| Just So Stories|
|by Rudyard Kipling|
|Fanciful explanations, that delight both young and old, of how some curious things came to be, including stories of how the elephant got his trunk, how the camel got his hump, and how the alphabet was invented. Ages 6-9 |
THE BEGINNING OF THE ARMADILLOS
 THIS, O Best Beloved, is another story of the High and
Far-Off Times. In the very middle of those times was a Stickly-
Prickly Hedgehog, and he lived on the banks of the turbid Amazon,
eating shelly snails and things. And he had a friend, a Slow-
Solid Tortoise, who lived on the banks of the turbid Amazon,
eating green lettuces and things. And so that was all right,
Best Beloved. Do you see?
But also, and at the same time, in those High and Far-Off Times,
there was a Painted Jaguar, and he lived on the banks of the
 Amazon too; and he ate everything that he could catch.
When he could not catch deer or monkeys he would eat frogs and
beetles; and when he could not catch frogs and beetles he went to
his Mother Jaguar, and she told him how to eat hedgehogs and
She said to him ever so many times, graciously waving her tail,
"My son, when you find a Hedgehog you must drop him into the
water and then he will uncoil, and when you catch a Tortoise you
must scoop him out of his shell with your paw." And so that was
all right, Best Beloved.
One beautiful night on the banks of the turbid Amazon, Painted
Jaguar found Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog and Slow-Solid Tortoise
sitting under the trunk of a fallen tree. They could not run
away, and so Stickly-Prickly curled himself up into a ball,
because he was a Hedgehog, and Slow-Solid Tortoise drew in his
head and feet into his shell as far as they would go, because he
was a Tortoise; and so that was all right, Best Beloved. Do you
"Now attend to me," said Painted Jaguar, "because this is very
important. My mother said that when I meet a Hedgehog I am to
 him into the water and then he will uncoil, and when I meet
a Tortoise I am to scoop him out of his shell with my paw. Now
which of you is Hedgehog and which is Tortoise? because, to save
my spots, I can't tell."
"Are you sure of what your Mummy told you?" said Stickly-Prickly
Hedgehog. "Are you quite sure? Perhaps she said that when you
uncoil a Tortoise you must shell him out the water with a scoop,
and when you paw a Hedgehog you must drop him on the shell."
"Are you sure of what your Mummy told you?" said Slow-and-Solid
Tortoise. "Are you quite sure? Perhaps she said that when you
water a Hedgehog you must drop him into your paw, and when you
meet a Tortoise you must shell him till he uncoils."
"I don't think it was at all like that," said Painted Jaguar, but
he felt a little puzzled; "but, please, say it again more
"When you scoop water with your paw you uncoil it with a
Hedgehog," said Stickly-Prickly. "Remember that, because it's
"But," said the Tortoise, "when you paw your meat you drop it
into a Tortoise with a scoop. Why can't you understand?"
THIS is an inciting map of the Turbid Amazon done in Red and
Black. It hasnít anything to do with the story except that
there are two Armadillos in it—up by the top. The inciting
part are the adventures that happened to the men who went
along the road marked in red. I meant to draw Armadillos
when I began the map, and I meant to draw manatees and
spider-tailed monkeys and big snakes and lots of Jaguars,
but it was more inciting to do the map and the venturesome
adventures in red. You begin at the bottom left-hand corner
and follow the little arrows all about, and then you come
quite round again to where the adventuresome people went
home in a ship called the Royal Tiger. This is a most
adventuresome picture, and all the adventures are told
about in writing, so you can be quite sure which is an
adventure and which is a tree or a boat.
 "You are making my spots ache," said Painted Jaguar; "and
besides, I didn't want your advice at all. I only wanted to know
which of you is Hedgehog and which is Tortoise."
"I shan't tell you," said Stickly-Prickly. "but you can scoop me
out of my shell if you like."
