The Jackal And The Crocodiles

: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had an only son. As the boy grew

up his father sent him to a school to learn to read and write. One

day on his way back from school, the boy sat down by the road side to

rest, and placed his school books on the ground by his side. Suddenly

a jackal came along and snatched up the bundle of books and ran away

with it; and though the boy ran after it, he failed to catch the jackal

had to go and tell his father how he had lost his school books. The

Raja told him not to mind, as it was a very good omen and meant that

he would grow up as clever as a jackal; and so the matter ended as far

as the boy was concerned; and his father bought him a new set of books.

But the jackal ran off to the side of a tank and taking a book from

the bundle sat down and began to read it aloud. He kept on saying over

and over again "Ibor, obor, iakoro sotro" "Ibor obor iakoro sotro."

Hearing the noise a crocodile who lived in the tank poked his head

out of the water and began "Well, nephew, what is that you are

repeating?" "I am only reading a book, uncle."

"What, nephew, do you know how to read and write?"

"Yes, certainly I do," answered the jackal.

"In that case," returned the crocodile "would you mind teaching my

five children?" The jackal was quite willing to be their master, but

a difficulty struck the crocodile; the jackal lived on high land, and

the little crocodiles could not go so far from the water. The jackal

at once suggested a way out of the difficulty: "Let the crocodile

dig a little pool near where the jackal lived and put the children

into it. Then the jackal could take the little crocodiles out of it

when he was giving them their lessons and put them back again when

they had finished." So it was arranged, and in two or three days the

crocodile dug the pool and the jackal began the lessons.

Each morning the jackal took the five little crocodiles out of the

water and told them to repeat after him what he said, and then he began

"Ibor obor iakoro sotro" "Ibor obor iakoro sotro." But try as they

might the little crocodiles could not pronounce the words properly;

then the jackal lost his temper and cuffed them soundly. In spite of

this they still showed no signs of improvement, till at last the jackal

made up his mind that he could not go on with such unsatisfactory

pupils, and that the best thing he could do would be to eat them up

one at a time. So the next morning he addressed the little crocodiles,

"I see that you can't learn, when I take you in class all together: in

future I will have you up one at a time and teach you like that." So

he took one out of the water and began to teach it; but the little

crocodile could not pronounce its words properly, so in a very short

time the jackal got angry and gobbled it up. The next day he took out

another, which soon met the same fate as its brother; and so things

went on till the jackal had eaten four out of the five.

When there was only one left, the crocodile came to see how the lessons

were getting on. The sight of him put the jackal in a terrible fright;

but he answered the crocodile that the children were making very fair

progress. "Well, I want to see them. Come along and let us have a

look at them."

This was awkward for the jackal, but his wits did not desert him;

he ran on ahead to the pool and going into the water, caught the one

little crocodile which remained, and held it up, saying "See here is

one." Then he popped it under the water and brought it up again and

said "See, here's another" and this he did five times and persuaded

the crocodile that he had seen his five children.

The crocodile pretended to be satisfied but he was not quite easy in

his mind and would have preferred to see all the five little ones

at once. However, he said nothing, but made up his mind to watch

the jackal; so the next day he hid himself and waited to see what

happened. He saw the jackal take the little crocodile out of the water

and begin the lesson--"Ibor obor iakoro." Then when the unfortunate

pupil still failed to pronounce the words, the jackal began to give

it cuffs and blows. At this sight the crocodile ran forward and

caught the jackal, crying out "Show me my other four little ones;

is this the way you treat my children?" The jackal had no answer to

give and the crocodile soon put an end to his life and took back his

one remaining child to the tank where he lived.