The Grey Fairy Book HTML version
The Jackal and the Spring
Once upon a time all the streams and rivers ran so dry that the animals did not know how
to get water. After a very long search, which had been quite in vain, they found a tiny
spring, which only wanted to be dug deeper so as to yield plenty of water. So the beasts
said to each other, 'Let us dig a well, and then we shall not fear to die of thirst;' and they
all consented except the jackal, who hated work of any kind, and generally got somebody
to do it for him.
When they had finished their well, they held a council as to who should be made the
guardian of the well, so that the jackal might not come near it, for, they said, 'he would
not work, therefore he shall not drink.'
After some talk it was decided that the rabbit should be left in charge; then all the other
beasts went back to their homes.
When they were out of sight the jackal arrived. 'Good morning! Good morning, rabbit!'
and the rabbit politely said, 'Good morning!' Then the jackal unfastened the little bag that
hung at his side, and pulled out of it a piece of honeycomb which he began to eat, and
turning to the rabbit he remarked:
'As you see, rabbit, I am not thirsty in the least, and this is nicer than any water.'
'Give me a bit,' asked the rabbit. So the jackal handed him a very little morsel.
'Oh, how good it is!' cried the rabbit; 'give me a little more, dear friend!'
But the jackal answered, 'If you really want me to give you some more, you must have
your paws tied behind you, and lie on your back, so that I can pour it into your mouth.'
The rabbit did as he was bid, and when he was tied tight and popped on his back, the
jackal ran to the spring and drank as much as he wanted. When he had quite finished he
returned to his den.
In the evening the animals all came back, and when they saw the rabbit lying with his
paws tied, they said to him: 'Rabbit, how did you let yourself be taken in like this?'
'It was all the fault of the jackal,' replied the rabbit; 'he tied me up like this, and told me
he would give me something nice to eat. It was all a trick just to get at our water.'
'Rabbit, you are no better than an idiot to have let the jackal drink our water when he
would not help to find it. Who shall be our next watchman? We must have somebody a
little sharper than you!' and the little hare called out, 'I will be the watchman.'