Old Jackal and Young Baboon

Intermediate
19 min read
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    “Ou’ Ta’,” said the eldest boy the next evening, as they waited at the kraal for the coming of the cows to the milking, “you never told us what Old Bobbyjohn said to Old Wolf that time when he stopped running away from Old Jackalse at last.”

    “No,” replied Old Hendrik, with a droll, droll leer; “an’ I’d hatto be a mighty sight smarter dan I ever ’members bein’ if I was to tell you dat. For when Ou’ Wolf stopped at last, den Ou’ Baviyàan yust looked at him; yust stopped an’ looked an’ untied his tail an’ crawled off. As you’ daddy ses—‘not a word, not a sound; not a whisper of a noise said he’. Ou’ Baviyàan yust saved it all up so he can tink it all over every time he see Ou’ Wolf agen. It’ll last him longer dat way.”

    “So then he went home an’ put poultices on his tail, I suppose,” suggested Annie, impatient for every detail of the tale that must lie in the curing of that tail.

    “Well, I dunno about no poultices on no tails,” returned Hendrik; “but a day or two ahter dat, Ou’ Jackalse was a-slinkin’ an’ a-slopin’ along de koppies, an’ yust as he come under a mispyl tree an’ tink he’s gun’ to have a rest an’ a look round, he gets a smack in de ribses wid one stone, biff! an’ anoder smack on de roots o’ de tail wid anoder, bash! An’, kleinkies, you should yust a-seen him streak it out o’ range o’ dat ole mispyl tree.

    “Den he stop an’ he look back, an’ dar he see Leelikie Baviyàan, Ou’ Baviyàan’s younges’ son, a-showin’ his head an’ shoul’ers out o’ de leaves o’ de mispyl, an’ a-yarkin’ an’ a-barkin’ at him. ‘Mighty smart you tinks you is, don’t you?’ snarls Leelikie. ‘But I’ll teach you to try tricks on de baviyàans,’ ses he.

    “When Ou’ Jackalse see it’s dat young squirt, he gets dat mad he feel like bitin’ a chunk out o’ de biggest stone he can reach. But he knows he ain’t a-gun’ to get even wid young Leelikie, ’less’n he sof’ soap him down. So he yust grins like he is mighty astonish’, an’ rubs his ribses like dey’s sore as billy-o. ‘Well,’ ses he, ‘what tricks is I ever played on you?’

    “‘None,’ ses Leelikie; ‘you bet you didn’t I’s too smart for no sich a fathead as you to play tricks on me. But you played one on my ole daddy, an’ I dropped in for it a lot worse troo him.’

    “‘How’s dat?’ ax Ou’ Jackalse, yust a-squirmin’ like he cahnt keep still for his ribs a-hurtin him.

    “‘Why, you rakes Ou’ Wolf till he cahnt stand no more o’ you, an’ den he gets my daddy to he’p him. An’ my ole daddy comes back wid his tail dat busted dat he cahnt on’y yust sit an’ nurse it an’ growl. An’ when he feel bad he alwiz wants gum, an’ he send me an’ my broder up de trees to get it. Den if I eats a bit myse’f, de ole daddy he shambok me till I has to fair yell enough to make him tink he’s killin’ me ’fore he’ll stop. Dat’s how.’

    “‘So all’s de matter wid you is you has to give up de gum dat you picks, is it?’ ses Ou’ Jackalse.

    “‘Dat’s it, an’ de shambokkin’s for eatin’ de leetle teenty bits I puts in my mouf,’ ses Leelikie.

    “‘Well, you is a nice ’un,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, a-sneerin’ like. ‘Why, if dat was me, I’d eat all de gum I picked an’ still give de ole daddy all he wanted as well. I heerd you say you was mighty smart, but ahter dat,—well, I’d be ashamed o’ myse’f if I wasn’t smarter dan dat.’