"Aha!" said Painted Jaguar. "Now I know you're Tortoise. You
thought I wouldn't! Now I will." Painted Jaguar darted out his
paddy-paw just as Stickly-Prickly curled himself up, and of
course Jaguar's paddy-paw was just filled with prickles. Worse
than that, he knocked Stickly-Prickly away and away into the
woods and the bushes, where it was too dark to find him. Then he
put his paddy-paw into his mouth, and of course the prickles hurt
him worse than ever. As soon as he could speak he said, "Now I
know he isn't Tortoise at all. But'—and then he scratched his
head with his un-prickly paw—'how do I know that this other is
"But I am Tortoise," said Slow-and-Solid. Your mother was quite
right. She said that you were to scoop me out of my shell with
your paw. Begin."
 "You didn't say she said that a minute ago, said Painted Jaguar,
sucking the prickles out of his paddy-paw. "You said she said
something quite different."
"Well, suppose you say that I said that she said something quite
different, I don't see that it makes any difference; because if
she said what you said I said she said, it's just the same as if
I said what she said she said. On the other hand, if you think
she said that you were to uncoil me with a scoop, instead of
pawing me into drops with a shell, I can't help that, can I?"
"But you said you wanted to be scooped out of your shell with my
paw," said Painted Jaguar.
"If you'll think again you'll find that I didn't say anything of
the kind. I said that your mother said that you were to scoop me
out of my shell," said Slow-and-Solid.
"What will happen if I do?" said the Jaguar most sniffily and
"I don't know, because I've never been scooped out of my shell
before; but I tell you truly, if you want to see me swim away
you've only got to drop me into the water.
"I don't believe it," said Painted Jaguar. "You've mixed up all
the things my mother
 told me to do with the things that you asked
me whether I was sure that she didn't say, till I don't know
whether I'm on my head or my painted tail; and now you come and
tell me something I can understand, and it makes me more mixy
than before. My mother told me that I was to drop one of you two
into the water, and as you seem so anxious to be dropped I think
you don't want to be dropped. So jump into the turbid Amazon and
be quick about it."
"I warn you that your Mummy won't be pleased. Don't tell her I
didn't tell you," said Slow-Solid.
"If you say another word about what my mother said—" the Jaguar
answered, but he had not finished the sentence before
Slow-and-Solid quietly dived into the turbid Amazon, swam under
water for a long way, and came out on the bank where
Stickly-Prickly was waiting for him.
"That was a very narrow escape," said Stickly-Prickly. "I don't
rib Painted Jaguar. What did you tell him that you were?"
"I told him truthfully that I was a truthful Tortoise, but he
wouldn't believe it, and he made me jump into the river to see if
I was, and I was, and
 he is surprised. Now he's gone to tell his
Mummy. Listen to him!"
They could hear Painted Jaguar roaring up and down among the
trees and the bushes by the side of the turbid Amazon, till his
said his mother ever so many times, graciously waving
her tail, "what have you been
doing that you shouldn't have
"I tried to scoop something that said it wanted to be scooped out
of its shell with my paw, and my paw is full of per-ickles," said
" said his mother ever so
many times, graciously waving
her tail, "by the prickles
in your paddy-paw I see that that must
have been a Hedgehog. You should have dropped him into the water.
"I did that to the other thing; and he said he was a Tortoise,
and I didn't believe him, and it was quite true, and he has dived
under the turbid Amazon, and he won't come up again, and I
haven't anything at all to eat, and I think we had better find
lodgings somewhere else. They are too clever on the turbid Amazon
for poor me!"
"Son, son!" said his mother ever so many times, graciously waving
her tail, "now attend
 to me and remember what I say. A Hedgehog
curls himself up into a ball and his prickles stick out every
which way at once. By this you may know the Hedgehog."
"I don't like this old lady one little bit," said
Stickly-Prickly, under the shadow of a large leaf. "I wonder
what else she knows?"
