11. Lion and Jackal

The Lion and the Jackal agreed to cooperate in hunting, for the purpose of stocking up on meat for the winter months for their families.

As the Lion was by far the more expert hunter of the two, the Jackal suggested that he himself should transport the game to their dens, and that Mrs. Jackal and the little Jackals should prepare and dry the meat, adding that they would take care that Mrs. Lion and her family should not want.

This was agreed to by the Lion, and the hunt commenced.

After a very successful hunt, which lasted for some time, the Lion returned to see his family, and also to enjoy, as he thought, a plentiful supply of his spoils, when, to his utter surprise, he found Mrs. Lion and all the young Lions on the point of death from sheer hunger. The Jackal, it appeared, had only given them a few small pieces of the game, and in such limited quantities as barely to keep them alive; always telling them that they (i. e., the Lion and himself) had been most unsuccessful in their hunting. All the while his own family was sleek and fat.

This was too much for the Lion to bear. He immediately started off in a terrible fury, vowing certain death to the Jackal and all his family, wherever he should meet them. The Jackal was prepared for a storm, and had taken the precaution to remove all his belongings to the top of a cliff, accessible only by a most difficult and circuitous path, which he alone knew.

When the Lion saw him on the cliff, the Jackal immediately greeted him by calling out, “Good morning, Uncle Lion.”

“How dare you call me uncle, you impudent scoundrel,” roared out the Lion, in a voice of thunder, “after the way in which you have behaved to my family?”

“Oh Uncle! How shall I explain matters? That beast of a wife of mine!” Whack, whack was heard, as he beat with a stick on dry hide, which was a mere pretense for Mrs. Jackal’s back. “That wretch!” said the Jackal. “It is all her doing. I shall kill her straight off,” and away he again beat the hide, while his wife and children uttered such a dismal howl that the Lion begged him to stop flogging his wife. After cooling down a little, he invited Uncle Lion to come up and have something to eat. The Lion, after several attempts to scale the cliff, had to give it up.

The Jackal, always ready for emergencies, suggested that a rope should be lowered to haul up his uncle. This was agreed to, and when the Lion was drawn about halfway up by the whole family of Jackals, the rope was cleverly cut, and down went the Lion with a tremendous crash which hurt him very much. Upon this, the Jackal again beat the hide with tremendous force, for their daring to give him such a rotten rope, and Mrs. Jackal and the little ones responded with some fearful screams and yells. He then called loudly out to his wife for a strong buffalo rope which would support any weight. This again was lowered and fastened to the Lion. All hands pulled at their uncle and, just when he had reached so far that he could look over the precipice into the pots to see all the fat meat cooking, and all the meat hanging out to dry, the rope was again cut, and the poor Lion fell with such force that he was fairly stunned for some time. After the Lion had recovered his senses, the Jackal, in a most sympathizing tone, suggested that he was afraid that it was of no use to attempt to haul him up onto the precipice, and recommended, instead, that a nice fat piece of eland’s breast be roasted and dropped into the Lion’s mouth. The Lion, half famished with hunger, and much bruised, readily accepted the offer, and sat eagerly awaiting the fat morsel. In the meantime, the Jackal had a round stone made red-hot, and wrapped a quantity of fat round it, to make it appear like a ball of fat. When the Lion saw it held out, he opened his large mouth as wide as he could, and the wily Jackal cleverly dropped the hot ball right into it, which ran through the poor old beast, killing him on the spot.

It need hardly be told that there was great rejoicing on the cliff that night.