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.