The Stories Of Gidar The Jackal And Coyote The Prairie Wolf

: The Sa'-zada Tales

"To-night," commenced Sa'-zada, "we are to have the interesting life

story of the two half-brothers, Gidar and Coyote."

"A thief's tale of a certainty," chuckled Magh.

"In my land, which was Burma, there were none so useful as we," began

Gidar. "Not of high repute our mission, perhaps, but still useful,

being scavengers; and to this end we are all born with a fair appetite;

but useful always
even Bagh knows that. I was Lieutenant to one of his

kind--a great killer he was--for a matter of two years. Then he came by

way of a dispute with the Men-kind, and they finished him in short


"Now, you know, Brothers, our kind have steadily worked southward from

India, pushing into new lands from all time, even like the Sahibs,

until we are now half down through Burma. It must be a dull land that

has not our sweet song at night. If there were but a Pack here now we'd

sing you a rare chorus."

"I've heard the song," quoth Bagh; "it's wretched."

"How goes it?" asked Wolf. "Our Pack has a cry of great strength; the

'bells of the forest,' the Redmen call it."

"It's somewhat this way," said Jackal, and sitting on his haunches he

raised his long, sharp nozzle high in air, stretching his lean throat

toward the moon that glinted fretfully through the swaying trees; and

on the still, quiet night air floated his cry of far-off India:


I smell a dead Hindoo-oo!'

"That would be my cry, Brothers. Then from all quarters of the jungle

the Pack would take up the song and sing back:

"'Where, where, where, where, where, where?'

"And I would answer back cheerily:

"'Here, here, here, here, here, here!'

"Then all together we would sing with all our lungs:


Mussulman or Hind-oo?

Here, there, or anywhere,

All flesh is flesh, we do not care.'"

"A charming song," sneered Magh.

"Ah, I cannot give it right; you should have heard it, little

Eater-of-sour-fruit, in the dead closeness of a Burman jungle, from the

many throats of a hungry Pack.

"The people of that land liked the song full well, and they never

molested us. But life was one continuous struggle for food. We were not

slayers like Chita, or Bagh, or Python; or stealers of crops like Boar

and Rogue Hathi; almost as simple in our way of life as Mooswa.

"I remember once a fat Dog-pup of the Terrier kind, which I bagged. It

was all the fault of the Pup's master; he tried to kill me."

"You had probably been singing to him," said Sa'-zada.

"We had, I admit," answered Jackal. "It was on Borongo Island; two men,

Sahibs they were called there, you know, lived in a bungalow built on

high posts, after the manner of all houses in that land. The bungalow

was built on the shore, and every day the water came up under it, and

then went back again. This was a most wise arrangement of the water's

traveling, for it threw up many a dead Fish and Crab for our eating.

"Well I remember the cook-house was a little to one side from the

bungalow, with a poor, ill-conditioned bamboo door to it. Regularly,

doing our scavenger work, we used to clean up that cook-house, eating

everything the servant-kind had not devoured. Several times I made a

great find in that very place, for the cook, it appears, was a most

forgetful fellow. When there was nothing left for us in the way of

food, we'd carry off the pots and pans into the jungle grass; why, I

hardly know, but it seemed proper to do so.

"Neither do I know which of the Pack first started singing under the

bungalow; but this also afforded us much content. Many hours on in the

dark we'd all steal gently down from the jungle, and gather under the

house. Then, as one, we'd give voice to the hunger cry together, until

even the Sahibs would shout in fear. It was good to make the Men-kind

afraid; but also we would flee swiftly, for the two Sahibs would rush

out like a jackal that had suddenly become possessed of much poisoned

meat, and 'bang, bang, bang' with the guns.

"I had much to do with Men, and just when I thought they were full

cross because of our serenade, what was my surprise to find each

evening a full measure of rice put in a certain place for me. 'It is

full of the datura' (poison), I thought, and watched while a lean

Pariah Dog from the village ate it. But there was nothing wrong with

it. So the next evening I made haste to get a full share of it myself.

As I ate, hurriedly I must say, twang-g! came a mighty Boar-spear.

"But only the shaft of it struck my back, so I made off with great

diligence. I heard the Sahib say as he picked up the spear, 'Missed

him, by Jove!' You see, he had been hiding in a corner of the bungalow.

But I was hungry, and the rice was good--most delicious--so I crept

back with two comrades, and keeping to the thick grass, stalked the

bungalow most carefully. I saw the Sahibs all at their eating, for the

door was open, it being hot; you see, he thought I wouldn't come back

so soon.

