Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India | Annotated Tale

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Jackal and the Camel, The

ONCE a Camel was grazing in a forest. He had a ring in his nose, as the custom is, and to the ring was tied a string, by which the Camel's master used to lead him about. As the Camel grazed, this leading-string became entangled in a bush, and the Camel could not get it loose. This misfortune so much confused the mind of the Camel that he did not know what to do.

               Suddenly, as the Camel was struggling to get free from the bush, a Jackal appeared.

               "Brother Jackal," said the Camel, "do please set me free from this bush."

               "Brother Camel," said the Jackal, "I will set you free, only you must pay me for it. Do not the wise say, 'Even a brother will not serve thee for nothing'?"

               "What shall I pay you, brother Jackal? I am a very poor Camel."

               "You shall pay me," quoth the Jackal, "a pound of your flesh."

               This was a hard condition, but there was nothing for it, "Better to lose a pound of my flesh," thought the Camel, "than lose my life." So he agreed to pay the Jackal a pound of flesh.

               Then the Jackal set the Camel free, and the Camel sat down on the ground and said--

               "I am ready; take your pound of flesh."

               "Open your mouth, then," said the Jackal.

               "Why?" asked the Camel.

               "Because I choose to take my pound of flesh from your tongue."

               This was a terrible blow. The Camel could not agree, because he knew that if his tongue were torn out, he was bound to die.

               So he said, "I did not promise you my tongue."

               "You did," said the Jackal.

               "Don't tell lies," said the Camel; "where are your witnesses?"

               Away trotted the Jackal to find a witness. First he asked the Lion if he would bear witness that he heard the Camel promise to give his tongue. He promised to give him the half of all he should get, as a reward.

               "Go away," said the King of Beasts; "I am a Lion, not a liar."

               Then he asked the Tiger, but the Tiger said--

               "I don't care for Camel's meat, so it isn't worth my while."

               And so the Jackal tried one beast after another, but none of them would help him, until he came to the Wolf.

               "Friend Wolf," said the Jackal, "if you will only swear that you heard the Camel promise me his tongue, you shall have half."

               "Half a tongue?" quoth the Wolf; "that's poor provender."

               "No, no," said the Jackal, "half the Camel. Don't you see that if we tear out his tongue, the Camel will soon bleed to death."

               "True, so he will," said the Wolf. "Well, I agree."

               So the Wolf and the Jackal went back to the Camel, and the Wolf said, raising his right forepaw to heaven--

               "I swear by heaven that I heard this Camel promise to give his tongue to this Jackal."

               Of course this was a lie, and they all knew it; but the Camel did not like to appear mean, and besides, they were two to one.

               "Very well," said the Camel; "come and take it." The Camel opened his mouth wide. The Jackal put his head in the Camel's mouth, and as he did so, the Camel curled his tongue backward, so that the Jackal could not reach it.

               The Jackal pulled his head out again, and said to the Wolf--

               "My mouth is too small, you try now--you have a big gape."

               Then the Wolf put his head in the Camel's mouth. The Camel curled his tongue back and back, and the Wolf pushed in his head further and further; at last all the Wolf's head was inside. Then the Camel snapped his jaws together upon the Wolf's neck.

               "O Daddy Camel," said the Wolf, half throttled; "what is this?"

               "This," said the Jackal, rolling up the whites of his eyes to the sky in a most pious fashion; "this is the result of telling a lie." The Camel said nothing at all, but simply throttled the Wolf to death, and the Jackal ran away.

I think you will agree with me, that the Jackal, who           
made the Wolf tell a lie, was wickeder than the Wolf           
who told it; but yet he laughed at the Wolf, and           
got off himself scot-free. That often happens           
in this world; but we will hope that some           
other time his sin was bound to           
find him out.


Told by Har Prasád, Brahman, of Saráya Aghat, District Etah, N.W.P.

Camel grazing, entangles nose-string in a tree—Confused in mind, appeals to Jackal—"Brother, I will free you for one seer of flesh"—He agrees—Jackal asks the tongue—"Have you a witness?"—Jackal tries all the beasts, offering half of all he gets—Wolf refuses—Jackal explains that the Camel will die, and they will get all his body—He then agrees, and swears it—Camel opens his mouth, curls back tongue—Jackal cannot catch the tongue—Wolf tries—When the head is well in, Camel closes his jaws—"O Dâdâ (father), what is this?"—Says Jackal, "The result of lying," and runs away—Wolf dies.

In Oriental folk-lore the jackal takes the place which the fox occupies in the Western world, and numerous tales are told of his cunning. This fact has formed the base of an argument to prove that the European Beast tales originated from the East (Tawney, "Katha Sarit Ságara," ii. 28).

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Jackal and the Camel, The
Tale Author/Editor:
Book Title: Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Book Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1922
Country of Origin:

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