The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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It is always very difficult for us really to feel that people in other places are working and playing exactly as we are doing ourselves, and that when we are dead everything will go on as if we had never been alive at all. But it is even harder for us to believe that for more thousands of years than anyone can count, the earth went on its way round the sun without numbering one single man among its inhabitants.
Not that our little planet was empty and silent, because men were not there to shout and clamour. Any­one looking down from the moon would have seen our world very much as we see it now. There were moun­tains and seas, trees, and flowers ; there were wet days and fine days, high tides and low ones. To be sure, the observer sitting in the moon would not have been looking at the very same mountains and seas that we gaze at now. At one time, countries, which are now dry land, were covered by an ocean; at another, great tracts, that are at present islands, were joined to the continent itself, while, on the other hand, peninsulas (such as India) were divided by a sea from the mainland. In some cases, mountain ranges had not been formed at all, and the rivers ran in very different courses from what they do to-day.
Well, all these seas and continents were the homes of vast numbers of creatures, some bearing a strong likeness to the animals and reptiles with which we are familiar, others that would be absolutely strange to our eyes.
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