The Stories Of Oohoo The Wolf And Sher Abi The Crocodile

: The Sa'-zada Tales

"To-night," said Sa'-zada, the Keeper, "we shall have a story from

White Wolf of his home in the frozen North, and also one from Sher Abi,

the Crocodile, of the warm land in which he lived, Burma."

"I am glad there is to be a tale of the North-land," said Mooswa, "for

it's a lovely place."

"And Sher Abi is so stupid," added Magh the Orang, "that he's sure to

fall to boasting of some of his m

"There's little to choose between them in that respect," commented

Muskwa, "except that for cunning there is no one but Carcajou of the

same wit as Wolf."

"Thank you, Comrade," cried Oohoo, the Arctic Wolf; "those of my land

who are short of wit go with a lean stomach, I can tell you. But yet it

is just the sweetest place that any poor animal ever lived in."

"It is," concurred Mooswa; "forests of green Spruce trees----"

"Not so, Brother Tangle-leg," objected Oohoo; "true I have been within

the Timber Boundaries, but that was far to the south of my home. I

remember, once upon a time, thinking to better my condition, for it was

a year of scarce Caribou; I trailed down past Great Slave Lake to the

home of my cousin, Blue Wolf, who was Pack Leader of the Timber Wolves.

Ghurrh-h! but they led a busy life. Almost day and night they were on

the hunt, for their kill was small; a Grey Rabbit, or a Grouse, or a

Marten--a mere mouthful for a full-hungered Wolf.

"But in the Northland where one could travel for days and days over the

white snow and the hunt meant a free run with no chance of cover for

the prey, it was all a matter of strength and speed. Leopard has

boasted of the merit of his spotted coat for hiding in the sun-splashed

Jungle; and also Bagh has told how the stripes on his sides hide him in

the strong grass. But look at me, my Comrades----"

"You are pretty," sneered Magh.

"Here I am dirty brown," resumed Oohoo, paying no attention to the

taunt, "and what does that mean?"

"That you are dirty and a Wolf," answered Magh, innocently.

"It shows that I live in a dirty brown place," asserted Wolf. "We are

all dirty brown here."

"I'm not," objected Python.

"You would be if you didn't lie in the water all day; but, as I was

going to say, in that land of snow I was all white, and, by my cunning,

with a careful stalk I always got within a running distance of--of--I

mean anything I wanted to look at closely, you know."

"A Babe Caribou, I suppose," grunted Muskwa; "just to see how he was

coming on. Have I not said that he has the cunning of a great thief?"

Bear whispered to Hathi.

"But if he talks much the truth will come out," answered the Elephant.

"There were just three of us Plain Dwellers in all that great Barren

Land," proceeded Oohoo; "my kind, and Caribou, and Musk-Ox."

"Eu-yah! the Musk-Ox are cousins of mine," remarked Bison. "Queer taste

they have to live in that terrible land of rock and snow. What do they

eat, Oohoo? Surely the sweet Buffalo Grass does not grow there?"

"They do not mind the cold," answered Wolf; "they have the loveliest

long black hair you ever saw on any Animal. And under that again is the

soft grey fur----"

"Yes," interrupted Sa'-zada to explain, "the Musk-Ox seems to have

hair, and fur, and wool all on one pelt--much like a Sheep, and a Goat,

and a Bison combined."

"And as for eating," resumed Oohoo, the Wolf, "the rocks are thickly

covered with moss----"

"Engh-h-h! what a diet!" grunted Bison. "But you know of their manner

of life, Brother Wolf--you must have paid much attention to their ways.

Now in my land when Wolves came too close we gathered our Calves in the

center of the herd----"

"A most wise precaution," asserted Mooswa. "In the Calf time with us

the moan of the Wolf pack caused us to make ready for battle; the Grey

Runners seemed always in the way of a great hunger."

"And what of grass-eating for those cousins of mine, the Caribou--what

ate they?" sharply demanded Elk.

"Caribou have this manner of life," answered Oohoo. "Just at the end of

the great Cold Time all the Mothers go far into the Northland, for that

is the Calf time with them; and by the shores of the great Northland

water their Babe Caribou come forth in peace. And for food the Mothers

eat moss, even as Musk-Ox does, for there is nothing else. Near to the

coming of the Cold Time again the Mothers come back with their Calves,

and the Bulls, who have been in the Southland, meet them."

"Do you eat moss, Oohoo, the Wolf?" queried Magh.

"Am I a Grass-feeder? Did I eat my straw bedding and become ill, like a

wide-mouthed Monkey that I know of?"

