Jackals and Arabs
We camped in the oasis. The companions slept. An Arab, tall and white, passed me; he had looked after the camels and went to the sleeping place.
I threw myself backwards on the grass; I wanted to sleep; I couldn't; the wail of a jackal in the distance; I sat upright again. And what had been so far was suddenly close. A swarm of jackals around me; eyes shining in dull gold, dying out; slender bodies, as if moved swiftly and lawfully under a whip.
One came from behind, pushed himself through under my arm, close to me, as if he needed my warmth, then stepped in front of me and spoke to me, almost face to face:
“I am the oldest jackal far and wide. I am happy to still see you here. I had almost given up hope because we are waiting forever for you; my mother waited, and her mother, and then all of her mothers up to the mother of all jackals. Believe it!"
"That amazes me," I said, and forgot to light the pile of wood that was ready to keep the jackals away with its smoke. " I am very surprised to hear that. It was only by chance that I came from the far north and started a short journey. What do you want, jackals? "
And as if encouraged by this perhaps all too friendly encouragement, they drew their circle closer to me; all breathed short and hissed.
“We know,” began the oldest, “that you come from the north, that is where our hope rests. There is the mind that cannot be found here among the Arabs. Out of this cold arrogance, you know, no brain can strike. They kill animals to eat, and they disregard carrion. "
"Don't speak so loudly," I said, "there are Arabs sleeping nearby."
“You really are a stranger,” said the jackal, “otherwise you would know that never in the history of the world has a jackal feared an Arab. Should we fear them? Is it not unfortunate enough that we have been cast out among such people? "
“May be, may be,” I said, “I do not presume to judge things that are so far removed from me; it seems a very old argument; so is probably in the blood; so maybe it will only end with the blood. "
"You are very clever," said the old jackal; and everyone was breathing even faster; with rushed lungs, although they stood still; a bitter smell, at times only tolerable with clenched teeth, escaped the open mouths, “You are very clever; what you say corresponds to our old teaching. So we take their blood from them and the argument is over. "
“Oh!” I said, more wildly than I wanted to, “they will fight back; they will shoot you down in packs with their rifles. "
“You misunderstand us,” he said, “in the manner of a human being that does not get lost in the far north either. We're not going to kill them. The Nile wouldn't have that much water to wash us clean. We run away from the mere sight of their living body, into cleaner air, into the desert, which is therefore our home. "
And all the jackals around, to whom many had come from afar in the meantime, lowered their heads between their forelegs and cleaned them with their paws; it was as if they were trying to hide a reluctance so terrible that I wanted to jump out of their circle with a high leap.
"So what do you intend to do?" I asked, and wanted to get up; But I could not; two young animals had bitten into the back of my skirt and shirt; I had to stay seated. "They are holding your train," said the old jackal, explaining and earnestly, "a tribute." "You should let go of me!" I shouted, turning now to the old man, now to the young. “Of course they will,” said the old man, “if you ask. But it takes a while, because according to custom, they have bitten themselves deeply and have tofirst slowly loosen the bits from each other. Meanwhile hear our request. ”“ Your behavior did not make me very receptive to it, ”I said. "Let us not reward us for our clumsiness," said he, and now for the first time used the wailing tone of his natural voice to help, "we are poor animals, we only have the teeth; for everything we want to do, good and bad, all we have left is the dentition. ”“ So what do you want? ”I asked, only a little soothed.
"Lord," he cried, and all the jackals howled; in the far distance it seemed to me to be a melody. “Lord, you must end the quarrel that divides the world. As you are, our ancients described him who will do it. We must have peace from the Arabs; breathable air; cleaned of them the view around the horizon; no lament from a sheep that the Arab stabs; all animals should die quietly; We should empty it undisturbedand cleaned to the bone. We want purity, nothing but purity, "- and now everyone was crying, sobbing -" how can you bear it in this world, you noble heart and sweet entrails? Dirt is their white; Dirt is their black; her beard is a horror; one has to spit at the sight of the corner of her eye; and if you lift your arm, hell opens up in your armpit. So, oh Lord, so oh dear Lord, with the help of your all-wealthy hands, with the help of your all-wealthy hands, cut their necks with these scissors! "And following a jerk of his head came a jackal with a small one on a canine , wore sewing scissors covered with old rust.
"So finally the scissors and that's it!" Shouted the Arab leader of our caravan, who had crept up to us against the wind and was now brandishing his huge whip.
Everything went quickly, but at some distance they stayed, huddled closely together, the many animals so tight and rigid that it looked like a narrow hurdle, surrounded by will-o'-the-wisps.
"So, sir, you saw and heard this spectacle too," said the Arab, and laughed as happily as the restraint of his tribe allowed. "So you know what the animals want?" I asked. “Of course, sir,” he said, “that is well known; as long as there are Arabs, these scissors will wander through the desert and will wander with us until the end of days. It is offered to every European for the great work; every European is precisely the one who seems to be called to them. These animals have a nonsensical hope; Fools, true fools, they are. That's why we love them; it's our dogs; more beautiful than yours. Look, a camel died in the night, I had it brought here. "
Four porters came and threw the heavy carcass in front of us. As soon as he lay there, the jackals raised their voices. As if each and every one of them were irresistibly drawn by ropes, they came halting, brushing their bodies against the ground. They had forgotten the Arabs, they had forgotten their hatred, they were enchanted by the extinguishing presence of the heavily evaporating corpse. One was already hanging by the neck and found the artery with the first bite. Every muscle of his body tugged and twitched in place like a little racing pump that wanted to put out an overpowering fire just as badly as it was hopeless . And already, doing the same job, they were all lying on top of the corpse, high on the mountain.
Then the Fiihrer ran his sharp whip across her vigorously. They raised their heads; half intoxicated and faint; saw the Arabs standing before them; now got to feel the whip with their snouts; withdrew in leap and ran a distance backwards. But the camel's blood was already there in puddles, smoking upwards, the body was torn open in several places. They couldn't resist; they were there again; again the guide raised his whip; I took his arm.
"You are right, sir," said he, "we let her do her job; it is also time to leave. You saw them. Wonderful animals, aren't they? And how they hate us!"