. They met. The lioness said to the ostrich, "Please to roar." The ostrich roared. Then the lioness roared. The voices were equal. The lioness said to the ostrich, "You are my match."

Then the lioness said to the ostrich, "Let us hunt game together." They saw eland and made toward it. The lioness caught only one; the ostrich killed a great many by striking them with the claw which was on his leg; but the lioness killed only one. When they had met after the hunting they went to the game, and the lioness saw that the ostrich had killed a great deal.

Now, the lioness also had young cubs. They went to the shade to rest themselves. The lioness said to the ostrich, "Get up and rip[63] open; let us eat." Said the ostrich, "Go and rip open; I shall eat the blood." The lioness stood up and ripped open, and ate with the cubs. And when she had eaten, the ostrich got up and ate the blood. They went to sleep.

The cubs played about. While they were playing, they went to the ostrich, who was asleep. When he went to sleep he also opened his mouth. The young lions saw that the ostrich had no teeth. They went to their mother and said, "This fellow, who says he is your equal, has no teeth; he is insulting you." Then the lioness went to wake the ostrich, and said, "Get up, let us fight"; and they fought. And the ostrich said, "Go to that side of the ant-hill, and I will go to this side of it." The ostrich struck the ant-hill, and sent it toward the lioness. But the second time he struck the lioness in a vulnerable spot, near the liver, and killed her.



Crocodile was, in the days when animals still could talk, the acknowledged foreman of all water creatures and if one should judge from appearances one would say that he still is. But in those days it was his especial duty to have a general care of all water animals, and when one year it was exceedingly dry, and the water of the river where they had lived dried up and became scarce, he was forced to make a plan to trek over to another river a short distance from there.

He first sent Otter out to spy. He stayed away two days and brought back a report that there was still good water in the other river, real sea-cow holes, that not even a drought of several years could dry up.

After he had ascertained this, Crocodile called to his side Tortoise and Alligator.[65]

"Look here," said he, "I need you two to-night to carry a report to Lion. So then get ready; the veldt is dry, and you will probably have to travel for a few days without any water. We must make peace with Lion and his subjects, otherwise we utterly perish this year. And he must help us to trek over to the other river, especially past the Boer's farm that lies in between, and to travel unmolested by any of the animals of the veldt, so long as the trek lasts. A fish on land is sometimes a very helpless thing, as you all know." The two had it mighty hard in the burning sun, and on the dry veldt, but eventually they reached Lion and handed him the treaty.

"What is going on now?" thought Lion to himself, when he had read it. "I must consult Jackal first," said he. But to the commissioners he gave back an answer that he would be the following evening with his advisers at the appointed place, at the big vaarland willow tree, at the farther end of the hole of water, where Crocodile had his headquarters.

When Tortoise and Alligator came back,[66] Crocodile was exceedingly pleased with himself at the turn the case had taken.

He allowed Otter and a few others to be present and ordered them on that evening to have ready plenty of fish and other eatables for their guests under the vaarland willow.

That evening as it grew dark Lion appeared with Wolf, Jackal, Baboon, and a few other important animals, at the appointed place, and they were received in the most open-hearted manner by Crocodile and the other water creatures.

Crocodile was so glad at the meeting of the animals that he now and then let fall a great tear of joy that disappeared into the sand. After the other animals had done well by the fish, Crocodile laid bare to them the condition of affairs and opened up his plan. He wanted only peace among all animals; for they not only destroyed one another, but the Boer, too, would in time destroy them all.

The Boer had already stationed at the source of the river no less than three steam pumps to irrigate his land, and the water was becoming scarcer every day. More than this, he took ad[67]vantage of their unfortunate position by making them sit in the shallow water and then, one after the other, bringing about their death. As Lion was, on this account, inclined to make peace, it was to his glory to take this opportunity and give his hand to these peace-making water creatures, and carry out their part of the contract, namely, escort them from the dried-up water, past the Boer's farm and to the long sea-cow pools.

"And what benefit shall we receive from it?" asked Jackal.

"Well," answered Crocodile, "the peace made is of great benefit to both sides. We will not exterminate each other. If you desire to come and drink water, you can do so with an easy mind, and not be the least bit nervous that I, or any one of us will seize you by the nose; and so also with all the other animals. And from your side we are to be freed from Elephant, who has the habit, whenever he gets the opportunity, of tossing us with his trunk up into some open and narrow fork of a tree and there allowing us to become biltong."[68]

Lion and Jackal stepped aside to consult with one another, and then Lion wanted to know what form of security he would have that Crocodile would keep to his part of the contract.

"I stake my word of honor," was the prompt answer from Crocodile, and he let drop a few more long tears of honesty into the sand.

Baboon then said it was all square and honest as far as he could see into the case. He thought it was nonsense to attempt to dig pitfalls for one another; because he personally was well aware that his race would benefit somewhat from this contract of peace and friendship. And more than this, they must consider that use must be made of the fast disappearing water, for even in the best of times it was an unpleasant thing to be always carrying your life about in your hands. He would, however, like to suggest to the King that it would be well to have everything put down in writing, so that there would be nothing to regret in case it was needed.

Jackal did not want to listen to the agreement. He could not see that it would benefit[69] the animals of the veldt. But Wolf, who had fully satisfied himself with the fish, was in an exceptionally peace-loving mood, and he advised Lion again to close the agreement.

After Lion had listened to all his advisers, and also the pleading tones of Crocodile's followers, he held forth in a speech in which he said that he was inclined to enter into the agreement, seeing that it was clear that Crocodile and his subjects were in a very tight place.

There and then a document was drawn up, and it was resolved, before midnight, to begin the trek. Crocodile's messengers swam in all directions to summon together the water animals for the trek.

Frogs croaked and crickets chirped in the long water grass. It was not long before all the animals had assembled at the vaarland willow. In the meantime Lion had sent out a few despatch riders to his subjects to raise a commando for an escort, and long ere midnight these also were at the vaarland willow in the moonlight.

The trek then was regulated by Lion and[70] Jackal. Jackal was to take the lead to act as spy, and when he was able to draw Lion to one side, he said to him:

"See here, I do not trust this affair one bit, and I want to tell you straight out, I am going to make tracks! I will spy for you until you reach the sea-cow pool, but I am not going to be the one to await your arrival there."

Elephant had to act as advance guard because he could walk so softly and could hear and smell so well. Then came Lion with one division of the animals, then Crocodile's trek with a flank protection of both sides, and Wolf received orders to bring up the rear.

Meanwhile, while all this was being arranged, Crocodile was smoothly preparing his treason. He called Yellow Snake to one side and said to him: "It is to our advantage to have these animals, who go among us every day, and who will continue to do so, fall into the hands of the Boer. Listen, now! You remain behind unnoticed, and when you hear me shout you will know that we have arrived safely at the sea-cow pool. Then you must harass the Boer's[71] dogs as much as you can, and the rest will look out for themselves."

Thereupon the trek moved on. It was necessary to go very slowly as many of the water animals were not accustomed to the journey on land; but they trekked past the Boer's farm in safety, and toward break of day they were all safely at the sea-cow pool. There most of the water animals disappeared suddenly into the deep water, and Crocodile also began to make preparations to follow their example. With tearful eyes he said to Lion that he was, oh, so thankful for the help, that, from pure relief and joy, he must first give vent to his feelings by a few screams. Thereupon he suited his words to actions so that even the mountains echoed, and then thanked Lion on behalf of his subjects, and purposely continued with a long speech, dwelling on all the benefits both sides would derive from the agreement of peace.