"But have you not said, Brother Wolf, that in the Northland Musk-Ox and

Caribou eat moss because there is nothing else? Then what manner of

food do you find?"

"Ghurr-r-h! Eh, what?" gasped Oohoo, feeling that Magh had laid bare

his mode of life.

"Am I different from the others?" he snarled, seeing a broad grin

hovering about the mouth of even Sher Abi, the Crocodile. "Because I am

a Wolf, is there a law in the Boundaries that I shall not eat? Bagh,

and Pardus, and Python, and Sher Abi, they are the Blood Kind, and do

they eat moss or grass? Boar has said that all the evil of the Jungle

is fastened upon the Pig, and in my land it is the Wolf that is wicked.

This has been said by the Man, but are they not worse than we are? When

the hunger, which is not of my desire, comes strong upon me, I go forth

to seek food. I kill not Man; but if Caribou comes my way, and that

which is inside of me says to make a kill, shall I do so, or lie down

and die because of hunger? If a Wolf makes a kill, and feasts until his

hunger is dead, and lies down to sleep, and kills no more until he is

again hungered, it is all wrong, and evil words are spoken of him. But

the Men kill, and kill, never stopping to eat, showing that it is not

because of hunger--they kill until there is no living thing left; then

they boast together of the slaughter.

"I have seen this happening at Fond du Lac, which is a narrow crossing

between two lakes in my own land. There the Caribou pass when they go

to the Northland; and I have seen the Redmen killing these Moss-eaters

as they swam from land to land--killing them beyond all count. In the

Northland the Caribou were even as Buffalo on the Plains, they were

that many; and they came like a running river to the crossing at Fond

du Lac. The Men-kind were hidden behind stones, and when the Caribou

were in the water these Red Slayers followed in canoes, and killed with

their spears, and their knives, and their guns, until everything was

red with blood. Not that they needed the sweet flesh because of hunger,

for from many they took out the tongue, and left all the rest to rot.

We, who are Wolves, and of evil repute, are not so bad as the Men, I


"And also the killing of the Musk-Ox is by the Redmen," declared Oohoo.

"I am afraid we must believe that," muttered Magh, "for Musk-Ox is not

here, and it is a long way to the Northland for proof."

"Neither here nor in any other animal city are there Musk-Ox,"

explained Sa'-zada; "for none have been brought out alive."

"None!" added Wolf solemnly. "The Redmen say that if any are taken

alive the others will all pass to some other land as did Buffalo. Not

but that one of the White Men tried it once; but there is also a story

of Head-taking I could tell."

"Tell it," snapped Pardus; "one lie is as good as another when told of

a distant Jungle."

"Well I remember that year," began Oohoo. "It was colder than any

other time that I have memory of. We had gathered into a mighty Pack,

Comrades; all white we were--all but our Leader, who was Black Wolf.

And such hunger! E-u-uh, au-uh! I was almost blind because of the

hunger pains.

"The Caribou that should have passed did not come; why, I cannot say,

for it was their time of the year, the ending of the Cold Time."

"Were there no Musk-Ox?" insinuated Magh.

"A Wolf can make few kills of Musk-Ox," explained Oohoo, unguardedly;

"that is--I mean--a bad Wolf who might seek a Kill of that sort. They

are like Bison, or Arna, bunching up close in a pack with their

big-horned heads all facing out; and even if the circle is broken, what

then? their fur is so thick that it would take longer jaws than I have

to cut a throat."

"You've tried it, Oohoo," suggested Magh.

"No, I've heard of this matter," he answered. "But the story was this

way. That time two White Men came to the Big Lake----"

"Artillery Lake, I think," explained Sa'-zada.

"I know not, but it is a Big Water, and far north. And there they built

a shack."

"You were interested," remarked Muskwa.

"There were cousins of ours, the Train Dogs, with them, so I sometimes

went close for the chance of a chat----"

"The chance of a Pup, most likely," growled Gidar.

"Then one Man, with two Redmen and the Dog Train, went north after

Musk-Ox. Some of us followed, for we knew that where the Men were there

would be much killing, and much eating left for those of a lean

stomach. It might be that some of the Dogs would die of toil, and we

were that hungry, that starved, that even a Huskie would be sweet


"As you know, Comrades, there is no timber grows in all that land

beyond the Big Lake, so the Man carried a little wood in the Dog Sled

to make hot his drinking----"

"Tea," suggested Sa'-zada.

"Day after day he tramped to the North, not seeing anything to kill;

and all the time we were getting hungrier and leaner of stomach. At

night we would come close to the little tepee wherein the Hunter slept,

and I fear that something would have happened to him if it had not been

for the wisdom of our Leader, Black Wolf.

