The Blue Jackal

There was once a jackal named Fierce-Howl, who lived in a cave near the suburbs of a city. One day he was hunting for food, his throat pinched with hunger, and wandered into the city after nightfall. There the city dogs snapped at his limbs with their sharp-pointed teeth, and terrified his heart with their dreadful barking, so that he stumbled this way and that in his efforts to escape and happened into the house of a dyer. There he tumbled into a tremendous indigo vat, and all the dogs went home.

Presently the jackal – further life being predestined – managed to crawl out of the indigo vat and escaped into the forest. There all the thronging animals in his vicinity caught a glimpse of his body dyed with the juice of indigo, and crying out: “What is this creature enriched with that unprecedented colour?” they fled, their eyes dancing with terror, and spread the report: “Oh, oh! Here is an exotic creature that has dropped from somewhere. Nobody knows what his conduct might be, or his energy. We are going to depart hurriedly.

Now Fierce-Howl perceived their dismay, and called to them: “Come, come, you wild things! Why do you flee in terror at sight of me? For Indra, realizing that the forest creatures have no monarch, anointed me – my name is Fierce-Howl – as your king. Rest in safety within the cage formed by my resistless paws.”

On hearing this, the lions, tigers, leopards, monkeys, rabbits, gazelles, jackals, and other species of wildlife bowed humbly, saying: “Master, prescribe to us our duties.” Thereupon he appointed the lion prime minister and the tiger lord of the bedchamber, while the leopard was made custodian of the king’s betel, the elephant doorkeeper, and the monkey the bearer of the royal parasol. But to all the jackals, his own kindred, he administered a cuffing, and drove them away. Thus he enjoyed the kingly glory, while lions and others killed food-animals and laid them before him. These he divided and distributed to all after the manner of kings.

While time passed in this fashion, he was sitting one day in his court when he heard the sound made by a pack of jackals howling nearby. At this his body thrilled, his eyes filled with tears of joy, he leapt to his feet and began to howl in a piercing tone. When the lions and others heard this, they perceived that he was a jackal, and stood for a moment shamefaced and downcast, then they said: “Look! We have been deceived by this jackal. Let the fellow be killed.” And when he heard this, he endeavoured to flee, but was torn to bits by a tiger and died.

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