Lion was just about to say good day and take his departure, when the first shot fell, and with it Elephant and a few other animals.

"I told you all so!" shouted Jackal from[72] the other side of the sea-cow pool. "Why did you allow yourselves to be misled by a few Crocodile tears?"

Crocodile had disappeared long ago into the water. All one saw was just a lot of bubbles; and on the banks there was an actual war against the animals. It simply crackled the way the Boers shot them.

But most of them, fortunately, came out of it alive.

Shortly after, they say, Crocodile received his well-earned reward, when he met a driver with a load of dynamite. And even now when the Elephant gets the chance he pitches them up into the highest forks of the trees.



There was a great drought in the land; and Lion called together a number of animals so that they might devise a plan for retaining water when the rains fell.

The animals which attended at Lion's summons were Baboon, Leopard, Hyena, Jackal, Hare, and Mountain Tortoise.

It was agreed that they should scratch a large hole in some suitable place to hold water; and the next day they all began to work, with the exception of Jackal, who continually hovered about in that locality, and was overheard to mutter that he was not going to scratch his nails off in making water holes.

When the dam was finished the rains fell, and it was soon filled with water, to the great delight of those who had worked so hard at it. The first one, however, to come and drink there, was Jackal, who not only drank, but filled his[74] clay pot with water, and then proceeded to swim in the rest of the water, making it as muddy and dirty as he could.

This was brought to the knowledge of Lion, who was very angry and ordered Baboon to guard the water the next day, armed with a huge knobkirrie. Baboon was concealed in a bush close to the water; but Jackal soon became aware of his presence there, and guessed its cause. Knowing the fondness of baboons for honey, Jackal at once hit upon a plan, and marching to and fro, every now and then dipped his fingers into his clay pot, and licked them with an expression of intense relish, saying, in a low voice to himself, "I don't want any of their dirty water when I have a pot full of delicious honey." This was too much for poor Baboon, whose mouth began to water. He soon began to beg Jackal to give him a little honey, as he had been watching for several hours, and was very hungry and tired.

After taking no notice of Baboon at first, Jackal looked round, and said, in a patronizing manner, that he pitied such an unfortunate[75] creature, and would give him some honey on certain conditions, viz., that Baboon should give up his knobkirrie and allow himself to be bound by Jackal. He foolishly agreed; and was soon tied in such a manner that he could not move hand or foot.

Jackal now proceeded to drink of the water, to fill his pot, and to swim in the sight of Baboon, from time to time telling him what a foolish fellow he had been to be so easily duped, and that he (Jackal) had no honey or anything else to give him, excepting a good blow on the head every now and then with his own knobkirrie.

The animals soon appeared and found poor Baboon in this sorry plight, looking the picture of misery. Lion was so exasperated that he caused Baboon to be severely punished, and to be denounced as a fool.

Tortoise hereupon stepped forward, and offered his services for the capture of Jackal. It was at first thought that he was merely joking; but when he explained in what manner he proposed to catch him, his plan was consid[76]ered so feasible that his offer was accepted. He proposed that a thick coating of "bijenwerk" (a kind of sticky black substance found on beehives) should be spread all over him, and that he should then go and stand at the entrance of the dam, on the water level, so that Jackal might tread upon him and stick fast. This was accordingly done and Tortoise posted there.

The next day, when Jackal came, he approached the water very cautiously, and wondered to find no one there. He then ventured to the entrance of the water, and remarked how kind they had been in placing there a large black stepping-stone for him. As soon, however, as he trod upon the supposed stone, he stuck fast, and saw that he had been tricked; for Tortoise now put his head out and began to move. Jackal's hind feet being still free he threatened to smash Tortoise with them if he did not let him go. Tortoise merely answered, "Do as you like." Jackal thereupon made a violent jump, and found, with horror, that his hind feet were now also fast. "Tortoise," said he, "I have still my mouth and teeth left, and will eat you[77] alive if you do not let me go." "Do as you like," Tortoise again replied. Jackal, in his endeavors to free himself, at last made a desperate bite at Tortoise, and found himself fixed, both head and feet. Tortoise, feeling proud of his successful capture, now marched quietly up to the top of the bank with Jackal on his back, so that he could easily be seen by the animals as they came to the water.

They were indeed astonished to find how cleverly the crafty Jackal had been caught; and Tortoise was much praised, while the unhappy Baboon was again reminded of his misconduct when set to guard the water.

Jackal was at once condemned to death by Lion; and Hyena was to execute the sentence. Jackal pleaded hard for mercy, but finding this useless, he made a last request to Lion (always, as he said, so fair and just in his dealings) that he should not have to suffer a lingering death.

Lion inquired of him in what manner he wished to die; and he asked that his tail might be shaved and rubbed with a little fat, and that Hyena might then swing him round twice and[78] dash his brains out upon a stone. This, being considered sufficiently fair by Lion, was ordered by him to be carried out in his presence.

When Jackal's tail had been shaved and greased, Hyena caught hold of him with great force, and before he had fairly lifted him from the ground, the cunning Jackal had slipped away from Hyena's grasp, and was running for his life, pursued by all the animals.

Lion was the foremost pursuer, and after a great chase Jackal got under an overhanging precipice, and, standing on his hind legs with his shoulders pressed against the rock, called loudly to Lion to help him, as the rock was falling, and would crush them both. Lion put his shoulders to the rock, and exerted himself to the utmost. After some little time Jackal proposed that he should creep slowly out, and fetch a large pole to prop up the rock, so that Lion could get out and save his life. Jackal did creep out, and left Lion there to starve and die.



There was a frightful drought. The rivers after a while dried up and even the springs gave no water.

The animals wandered around seeking drink, but to no avail. Nowhere was water to be found.

A great gathering of animals was held: Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Jackal, Elephant, all of them came together. What was to be done? That was the question. One had this plan, and another had that; but no plan seemed of value.

Finally one of them suggested: "Come, let all of us go to the dry river bed and dance; in that way we can tread out the water."

Good! Everyone was satisfied and ready to begin instantly, excepting Rabbit, who said, "I will not go and dance. All of you are mad to attempt to get water from the ground by dancing."[80]

The other animals danced and danced, and ultimately danced the water to the surface. How glad they were. Everyone drank as much as he could, but Rabbit did not dance with them. So it was decided that Rabbit should have no water.

He laughed at them: "I will nevertheless drink some of your water."

That evening he proceeded leisurely to the river bed where the dance had been, and drank as much as he wanted. The following morning the animals saw the footprints of Rabbit in the ground, and Rabbit shouted to them: "Aha! I did have some of the water, and it was most refreshing and tasted fine."

Quickly all the animals were called together. What were they to do? How were they to get Rabbit in their hands? All had some means to propose; the one suggested this, and the other that.

Finally old Tortoise moved slowly forward, foot by foot: "I will catch Rabbit."

"You? How? What do you think of yourself?" shouted the others in unison.[81]

"Rub my shell with pitch,[1] and I will go to the edge of the water and lie down. I will then resemble a stone, so that when Rabbit steps on me his feet will stick fast."

