An Elephant Called Elizabeth

Jason lived with his father Craig, in a log cabin, deep in the forest.  Craig was a wood cutter who worked very hard from daylight till dark.  Jason’s mother had been captured by pirates when Jason was just a baby so it was left to his father, Craig to bring him up as best he could. 

 

It was a very happy arrangement by and large, as Craig was a loving father who could cook the most delicious meals, and always knew if it was okay to hang out the washing first thing each morning, or, if it looked like rain, he would get Jason to help him hang it up under their big verandah.  As a result of this careful planning, they always had nice clean clothes to wear.

 

Every night Craig kissed his son good night and heard Jason’s prayers. He always checked that Jason had cleaned his teeth and sometimes made him wash his pleasantly grubby face, hands and feet.  That done, he wound the clock beside his bed and carefully set the alarm.

 

At exactly six-thirty each morning, the alarm went off. Craig quickly jumped out of bed, put on his wood cutter clothes and went to the kitchen to light the big wood stove and make a delicious pot of porridge with honey, apples and cinnamon.  Jason loved cinnamon apple porridge with honey and as soon as he smelled it cooking, he’d get dressed and go to the kitchen for breakfast.  Craig sometimes ate two bowls, full to the brim with the scrumptious porridge, but Jason could only manage one. It reminded Jason of the story about the three bears a bit.  Jason hoped that when he grew up he would be very strong just like his dad who could lift extremely large logs and chop down enormous trees all by himself.  His dad told him he would need to eat lots of porridge before he would have big muscles and be strong enough to work as hard as Craig did each day.

 

Jason loved his dad very much.  He also missed his mum.  He couldn’t remember too much about her except her voice was soft and her touch gentle.   And her scent - she smelled ever so lovely – a bit like their big old apple tree when it was covered in flowers.  He could also remember a baby blanket – just.    It might have had squares with teddies on it.    But he wasn’t too sure ….

 

Jason wanted to hurry up and grow up so he could find the pirates who had stolen his mother to be their cook and wash and mend their clothes and sails.  He had decided that he was going to steal her back!  He just wasn’t quite sure how.  Or when.

 

One day when Jason was on his way to play in his favourite clearing in the forest he heard an almighty squeal.  He almost jumped out of his skin in fright and dived into the nearest clump of bushes to hide.  His heart was beating so loudly he was sure that whoever had made the terrible noise would hear it and find him.  And for all he knew it could be pirates – the same ones who had stolen his mother.  Jason ducked down even lower but after a minute, when nothing else had happened, he cautiously pushed the leaves aside and looked out onto the track. 

 

 Nothing!

 

He turned his head and looked the other way.

 

 No one …. 

 

Surely he hadn’t imagined it ….  

 

He waited another couple of moments and then v-e-r-y   s-l-o-w-l-y, started to climb out of the bushes and back onto the track that would take him to the clearing.  Nervously Jason started to walk.  He had taken about 20 steps when there was another, even louder ear splitting squeal.  Jason got such a fright his hair stood on end, only flattening out as he again dived through the nearest bushes to hide.  This time he lay flat on the ground and peeped underneath the curtain of leaves.   With the side of his face pressed firmly into the soft earth, he could just see into the clearing at grass height.   

 

“That’s strange” whispered Jason to no one at all.  “I don’t remember those grey trees being there, in the middle of the clearing”.  Slowly he counted them “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven …… eight!  He could only see a little bit of the bottom of each one.  He counted them again to make sure he hadn’t made a mistake.  Jason was very good at counting and sure enough, there were eight fat, round tree trunks – no branches; no leaves – just tree trunks!   He looked harder and realized that four of the trees were smallish but the other four were HUGE.  He rolled over onto his back on the soft moss covered ground and looked at the sky through the leaves above him.  He wanted to think about this.

 

‘How’ he wondered out loud, ‘have these trees grown in my clearing since yesterday?’  Even the small ones were very big.  He was puzzled.

 

Just as Jason was about to roll over onto his tummy again to take another look at the strange trees, the whole forest began to rumble and shake.  Jason didn’t know what to do.  He thought it must be an earthquake and without thinking, sat up to have a look around.

