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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Who was King?"

Who was King?

“I was sure you could not mean a karroo farm boy.”

“Is your story a parable, Outa?” asked little Jan, who had been doing some hard thinking for the last minute.

“Ach! and what is that, my little master?”

“A kind of fable, Outa.”

“Yes, that’s what it is, baasje,” said Outa, gladly seizing on the word he understood, “a fable, a sort of nice little fable.”

“But a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, and when Cousin Minnie tells us parables she always finds the meaning for us. What is the heavenly meaning of this, Outa?”

Little Jan’s innocent grey eyes were earnestly fixed on Outa’s face, as though to read from it the explanation he sought. For once the old native was nonplussed. He rubbed his red kopdoek, laid a crooked finger thoughtfully against his flat nose, scratched his sides, monkey-fashion, and finally had recourse once more to the kopdoek. But all these expedients failed to inspire him with the heavenly meaning of the story he had just told. Ach! these dear little ones, to think of such strange things! There they all were, waiting for his next words. He must get out of it somehow.

“Baasjes,” he began, smoothly, “there is a beautiful meaning to the story, but Outa hasn’t got time to tell it now. Another time——”

“Outa,” broke in Willem, reprovingly, “you know you only want to get away so that you can go to the old tramp-floor, where the volk are dancing to-night.”

“No, my baasje, truly no!”

“And I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had danced, too, after the way you have been jumping about here.”

“Yes, that was fine,” said Pietie, with relish. “‘Voerts! there is one dead! Voerts! there is another!’ Outa, you always say you are so stiff, but you can still kick well.”

“Aja, baasje,” returned Outa, modestly; “in my day I was a great dancer. No one could do the Vastrap better—and the Hondekrap—and the Valsrivier. Arré, those were the times!”

He gave a little hop at the remembrance of those mad and merry days, and yet another and another, always towards the passage leading to the kitchen.

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