"Yes! Yes! That's good."

And in a one, two, three, Tortoise's shell was covered with pitch, and foot by foot he moved away to the river. At the edge, close to the water, he lay down and drew his head into his shell.

Rabbit during the evening came to get a drink. "Ha!" he chuckled sarcastically, "they are, after all, quite decent. Here they have placed a stone, so now I need not unnecessarily wet my feet."

Rabbit trod with his left foot on the stone, and there it stuck. Tortoise then put his head out. "Ha! old Tortoise! And it's you, is it, that's holding me. But here I still have another foot. I'll give you a good clout." Rabbit gave Tortoise what he said he would with his right fore foot, hard and straight; and there his foot remained.


"I have yet a hind foot, and with it I'll kick you." Rabbit drove his hind foot down. This also rested on Tortoise where it struck.

"But still another foot remains, and now I'll tread you." He stamped his foot down, but it stuck like the others.

He used his head to hammer Tortoise, and his tail as a whip, but both met the same fate as his feet, so there he was tight and fast down to the pitch.

Tortoise now slowly turned himself round and foot by foot started for the other animals, with Rabbit on his back.

"Ha! ha! ha! Rabbit! How does it look now? Insolence does not pay after all," shouted the animals.

Now advice was sought. What should they do with Rabbit? He certainly must die. But how? One said, "Behead him"; another, "Some severe penalty."

"Rabbit, how are we to kill you?"

"It does not affect me," Rabbit said. "Only a shameful death please do not pronounce."

"And what is that?" they all shouted.[83]

"To take me by my tail and dash my head against a stone; that I pray and beseech you don't do."

"No, but just so you'll die. That is decided."

It was decided Rabbit should die by taking him by his tail and dashing his head to pieces against some stone. But who is to do it?

Lion, because he is the most powerful one.

Good! Lion should do it. He stood up, walked to the front, and poor Rabbit was brought to him. Rabbit pleaded and beseeched that he couldn't die such a miserable death.

Lion took Rabbit firmly by the tail and swung him around. The white skin slipped off from Rabbit, and there Lion stood with the white bit of skin and hair in his paw. Rabbit was free.



Every evening Jackal went to the Boer's kraal. He crept through the sliding door and stole a fat young lamb. This, clever Jackal did several times in succession. Boer set a wip[2] for him at the door. Jackal went again and zip—there he was caught around the body by the noose. He swung and swayed high in the air and couldn't touch ground. The day began to dawn and Jackal became uneasy.

On a stone kopje, Monkey sat. When it became light he could see the whole affair, and descended hastily for the purpose of mocking Jackal. He went and sat on the wall. "Ha, [85]ha, good morning. So there you are hanging now, eventually caught."

"What? I caught? I am simply swinging for my pleasure; it is enjoyable."

"You fibber. You are caught in the wip."

"If you but realized how nice it was to swing and sway like this, you wouldn't hesitate. Come, try it a little. You feel so healthy and strong for the day, and you never tire afterwards."

"No, I won't. You are caught."

After a while Jackal convinced Monkey. He sprang from the kraal wall, and freeing Jackal, adjusted the noose around his own body. Jackal quickly let go and began to laugh, as Monkey was now swinging high in the air.

"Ha, ha, ha," he laughed. "Now Monkey is in the wip."

"Jackal, free me," he screamed.

"There, Boer is coming," shouted Jackal.

"Jackal, free me of this, or I'll break your playthings."

"No, there Boer is coming with his gun; you rest a while in the noose."[86]

"Jackal, quickly make me free."

"No, here's Boer already, and he's got his gun. Good morning." And with these parting words he ran away as fast as he could. Boer came and saw Monkey in the wip.

"So, so, Monkey, now you are caught. You are the fellow who has been stealing my lambs, hey?"

"No, Boer, no," screamed Monkey, "not I, but Jackal."

"No, I know you; you aren't too good for that."

"No, Boer, no, not I, but Jackal," Monkey stammered.

"Oh, I know you. Just wait a little," and Boer, raising his gun, aimed and shot poor Monkey dead.



Lion and Jackal went together a-hunting. They shot with arrows. Lion shot first, but his arrow fell short of its aim; but Jackal hit the game, and joyfully cried out, "It has hit."

Lion looked at him with his two large eyes; Jackal, however, did not lose his countenance, but said, "No, uncle, I mean to say that you have hit." Then they followed the game, and Jackal passed the arrow of Lion without drawing the latter's attention to it. When they arrived at a crossway, Jackal said: "Dear uncle, you are old and tired; stay here." Jackal went then on a wrong track, beat his nose, and, in returning, let the blood drop from it like traces of game. "I could not find anything," he said, "but I met with traces of blood. You had better go yourself to look for it. In the meantime I shall go this other way."[88]

Jackal soon found the killed animal, crept inside of it, and devoured the best portion; but his tail remained outside, and when Lion arrived, he got hold of it, pulled Jackal out, and threw him on the ground with these words: "You rascal!"

Jackal rose quickly again, complained of the rough handling, and asked, "What have I now done, dear uncle? I was busy cutting out the best part."

"Now let us go and fetch our wives," said Lion, but Jackal entreated his dear uncle to remain at the place because he was old. Jackal then went away, taking with him two portions of the flesh, one for his own wife, but the best part for the wife of Lion. When Jackal arrived with the flesh, the children of Lion, seeing him, began to jump, and clapping their hands, cried out: "There comes cousin with flesh!" Jackal threw, grumbling, the worst portion to them, and said, "There, you brood of the big-eyed one!" Then he went to his own house and told his wife immediately to break up the house, and to go where the killed game was.[89] Lioness wished to do the same, but he forbade her, and said that Lion would himself come to fetch her.

When Jackal, with his wife and children, arrived in the neighborhood of the killed animal, he ran into a thorn bush, scratched his face so that it bled, and thus made his appearance before Lion, to whom he said, "Ah! what a wife you have got. Look here, how she scratched my face when I told her that she should come with us. You must fetch her yourself; I cannot bring her." Lion went home very angry. Then Jackal said, "Quick, let us build a tower." They heaped stone upon stone, stone upon stone, stone upon stone; and when it was high enough, everything was carried to the top of it. When Jackal saw Lion approaching with his wife and children, he cried out to him:

"Uncle, whilst you were away we have built a tower, in order to be better able to see game."

"All right," said Lion; "but let me come up to you."

"Certainly, dear uncle; but how will you[90] manage to come up? We must let down a thong for you."

Lion tied the thong around his body and Jackal began drawing him up, but when nearly to the top Jackal cried to Lion, "My, uncle, how heavy you are!" Then, unseen by Lion, he cut the thong. Lion fell to the ground, while Jackal began loudly and angrily to scold his wife, and then said, "Go, wife, fetch me a new thong"—"an old one," he said aside to her.

Lion again tied himself to the thong, and, just as he was near the top, Jackal cut the thong as before; Lion fell heavily to the bottom, groaning aloud, as he had been seriously hurt.

"No," said Jackal, "that will never do: you must, however, manage to come up high enough so that you may get a mouthful at least." Then aloud he ordered his wife to prepare a good piece, but aside he told her to make a stone hot, and to cover it with fat. Then he drew Lion up once more, and complaining how heavy he was to hold, told him to open his mouth, and[91] thereupon threw the hot stone down his throat. Lion fell to the ground and lay there pleading for water, while Jackal climbed down and made his escape.