"'Wait, Pack Comrades,' he would say, 'there will surely be a kill of

many Musk-Ox. I know the way of the White Men--they come here but for

the shedding of blood.'

"But one night, being close to the edge of starvation, seeing one of

the Huskies come forth from the tepee, not knowing what I did--Ghur-rh!

I had him by the throat. Even now as I remember it, perhaps it was

another of the Pack that put his strong jaws on the Dog's gullet--yes,

I think it was another.

"'Ki, yi-i-i-i! E-e-eh!' he whined.

"'Buh!' loud the Firestick barked as the White Man smote at the Pack

with it.

"After a manner there was some eating that night, what with the Huskie

and three of our kind the Man slew with the Firestick."

"Cannibal!" exclaimed Magh in disgust.

"It was to save our lives," exclaimed Oohoo. "At last the White Man

came to a herd of Musk-Ox; but what think you of the temper Black Wolf

had when he saw that the Men-kind were not for making a big Kill at

all; just the matter of a Head or two to take back with them."

"Queer taste, sure enough," cried Cockatoo. "Now, if it had been a head

with a crest like mine----"

"Or even if it had been Magh's head," insinuated Pardus.

"Eu-wh, eu-u-u-h! to think that a Pack of famished Wolves had trailed

so far through the snow, holding back from a Kill of the Men-kind, and

to get--nothing! True, the Men killed for their own eating and the

Dogs', but what was that to a whole Pack? Buh-h-h! even now it makes me

laugh when I think of the manner we tore down the tepee one night, for

the Men had taken the eating inside to keep it from us.

"After that, having learned wisdom, they killed one of these fat

creatures for us each day. Ghurrh! but a bite!

"And from listening beside the tepee at night, I learned that the

Redmen were angry because of the Head-taking. These Forest-Dwellers

think, Comrades, that if they sell or give away the head of a Kill all

their strength in the hunt will depart."

"It's a wondrous good thing to believe, too," declared Coyote. "Many an

honest meal I've come by when I was woefully hungry through the matter

of a head stuck on a pole, or stump, as a gift to Matchi-Manitou. I

remember one particularly fat head of Muskwa--I mean--but you were

saying, Brother Oohoo, a most interesting happening of the Musk-Ox when

I interrupted you."

"So, when the Redmen knew that it was heads their White Comrade was

after, they were filled with anger, and a fear of the wrath of Manitou;

they declared that something of an evil nature would happen to them if

he took from that land the Heads. And, would you believe it, Comrades,

whether there was truth in the power of this Head-matter or not, I am

unable to say, being but Oohoo the Wolf, but two days from that time,

as they journeyed back toward the Big Water, they fell in with a large

Herd of the round-nosed Musk-Ox, and the Wind wrath came upon them. The

Redmen, thinking to stop the taking of Heads, talked to the

Moss-eaters in a loud voice, as though they were men, bidding them go

far over the Barren Lands and tell all the other Musk-Ox to keep away,

for here was a taker of Heads. But the White Man only laughed, and

killed a Bull Leader who had a beautiful long black beard, swearing

that such a Head was a prize indeed.

"Comrades, perhaps there is someone looking over the lives of Animals

who has power with the Wind and the White Storm. Of this I know not,

but it is a true tale that even as he cut the head from the dead

Moss-eater, such a storm as had not been in the memory of any Dweller

came with the full fury of a hungry Wolf Pack down upon that land. Like

Pups of one litter all of us Wolves huddled together, pulling the cover

of our tails over our noses to keep the heat in. We waited; and moved

not that day, nor that night, nor the next day, nor the night after

that again. Bitter as the storm was, I almost laughed at Black Wolf's

lament. 'Now the men will be dead and lost to us when we might have had

them,' he kept whimpering; 'there will be no more killing of Musk-Ox,

and we shall go hungry.'

"As we crawled out when the storm ceased, our Leader went to where the

snow was rounded up a little higher than the rest. 'Here is the

Musk-Ox,' said Black Wolf; 'let us eat.'

"I remember, as we dug at the snow there was a strong scent of Man. 'It

is the Hunter dead, I think,' Black Wolf said, poking his nose down

into the snow.

"But all at once, 'Buh!' came a hoarse call from the Firestick, and

Black Wolf, our Leader, 'E-e-he-uh!' fell over backward, dead. Then I

knew what it was. The Huntman had cut open the Musk-Ox, and crawling

inside, had kept his life warm through the fierce storm. But the Redmen

had gone. Whether they had died because of the storm, or trailed away

because of the Head-taking, I know not; but there they were not. Close

curled against the Musk-Ox had lain the Hunter's three Dogs, and they,

too, were alive.

