Ou’ Jackalse takes Ou’ Wolf a-Sheep Stealing

Intermediate
15 min read
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    The children had been privately discussing for several days the state of things as between Ou’ Jackalse and Ou’ Wolf, and the verdict came out on this hot mid-day as they sat beside Old Hendrik under the big mimosa.

    “Ou’ Wolf was always such a big fool,” protested the eldest boy, with the wondrous contempt of his years; “such a fool to let that Ou’ Jackal best him every time, like he did.”

    “Well,” admitted Old Hendrik with a grin, “Ou’ Wolf he might ha’ look out a bit mo’ p’r’aps, when he come near Ou’ Jackalse. But den, I tell you, darie Ou’ Jackalse is yust dat slim dere ain’t no slimmer. If you want to keep ahead o’ him you’d ha’ to get up so early dere ain’t no time to go to bed, an’ den you’d on’y see his heel dust away yonder. Look dat time when Ou’ Jackalse got Ou’ Wolf into goin’ a-sheep stealin’ wid him. What ’ud you want mo’ fairer dan dat look at de start? An’ den what about de finis’ of it?

    “Times is been a lot better many a time dan dey was den. De rinderpest was gone a’ right enough, but de game was mighty sca’se yet, an’ if Ou’ Jackalse want to live on meat he hatto go mostly stalkin’ roun’ farmers’ kraals for sheep. But him bein’ doin’ it on his lonesome he ain’t had so much luck as he tink he’d like to have. One kraal specially he yust would like to get into, an’ dere he tink he’d have de biggest feed of his life. It’s a’ right to get into it some night an’ fill hisse’f up to de eyes wid meat, but dere’s de mawnin’ after—dat’s de trouble. De mawnin’ after de man’s a-goin’ to find out what’s happen’, an’ he’ll get his dogs an’ hunt for de one dat did it. An’ Ou’ Jackalse he’s a-goin’ to be too full o’ feed to be hunted dat nex’ mawnin’. Huntin’ ain’t a-goin’ to agree wid him at all dat nex’ day.

    “But he wants dat feed, an’ he don’t want to get ketched—dat’s two tings; an’ he tink, an’ he tink, an’ study, but it all come back to de one ting; he’ll yust hatto rope Ou’ Wolf into de game if he’s a-goin’ to do it at all.

    “Well, he raunge about, an’ he dodge about till at last he see Ou’ Wolf a-comin’. Den he turn his back to him an’ make like he’s a-slinkin’ an’ a-stalkin’ ahter sometin’. Dat set Ou’ Wolf a-wonderin’, an’ he sit down an’ watch Ou’ Jackalse a-stealin’ an’ a-feelin’ troo de bushes till he’s most out o’ sight. ‘Tell you what,’ ses Ou’ Wolf to hisse’f, ‘darie Ou’ Jackalse is ahter sometin’ good, I know. I’s better watch him an’ see if dere ain’t sometin’ in it for me too.’

    “So up he get an’ stalk on ahter Ou’ Jackalse; an’ Ou’ Jackalse he don’t let on but yust keeps on a-walkin’ an’ a-baulkin’ till he comes to where he can see dat kraal he’s a-wantin’ at. Dere he get behind a big stone where Ou’ Wolf ain’t a-gun’ to see him till he step out right alongside him.

    “Ou’ Wolf he keep on a-stalk an’ a-stalkin’, till all in a eye-open he find hisse’f rubbin’ ribses wid Ou’ Jackalse, an’ he’s dat ’stonish dat he ketch his breaf, an’ he don’t know de fust word to say.

    “But Ou’ Jackalse open on him wid de biggest wide-open smile. ‘Oh!’ ses he, ‘so dat’s you, is it? An’ you stalks me like dat, does you? By de jimminy, I al’ays did say you was about de slimmes’ ole takhaar on de veldt. Well, dat’s good, dat is, to ketch me like dat; an’ now you’s foun’ me out I s’pose I’ll ha’ to own up. Dat is de kraal I’s a-gun’ to get de big feed outo’. But I don’t mind anyhow; dere’s enough for de two of us, an’ forty times over if dat’s all. An’ to-night’s a-gun’ to be yust de right night as well.’

    “Ou’ Wolf he’s dat shamed at bein’ ketched like dat, an’ dat glad o’ gettin’ off so good, dat he sit right down an’ talk growly to save his feelin’s. ‘Ho! you ses dere’s enough for de two on us, does you. Dat’s how many?’

    “‘You count ’em when you sees ’em by’n’by,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse. ‘You wait here till it ’gins to get night an’ den you’ll see de sheep yust make darie kraal white. An’ fat!—dey’s yust so fat dey waddles.’

    “‘Is dey?’ Ou’ Wolf fair feel his back begin to rise. ‘An’ you tinks we’ll get ’em a’ right?’ ses he.

    “‘Get ’em?’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, like dat is a ting to say. ‘You yust wait an’ see.’