Jackal, it is said, married Hyena, and carried off a cow belonging to the ants, to slaughter her for the wedding; and when he had slaughtered her, he put the cowskin over his bride; and when he had fixed a pole (on which to hang the flesh), he placed on the top of the pole (which was forked) the hearth for the cooking, in order to cook upon it all sorts of delicious food. There came also Lion, and wished to go up. Jackal, therefore, asked his little daughter for a thong with which he could pull Lion up; and he began to pull him up; and when his face came near to the cooking-pot, he cut the thong in two, so that Lion tumbled down. Then Jackal upbraided his little daughter with these words: "Why do you give me such an old thong?" And he added, "Give me a fresh thong." She gave him a new thong, and he pulled Lion up again, and[93] when his face came near the pot, which stood on the fire, he said, "open your mouth." Then he put into his mouth a hot piece of quartz which had been boiled together with the fat, and the stone went down, burning his throat. Thus died Lion.

There came also the ants running after the cow, and when Jackal saw them he fled. Then they beat the bride in her brookaross dress. Hyena, believing that it was Jackal, said:

"You tawny rogue! have you not played at beating long enough? Have you no more loving game than this?"

But when she had bitten a hole through the cowskin, she saw that they were other people; then she fled, falling here and there, yet made her escape.



Once upon a time the animals made a kraal and put some fat in it. They agreed that one of their number should remain to be the keeper of the gate. The first one that was appointed was the coney (imbila). He agreed to take charge, and all the others went away. In a short time the coney fell asleep, when the inkalimeva (a fabulous animal) went in and ate all the fat. After doing this, he threw a little stone at the coney.

The coney started up and cried out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."

It repeated this cry several times, calling out very loudly. The animals at a distance heard it, they ran to the kraal, and when they saw that the fat was gone they killed the coney.

They put fat in the kraal a second time, and appointed the muishond (ingaga) to keep[95] the gate. The muishond consented, and the animals went away as before. After a little time the inkalimeva came to the kraal, bringing some honey with it. It invited the keeper of the gate to eat honey, and while the muishond was enjoying himself the inkalimeva went in and stole all the fat. It threw a stone at the muishond, which caused him to look up.

The muishond cried out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."

As soon as the animals heard the cry, they ran to the kraal and killed the muishond.

They put fat in the kraal a third time, and appointed the duiker (impunzi) to be the keeper of the gate. The duiker agreed, and the others went away. In a short time the inkalimeva made its appearance. It proposed to the duiker that they should play hide and look for. The duiker agreed to this. Then the inkalimeva hid itself, and the duiker looked for it till he was so tired that he lay down and went to sleep. When the duiker was asleep, the inkalimeva ate up all the fat.[96]

Then it threw a stone at the duiker, which caused him to jump up and cry out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."

The animals, when they heard the cry, ran to the kraal and killed the duiker.

They put fat in the kraal the fourth time, and appointed the bluebuck (inputi) to be the keeper of the gate. When the animals went away, the inkalimeva came as before.

It said: "What are you doing by yourself?"

The bluebuck answered: "I am watching the fat belonging to all the animals."

The inkalimeva said: "I will be your companion. Come, let us scratch each other's heads."

The bluebuck agreed to this. The inkalimeva sat down and scratched the head of the other till he went to sleep. Then it arose and ate all the fat. When it had finished, it threw a stone at the bluebuck and awakened him.

The bluebuck saw what had happened and cried out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."[97]

Then the animals ran up and killed the bluebuck also.

They put fat in the kraal the fifth time, and appointed the porcupine (incanda) to be the keeper of the gate. The animals went away, and the inkalimeva came as before.

It said to the porcupine, "Let us run a race against each other."

It let the porcupine beat in this race.

Then it said, "I did not think you could run so fast, but let us try again." They ran again, and it allowed the porcupine to beat the second time. They ran till the porcupine was so tired that he said, "Let us rest now."

They sat down to rest, and the porcupine went to sleep. Then the inkalimeva rose up and ate all the fat. When it had finished eating, it threw a stone at the porcupine, which caused him to jump up.

He called out with a loud voice, "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."

Then the animals came running up and put the porcupine to death.[98]

They put fat in the kraal the sixth time, and selected the hare (umvundla) to be the keeper of the gate. At first the hare would not consent.

He said, "The coney is dead, and the muishond is dead, and the duiker is dead, and the bluebuck is dead, and the porcupine is dead, and you will kill me also."

They promised him that they would not kill him, and after a good deal of persuasion he at last agreed to keep the gate. When the animals were gone he laid himself down, but he only pretended to be asleep.

In a short time the inkalimeva went in, and was just going to take the fat when the hare cried out: "Let the fat alone."

The inkalimeva said, "Please let me have this little bit only."

The hare answered, mocking, "Please let me have this little bit only."

After that they became companions. The hare proposed that they should fasten each other's tail, and the inkalimeva agreed. The inkalimeva fastened the tail of the hare first.[99]

The hare said, "Don't tie my tail so tight."

Then the hare fastened the tail of the inkalimeva.

The inkalimeva said, "Don't tie my tail so tight," but the hare made no answer. After tying the tail of the inkalimeva very fast, the hare took his club and killed it. The hare took the tail of the inkalimeva and ate it, all except a little piece which he hid in the fence.

Then he called out, "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."

The animals came running back, and when they saw that the inkalimeva was dead they rejoiced greatly. They asked the hare for the tail, which should be kept for the chief.

The hare replied, "The one I killed had no tail."

They said, "How can an inkalimeva be without a tail?"

They began to search, and at length they found a piece of the tail in the fence. They told the chief that the hare had eaten the tail.

He said, "Bring him to me!"[100]

All the animals ran after the hare, but he fled, and they could not catch him. The hare ran into a hole, at the mouth of which the animals set a snare, and then went away. The hare remained in the hole for many days, but at length he managed to get out without being caught.

He went to a place where he found a bushbuck (imbabala) building a hut. There was a pot with meat in it on the fire.

He said to the bushbuck, "Can I take this little piece of meat?"

The bushbuck answered, "You must not do it."

But he took the meat and ate it all. Afterwards he whistled in a particular manner, and there fell a storm of hail which killed the bushbuck. Then he took the skin of the bushbuck, and made for himself a mantle.

After this the hare went into the forest to procure some weapons to fight with. While he was cutting a stick the monkeys threw leaves upon him. He called to them to come down and beat him. They came down, but he killed them all with his weapons.



A white man, it is said, met Snake upon whom a large stone had fallen and covered her so that she could not rise. The White Man lifted the stone off Snake, but when he had done so, she wanted to bite him. The White Man said, "Stop! let us both go first to some wise people." They went to Hyena, and the White Man asked him, "Is it right that Snake should want to bite me, when I helped her as she lay under a stone and could not rise?"

Hyena (who thought he would get his share of the White Man's body) said, "If you were bitten what would it matter?"

Then Snake wanted to bite him, but the White Man said again, "Wait a little, and let us go to other wise people, that I may hear whether this is right."