"'I will eat with you,' I said, and made straight for the rice; but it

was nearly all gone; the Terrier Pup of which I have spoken, and which

belonged to this very Sahib who had thrown the spear, was just

finishing his Master's bait.

"'Oh, you wicked Dog!' I said, 'to steal my supper this way,' and

knowing that his master was in the habit of throwing spears at that

very spot, I picked him up and carried him to the jungle for safety.

"'Oh, oh E-u-u-h!' how he squealed, and the Men-kind left their eating,

and came rushing after us with much shouting, but it was dark and they

had no chance of catching us."

"And you ate the poor little fellow?" asked Mooswa.

"Horrible!" cried Magh, "to eat a Dog."

"Not at all bad stuffed with rice, I assure you," declared Gidar. "For

a day or two I kept more or less out of the way; I was afraid the

Sahibs might be very angry.

"It was two nights after this I discovered more rice some distance from

the bungalow in a pail which was sunk in the ground, and over this

stood a couple of posts that had not been there before. I remembered

that, so I sat by quietly watching this new thing, and trying to decide

what it might be.

"Now the Sahibs had two pigs, and as I watched, along came these two,

grunting, and shoving things about with their long noses, and presently

one of them discovered the rice in the pail.

"'Ugh, ugh, ugh!' said he, 'just a mouthful of this will do me good.'

You know, of course, a pig eats first and thinks after, so in this case

he plunged his big head in the pail, and 'zip! whang!' went something,

and before I could jump to my feet he was dangling in the air hung by

the neck; he didn't even have a chance to squeal. Of course his mate

took to his heels and cleared out, while I finished the rice, knowing

the evil was in the custody of my Squeaker friend. In the morning the

Pig was dead."

"It's a fine thief's tale," commented Magh, "but in the end they caught

you right enough."

"Not there," corrected Gidar; "that was another place. A Sahib who had

come to the jungle seeking dwellers for such places as this, made the

taking; but with him one might as well be caught first as last, for he

knew more of our ways than we knew of his. Now let Coyote speak; I am


"Does Coyote come from Burma, too, O Sa'-zada?" queried Magh.

"No, he's from Mooswa's country; from the great plains away in the far

West. There is not much in The Book about Coyote; that is, not much

that's good."

"I knew it," laughed Magh; "I've watched him there in his cage which is

opposite mine, day after day, and I never saw a smile on his face."

"You should be put in the cage with Hyena," declared Coyote, "if you

think an animal has got to grin all the time to be of fair nature. Or

of what use are you, little pot-belly, or the whole of your

tribe--Hanuman, Hooluk, or Chimpanzee--none of you worth the nuts you

eat; and yet you're always grinning and chattering, and playing fool

tricks about the cage. You're a fine one to judge your fellow


"Coyote just sits there and scratches Fleas, and growls, and snaps at

his mate--he's a low-born sort of Wolf," continued Magh.

"He's not of our kind," declared Wolf; "it's all a lie."

"Never mind, never mind," cried Sa'-zada, "no doubt like all the rest

of us he has his good and bad qualities."

"I was once starving," resumed Coyote. "You who have lived in a warm

land where something is growing all the year round, know nothing of the

hunger that comes when the fierce blizzard blots out everything, and

there is only snow, snow, everywhere. Can one eat snow? It's all very

fine for you with a paunch full of candy to sit there and prate about

stealing, but if Wie-sak-ke-chack puts the hunger pains in one's

stomach and the fat bacon--Ghurr-h-h! but the juice of it is sweet when

one is near dead--puts the fat bacon behind log walls, what is one to

do, eh? Does a fellow dig, dig, dig through earth so hard that he must

bite it out with his teeth, dig deep under the log walls for sport as

the Cubs play in the sunshine, or just to steal? Bah, you who have

never known hunger know not of this thing. Why, once when the ground

was frozen hard, and I was dying inch by inch, some fierce-toothed

Animal inside me biting, biting--only of course it was the hunger

chewing at my stomach--I dove fair through the window of a log shack to

get at the meat inside. The glass cut me, to be sure, but that was

nothing to the hunger pain that goes on, on, never ceasing until there

is food, or one is dead.

"I saved a man's life once at a post called Stand-Off. The place came

by its name in the days of a mighty fight when my Man and his comrades

stood off the Mounted Police. These Men had been given as bad a name as

Coyotes even. My Man may have been bad, too; but how was I to know,

being only a Coyote? He was always throwing me bones and pieces of

bread, and whistling to me, and calling me Jack.

