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If you have read any accounts of adventure in Africa, you will know that travelers never mention animals of any kind that are gifted with the faculty of speech, or gazelles that are overseers for native princes, or hares that eat flesh. No, indeed; only the native-born know of these; and, judging by the immense and rapid strides civilization is making in those parts, it will not be long before such wonderful specimens of zoölogy will be as extinct as the ichthyosaurus, dinornis, and other poor creatures who never dreamed of the awful names that would be applied to them when they were too long dead to show their resentment. As to the truth of these tales, I can only say that they were told to me, in Zanzibar, by negroes whose ancestors told them to them, who had received them from their ancestors, and so back; so that the praise for their accuracy, or the blame for their falsity, lies with the first ancestor who set them going. You may think uncivilized negroes are pretty ignorant people, but the white man who is supposed to have first told the story of “The House that Jack Built” was a mighty poor genius compared with the unknown originator of “Goso, the Teacher,” who found even inanimate things that were endowed with speech, which the pupils readily understood and were not astonished to hear; while “Puss in Boots” was not one-half so clever as the gazelle that ran things for Haamdaanee. It would be a severe task to rattle off “Goso” as you do “The House that Jack Built.”
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