They went and met Jackal. The White Man[102] said to Jackal, "Is it right for Snake to want to bite me, when I lifted up the stone which lay upon her?"

Jackal replied, "I do not believe that Snake could be covered by a stone so she could not rise. Unless I saw it with my two eyes, I would not believe it. Therefore, come let us go and see the place where you say it happened whether it can be true."

They went, and arrived at the place where it had happened. Jackal said, "Snake, lie down, and let thyself be covered."

Snake did so, and the White Man covered her with the stone; but although she exerted herself very much, she could not rise. Then the White Man wanted again to release Snake, but Jackal interfered, and said, "Do not lift the stone. She wanted to bite you, therefore she may rise by herself."

Then they both went away and left Snake under the stone.



A Dutchman was walking by himself and saw Snake lying under a large stone. Snake implored his help; but when she had become free she said, "Now I shall eat you."

The Man answered, "That is not right. Let us first go to Hare."

When Hare had heard the affair, he said, "It is right."

"No," said the Man, "let us ask Hyena."

Hyena declared the same, saying, "It is right."

"Now let us ask Jackal," said the Man in his despair.

Jackal answered very slowly and considerately, doubting the whole affair, and demanding to see first the place, and whether the Man was able to lift the stone. Snake lay down, and[104] the Man, to prove the truth of his account, put the stone again over her.

When she was fast, Jackal said, "Now let her lie there."



Jackal and Hyena were together, it is said, when a white cloud rose. Jackal descended upon it, and ate of the cloud as if it were fat.

When he wanted to come down, he said to Hyena, "My sister, as I am going to divide with thee, catch me well." So she caught him, and broke his fall. Then she also went up and ate there, high up on the top of the cloud.

When she was satisfied, she said, "My greyish brother, now catch me well." The greyish rogue said to his friend, "My sister, I shall catch thee well. Come therefore down."

He held up his hands, and she came down from the cloud, and when she was near, Jackal cried out (painfully jumping to one side), "My sister, do not take it ill. Oh me! Oh me! A thorn has pricked me and sticks in me." Thus she fell down from above, and was sadly hurt.[106]

Since that day, it is said that Hyena's hind feet have been shorter and smaller than the front ones.



Lion, it is said, was ill, and they all went to see him in his suffering. But Jackal did not go, because the traces of the people who went to see him did not turn back. Thereupon, he was accused by Hyena, who said, "Though I go to look, yet Jackal does not want to come and look at the man's sufferings."

Then Lion let Hyena go, in order that she might catch Jackal; and she did so, and brought him.

Lion asked Jackal: "Why did you not come here to see me?"

Jackal said, "Oh, no! when I heard that my uncle was so very ill, I went to the witch (doctor) to consult him, whether and what medicine would be good for my uncle against the pain. The doctor said to me, 'Go and tell your uncle to take hold of Hyena and draw[108] off her skin, and put it on while it is still warm. Then he will recover.' Hyena is one who does not care for my uncle's sufferings."

Lion followed his advice, got hold of Hyena, drew the skin over her ears, whilst she howled with all her might, and put it on.



Jackal, it is said, came once to Dove, who lived on the top of a rock, and said, "Give me one of your little ones."

Dove answered, "I shall not do anything of the kind."

Jackal said, "Give me it at once! Otherwise, I shall fly up to you." Then she threw one down to him.

He came back another day and demanded another little one, and she gave it to him. After Jackal had gone, Heron came, and asked, "Dove, why do you cry?"

Dove answered him, "Jackal has taken away my little ones; it is for this that I cry." He asked her, "In what manner did he take them?" She answered him, "When he asked me I refused him; but when he said, 'I shall at once fly up, therefore give me it,' I threw it down to him."[110]

Heron said, "Are you such a fool as to give your young ones to Jackal, who cannot fly?" Then, with the admonition to give no more, he went away.

Jackal came again, and said, "Dove, give me a little one." Dove refused, and told him that Heron had told her that he could not fly up. Jackal said, "I shall catch him."

So when Heron came to the banks of the water, Jackal asked him: "Brother Heron, when the wind comes from this side, how will you stand?" He turned his neck towards him and said, "I stand thus, bending my neck on one side." Jackal asked him again, "When a storm comes and when it rains, how do you stand?" He said to him: "I stand thus, indeed, bending my neck down."

Then Jackal beat him on his neck, and broke his neck in the middle.

Since that day Heron's neck is bent.



Cock, it is said, was once overtaken by Jackal, and caught. Cock said to Jackal, "Please, pray first (before you kill me), as the white man does."

Jackal asked, "In what manner does he pray? Tell me."

"He folds his hands in praying," said Cock. Jackal folded his hands and prayed. Then Cock spoke again; "You ought not to look about you as you do. You had better shut your eyes." He did so; and Cock flew away, upbraiding at the same time Jackal with these words, "You rogue! do you also pray?"

There sat Jackal, speechless, because he had been outdone.



Two powers, Elephant and Rain, had a dispute. Elephant said, "If you say that you nourish me, in what way is it that you say so?" Rain answered, "If you say that I do not nourish you, when I go away, will you not die?" And Rain then departed.

Elephant said, "Vulture! cast lots to make rain for me."

Vulture said, "I will not cast lots."

Then Elephant said to Crow, "Cast lots!" who answered, "Give the things with which I may cast lots." Crow cast lots and rain fell. It rained at the lagoons, but they dried up, and only one lagoon remained.

Elephant went a-hunting. There was, however, Tortoise, to whom Elephant said, "Tortoise, remain at the water!" Thus Tortoise was left behind when Elephant went a-hunting.[113]

There came Giraffe, and said to Tortoise, "Give me water!" Tortoise answered, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Zebra, who said to Tortoise, "Give me water!" Tortoise answered, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Gemsbok, and said to Tortoise, "Give me water!" Tortoise answered, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Wildebeest, and said, "Give me water!" Tortoise said, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Roodebok, and said to Tortoise, "Give me water!" Tortoise answered, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Springbok, and said to Tortoise, "Give me water!" Tortoise said, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Jackal, and said to Tortoise, "Give me water!" Tortoise said, "The water belongs to Elephant."

There came Lion, and said, "Little Tortoise, give me water!" When little Tortoise was about to say something, Lion got hold of him[114] and beat him; Lion drank of the water, and since then the animals drink water.

When Elephant came back from the hunting, he said, "Little Tortoise, is there water?" Tortoise answered, "The animals have drunk the water." Elephant asked, "Little Tortoise, shall I chew you or swallow you down?" Little Tortoise said, "Swallow me, if you please!" and Elephant swallowed him whole.

After Elephant had swallowed Little Tortoise, and he had entered his body, he tore off his liver, heart, and kidneys. Elephant said, "Little Tortoise, you kill me."

So Elephant died; but little Tortoise came out of his dead body, and went wherever he liked.



Giraffe and Tortoise, they say, met one day. Giraffe said to Tortoise, "At once I could trample you to death." Tortoise, being afraid, remained silent. Then Giraffe said, "At once I could swallow you." Tortoise said, in answer to this, "Well, I just belong to the family of those whom it has always been customary to swallow." Then Giraffe swallowed Tortoise; but when the latter was being gulped down, he stuck in Giraffe's throat, and as the latter could not get it down, he was choked to death.

