From Drawings by Gustave Verbeek.
“But, oh, what havoc he made”
“Groar joined in with might and main”
“Even his mother looked at him with surprise”
“Sat on one of the boughs and scolded as hard as she could”
“He would take up some small animal and walk coolly off with it”
“Chaffer was the first to meet the hunters face to face”
“Jinks never was so happy as when he was leading his pack”
“Jock had never seen anything like it before”
“Tera sprang at the nearest calf, bringing him to the ground”
“Osra and his wives took up the chickens one by one, and swallowed them whole”
“Furious with rage, Brunie rose up and went to meet them”
“Mona did his best to attract the parrot’s attention”
In one of the thick, shady and tangled forests of Ceylon a fine, fully-grown elephant was one day standing moodily by himself. His huge form showed high above the tangled brushwood, but his wide, flat feet and large, pillar-like legs were hidden in the thick undergrowth.
He was not standing still, however—for no elephant has ever been known to do that yet—his massive, elongated head, with its wide, flat ears, its long, snake-like, flexible trunk, its magnificent pair of ivory tusks and its ridiculous, little eyes moved gravely to and fro— up and down—in a wearied but restless manner.
Every now and then he would lift one of his massive legs and put it down again, or sway his whole body from side to side, or throw his trunk up in the air and then wave it round his head and over his back in all directions.
But, in spite of his moody, wearied air, the elephant’s tiny eyes looked particularly wicked. And wicked they were, and a true index to the mischief going on in his elephant mind.
He had no herd round him, no brother or sister elephant with whom he could wave trunks, nod heads, or carry on a conversation in elephant language; he was alone, and preferred to be alone, for his irritable nature and morose disposition made it impossible for him to live with others.
It was not entirely due to himself that he lived alone, for his character was so bad, alas! that no herd would admit him into its ranks, no drive would have anything to do with him; for he was Rataplan, the Rogue, and he was feared, avoided and hated as much as it is possible for the gentle-natured and good-tempered Indian elephant to fear and hate anything.
There had been a time—long, long ago—when he had been one of a herd; but his roguishness had developed early, and after much forbearance and long-suffering the herd had turned him out; and from that time he had been a solitary wanderer.
From the first Rataplan pretended that he did not care, and tossed his trunk disdainfully when driven from the herd. He had felt it, nevertheless, and it had made him more morose, more irritable, more mad than ever.