"Then commenced such a trail of a Man, Comrades, as I, Wolf though I

am, never wish to see again. E-u-uh! eu-u-uh! but it was dreadful, for

in his face there was the Fear Look that Hathi has spoken of. Night and

day it was there, I think, for he dared not sleep as he hurried back

toward the Big Water. Being without a Leader, we were like a lot of

Monkeys, fighting and jangling amongst ourselves. Some were for killing

him, but others said, 'Wait, surely he will make a kill of Musk-Ox

again, and then we shall have eating--what is one Man to a Wolf Pack in

the way of food?'

"That day, coming up with a Herd, he shot two of the Moss-eaters, and,

as we ate of them, he trailed to the South; but that availed him

little, Comrades, for the swing of a Wolf's going is like the run of a

river; and when he camped that night we also camped there. And the next

day, and the next, it was the same; the Huntman pushing on with tiring

walk striving for his life, and, behind the Pack--some howling for a

Kill of the Man, and some fighting to save him that we might have

greater eating.

"It was the last day before we came to the Big Water. That day, being

full famished, for we had passed the land of the Musk-Ox--though to be

sure he had killed two Caribou for us--we ate his Dogs, and he was

fleeing on foot.

"I must say, Comrades, though I lay no claim to a sweet nature, yet I

wished not to make a Kill of the Man. But five times, as I remember it,

some of the Pack, eager for his life, closed in on him; and five times

with the Firestick he slew many of my Wolf Brethren. Comrades, he made

a brave fight to reach the shack."

"This is a terrible tale," cried Magh, excitedly. "Did he reach the

shack alive, Oohoo?"

"Yes, but would you believe it, Comrades, the White Man who had been

left behind, through being alone and through drinking much Firewater,

had become mad, even as I have seen a Wolf in the time of great heat;

and he knew not his Comrade, the Huntman, but called through the closed

door, 'Go away, go away!'

"'I am Jack,' called the Huntman.

"'Jack is dead!' yelped the Man who was mad. 'He is dead out in the

strong storm, and you are an evil spirit--go away! go away!'

"Oh, Hathi, it was dreadful, dreadful.

"'Let me in, Tom; I am Jack,' pleaded the Huntman who had come so far

through the snow; and, just beyond, we of the Wolf Pack waited, waited,


"Sa'-zada, the cry of the lone Wolf is not so dreadful as the yelpings

of the Man who was mad. Even we of the Wolf Pack moved back a little

when he called with a fierce voice. And he always answered: 'Go away!

You are an evil spirit. Jack is dead! But I did not kill him--Go away!'

And, Sa'-zada, though it is dreadful, yet it is true, he struck with

his Firestick full through the door, and killed the Man who was Jack.

And in the end he, too, died, and the Wolves buried them both after the

manner of Wolves."

"Chee-hough! it's a terrible tale," said Magh.

"It is true," answered White Wolf; "and all that is the way of my land

which is the Northland.

"In the Hot Time sometimes there are the little red flowers that are

roses, but in the long Cold Time it is as I have said, cold and a land

of much hunger. But it is my land--the Northland."

"Engh-h-hu!" sighed Sher Abi, opening his eyes as though just coming

out of a dream; "I had an experience one time very much like that,

Brother Wolf."

"Of a snow storm, Sher Abi?" queried Mooswa, doubtingly.

"No, my solemn friend, I know nothing of snow; I speak of having a Man

inside of one. As Sa'-zada has said, I think it's quite possible, and

I'm sure they must rest nice and warm, too."

"Did a Man cut you open, Magar?" sneered Magh.

"No, little Old Woman, he did not; he was busy that day taking off your

tail for stealing his plantains."

"Tell us about it, Magar," lisped Python. "Wolf's tale of his snow-land

makes me shiver."

"There is not much to tell," murmured Sher Abi, regretfully. "It was

all over in a few minutes, and all an accident, too; and, besides, it

was only one Man. You see, I was sunning myself on a mud bank in

Cherogeah Creek, when I heard 'thomp, thomp, thomp!' which was the

sound of a Boatman's paddle against the side of his log dug-out. I slid

backward into the water, keeping just one eye above it to see what

manner of traveler it might be. It was old Lahbo, a villager who often

went up and down that creek, so I started to swim across, meaning to

come up alongside of his canoe and wish him the favor of Buddha. As you

know, Comrades, all Animals love these Buddhists, for their Master has

taught them not to take the life of any Jungle Dweller.