When Giraffe was dead, Tortoise crawled out and went to Crab (who is considered as the mother of Tortoise), and told her what had happened. Then Crab said:[116]

"The little Crab! I could sprinkle it under its arm with Boochoo,[3]
The crooked-legged little one, I could sprinkle under its arm."

Tortoise answered its mother and said:

"Have you not always sprinkled me,
That you want to sprinkle me now?"

Then they went and fed for a whole year on the remains of Giraffe.



One day, it is said, the Tortoises held a council how they might hunt Ostriches, and they said, "Let us, on both sides, stand in rows near each other, and let one go to hunt the Ostriches, so that they must flee along through the midst of us." They did so, and as they were many, the Ostriches were obliged to run along through the midst of them. During this they did not move, but, remaining always in the same places, called each to the other, "Are you there?" and each one answered, "I am here." The Ostriches hearing this, ran so tremendously that they quite exhausted their strength, and fell down. Then the Tortoises assembled by-and-by at the place where the Ostriches had fallen, and devoured them.



One day, it is said, the following story happened:

Mouse had torn the clothes of Itkler (the tailor), who then went to Baboon, and accused Mouse with these words:

"In this manner I come to thee: Mouse has torn my clothes, but will not know anything of it, and accuses Cat; Cat protests likewise her innocence, and says, 'Dog must have done it'; but Dog denies it also, and declares Wood has done it; and Wood throws the blame on Fire, and says, 'Fire did it'; Fire says, 'I have not, Water did it'; Water says, 'Elephant tore the clothes'; and Elephant says, 'Ant tore them.' Thus a dispute has arisen among them. Therefore, I, Itkler, come to thee with this proposition: Assemble the people and try them in order that I may get satisfaction."

Thus he spake, and Baboon assembled them[119] for trial. Then they made the same excuses which had been mentioned by Itkler, each one putting the blame upon the other.

So Baboon did not see any other way of punishing them, save through making them punish each other; he therefore said,

"Mouse, give Itkler satisfaction."

Mouse, however, pleaded not guilty. But Baboon said, "Cat, bite Mouse." She did so.

He then put the same question to Cat, and when she exculpated herself, Baboon called to Dog, "Here, bite Cat."

In this manner Baboon questioned them all, one after the other, but they each denied the charge. Then he addressed the following words to them, and said,

"Wood, beat Dog.
Fire, burn Wood.
Water, quench Fire.
Elephant, drink Water.
Ant, bite Elephant in his most tender parts."

They did so, and since that day they cannot any longer agree with each other.[120]

Ant enters into Elephant's most tender parts and bites him.

Elephant swallows Water.
Water quenches Fire.
Fire consumes Wood.
Wood beats Dog.
Dog bites Cat.
And Cat bites Mouse.

Through this judgment Itkler got satisfaction and addressed Baboon in the following manner:

"Yes! Now I am content, since I have received satisfaction, and with all my heart I thank thee, Baboon, because thou hast exercised justice on my behalf and given me redress."

Then Baboon said, "From to-day I will not any longer be called Jan, but Baboon shall be my name."

Since that time Baboon walks on all fours, having probably lost the privilege of walking erect through this foolish judgment.



Baboon, it is said, once worked bamboos, sitting on the edge of a precipice, and Lion stole upon him. Baboon, however, had fixed some round, glistening, eye-like plates on the back of his head. When, therefore, Lion crept upon him, he thought, when Baboon was looking at him, that he sat with his back towards him, and crept with all his might upon him. When, however, Baboon turned his back towards him, Lion thought that he was seen, and hid himself. Thus, when Baboon looked at him, he crept upon him.[4] When he was near him Baboon looked up, and Lion continued to creep upon him. Baboon said (aside), "Whilst I am looking at him he steals upon me, whilst my hollow eyes are on him."

When at last Lion sprung at him, he lay (quickly) down upon his face, and Lion jumped over him, falling down the precipice, and was dashed to pieces.



The Baboons, it is said, used to disturb the Zebra Mares in drinking. But one of the Mares became the mother of a foal. The others then helped her to suckle (the young stallion), that he might soon grow up.

When he was grown up and they were in want of water, he brought them to the water. The Baboons, seeing this, came, as they formerly were used to do, into their way, and kept them from the water.

While the Mares stood thus, the Stallion stepped forward, and spoke to one of the Baboons, "Thou gum-eater's child!"

The Baboon said to the Stallion, "Please open thy mouth, that I may see what thou livest on." The Stallion opened his mouth, and it was milky.

Then the Stallion said to the Baboon, "Please[123] open thy mouth also, that I may see." The Baboon did so, and there was some gum in it. But the Baboon quickly licked some milk off the Stallion's tongue. The Stallion on this became angry, took the Baboon by his shoulders, and pressed him upon a hot, flat rock. Since that day the Baboon has a bald place on his back.

The Baboon said, lamenting, "I, my mother's child, I, the gum-eater, am outdone by this milk-eater!"



Lion, it is said, used once to fly, and at that time nothing could live before him. As he was unwilling that the bones of what he caught should be broken into pieces, he made a pair of White Crows watch the bones, leaving them behind at the kraal whilst he went a-hunting. But one day Great Frog came there, broke the bones in pieces, and said, "Why can men and animals live no longer?" And he added these words, "When he comes, tell him that I live at yonder pool; if he wishes to see me, he must come there."

Lion, lying in wait (for game), wanted to fly up, but found he could not fly. Then he got angry, thinking that at the kraal something was wrong, and returned home. When he arrived he asked, "What have you done that I cannot fly?" Then they answered and said, "Some one came here, broke the bones into[125] pieces, and said, 'If he want me, he may look for me at yonder pool!'" Lion went, and arrived while Frog was sitting at the water's edge, and he tried to creep stealthily upon him. When he was about to get hold of him, Frog said, "Ho!" and, diving, went to the other side of the pool, and sat there. Lion pursued him; but as he could not catch him he returned home.

From that day, it is said, Lion walked on his feet, and also began to creep upon (his game); and the White Crows became entirely dumb since the day that they said, "Nothing can be said of that matter."



It is said that when Lion and Gurikhoisip (the Only man), together with Baboon, Buffalo, and other friends, were playing one day at a certain game, there was a thunderstorm and rain at Aroxaams. Lion and Gurikhoisip began to quarrel. "I shall run to the rain-field," said Lion. Gurikhoisip said also, "I shall run to the rain-field." As neither would concede this to the other, they separated (angrily). After they had parted, Lion went to tell his Mother those things which they had both said.

His Mother said to him, "My son! that Man whose head is in a line with his shoulders and breast, who has pinching weapons, who keeps white dogs, who goes about wearing the tuft of a tiger's tail, beware of him!" Lion,[127] however, said, "Why need I be on my guard against those whom I know?" Lioness answered, "My Son, take care of him who has pinching weapons!" But Lion would not follow his Mother's advice, and the same morning, when it was still pitch dark, he went to Aroxaams, and laid himself in ambush. Gurikhoisip went also that morning to the same place. When he had arrived he let his dogs drink, and then bathe. After they had finished they wallowed. Then also Man drank; and, when he had done drinking, Lion came out of the bush. Dogs surrounded him as his Mother had foretold, and he was speared by Gurikhoisip. Just as he became aware that he was speared, the Dogs drew him down again. In this manner he grew faint. While he was in this state, Gurikhoisip said to the Dogs, "Let him alone now, that he may go and be taught by his Mother." So the Dogs let him go. They left him, and went home as he lay there. The same night he walked towards home, but whilst he was on the way his strength failed him, and he lamented:[128]

"Mother! take me up!
Grandmother! take me up! Oh me! Alas!"

