Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger,
Oliver Elephant was sitting under a tree wondering what was keeping Tommy Tapir, when suddenly a rushing sound reached his ear. Tommy himself, running at top speed, soon emerged. “Two legs! Two legs!” gasped Tommy, clattering past Oliver. And two legs is elephant for men. Up humped Oliver Elephant and pounded after Tommy as fast as he could go. And he hadn’t gone very far before he came to a stretch of ground that did not look exactly right. He paused uncertainly and called to Tommy, but Tommy was out of sight. “If he got across it, don’t see why I can’t,” he murmured, and, suiting the action to the word, plunged ahead.
He reached the middle in safety, then quite suddenly the whole bottom dropped out of things and Oliver fell through. Down, down, THUMP! went the big little elephant. As soon as he got his breath he looked around. He was in a deep, stony pit, much too deep for him ever to climb out of. He suddenly remembered all the stories Uncle Abner had told him of two legs carrying off elephants to perform in the circus or in a zoo. These thoughts were so very alarming that poor Oliver burst into tears. He ran round and round the bottom of the pit trumpeting for dear life and pretty soon the scared head of Tommy Tapir looked over the edge. “You’re always getting into trouble!” he wailed dismally. “Oh, what SHALL we do!”
“Big people always get into trouble—little fellows can slip out of everything,” choked Oliver, miserably. “Go for help, Tommy; no use standing there looking at me. Go, GO!” Tommy went. In about a month or so, it seemed to Oliver, he came puffing back, Oliver’s whole family at his heels.
“Tusks, trunks and walrus hides!” exploded Uncle Abner in dismay.
“Two-leg prints!” hissed Father Elephant. “We’ve GOT to get him out of here!”
“Don’t speak, don’t move—wait!” Uncle Abner held up his trunk solemnly—“I want to think!” An anxious silence ensued. Then “I have it!” rumbled Uncle Abner triumphantly. “We’ll fill up one side of the pit with tree trunks and Oliver can climb out over them. HERE GOES!”
Up came a tree and down it went, hitting Oliver squarely on the head. “Waugh!” screamed Oliver. “What are you trying to do?”
“Dodge!” commanded Uncle Abner, sending down another. “You can’t expect to be rescued without some discomfort!” Oliver dodged and what with Mother Elephant and Father Elephant and Uncle Abner Elephant pitching trees as fast as they could poor Oliver got bumped and scratched every little while. But one side of the pit was filling rapidly and Oliver, dragging the trees about, was able to make a sloping runway to the top.
With many slips and slides and much help from above, he finally dragged himself to the edge, just in time, too. For Uncle Abner, pausing to wipe the perspiration from his forehead, heard a crackling in the brush behind them. “They’ve come! Hurry, run, run for your lives!” he screamed, and, waiting for no second invitation, the whole elephant family, with Tommy Tapir close at their heels, went galumping through the jungle.
And that’s how there comes to be one elephant less in the circus, and somehow I am glad. Are not you?
The Supposies have no prison,
’Cause they really have no crimes,
But even these dear jolly folks
Will go astray at times.
The King, the mildest and the kindest
One you ever saw,
Has one pet theory and one very
Stern and fast iron law.
To break it means a summons
To the court; the sentence meted
Is awfully queer—just nowhere, dear,
Are criminals so treated.
This is the law, ’tis posted high
Where every one may see,
Done under hand and seal and mark
Of his high majesty.
“Know ye that any man or child
With wet feet will be taken
Before the doctor of the court
And sentenced to be shaken!
“And he who goes sans overshoes
On rainy, snowy days,
Shall be arrested and compelled
To change his lawless ways.”
Each season doth the King provide
A pair of overshoes
For every subject; but, of course,
We all are prone to lose
These necessary articles;
And often nine or ten
Are taken and severely shaken—
That’s not all, for then
They have to pay the penalty—
A full week spent in bed
With mustard plasters on the chest,
Hot water bags at feet and head!
Perhaps a law like that would be
A good thing for us, too;
Think I’ll make a trip to Washington
And see what I can do!
Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.