"Now this place Stand-Off was on the river flat, and one night in

spring-time I heard a great flood coming down the Belly River. It was a

still night, and the noise of the rushing water came to my ears for

miles, but the Men heard it not, for they were all in the Shacks. Fast

I galloped down over the flat near to the Shack where was this Man who

had often thrown me a bone. I whimpered, and whistled, and barked the

danger call, and howled the death-coming song, and finally my friend

came to the door and threw a stick of wood at me, and spoke fierce

oaths. Then he shut the door. I could hear the roaring getting louder

and louder, and knew that soon it would be too late for all the

Men-kind; not that I cared, except for this one. On one side of the

town was the swift-running Belly River, and beyond a high-cut bank; on

my side was the flat land that would soon be many feet deep with ice

and rushing water. So I howled louder than ever, and he came out and

strove to kill me with a Firestick, but I only ran a little piece into

the darkness, and howled again.

"Being a Man of much temper he chased me, and the noise brought out the

others, for they thought it was Indians. I sought to lead him over to

the side of the flat land which was next the sloping hill, knowing full

well that the new water would flow there first.

"All at once he ceased running behind me, and I, who was listening,

knew that he scarce breathed he was that still. Now, he will hear it,

I thought; and in an instant I heard him cry to the others: 'Boys, we

must pull out from this--there's a devil of a freshet coming.' That was

the way of the Men from Stand-Off; many strange words of a useless


"I tell you, Comrades, it was soon an awful night; here and there the

Men ran trying to save something--their Horses and guns for most part,

even some of the evil firewater; and the strong swearings they used

sounded but just as the whimpering of Wolf Pups, the wind was that

fierce, carrying the dreadful roar of the Chinook flood.

"You who have heard Bagh and Hathi scolding at each other, with perhaps

Black Panther and Bald Eagle taking part, may know somewhat the like of

that night's noises.

"Seeing that my Man was coming riding swiftly on his Cayuse, I, too,

ran quickly for the upland; but, as I have said, just in the hollow

which was there, being the trail where once had run the river, the

flood was rushing even as I have seen it in the foot-hills--the flat

land was surrounded.

"As the Men galloped up they stopped, and spoke evil words at the

flood, rushing up and down looking for a ford. I also was afraid to


"Suddenly I thought me of a place I knew well lower down, wondrous like

a Beaver dam, though I think there had been no Beavers in the land

since Chief Mountain was a hole in the ground. I barked, to call my Man

friend, and ran toward this spot.

HASN'T ...'"]

"'There goes that locoed Coyote,' I heard him say; 'he's trailing for a

crossing; damned if I don't follow him. Come on, you fellows,' and

after me they galloped like madmen.

"Just below the place that was like a dam the water was not too bad,

for the ice had jammed up above, and it was spreading out all over the

flat. I plunged in, for, Comrades, it was a time of great hurry.

Swimming a river is not of my liking--none of my kind like it--but this

seemed an evil night altogether, with no choice but to reach the


"'Sure thing! the Coyote's dead to rights on this outfit,' I heard my

Man say; and wallow, wallow, in the bronchos came, splashing and

snorting. And so we crossed just as the ice broke in the jam, and swept

down like the swift rolling of many stones. I heard my Man say as they

all got down from the horses to empty the water out of their long

boots, 'If I ever clap peeps on to that Coyo again, I'll shove grub

pile into him till he busts. Strike me dead if he hasn't saved the

whole outfit of us.'

"Anyway I knew there would be much feeding and no harm if I kept close

to these evil Men-kind, for they were great givers.

"I sought to save the one man, and if there be any credit it comes to

me because of that; the others followed him, and even they said he

had saved them."

"I think it is a true tale," declared Mooswa, "for I once had a

happening in saving the life of a Boy who had been good to me."

"What happened to the Men's place, Dog-Wolf?" queried Sa'-zada.

"In the morning there was nothing--nothing but great pieces of ice all

over the flat. Then the Men trailed for a place called Slideout, where

were more evil men of the firewater way of life, and I followed,

arranging it so that my Man saw me, and that day when he killed an

Antelope, he left a sweet piece of the eating for me; and I might have

lived all my life close to their camp in great fatness, but for the

evil chance that drew the Men-kind close to a place called MacLeod. And

it was there, being pursued by ferocious yellow-haired Dogs, I hid in a

Hen-house and was caught. At first they were for killing me, but there

happened a Man-Pup of that house who cried for me as his Doggie, and

later came one of the Men-kind, gave blankets in exchange for me, and I

was sent here to the place where is Sa'-zada."

"He is either a great liar, or not so bad as is written in The Book,"

commented Sher Abi, the Crocodile; "but in my land where was his

Brother, the Jackal, I never heard good of his kind."

"I am sure it is a true tale," declared Sa'-zada; "Coyote could not

have made it up."