At the dawn of day his Mother heard his wailing, and said—

"My Son, this is the thing which I have told thee:

"'Beware of the one who has pinching weapons,
Who wears a tuft of tiger's tail,
Of him who has white dogs!
Alas! thou son of her who is short-eared,
Thou, my short-eared child!
Son of her who eats raw flesh,
Thou flesh-devourer;
Son of her whose nostrils are red from the prey,
Thou with blood-stained nostrils!
Son of her who drinks pit-water,
Thou water-drinker!'"



Some Women, it is said, went out to seek roots and herbs and other wild food. On their way home they sat down and said, "Let us taste the food of the field." Now they found that the food picked by one of them was sweet, while that of the others was bitter. The latter said to each other, "Look here! this Woman's herbs are sweet." Then they said to the owner of the sweet food, "Throw it away and seek for other." So she threw away the food, and went to gather more. When she had collected a sufficient supply, she returned to join the other Women, but could not find them. She went therefore down to the river, where Hare sat lading water, and said to him, "Hare, give me some water that I may drink." But he replied, "This is the cup out of which my uncle (Lion) and I alone may drink."[130]

She asked again: "Hare, draw water for me that I may drink." But Hare made the same reply. Then she snatched the cup from him and drank, but he ran home to tell his uncle of the outrage which had been committed.

The Woman meanwhile replaced the cup and went away. After she had departed Lion came down, and, seeing her in the distance, pursued her on the road. When she turned round and saw him coming, she sang in the following manner:

"My mother, she would not let me seek herbs,
Herbs of the field, food from the field. Hoo!"

When Lion at last came up with the Woman, they hunted each other round a shrub. She wore many beads and arm-rings, and Lion said, "Let me put them on!" So she lent them to him, but he afterwards refused to return them to her.

They then hunted each other again round the shrub, till Lion fell down, and the Woman jumped upon him, and kept him there. Lion (uttering a form of conjuration) said:[131]

"My Aunt! it is morning, and time to rise;
Pray, rise from me!"

She then rose from him, and they hunted again after each other round the shrub, till the Woman fell down, and Lion jumped upon her. She then addressed him:

"My Uncle! it is morning, and time to rise;
Pray, rise from me!"

He rose, of course, and they hunted each other again, till Lion fell a second time. When she jumped upon him he said:

"My Aunt! it is morning, and time to rise;
Pray, rise from me!"

They rose again and hunted after each other. The Woman at last fell down. But this time when she repeated the above conjuration, Lion said:

"Hè Kha! Is it morning, and time to rise?"

He then ate her, taking care, however, to leave her skin whole, which he put on, together with her dress and ornaments, so that he looked[132] quite like a woman, and then went home to her kraal.

When this counterfeit woman arrived, her little sister, crying, said, "My sister, pour some milk out for me." She answered, "I shall not pour you out any." Then the Child addressed their Mother: "Mama, do pour out some for me." The Mother of the kraal said, "Go to your sister, and let her give it to you!" The little Child said again to her sister, "Please, pour out for me!" She, however, repeated her refusal, saying, "I will not do it." Then the Mother of the kraal said to the little One, "I refused to let her (the elder sister) seek herbs in the field, and I do not know what may have happened; go therefore to Hare, and ask him to pour out for you."

So then Hare gave her some milk; but her elder sister said, "Come and share it with me." The little Child then went to her sister with her bamboo (cup), and they both sucked the milk out of it. Whilst they were doing this, some milk was spilt on the little one's hand, and the elder sister licked it up with her tongue, the[133] roughness of which drew blood; this, too, the Woman licked up.

The little Child complained to her Mother: "Mama, sister pricks holes in me and sucks the blood." The Mother said, "With what Lion's nature your sister went the way that I forbade her, and returned, I do not know."

Now the Cows arrived, and the elder sister cleansed the pails in order to milk them. But when she approached the Cows with a thong (in order to tie their fore-legs), they all refused to be milked by her.

Hare said, "Why do not you stand before the Cow?" She replied, "Hare, call your brother, and do you two stand before the Cow." Her husband said, "What has come over her that the Cows refuse her? These are the same Cows she always milks." The Mother (of the kraal) said, "What has happened this evening? These are Cows which she always milks without assistance. What can have affected her that she comes home as a woman with a Lion's nature?"

The elder daughter then said to her Mother,[134] "I shall not milk the Cows." With these words she sat down. The Mother said therefore to Hare, "Bring me the bamboos, that I may milk. I do not know what has come over the girl."

So the Mother herself milked the cows, and when she had done so, Hare brought the bamboos to the young wife's house, where her husband was, but she (the wife) did not give him (her husband) anything to eat. But when at night time she fell asleep, they saw some of the Lion's hair, which was hanging out where he had slipped on the Woman's skin, and they cried, "Verily! this is quite another being. It is for this reason that the Cows refused to be milked."

Then the people of the kraal began to break up the hut in which Lion lay asleep. When they took off the mats, they said (conjuring them), "If thou art favourably inclined to me, O Mat, give the sound 'sawa'" (meaning, making no noise).

To the poles (on which the hut rested) they said, "If thou art favourably inclined to me, O Pole, thou must give the sound 'gara.'"[135]

They addressed also the bamboos and the bed-skins in a similar manner.

Thus gradually and noiselessly they removed the hut and all its contents. Then they took bunches of grass, put them over the Lion, and lighting them, said, "If thou art favourably inclined to me, O Fire, thou must flare up, 'boo boo,' before thou comest to the heart."

So the Fire flared up when it came towards the heart, and the heart of the Woman jumped upon the ground. The Mother (of the kraal) picked it up, and put it into a calabash.

Lion, from his place in the fire, said to the Mother (of the kraal), "How nicely I have eaten your daughter." The Woman answered, "You have also now a comfortable place!"

Now the Woman took the first milk of as many Cows as had calves, and put it into the calabash where her daughter's heart was; the calabash increased in size, and in proportion to this the girl grew again inside it.

One day, when the Mother (of the kraal) went out to fetch wood, she said to Hare, "By the time that I come back you must have[136] everything nice and clean." But during her Mother's absence, the girl crept out of the calabash, and put the hut in good order, as she had been used to do in former days, and said to Hare, "When Mother comes back and asks, 'Who has done these things?' you must say, 'I, Hare, did them.'" After she had done all, she hid herself on the stage.

When the Mother of the kraal came home, she said, "Hare, who has done these things? They look just as they used when my daughter did them." Hare said, "I did the things." But the Mother would not believe it, and looked at the calabash. Seeing it was empty, she searched the stage and found her daughter. Then she embraced and kissed her, and from that day the girl stayed with her Mother, and did everything as she was wont in former times; but she now remained unmarried.



