By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger,
Oliver Elephant was far from home. He had been walking all day and the more he walked the more puzzled he grew as to just where he was and as to just how he should get home again! I’m afraid he’d been following his nose, pshaw! I mean his trunk, and as that wasn’t very straight, NO wonder he got lost.
It was growing darker and darker and though Oliver wasn’t afraid, still he could not help feeling uneasy. “I’ll just keep straight on, and if I walk far enough I’m bound to come out somewhere!” he decided sensibly. And pretty soon he did come out somewhere. “Seems to be a road!” he mumbled, feeling carefully ahead with his trunk! “Cocoanuts!” he spluttered next minute, for he had caught his toe in something and no sooner had he stepped out than his other foot caught. He peered down anxiously, blinking his little eyes in an endeavor to see what kind of road this was that tripped a fellow up every other step.
“Some awful queer animal must have made THESE tracks!” he murmured, scratching his head. But as traveling was much faster here in the open than through the dense jungle he decided to make the best of it, and, accommodating his stride to the queer humps and bumps, managed to get on with tolerable speed.
He was in such a hurry that he really went faster than was safe, for at a sudden turn leading across a dry stream the bottom suddenly fell out of the road and when Oliver Elephant came to his senses he found himself wedged tightly between a lot of broken trees, at least he thought they were trees.
Two of his feet were held fast and jerk and pull as he might he could not get up. “It was bad enough to be lost without being hung,” groaned Oliver, straining with all his might.
“What’s that? My trunk! What’s that?” He flapped his big ears in alarm and listened intently. Coming toward him, though not yet in sight, was some strange and terrible monster. He knew it! For none of the people of the jungle had a voice like this. It was a roar and a swish and a whistling all in one. “Must be the fellow that made these tracks!” thought Oliver, renewing his struggle to free himself. But it was useless. In desperation, Oliver Elephant felt about with his trunk, jerked up a young tree and resolved to do the best he could to defend himself. “At least I can make as much noise!” And I should say he could. Waving the tree he forthwith set up such a trumpeting that the shriek of the other monster was completely drowned.
“Throw on the brakes, Mike!—for the love of next week!—what’s ahead?” The train came grinding to a standstill about ten feet from Oliver. Leaning out of the window, the engineer held his lantern and peered into the gloom. “Flagged by an elephant, begorry!” he burst out in astonishment.
Oliver was much surprised at the cowardly halt of the great black creature and his wonderment knew no bounds when a lot of two legs began to pour out of its sides and stare at him curiously.
“Well, it’s lucky for us that yon big beast was abroad this night!” The engineer wiped the perspiration from his forehead as he looked at the nasty break in the tracks and thought what MIGHT have happened if the train had rolled down the embankment. “Three cheers for his majesty!” cried the fireman, throwing his hat into the air, and all the passengers joined in with a will. Oliver was still very much puzzled, but there was no mistaking the sound of that cheer—it was friendly. These men liked him and though he had always been warned against two legs, something told him that he was safe. So he dropped the tree and waved his trunk politely. At this the two legs went mad with delight. “Let’s help him out! Hurrah for the elephant! Good boy!” The engineer got his ax and the fireman an iron bar. The ladies gingerly offered crackers, which Oliver as gingerly accepted, but found them so much to his taste that he did not notice the engineer and fireman approach. With two or three well-directed blows they had broken the rails that held him suspended in the air. There was another crash—everybody jumped aside and great, gray Oliver rolled down into the dry bed of the stream.
Much shaken, he arose, took a long curious look at the puffing black beast and all the cheering two legs, gave a little trumpet of thanks, then swung around and disappeared into the black jungle. For now he knew the way home, for was not the two legs’ country west of his own? Tired and footsore he arrived there at daybreak, and I’ll leave you to imagine what his mother and father and Uncle Abner thought of his adventure.
But that was Oliver’s first experience with a railroad.
The Latest Supposyville Proclamation
Upon my soul—I never
Saw any King so wise and kind—
So funny—or so clever
As the monarch of Supposyville.
His latest proclamation—
Is causing just a gale of glee
In that delightful nation.
One morning fifty couriers—
Went clattering down the highways—
While fifty more went posting off
To all the lanes and byways.
Each home and house was entered
And in manner short and cursory
A Royal Proclamation, dears—
Was posted in each nursery.
“Whereas—” all proclamations
Should start thusly—ducks and dears—
“Whereas—a certain state of things
Has lately reached my ears—
I do appoint a week of rest
From play—for all the TOYS.
Therefore, take heed, ye nurses,
And ye little girls and boys.
These toyfolks are my subjects—
Same as you—and I’ve reflected
Upon their welfare—which I find—
Is shamefully neglected.
For play to them is work—you know
And work to them—is play
And taken all in all—they need
A good long workaday.
Take Punch and Judy—they are tired
With their continual strife—
And Punch in his short workaday
Will make up with his wife.
The soldiers need a furlough
To hunt up their legs and guns—
To polish up their buttons
And write comments on the Huns.
The members of the wooden circus
Want to act like other folks
And cease their acrobatic stunts
And talk in sense instead of jokes.
The dolls would like to clean their teeth
And wash and iron their clothes—
And comb their hair and do a little
The Teddy Bears would like to get
Their bearings, trains—their sections—
As for the games—they need a week
To hunt their lost directions—
So—solemnly I do appoint
A Workaweek for Toys—
In which they may regain their health
Their playfulness—and poise.”