"As I have said, I was swimming across the creek, when Lahbo, who must

have been asleep, suddenly ran his canoe up on my back. It was such a

light little dug-out, too, quite narrow, and being suddenly startled, I

jumped, and by some means Lahbo's canoe was upset. Poor old Lahbo! How

my heart ached for him when I heard him scream in the water."

"Oh, the evil liar!" whispered Magh in Hathi's ear.

"Hush-h!" whistled Elephant, softly, through his trunk; "Sher Abi was

ever like this; I know him well. It is just his way of boasting; he

knows nobody believes it."

"Poor Lahbo," continued Magar. "I swam quickly to help him, picked him

up tenderly in my jaws, and started for the shore. I would have saved

his life in another minute, but his cries had gone to the ears of some

Villagers, and they were now on the bank of the creek, and with two

Firesticks, also. I was in a terrible fix, Comrades; if I held my head

under water, poor Lahbo would drown; if I held it up, the Village Men

would kill me with the Firestick."

"How did it end, Saver of Life?" asked Pardus. "Did poor Lahbo ask you

to swallow him to save his life?"

"I really can't say what did happen," answered Sher Abi. "To this day

tears come into my eyes when I think of poor Lahbo. And it was all the

fault of the Villagers, for when the Firestick coughed, I think the

Man-fear, that Hathi has spoken of, came over him, for he commenced to

wriggle about so that I couldn't hold him. I was so careful, too, for

my teeth are sharp, and I was afraid of hurting him. But, anyway,

before I knew it, Ee-eh-he! he had slipped down my throat; poor Lahbo!

And do you know, Comrades, I'm a little afraid I'm not done with him

yet, for he had a big two-handed dah (sword) in his waist-band, and I

know that some of the pains I feel at times are due to that; there's

nothing so hard to digest as a Burmese dah. And to this day, Comrades,

sometimes when I'm jumping about it seems to me that bangles and rings

that are inside of me string themselves on that sword--I fancy at times

I can hear them jingle."

"How did you come to have bangles inside of you?" asked Magh most


"Engh-hu! little Moon-face, you make me very tired. If any one tells a

tale you try to put false words into his mouth."

"And bangles," snapped Magh.

"Who spoke of bangles?" asked Sher Abi. "I said not that they were

bangles, but that it was like that--the pains I mean. Perhaps even

Lahbo dropped the dah overboard, for all I know. And look here, little

one, Moon-faced Languar, if you doubt what I say, you may go inside and

see for yourself."

"How came you to this place, Sher Abi?" asked Mooswa. "Did the

Villagers catch you then?"

"Not that time. But once, hearing a Pariah Dog in great distress, I

thought he called to me for aid, even as poor Lahbo had done, so I swam

quickly to lend him help----"

"Poor Dog," jeered Magh.

"But it was all a vile trick of the Men-kind," declared Magar; "though

at the time, not knowing of this, I paid no heed to the matter. There

were two long rows of stakes in the water coming close together at one


"Lough-hu! I know," murmured Buffalo; "the walls of a stockade."

"Yes," sighed Sher Abi. "And as I pushed through the small end, the

poor Dog being just beyond, and in great distress, a big rope drew

tight about my neck, and before I could so much as object, many of the

Men-kind pulled me out on to the dry land. Then I was sent here to


"Well, well," murmured Hathi, "it seems to me that every Jungle-Dweller

thinks he's badly treated, but judging from all the tales I've heard I

think we've all got our faults--I think we're nearly as bad as the


"My people are not," objected Buffalo; "we never did harm to anyone."

"Neither did we," exclaimed Mooswa.

"Nor we," added Elk; and soon the clamor became general, all holding

that the Men-kind who killed almost every animal for the sake of

taking its life, and not because they were driven to it by lean

stomachs, were much worse than the Jungle-Dwellers.

"Well, well," decided Hathi, "it seems that most of you are against me,

anyway. I think Buffalo is right in what he says, but some of us have

done much wrong to the Men-kind----"

"Meaning me, of course," ejaculated Wild Boar. "I, who lay no claim to

being good, and who am counted the worst of all Animals, say, with

Buffalo, that the Men-kind have done more harm to me than I to them,

and have been of less benefit to me than I to them."

Then Sa'-zada spoke: "Comrades, this is a question that we can't

settle. If we were all like the Buddhists, and took no life except

because of great need, perhaps it would be better. But now you must all

go back to your cages and corrals to sleep."