The Sun, it is said, was one day on earth, and the men who were travelling saw him sitting by the wayside, but passed him without notice. Jackal, however, who came after them, and saw him also sitting, went to him and said, "Such a fine little child is left behind by the men." He then took Sun up, and put it into his awa-skin (on his back). When it burnt him, he said, "Get down," and shook himself; but Sun stuck fast to his back, and burnt Jackal's back black from that day.



It is said that once Sun was on earth, and caught Horse to ride it. But it was unable to bear his weight, and therefore Ox took the place of Horse, and carried Sun on its back. Since that time Horse is cursed in these words, because it could not carry Sun's weight:

"From to-day thou shalt have a (certain) time of dying.
This is thy curse, that thou hast a (certain) time of dying.
And day and night shalt thou eat,
But the desire of thy heart shall not be at rest,
Though thou grazest till morning and again until sunset.
Behold, this is the judgment which I pass upon thee," said Sun.

Since that day Horse's (certain) time of dying commenced.



The wild animals, it is said, were once assembled at Lion's. When Lion was asleep, Jackal persuaded Little Fox to twist a rope of ostrich sinews, in order to play Lion a trick. They took ostrich sinews, twisted them, and fastened the rope to Lion's tail, and the other end of the rope they tied to a shrub. When Lion awoke, and saw that he was tied up, he became angry, and called the animals together. When they had assembled, Lion said (using this form of conjuration)—

"What child of his mother and father's love,
Whose mother and father's love has tied me?"

Then answered the animal to whom the question was first put—[140]

"I, child of my mother and father's love,
I, mother and father's love, I have not done it."

All answered the same; but when he asked Little Fox, Little Fox said—

"I, child of my mother and father's love,
I, mother and father's love, have tied thee!"

Then Lion tore the rope made of sinews, and ran after Little Fox. But Jackal said:

"My boy, thou son of lean Mrs. Fox, thou wilt never be caught."

Truly Lion was thus beaten in running by Little Fox.



The Moon, it is said, sent once an Insect to Men, saying, "Go thou to Men, and tell them, 'As I die, and dying live, so ye shall also die, and dying live.'" The Insect started with the message, but whilst on his way was overtaken by the Hare, who asked: "On what errand art thou bound?" The Insect answered: "I am sent by the Moon to Men, to tell them that as she dies, and dying lives, they also shall die, and dying live." The Hare said, "As thou art an awkward runner, let me go" (to take the message). With these words he ran off, and when he reached Men, he said, "I am sent by the Moon to tell you, 'As I die, and dying perish, in the same manner ye shall also die and come wholly to an end.'" Then the Hare returned to the Moon, and told her what he had said to Men. The Moon reproached him angrily, saying, "Darest thou[142] tell the people a thing which I have not said?" With these words she took up a piece of wood, and struck him on the nose. Since that day the Hare's nose is slit.



The Moon dies, and rises to life again. The Moon said to the Hare, "Go thou to Men, and tell them, 'Like as I die and rise to life again, so you also shall die and rise to life again.'" The Hare went to the Men, and said, "Like as I die and do not rise to life again, so you shall also die, and not rise to life again." When he returned the Moon asked "What hast thou said?" "I have told them, 'Like as I die and do not rise to life again, so you shall also die and not rise to life again.'" "What," said the Moon, "hast thou said that?" And she took a stick and beat the Hare on his mouth, which was slit by the blow. The Hare fled, and is still fleeing.



The Moon, on one occasion, sent the Hare to the earth to inform Men that as she (the Moon) died away and rose again, so mankind should die and rise again. Instead, however, of delivering this message as given, the Hare, either out of forgetfulness or malice, told mankind that as the Moon rose and died away, so Man should die and rise no more. The Hare, having returned to the Moon, was questioned as to the message delivered, and the Moon, having heard the true state of the case, became so enraged with him that she took up a hatchet to split his head; falling short, however, of that, the hatchet fell upon the upper lip of the Hare, and cut it severely. Hence it is that we see the "Hare-lip." The Hare, being duly incensed at having received such treatment, raised his claws, and scratched the Moon's face;[145] and the dark spots which we now see on the surface of the Moon are the scars which she received on that occasion.



The Moon, they say, wished to send a message to Men, and the Hare said that he would take it. "Run, then," said the Moon, "and tell Men that as I die and am renewed, so shall they also be renewed." But the Hare deceived Men, and said, "As I die and perish, so shall you also."



God (Unknlunkuln) arose from beneath (the seat of the spiritual world, according to the Zulu idea), and created in the beginning men, animals, and all things. He then sent for the Chameleon, and said, "Go, Chameleon, and tell Men that they shall not die." The Chameleon went, but it walked slowly, and loitered on the way, eating of a shrub called Bukwebezane.

When it had been away some time, God sent the Salamander after it, ordering him to make haste and tell Men that they should die. The Salamander went on his way with this message, outran the Chameleon, and, arriving first where the Men were, told them that they must die.



Geschiedenis van
Zuid Afrika
Geo. McCall Theal
Kafir Folk-lore" " "1882
African Native
S. W. Koelle1854
South African
Folk-lore Journal
Hottentot Fables
and Tales
W. H. I. Bleek1864
An expedition of
Discovery into
the Interior of
James Alexander1838
South Africa a
Century Ago
Anna Barnard1901
An account of
travels into the
interior of
South Africa
John Barrow1802
Travels in South
John Campbell1816
The Childhood of
Leo Frobenius1909
Travels and Adventure
in Eastern
Nathaniel Isaacs1836
Narrative of Discovery
and Adventure
in Africa
Jameson, etc.1830
Voyage dans l'Intérieur
de l'Afrique
F. Le Vaillant1796
Missionary Travels
and Researches
South Africa
D. Livingstone1858
Scenes in AfricaCapt. Marryat1851
Missionary Labors
and Scenes in
South Africa
R. Moffat1845
A New Gazetteer
of the Asia,
Africa, etc.,
J. Morse1802
South African Native
S. A. Native Races
Researches into
the Physical
History of
J. C. Prichard1841
Memorials of
South Africa
B. Shaw1841
Wanderings and
Adventures in
the Interior of
South Africa
A. Stedman1835
Notes on the
E. & D. Bleek1909
AfricaK. Johnston1878
A Voyage to the
Cape of Good
A. Sparrmann1785
Travels in South
Henry Lichtenstein1800
The Dwarfs of
Mount Atlas
R. G. Haliburton1891
The Native Races
of South Africa
G. W. Stow1905
Description du
Cap de Bonne
Pierre Kolbe1741
Specimens of DialectsJohn Clarke1849


[1] Black beeswax.

[2] Wip: A Dutch word for springle, consisting of a bent green stick, to which a noose is attached at one end; the trap is delicately adjusted by a cross stick, which when trod on releases the bent bough, pulling the noose quickly around the animal and into the air.

[3] (In token of approval, according to a Hottentot custom.)

[4] Whilst Baboon did this, Lion came close upon him.

Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation has been standardised.

Chapter headings in the Contents do not always match the headings in the body of the book.

Both Folk-lore and Folklore appear in the text.

Changes are indicated by dotted underlines. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.

Page 24
Wolf's tale," said the rogue
Wolf's tail," said the rogue

Page 38
Paragraph inserted before "It is also better,"

Page 150
Voyage dans l'Interieur
Voyage dans l'Intérieur

End of Project Gutenberg's South-African Folk-Tales, by James A. Honey


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