THERE was once a Farmer, who used to go out every morning to work in his field, and his wife used to bring him dinner at noon. One day, as the Farmer's wife was carrying out the dinner to the field, she met a Jackal, who said--
"Where are you going?"
Said she, "To my husband, and this is his dinner."
Said the Jackal, "Give me some, or I will bite you."
So the woman had to give the Jackal some of this food. And when her husband saw it, he said--
"What a small dinner you have brought me to-day!"
"A Jackal met me," replied his wife, "and threatened to bite me if I gave him none."
"All right," said the Farmer, "to-morrow I'll settle with that Jackal."
On the morrow, the Farmer's wife went after the plough, and the Farmer dressed up in her clothes and carried out the dinner. Again the Jackal appeared.
"Give me some of that," said he, "or I'll bite you."
"Yes, yes, good Mr. Jackal," said the man, "you shall have some, only don't bite me."
Then he set down the plate and the Jackal began to eat.
"Just scratch my back, you, woman," said the Jackal, "while I am eating my dinner."
"Yes, sir; yes, sir," said the man. He began gently to tickle and scratch the back of the Jackal, and in the middle, suddenly out with his knife, and slish! cut off the Jackal's tail.
The Jackal jumped up and capered about. "Yow-ow-ow!" he went, "what has come to my tail? Oh dear! how shall I swish away the flies? Oh dear, how it hurts! Yow-ow-ow!" Away he scuttled, as fast as his legs could carry him.
When he got home, all the Jackals came round him, and asked what had become of his tail. The Jackal was ashamed to have lost his tail, which was a particularly long and fine tail; but he pretended to like it.
"Poor fellow!" said the Jackals, "where is your tail?"
"I had it cut off," said the Jackal, "and good riddance. It was always in my way. Why, I never could sit down in comfort, and now look here!" He sat down on the place where his tail used to be, and looked proudly round. "Now, you try!" said he.
They all tried, and found that their tails got underneath them when they sat, and it hurt their tails rather.
"We never thought of that before," said they; "we must get rid of these things. Who cut off yours?"
"A kind Farmer's wife," said the first Jackal. Then he told them where the Farmer's wife lived.
That evening, a knock came at the Farmer's door, as the Farmer and his wife were sitting at tea.
"Come in!" said the Farmer.
The door opened, and in trooped a number of Jackals. "Please, Mr. Farmer," said they, "we want you kindly to cut off our tails."
"Willingly," said the Farmer; whipt out his knife, and in a jiffy slish! slish! slish! off came the Jackals' tails.
"Yow-ow-ow!" went the Jackals, capering about, "we didn't think it would hurt!" Away they went, and all the woods echoed that night with yowling and howling.
When they all got home, they found the first Jackal waiting for them. He laughed in their faces. "Now we're all alike," said he, "all in the same boat."
"Are we?" said the other Jackals, and set on him and tore him to pieces.
"Now we must have our revenge on the Farmer," said the Jackals when they had eaten up their friend. So next morning they scampered off to the Farmer's house.
The Farmer was out, and his wife was gathering fuel.
"Good morning, Mrs. Farmer," said the Jackals; "we have come to eat the Farmer for cutting our tails off."
"Ah, poor fellow," said the Farmer's wife, "he is dead. When he saw how it hurt you to have your tails cut off, he just lay down on the bed, and died of grief."
"That's unlucky," said the Jackals.
"But we are preparing the funeral feast," she went on, "you see I am now getting fuel for it. Will you give us the pleasure of your company to dinner?"
"Gladly," said the Jackals; "we should like to see the last of the poor fellow;" then they ran away.
At dinner-time, they all came back, and found chairs put for them, and plates round the table, with the woman at one end.
"You can sit like Christians now," said the Farmer's wife, "so I have set you a chair apiece."
"Thanks," said the Jackals; "that is thoughtful."
"But I know," the Farmer's wife went on, "what quarrelsome creatures you are over your meat. Don't you think I had better tie you to your chairs, and then each will have to keep to his own plateful?"
"A good plan," the Jackals said, wagging their heads. They had now no tails to wag, and they had to wag something. So the Farmer's wife tied them tight to their chairs.
"But how shall we eat?" said the Jackals, who could not stir a paw.
"Oh, no fear for that, I'll feed you."
Then she brought out a steaming mess, and put it in the middle of the table. All the Jackals sniffed at the steam, and all their eyes were fixed greedily upon the meat. They began to struggle.
"Softly, softly, good Jackals!" said the Farmer's wife.
But what a surprise awaited the Jackals! They were so intent upon watching the Farmer's wife and the meat, that none of them heard the door open, and none of them saw the Farmer himself creep softly in, with a great club in his hand. The first news they had of it was crack! crack! crack!
All but three of the Jackals looked round, and they saw these three of their comrades with their heads smashed in, lolling back in the chairs. The Farmer held the club poised in the air; down it came crack! on the head of the fourth Jackal. Then all the others began yowling and struggling to get free; but in vain, the cords held them fast, they could not stir; and in five minutes all the Jackals lay dead on the floor.
After that the Farmer ploughed in peace,
and no one molested the Farmer's
wife when she brought