    “Well, dere dey wait an’ dere dey watch, an’ dere when de sun drop dey see de sheep draw into de kraal, an’ see de farmer come out an’ look ’em over, an’ ahter dat him an’ de boy go off to supper an’ sleep. Den it drop dark an’ come midnight. ‘Now we go down,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse.

    “So down dey goes, an’ dey comes to de kraal, movin’ as quiet as shaddas an’ as soft as de dark, an’ dey’s yust dat light an’ empty dey yumps on to de kraal wall like birds a-lightin’. Den dey drops down, an’ dere dey begins to eat.

    “Dey eats one sheep an’ dey eats two sheep, an’ den Ou’ Jackalse he draw off dat quiet dat Ou’ Wolf don’t hear, an’ he crawl to de water-let hole at de bottom o’ de kraal wall, an’ tries if he’s still not swell’ too much to slip out troo dat hole, ’cause he knows right well dey’s bofe too full to yump back over de kraal wall. But he finds dat’s a’ right; he can get out easy yet, so he go back an’ he has mo’ feed. An dat way he keep on an’ on, eatin’ fust an’ den tryin if his tummy ain’t too big yet to slip troo’, till at last he cahnt on’y yust scrape troo wid scratchin’ till he’s black in de face. ‘Pity I ain’t shav’ all my sideses,’ ses he, ‘den I could slip troo yust one time mo’. Dem sheep dey is so fat.’

    “Well, dere’s de man an’ de dogs to tink on now, an’ dis is de time he want Ou’ Wolf for. He knows Ou’ Wolf’s gone on eat an’ eat an eatin’, till he fair couldn’t har’ly get out o’ de gate if it was open, let alone troo de waterlet hole, not if de dogs had hol’ of his tail. An’ dat’s yust what Ou’ Jackalse bin a’ figurin’ on, so now he slink away into de bushes close by, an’ den he change his voice an’ begin to call out: ‘Baas! baas! Wolf in de kraal. Baas! baas! Wolf’s in de kraal!’

    “‘Dere!’ ses he to hisse’f, ‘I’m a right now. De man an’ his dogs ’ll find Ou’ Wolf in de kraal, an’ dey’ll know all about who done it, so dey won’t be lookin’ for anyb’dy else. Dere won’t be no huntin’ ahter me—dat’s what I couldn’t stan’ yust now; it’s mo’ dan I ought to hatto do is to walk, let alone run, out o’ dis,’ ses he.

    “But he hatto walk some anyhow, ’cause de man he’s heerd de shouts, an’ he wake up, an his dogs an his Koranna boys, an dey all rush out for de kraal. Ou’ Wolf he hear ’em comin’ an’ he make a slope for de waterlet hole, an’ he dive head fust into dat.

    “De head part’s a’ right; dere ain’t no trouble about dat part goin’ in. But his body!—Allah Crachty, man! but dat body ain’t a-gun’ to begin a-goin’ into, let alone troo, dat hole. An’ fust ting he know de man has him f’m behind.

    “Well, I’s tole you mo’ dan once o’ de lammins an’ de bashins Ou’ Wolf’s had afore dat, an’ he’s been knock pretty sick in his time. But all de biffinest bashins what he ever had was yust pettin’ an’ strokin’ alongside o’ what he get dis time, till at last, when de dogs tink dey’s worried de last life outen him, an’ de man tinks he’s kill’ all der is in him, den de Koranna boys pick up de carcase an’ chuck it over de wall on to de veldt outside, an’ dere it lie, lookin’ de deadest ting dat ever was alive, while de man an’ de boys an’ de dogs go back to sleep.

    “Ou’ Jackalse he’s been a-watchin’ all dat, an’ along about de break o’ day he see Ou’ Wolf stir a leg. Den come sun-up an’ Ou’ Wolf stir his tail, an ahter dat it ain’t but a little while ’fore he pulls de pieces of hisse’f togeder an’ ’gins to crawl off somehow, ’cause he know if de man find him lyin’ dere when he get up he’ll skin him for a kaross.

    “‘Ou’ Wolf’s off for home now,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse to hisse’f. ‘So’s I—but I ain’t a-walkin’; dat ’ud be too bad, I’s dat full. Watch me now,’ an’ he wink to hisse’f dat same ole wink.

    “Well, Ou’ Wolf he drag hisse’f along, an’ he hump hisse’f along, an’ he wish hisse’f along, an’ den of a sudden he come plump right onto Ou’ Jackalse, lyin’ lookin’ like he’s quite de nex’ skyline toder side o’ dead. ‘By de jimminy!’ ses Ou’ Wolf, ‘dead or ain’t dead, I’s yust a-gun’ to bite his year off for shoutin’ out de farmer an’ de dogs on to me. I will dat.’

