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THE RACE OF DWARFS.
THE great chief leaned back against a tree-trunk, while Gombo went on with the tale of the day's adventures.
He told the astonished company that not a mile away was a camp of the strangest beings his eyes had ever beheld. He had heard of them and their ways from his own parents, but they had never wandered into this part of the country before.
They belonged to the race of dwarfs, and the very tallest one among them was hardly more than four feet high. Their hair grew in little tufts, or bunches, all over their heads; that of the women was no longer than the men's. Their upper lips were thick, and hung out over their mouths. Their skin was a reddish black, and their cheek-bones were high. And the children! They were such tiny, tiny things.
When they saw Mpuke's people, they huddled together like a pack of dogs, and hid their heads. A mother pigmy held a baby. She looked like a child, while it seemed as though the baby must be a doll in her arms.
These queer little people were cutting down branches and making ready to build their huts. The men came out to meet the hunters, carrying tiny bows and arrows. They made signs that they would like to become friends. They had heard of the banana plantation in Mpuke's village. They were willing to help the chief in his wars and catch game for his people if they could be paid in bananas.
Do you suppose the black hunters laughed at the idea of help from this group of tiny people? Indeed not. They had heard many stories of the great skill of the dwarfs with the bow and arrow, and of their great daring. They had heard, too, how much harm they could do if they took a dislike to a tribe or person. They knew it was wise to make friends with the little people.
Although they were very tired, they joined in a dance to show their good-will. But the pigmies had no music. One of their number beat time by striking a bow with an arrow while the others strutted around in a circle. They looked comical enough, for they kept their legs very stiff and made their faces as solemn as possible. The hunters would have laughed if they dared. It was certainly odd to call that dancing. They pitied the tiny savages, with no musical instruments and no idea of tunes or songs.
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