THE JACKAL

 


   The next day Arslan took Bubenchik and went to see Yagmur. He called to his friend from outside:
   "Yagmur! Come on out!"
 Yagmur walked out of the house.
   "See?!" Arslan said, pointing to his chest. Hanging around his neck was a pair of real field binoculars.
   "My grandfather gave them to me so I can observe the animals. Want to come along?"
   "Where to?"
   "Down to the river, where there's no one around."
   "Mama!" Yagmur called into the house. "I'm going after firewood."
   Yagmur, Arslan and Bubenchik set out together towards the rose-willow thickets. Once there the boys found a hiding spot for themselves amongst the bushes, while the kid wandered off to browse.
   Yagmur was the first to look into the binoculars. He spied some geese. Then it was Arslan's turn, but he didn't see anything.
   Once again Yagmur took the binoculars.
   "Look, there's a wild duck!"
   Arslan raised the binoculars to his eyes and gave a cry of aston- ishment:
   "That's no duck! It's a jackal!" And then he added, now totally stunned:
   "It's got a ball. It's a jackal with a ball!"
   "Where did you see a jackal?" Yagmur reached over for the binoculars, but Arslan held on to them:
   "Wait a minute! The jackal is rolling the ball!"
   Yagmur wrested the binoculars out of Arslan's hands.
   "You're right! It is a jackal. Only that's a hedgehog it's rolling. Look, it pushed it into the river!"
   Arslan grabbed the binoculars back from his friend.
   "Where? I don't see anything! I see a duck."
   "Look over towards the red bush!"
   "Now I see it. It's a hedgehog alright. It's swimming towards the bank! Oh!" Arslan threw the binoculars down and burst into tears.
   "What happened?" Yagmur raised the binoculars up to his eyes. "Ah, that scoundrel! It's gobbling the hedgehog up!"
   "Maybe we can still save it!" Arslan cried, jumping to his feet.
   "It's already too late! By the time we get there there'll be nothing left but needles."
   "Awful binoculars!" Arslan exclaimed angrily.
   "There's nothing awful about them at all. We saw how jackals hunt."
   "Let's go back home. I'll tell Grandfather to load up his rifle. We'll give that jackal what it deserves!"
   "It's a shame about the hedgehog," Yagmur agreed. "Only it would be a shame about the jackal too."
   Arslan thought for a moment and sighed.
   "Yes, I guess you're right."