    “De way Ou’ Jackalse stick his nose up fair rile Leelikie. ‘Yis,’ ses he. ‘I hear you talk a lot, but I bet you cahnt show me how dat’s done.’

    “‘An’ I bet I cahnt needer—not as soft as dat,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse. ‘You don’t get me as cheap as dat. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You come here to-morrow an’ you bring me some gum, nice clear gum, an’ den I’ll tell you how to do, so’s you’ll have all de gum you wants for yourse’f, an’ leave all de shambokkins to your broder.’

    “‘Shambokkins to my broder!’ sings out Leelikie. ‘Oh, dat’s de right-o tip. You come, an’ I’ll be here wid de gum, don’t forget.’

    “‘I won’t,’ ses Jackalse, an’ off he go, a-winkin’ to every bush as he pass it.

    “Well, come next day, dere was young Leelikie up in de mispyl tree, an’ dere was Ou’ Jackalse at de foot of it lookin’ up. ‘Now, what’s dis game you’s goin’ to tell me?’ ses Leelikie.

    “‘Where’s de gum first?’ ses Ou’ Jackalse.

    “‘Here’s it,’ ses Leelikie, showin’ it. ‘Let’s hear de plan now.’

    “‘Ho! you gi’e me de gum first so’s I’ll know it’s good gum,’ ses Jackalse.

    “‘Oh, I’ll soon show you dat,’ ses Leelikie. ‘See me!’ an’ he bite off a big piece o’ de gum, an’ he smack, smacks wid his mouf like an ox team pullin’ its feets out o’ deep mud.

    “Dat rile Ou’ Jackalse terr’ble. ‘Ho! yeh!’ shout he. ‘What’s you a-eatin’ up my gum for?’

    “‘’Cause you ses it ain’t good; I’s yust a-showin’ you how good it is,’ ses Leelikie, rollin’ his eyes at de rest of it. ‘’Sides, it ain’t you’ gum till you tells me dis plan you bargain to, yestiday.’

    “‘Ain’t I likely to tell you ’fore I gets de gum!’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, like he’d like to ketch hisse’f doin’ any sich a fool trick.

    “‘An’ ain’t I likely to let you have dis gum ’fore you’s told me de trick!’ ses Leelikie leerin’.

    “‘Ho, dat’s de game, is it? Den I tink I’d better go ’long an’ find you’ broder—he won’t want to cheat me,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, an’ he make as if he’s a-gun’ to slope right off out o’ dat. He tinks dat’s gun’ to fetch young Leelikie to time.

    “But—‘Oh, dat’s all right,’ ses Leelikie. ‘I can knock de pips off him any day, an make him tell me too. You go on, an’ den I’ll have dis gum to myse’f. Dat’s so much ahead anyhow.’

    “Ou’ Jackalse stops, an’ his eye look sort o’ longin’. ‘Den you ain’t a-gun’ to trust me?’ ses he, as if dat’s de last word he’s gun’ to say.

    “‘Look a-hyer, Oom Jackalse,’ ses Leelikie. ‘I has dis gum a’ready. I can see it, an’ I knows it’s good. But I hasn’t got what you wants to give fo’ it, an’ I can’t see it, an’ I don’t know if it’s good. So I tink I’ll make sure o’ what I has,’ ses he, openin’ his mouf wide an’ lettin’ his tongue flop up an’ down, while he holds de gum a little way off his eye wid de one hand and rub his tummy wid de oder. ‘Yum, yum, yum,’ ses he.

    “‘Well,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, as if he yust couldn’ he’p it. ‘You is a bright sort, you is, by de jimminy!’

    “Young Leelikie he grin back like he tinks a lot o’ dat ‘Allah Crachty!’ ses he, ‘won’t my ole mammy be pleased to hear dat.’

    “Ou’ Jackalse sees he’s on de wrong side de fence dis time. ‘Well, I s’pose we’ll ha’ to do sometin’,’ ses he. ‘Now, you put de gum dere on dat stone at de tree root an’ I’ll stand off here an’ tell you.’

