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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "The Place and the People"

The Place and the People

But most thrilling of all, perhaps, were Outa Karel’s personal experiences—adventures by veld and krantz with lion, tiger, jackal and crocodile, such as no longer fall to the lot of mortal man.

The children would listen, wide-eyed and breathless, and even their elders, sparing a moment’s attention from book or writing, would feel a tremor of excitement, unable to determine where reality ended and fiction began, so inextricably were they intermingled as this old Iago of the desert wove his romances.

“Now, Outa, tell us a nice story, the nicest you know,” said little Jan, nestling closer to Cousin Minnie, and issuing his command as the autocrat of the “One Thousand and One Nights” might have done.

“Ach! but klein baas, this stupid old black one knows no new stories, only the old ones of Jakhals and Leeuw, and how can he tell even those when his throat is dry—ach, so dry with the dust from the kraals?”

He forced a gurgling cough, and his small eyes glittered expectantly. Then suddenly he started with well-feigned surprise and beamed on Pietie, who stood beside him with a soopje in the glass kept for his especial use.

This was a nightly performance. The lubrication was never forgotten, but it was often purposely delayed in order to see what pretext Outa would use to call attention to the fact of its not having been offered. Sore throat, headache, stomach-ache, cold, heat, rheumatism, old age, a birthday (invented for the occasion), the killing of a snake or the breaking-in of a young horse—anything served as an excuse for what was a time-honoured custom.

“Thank you, thank you, mij klein koning. Gezondheid to Baas, Nooi, Nonnie, and the beautiful family van der Merwe.” He lifted the glass, gulped down the contents, and smacked his lips approvingly. “Ach! if a Bushman only had a neck like an ostrich! How good would the soopje taste all the way down! Now I am strong again; now I am ready to tell the story of Jakhals and Oom Leeuw.”

“About Oom Leeuw carrying Jakhals on his back?

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