He cared for nothing now: the only thing in which he took a delight was, destroying as much as possible in mere wantonness, and in working as much mischief as he could find time to plan and accomplish.
There had been times in the past when, in his better moments, he had longed to go back to the herd; had longed to be taken into some grand troop of elephants such as those he watched march through the forests. He longed to be one of them, and to feel that he was a respectable, well-conducted elephant.
But his overtures had always been received with disfavor and firm refusals, and the time had now come when nothing would have induced him to live with any elephants whatever; he preferred to be alone; and his evil nature and irritable temper thrived on his solitary life and mischief-making propensities, and to know that he was feared and dreaded was a very delight to him.
Out of pure mischief he would, at times, tear madly through the forest, trumpeting at the very top of his shrill voice, merely to give the elephants, or any other animals that might be about, a thorough fright.
Many and many a time had some horrid, insignificant little creatures who walked about on two legs, and carried things of fire in their hands, tried their very best to inveigle and entrap him, but in vain. Once, indeed, he had very nearly fallen into a horrible pit in which, at the very bottom, in the centre, was a dreadful, long, sharp stake, which, had he fallen, would have been driven through his thick body by its own weight, and he would have perished miserably and in agony.
But he had found it out in time—only just in time—for one of his hind legs had shot out suddenly behind him, and it was only by a mighty effort of his huge strength that he scrambled up and away from the source of danger.
But oh, what havoc he made! How he tore up anything and everything within his reach! Iron fences which those silly, little fire-carriers had stuck into the ground to protect their crops; silly, little, brick walls which he knocked over with one push of his huge body; young, healthy trees which had been planted so carefully a few years back, and which he pulled up with his long trunk as though they were little radishes; not to speak of the miles of rice and sugar-cane which he had trodden down in wanton waste and as a means of venting his temper.
Another time they had tried to drive him into a horrid place called a Keddah, which had been built with stout logs, and had huge buttresses which even he would have found it difficult to move.
He had been really startled one dark night on seeing huge bunches of fire coming towards him, and in spite of his daring he began to run in the opposite direction.
But it takes a rogue to catch a Rogue, and Rataplan was pretty wary. He had sense enough to know that those silly, little things on two legs would not take the trouble to run after him with bunches of fire unless they wanted him to run away somewhere, to some particular place. And so, after the first few, heavy, swinging steps, the reflection of the fire behind him showed him the outline of a keddah just in front, and with a shrill roar of rage Rataplan turned suddenly and fiercely round, dashed headlong through the line of fire, and, with a mighty trumpeting, disappeared into the forest.