    “‘Right-o,’ ses Leelikie. ‘Here’s de gum,’ an’ he swings down an’ plants it on de stone—but he don’t leave it.

    “‘By jimminy!’ ses Ou’ Jackalse at dat. But he sees he’s on de spike a’ right, an’ he’ll hatto be honest if he’s a-gun’ to get dat gum. So he up an’ tell young Leelikie how he done wid Ou’ Wolf an’ de bessie berries when de Mensefreiter had ’em. ‘All you has to do den,’ ses he, ‘when you goes up into de tree wid you’ broder, is to eat all de gum you picks you’se’f an’ den swop you’ calabas’ fo’ his when he ain’t lookin’. Den you’ll be all right, an’ he’ll get de shambokkin, when you takes de calabashes down to you’ daddy.’

    “‘Dat do sound mighty smart,’ ses Leelikie, like he’s admirin’ it immense. ‘But’—an’ yust as Ou’ Jackalse is makin’ one fair ole dive for him an’ de gum, he grabs it up an’ skips right up into de tree agen.

    “Ou’ Jackalse look up at him, an he look down at Ou’ Jackalse. ‘T’ank you, Oom,’ ses he. ‘Here I t’ought I’d ha’ to pay dis gum for you tellin’ me sometin’, but now—well, now, I’ll scoff it myse’f.’

    “Ou’ Jackalse yust had his mouf open to shout like mad when he see de gum go up de tree, but dat last words o’ young Leelikie ’stonish him dat much he stop right short. ‘What’s dat little lot fo’?’ ses he.

    “‘What fo’? Oh, for instance,’ ses young Leelikie, bitin’ at de gum till de clear part run all down his chin.

    “Ou’ Jackalse down below fair ramp on his hind legs agen at dat. ‘Didn’t I tell you what I said I’d tell you, you skellum?’

    “‘Did you, billy-o!’ ses Leelikie, bitin’ some more gum. ‘You said you’d tell me how to get me all de gum an’ my broder all de shambokkins. But my broder ain’t no fool, Ou’ Wolf: dere ain’t no time when he ain’t a-lookin’, so dere ain’t no changin’ calabashes wid him. He’s yust as smart as rock aloes, an’ he’d about knock all de hair off me de first time I tried it. So here eats de gum I’s got an’ chance it fo more.’

    “‘Didn’ you say you could knock de pips off him any day?’ shouts Ou’ Jackalse.

    “‘Yes; but didn’ you notice dat he wahnt anywhere in hearin’ when I said it?’ ses Leelikie.

    “‘Well, I’s got you, anyway,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse. ‘You’ll ha’ to come down out o’ dat tree sometime, an’ here I’ll be ready.’

    “‘Dat’s yust all right,’ ses Leelikie. ‘My daddy an’ de rest o’ de baviyàans is comin’ dis way in a bit. Den p’r’aps you’ll stop some more dan you want to.’

    “Ou’ Jackalse skip roun’ to look, an’ dere he ketch a glimp’ o’ de ruffy ole, snappy ole scout dat leads de baviyàans when dey’s feedin. An’ didn’ Ou’ Jackalse get out o’ dat, dat’s all.

    “Well, he slink off over de rise an’ sit him down to tink how he’s a-gun’ to get even wid young Leelikie. But young Leelikie he yust swings down out o’ de mispyl tree an’ slants off to de rest o’ de baviyàans, an’ ’gins to turn over de stones fo’ scorpions an’ tarantulas an’ all de rest o’ de tit-bits de baviyàans likes.

    “By’n’by dey comes to a place where dere’s some big ole Doorn trees, fair sticky wid de gum runnin’ out o’ ’em. Young Leelikie he looks up at de gum an’ he looks at his daddy, an’ he tinks here’s yust a good ole chance fo’ gum if he can work it. Den he tink an’ he study an’ he won’er, till at last he smack hisse’f in de ribses—he’s got it.