 

Jason turned his head slightly so that he was facing directly into the clearing.

 

“Oh my Goodness!  ELEPHANTS !” he exclaimed as he again dived under the bushes and tried to wriggle away from the area as fast as he could.   But it was too late, they had seen him.  There was a great big mother elephant and a small elephant.  The small elephant had caught sight of him just as Jason had ducked down under the bushes.  

 

‘Crikey’ muttered Jason. That was why he hadn’t seen the big grey trees before.  They weren’t trees  -  they were elephants’ legs !! “Crikey Charlie!”

 

“STOP!” squealed the little elephant as it started to run towards the spot where Jason had disappeared.

 

STOP!” squealed the mother elephant with an ear splitting trumpet as she waved her long trunk in the air. Jason's heart sank as he recognized the loud trumpeting noise - it was the one he’d heard before.   His poor heart nearly exploded with fright as the enormous mother began to run after the little elephant.  And once again the forest rumbled and shook.

 

Jason was petrified.  He couldn’t remember whether elephants were friend or foe so decided the best thing to do was to keep wriggling – as fast as he could.  But there simply wasn’t any way he could wriggle anywhere near as fast as the elephants could run and this meant they were gaining on him rapidly. 

 

There was nothing for it - he scrambled awkwardly to his feet and ran, doubled over until he came to a smallish but very steep bank.   Without thinking, he threw himself over the edge.  The soft forest floor cushioned his fall and deadened the sound as he rolled quickly down the little hill. Over and over and over he went.  Jason thought that if he could keep rolling, he just might be able to vanish into the undergrowth.  But luck was not on his side and he banged into a fallen tree all covered in damp green moss and creepers.  It stopped him dead in his tracks.  He looked around wildly for somewhere to hide.

 

The elephants were at the top of the little rise now and paused to trumpet loudly as they looked to see if they could pinpoint exactly where he was.  But Jason’s luck had changed again and just below the fallen tree, and partly hidden by it and some ferns was a large, hollow log.  Without a second thought Jason tucked his head onto his chest and turning himself into a ball, did a forward roll, just as his father had taught him.  He rolled over the top of the fallen tree and flopped to the ground in front of the opening to the hollow log.  Jason crawled as deep into the dark tree-tunnel as he dared.    Sticky cobwebs stuck to his cheeks and eyelashes and he hoped there weren’t any spiders in here.   He lay very still and waited quietly, listening for any sounds of pursuit.  Total silence!  The only sound he could hear was the pounding of his own heart as he watched his breath came out in rapid little puffs of white steam that looked like tiny storm clouds.  Jason didn’t know what to do.  He closed his eyes tightly and wished with all his heart that his father was working in this part of the forest today. He would know what to do.  He always knew what to do.  He would save him.  ….But Jason knew his father was nowhere near.  

 

It was warm and very quiet inside the log and eventually Jason’s heart steadied as he began to relax.  Suddenly he found himself sailing on a bright blue ocean, in a boat that was really half a giant walnut shell.  The Jolly Roger fluttered atop the mast of the galleon he was chasing.  The galleon had a bright yellow sail with a neat red patch.  Along each side he could see canons poking out of their portals.  It was a Pirate ship.  Jason was excited.  ‘Perhaps’ he thought to himself, his mother was onboard.  Perhaps it was this band of pirates who had stolen her to cook for them.  And perhaps it was she who had mended their sail with those bright little red patches.

 

 In the boat alongside Jason sat a black cat that was very unhappy because the waves were splashing over the sides of the boat and drenching it. The poor animal was starting to look very woebegone and Jason felt sorry for the cat.  He knew cats hated being wet.  It began to meow and Jason thought it sounded like a baby’s sad cry. 

 

The waves were getting bigger now and the boat was rocking and bobbing around in an alarming fashion.  Jason began to feel very cramped because there was nowhere to put his legs and the cat kept crying.

 

Gradually Jason realized he was only dreaming and as he awoke, he was disappointed to find he was still tightly curled up in the log.  His legs really were cramped and there was the mournful sound of someone, or something crying – just outside the opening to his hideout. 