    “But he hadn’t no sooner come closer to worry him dan Ou’ Jackalse open his eyes. ‘Ho!’ ses he. ‘So dat’s how you pay me for lettin’ you come along o’ me, an’ givin’ you a fair ole gorge, is it? Fust you gets all you can stuff, an’ den you shouts to de farmer dat Ou’ Jackalse is in de kraal! an’ out he comes an’ de dogs, an’ dey’s most killed me de deadest Jackalse ever was. Allah Crachty! I’s know better dan trust you anoder time if ever I gets over dis,’ ses he, an’ he kick out one leg wid a yerk as if he’s goin’ a deader.

    “Ou’ Wolf he’s fair knock’ back on his tail wid de ’stonishment. ‘Well, I be jimminied!’ ses he. ‘When I hear you wid my own years shoutin’ “Wolf in de kraal!” an’ now you try to come over me dat I shout de farmer out to you! Dat’s a good ’un, dat is.’

    “‘Does you mean dat I didn’t hear you a-shoutin’ de farmer dat I was in de kraal?’ snarl’ Ou’ Jackalse, like he want to know what next.

    “‘An’ does you mean to say I didn’t hear you a-shoutin’ de farmer dat I was in de kraal?’ growl’ Ou’ Wolf.

    “Ou’ Jackalse make like dey’ll be tellin’ him dem ain’t his own years nex’. ‘Look-a’-me, Ou’ Wolf,’ ses he. ‘Dis yere’s mighty funny. Some’dy must ha’ shouted some’dy’s in de kraal, else how come de man out an’ bash me like I is. Who could ha’ done it if it wasn’t you? ’nless, ’nless—by jimminy!’ ses he, ‘’nless’n it’s darie Ou’ Baviyàan! I seen him chained up dere by de house, an’ he look mighty sour at me ’cause I’s loose. But I didn’t tink he’d a done it on us—did you now?’

    “Well, Ou’ Wolf he ’gun to go back in his mind on all de tings what Ou’ Baviyàan’s done in time past, an’ he ’gin to tink he ain’t so su’e but what it’s yust de sort o’ ting Ou’ Baviyàan would do if he got de off chance. ‘If I’d on’y a-seen darie Ou’ Baviyàan,’ ses he, ‘I bet I’d a-done sometin’.’

    “‘Yes. But now dere’s de gettin’ home,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse. ‘You’s a’ right, you can travel; but me—I don’t know what I’s a-gun’ to do, as bad as I is.’

    “Ou’ Wolf he tink it over. He’s yust about so bad hisse’f he couldn’t feel no badder. But Ou’ Jackalse had let him in to a share o’ dat big ole feed, an’ he’s had dat feed anyhow. He ain’t a-gun’ to leave no ole chummie like dat. ‘Well,’ ses he, ‘I’s pretty rocky myse’f, but if you manage to get onto my back, I tink I’ll get you home some ways.’

    “‘You looks mighty bad,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, an’ he screw his face up like he wantto groan, but dat’s to hide de chuckle. ‘An’ yet I’ll hatto get carried somehow!’

    “‘Up you come den, an’ say no more about it,’ ses Ou’ Wolf.

    “Well, dey got him up on his back ahter a terr’ble struggle, an’ Ou’ Wolf he stuck to it an’ ’gin to knock off de len’ths to’ards home. But Ou’ Jackalse he’s yust dat tickle wid hisse’f he cahnt keep it in, he ha’ to sing it out:—

    “Dis de funniest ever you foun’,
    For de sick he carry de soun’—
    Work’s on’y a fool to a trick,
    For de soun’ he ride de sick.
    “‘What’s dat?’ ses Ou’ Wolf, stoppin’ like he’s ready to t’row him down.

    “‘Oh,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse, ‘I only sing sometin’:’

    “‘It’s good when de one dat’s soun’
    Don’t mind to carry de sick.’
    “‘A’ right,’ ses Ou’ Wolf. ‘But I t’ought it soun’ like sometin’ else.’ Den he go on agen.

    “Well, he go on an’ on, carryin’ Ou’ Jackalse, till dey comes nigh home, an’ Ou’ Jackalse he cahnt hold in no longer for fear de laugh in his inside’ll bu’st him tryin’ to get out. He yust ha’ to get down an’ dance, an’ he gi’es one high ole kick an’ a yump, an’ over go Ou’ Wolf on his head, an’ den darie skellum he’s a-prancin’ an’ a-dancin’ all roun’ him, wid de same ole song a-goin’:—

    “It’s de funniest ever you foun’.
    When de sick he carry de soun’,
    It never was done before
    Dat de well he ride de sore.
    “Ou’ Wolf he wantto get up an’ yust fight an’ bite, but what wid de bashin’ he had in de kraal, an’ de fashin’ he had carryin’ darie Ou’ Jackalse, he’s too fair gone in to get up agen. ‘But on’y wait till I get hold o’ you agen,’ ses he, ‘dat’s all!’

    “‘Yes, yust wait,’ ses Ou’ Jackalse a-chucklin’.

    “An’,” ended the old Hottentot, “as fur as I can make out he’s bin a-waitin’ ever since. Leastaways, I don’t hear yet as he’s ever done it. An’ de bettin’s all de oder way till now.”

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