MY THANKS are due to Dr. Maitland Park, Editor of The Cape Times, and Adv. B. K. Long, M.L.A., Editor of The State, for their kind permission to republish such of these tales as have appeared in their papers.
For the leading idea in "The Sun" and "The Stars and the Stars' Road," I gladly acknowledge my indebtedness to that monument of patient labour and research, "Specimens of Bushman Folk-lore," by the late Dr. Bleek and Miss Lucy Lloyd.
Further, I lay no claim to originality for any of the stories in this collection--at best a very small proportion of a vast store from which the story-teller of the future may draw, embodying the superstitions, the crude conceptions, the childish ideas of a primitive and rapidly disappearing people. They are known in some form or other wherever the negro has set foot, and are the common property of every country child in South Africa.
I greatly regret that they appear here in what is, to them, a foreign tongue. No one who has not heard them in the Taal--that quaint, expressive language of the people--can have any idea of what they lose through translation, but, having been written in the first instance for English publications, the original medium was out of the question.
Clear cold evenings, with a pleasant tang of frost in the air, figure here and there in these pages, but as I write other scenes, too, flit across the lighted screen of Memory--noontides of tropic heat with all the world sunk in a languorous slumber, glowing sunsets, throbbing summer nights when the stars seemed to tremble almost within one's reach, moonlit spaces filled with soft mystery and the thousand seductive voices of the pulsing southern night. And always, part and parcel of the passing panorama, the quaint figure of the old Native with his little masters....
It is nearly three years now since "Old Friend Death" took him gently by the hand and led him away to that far, far country of which he had such vague ideas, so he tells no more stories by the firelight in the gloaming; and his little masters--children no longer--are claimed by graver tasks and wider interests. But in the hope that others, both little ones and children of a larger growth, may find the same pleasure in these tales of a childlike race, they are sent out to find their own level and take their chance in the workaday world.
Cape Town, January, 1914.