 

Carefully he eased himself around until he faced the opening.  His legs now stretched comfortably out behind him.  He started to crawl slowly towards the entrance, being extremely careful not to make a noise or to shake the hollow log. 

When he was nearly there he stopped and rubbed both his hands along the floor of the log until they were wet and dark with dye from the rotting wood and leaf mold growing inside the log. Jason carefully rubbed the stain all over his face and neck and arms so that he was camouflaged and blended into the dark interior of his hiding place.  Very slowly he moved to the opening and looking around was astonished to see the little elephant sitting just above him on the fallen tree.  It had its back to him and was quietly sobbing.  The giant mother elephant was nowhere to be seen.

 

Choosing to stay safely inside the hollow log, Jason called out

 

“Excuse me little elephant, - why are you crying?”

 

The little elephant didn’t hear him and continued to sob.

 

Jason cleared his throat loudly “AHH – HEM !  EXCUSE me little elephant – but why are you so unhappy?”

 

At the sound of his loud voice, the little elephant got such a fright it fell off the tree and landed almost beside him.  Jason darted back into the hollow tree and safety.

 

The little elephant sat up and rubbed its wet eyes with its little trunk, then looked blindly into the blackness of the hollow log.

 

“Come out, please, little boy.  I don’t want to hurt you.  I want to play with you.  I’m sooooo lonely.”

 

Jason’s voice echoed from the depths of the log. 

 

“Then why did you chase me?”

 

“I didn’t chase you – I was trying to catch up to you and my mother was helping.  She’s waiting in the clearing so you won’t be frightened.  Please come out and talk to me.”

 

After a very long pause, Jason’s voice floated out of the darkness

 

“Well, what’s your name then?”

 

“My name ?  er ……  Elizabeth … – My name is ELIZABETH!!”  with a smile so big that Jason could hear it in her voice.

 

Silence.

 

Then there was a scuffling movement at the opening to the log tunnel and out wriggled a very dirty Jason.   He stood up and as he tried to brush all the leaves and moss from his clothes and hair, he looked at the little elephant.  Then, walking up to her, held out his stained hand and said with a smile

“How do you do Elizabeth – my name is Jason.”

 

And that’s how Jason and Elizabeth met.  They became the very best of friends and made some extraordinary new friends.  Some were magic and some were just very clever – so clever it was almost like magic.

 

Like the day they were playing in the clearing and decided to go down to the river to fish. 

 

But that’s a story for another day …

Comments

What a great work of the imagination. I wonder what aged child would read this story. I loved the way it ended....but that's a story for another day!

Your writing flows and is so easy to read. Very believable so that tells us the characters work well and so does the setting.

Thank you Suraya.  I always appreciate your feedback.   I think 5 to 7 or 8 yr olds would enjoy reading, or having this story read to them.    

Hi Gabrielle,

I like your story, but seems more like the first chapter of a longer story. I do hope that you will continue with the rest of it. 

One quick mention, "one side of his face pressed 'firmly'". Small spelling mistake. 

My kids are 6 to 10 years old and although English is their second language, I am sure that they would love this if read to them.  

Something that I learned with my oldest child is that audio processing is becoming more of a problem for children in this day and age. They are slowly loosing the ability to listen and make the pictures appear in their heads. If properly done, this story would be fantastic as an audio story for kids. Letting them listen to a story that is longer than five minutes help them learn to listen instead of depending on the pictures to tell them what is going on. One hour total is the average for audio storytelling that force kids to listen instead of watching. I own 4 cd's in Afrikaans (our home language) that forces them to listen. All though I have a few English audio stories, non of them are as detailed as your "first chapter". I would really love your story - including further adventures as an audiobook for my kids.

Hi Sumanda

Thanks so much for your comments.   I really appreciate the feedback and I'm delighted to think your children might find these stories enjoyable.   I like the idea of an audio book..   This story is part of a series of short stories;  all about Jason and Elizabeth and their adventures.   I'll have to get busy and finish some more of them.  :)