    “‘Daddy,’ ses he to Ou’ Baviyàan, ‘you’d like to get a chance at darie Ou’ Jackalse, wouldn’ you?’

    “‘Wouldn’ I yust,’ ses his daddy, his eyes fair shinin’ red.

    “‘Well, daddy,’ ses young Leelikie, an’ he look as slim as nex’ week, ‘here’s you’ chance. You sees all dis gum; now if you gets it all an’ smears it all over me, yards t’ick, an’ den gi’es me a big ole lump of it in my hand an’ sets me on a stone in de sun, while all de rest o’ you feed away till you gets over de rise; well, I’ll soon get Ou’ Jackalse for you.’

    “‘How’ll you do dat?’ ax de ole daddy, sort o’ tryin’ to guess where de young fella’s tryin’ to sell him.

    “‘You’ll see a’ right enough, if you watches,’ ses Leelikie. ‘An’ you’ll ha’ to watch like t’ieves, an’ come a-scootin’ an’ a-boundin’ when I shouts. Dere won’t be no time to catch tings out o’ you’ tail on de way.’

    “Well, Ou’ Baviyàan he look at young Baviyàan, an’ he weigh it all up an’ he won’er, an’ while he’s a-doin’ dat young Leelikie sort o’ knock up against dat sore tail of his daddy’s. Dat settle it. Ou’ Baviyàan he wants Ou’ Jackalse, an he wants him very bad, an if de young fella tinks he knows of a plan—why, he’s about as smart a young baviyàan as dere is in de koppies, so he’ll let him try anyway.

    “So dey gets all dis gum, sticky ole gum, an’ dey rubs it into young Leelikie’s hair, an’ dey daubs an’ dey plasters an’ dey piles it on till at last he’s yust dat tick wid de gum he cahnt stir. Den dey sits him nice an’ comfy on a nice big stone, an’ dey puts a whackin’ ole chunk o’ half baked gum in his hand in front of his mouth, an’ dere dey leaves him.

    “Now dis is de time young Leelikie ’xpected to get in his work on de gum. He reckoned he’d be yust wolfin’ down dat gum, first de big chunk in his hand an’ nex’ to scrape hisse’f clean o’ what’s on him. But ole sun had a say in dis f’m above, an’ de hot stone had a say in it f’m below, till ’fore de rest o’ de baviyàans had got out o’ sight, de gum was dat sticky dat he couldn’ stir hand or leg; not so much as wiggle his head. An’ dar’s Ou’ Jackalse a-creepin’ an’ a-peepin’ an’ a-watchin’ him.

    “For Ou’ Jackalse he’d bin yust dat mad he’d follo’d on ahter de baviyàans, yust as young Leelikie made de rest tink he would. But Leelikie ha’n’t reckoned he was a-gun’ to be stuck like dis. He’d reckoned he’d be finis’ eatin’ de gum while Ou’ Jackalse ’ud be waitin’ for de rest to get far enough off, an’ dat ’ud give him yust de right time to be skippin’ back out o dat. Whereas—here he wuz.

    “An’ here was Ou’ Jackalse too, yust a-dancin’ an a-prancin’. ‘I’s got you dis time!’ ses he. ‘I’s got you at last, gum an’ all! Won’t I yust teach you!’

    “Young Leelikie nearly busted a-tryin’ to loose hisse’f, an’ when Ou’ Jackalse seen how fast he was, he yust sit down an’ open his mouf an’ lick his chops. ‘Look at my teef,’ ses he. ‘Now I has you!’

    “Young Leelikie tried to let a yell out o’ him for his daddy to come an’ he’p him, but his yaws was yust dat bunged up wid gum dere wahnt no openin’ dem needer. ‘Oh, ain’t you nice an’ fat,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, watchin’ him an’ grinnin’. ‘Yust feel here where I’s gun’ to take de first bite,’ ses he, an’ he digs young Leelikie in de ribs wid his right han’.