"A Tortoise can't curl himself up," Mother Jaguar went on, ever
so many times, graciously waving her tail. "He only draws his
head and legs into his shell. By this you may know the tortoise."
"I don't like this old lady at all—at all," said Slow-and-Solid
Tortoise. "Even Painted Jaguar can't forget those directions.
It's a great pity that you can't swim, Stickly-Prickly."
"Don't talk to me," said Stickly-Prickly. "Just think how much
better it would be if you could curl up. This is a mess! Listen
to Painted Jaguar."
Painted Jaguar was sitting on the banks of the turbid Amazon
sucking prickles out of his Paws and saying to himself—
"Can't curl, but can swim—
Slow-Solid, that's him!
Curls up, but can't swim—
Stickly-Prickly, that's him!"
 "He'll never forget that this month of Sundays," said
Stickly-Prickly. "Hold up my chin, Slow-and-Solid. I'm going to
try to learn to swim. It may be useful."
"Excellent!" said Slow-and-Solid; and he held up
Stickly-Prickly's chin, while Stickly-Prickly kicked in the
waters of the turbid Amazon.
"You'll make a fine swimmer yet," said Slow-and-Solid. "Now, if
you can unlace my back-plates a little, I'll see what I can do
towards curling up. It may be useful."
Stickly-Prickly helped to unlace Tortoise's back-plates, so that
by twisting and straining Slow-and-Solid actually managed to curl
up a tiddy wee bit.
"Excellent!" said Stickly-Prickly; "but I shouldn't do any more
just now. It's making you black in the face. Kindly lead me into
the water once again and I'll practice that side-stroke which you
say is so easy." And so Stickly-Prickly practiced, and Slow-Solid
"Excellent!" said Slow-and-Solid. "A little more practice will
make you a regular whale. Now, if I may trouble you to unlace my
back and front plates two holes more, I'll try that
bend that you say is so easy. Won't Painted Jaguar be surprised!"
"Excellent!" said Stickly-Prickly, all wet from the turbid
Amazon. "I declare, I shouldn't know you from one of my own
family. Two holes, I think, you said? A little more expression,
please, and don't grunt quite so much, or Painted Jaguar may hear
us. When you've finished, I want to try that long dive which you
say is so easy. Won't Painted Jaguar be surprised!"
And so Stickly-Prickly dived, and Slow-and-Solid dived alongside.
"Excellent!" said Slow-and-Solid. "A leetle more attention to
holding your breath and you will be able to keep house at the
bottom of the turbid Amazon. Now I'll try that exercise of
putting my hind legs round my ears which you say is so peculiarly
comfortable. Won't Painted Jaguar be surprised!"
"Excellent!" said Stickly-Prickly. "But it's straining your
back-plates a little. They are all overlapping now, instead of
lying side by side."
"Oh, that's the result of exercise," said Slow-and-Solid. "I've
noticed that your prickles seem to be melting into one another,
 you're growing to look rather more like a pinecone, and
less like a chestnut-burr, than you used to."
"Am I?" said Stickly-Prickly. "That comes from my soaking in the
water. Oh, won't Painted Jaguar be surprised!"
They went on with their exercises, each helping the other, till
morning came; and when the sun was high they rested and dried
themselves. Then they saw that they were both of them quite
different from what they had been.
"Stickly-Prickly," said Tortoise after breakfast, "I am not what
I was yesterday; but I think that I may yet amuse Painted Jaguar.
"That was the very thing I was thinking just now," said Stickly-
Prickly. "I think scales are a tremendous improvement on
prickles—to say nothing of being able to swim. Oh, won't Painted
Jaguar be surprised! Let's go and find him."
By and by they found Painted Jaguar, still nursing his paddy-paw
that had been hurt the night before. He was so astonished that he
fell three times backward over his own painted tail without
" said Stickly-Prickly.
 "And how is your dear
gracious Mummy this morning?"