    “But yust about dat time he cahnt pull dat hand away to dig young Leelikie somewhere else. ‘You make los’ my hand,’ ses he, mighty snappy; ‘make it los’, or I’ll biff de pips off you,’ ses he, an’ he smacks his toder hand agen Leelikie’s ribses to give him a stand to get de oder away. An’ right dere dat’s fast too.

    “Ou’ Jackalse’s years begin to stick up. ‘Allah Crachty!’ ses he, ‘if you don’t make los’ my fisties I’ll yust knock seven kinds o’ chicken feed out o’ you. Make los’, you skellum!’

    “But young Leelikie on’y wished he could make los’, or do anytin’ else but yust sit an’ say nawtin’, an’ wish his daddy was comin’. Den Ou’ Jackalse’s eyes begin to stick out wid ’fraid o’ dis baviyàankie dat holds him an’ ses nawtin’. He tinks if he don’t get his hands loose sometin’s a-gun’ to happen, ‘By de jimminy!’ ses he, grindin’ his teef, ‘if you don’t lemme los’ dis minute, I’ll bite you’ bally head off!’

    “Wid dat he makes a reg’lar dive, teef first, to scoff young Leelikie’s head off, but he’s in such a sweat he grabs de chunk o’ gum in de hand instead, an dere he is, bofe hands fast an’ his head fast, an’ here’s Ou’ Baviyàan and Leelikie’s broder yust a flyin’ dis way now dey’s got Ou’ Jackalse fast.

    “Ou’ Jackalse sees ’em comin’ an’ he hears ’em car-rackin’ an’ bar-rackin’, an’ he yust puts every hair o’ him into one mighty ole wrench or else he’s done for. Sometin’ had to come—sometin’ did—de seat o’ young Leelikie’s hide. For Ou’ Jackalse gi’en such a terr’ble ole yank, an’ de stone set back wid such a terr’ble ole stick fast, dat young Leelikie flew one way wid Ou’ Jackalse, an’ de seat of his hide stayed de oder way wid de gum on de stone; tore off wid a rip like a yard o’ calico.

    “De stone yust sot tight an’ shined like he’s smilin’, but Ou’ Jackalse he whirraloo round dere like a fireworks. An’ about dat time Ou’ Baviyàan an’ de oder young baviyàankie made deir dive for him.

    “Well, you never did see no sich a mix up. For Ou’ Jackalse he see dat dive yust in time, an’ he yanks tings round so dey dives not into him but into young Leelikie, an’ dere dey is, yust as fast as he is, an’ all pullin’ de roots out to get loose agen in different d’rections.

    “But it he’p Ou’ Jackalse all de same. Two o’ dem pullin’ dat way an’ him pullin’ dis, de two o’ dem was boun’ to be strongest, an’ dey gi’es one Allah Crachty of a yank till dey fair tears—not demselves, but young Leelikie, loose from Ou’ Jackalse. An’ you can see to dis day how all de long hair was tore off his paws an’ his yaws so bad it never grow long any more,” ended Old Hendrik solemnly.

    “Oh, but,” protested Annie, “what happened then when Ou’ Jackalse got loose?”

    “Why dere wahnt nawtin’ to happen,” returned Old Hendrik in a little astonishment. “Ou’ Jackalse was loose, dat was what he was ahter, so he went home an’ sit down. But Ou’ Baviyàan he was yust dat proud o’ young Leelikie bein’ so smart as to ketch Ou’ Jackalse dat way, dat it set de fashion to leave de seat o’ you’ hide on a gummy stone, an’ dat’s how it comes dat all de baviyàans has a cobbler’s patch to sit down on nowadays. It ain’t for pretty but for proud dey wears it.

    “So now you knows why,” ended Old Hendrik solemnly.

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