"She is quite well, thank you," said Painted Jaguar; "but you
must forgive me if I do not at this precise moment recall your
"That's unkind of you," said Stickly-Prickly, "seeing that this
time yesterday you tried to scoop me out of my shell with your
"But you hadn't any shell. It was all prickles," said Painted
Jaguar. "I know it was. Just look at my paw!"
"You told me to drop into the turbid Amazon and be drowned," said
Slow-Solid. "Why are you so rude and forgetful to-day?"
"Don't you remember what your mother told you?" said Stickly-
"Can't curl, but can swim—
Stickly-Prickly, that's him!
Curls up, but can't swim—
Slow-Solid, that's him!"
Then they both curled themselves up and rolled round and round
Painted Jaguar till his eyes turned truly cart-wheels in his
Then he went to fetch his mother.
"Mother," he said, "there are two new animals in the woods to-
day, and the one that you said
 couldn't swim, swims, and the one
that you said couldn't curl up, curls; and they've gone shares in
their prickles, I think, because both of them are scaly all over,
instead of one being smooth and the other very prickly; and,
besides that, they are rolling round and round in circles, and I
don't feel comfy."
THIS is a picture of the whole story of the Jaguar and the
Hedgehog and the Tortoise and the Armadillo all in a heap..
It looks rather the same any way you turn it. The Tortoise is
in the middle, learning how to bend, and that is why the shelly
plates on his back are so spread apart. He is standing on
the Hedgehog, who is waiting to learn how to swim. The
Hedgehog is a Japanesy Hedgehog, because I couldnít find
our own Hedgehogs in the garden when I wanted to draw
them. (It was daytime, and they had gone to bed under
the dahlias.) Speckly Jaguar is looking over the edge,
with his paddy-paw carefully tied up by his mother,
because he pricked himself scooping the Hedgehog. He
is much surprised to see what the Tortoise is doing, and
his paw is hurting him. The snouty thing with the little
eye that Speckly Jaguar is trying to climb over is the
Armadillo that the Tortoise and the Hedgehog are going
to turn into when they have finished bending and
swimming. It is all a magic picture, and that is one
of the reasons why I havenít drawn the Jaguarís whiskers.
The other reason was that he was so young that his
whiskers had not grown. The Jaguarís pet name with his
Mummy was Doffles.
"Son, son!" said Mother Jaguar ever so many times, graciously
waving her tail, "a Hedgehog is a Hedgehog, and can't be anything
but a Hedgehog; and a Tortoise is a Tortoise, and can never be
"But it isn't a Hedgehog, and it isn't a Tortoise. It's a little
bit of both, and I don't know its proper name."
"Nonsense!" said Mother Jaguar. "Everything has its proper name.
I should call it "Armadillo" till I found out the real one. And I
should leave it alone."
So Painted Jaguar did as he was told, especially about leaving
them alone; but the curious thing is that from that day to this,
O Best Beloved, no one on the banks of the turbid Amazon has ever
called Stickly-Prickly and Slow-Solid anything except Armadillo.
There are Hedgehogs and Tortoises in other places, of
(there are some in my garden); but the real old and clever kind,
with their scales lying lippety-lappety one over the other, like
pine-cone scales, that lived on the banks of the turbid Amazon in
the High and Far-Off Days, are always called Armadillos, because
they were so clever.
So that's all right, Best Beloved. Do you see?
I'VE never sailed the Amazon,
I've never reached Brazil;
But the Don and Magdelana,
They can go there when they will!
Yes, weekly from Southampton,
Great steamers, white and gold,
Go rolling down to Rio
(Roll down—roll down to Rio!)
And I'd like to roll to Rio
Some day before I'm old!
I've never seen a Jaguar,
Nor yet an Armadill
O dilloing in his armour,
And I s'pose I never will,
Unless I go to Rio
These wonders to behold—
Roll down—roll down to Rio—
Roll really down to Rio!
Oh, I'd love to roll to Rio
Some day before I'm old!
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