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- Rataplan - 1/27 -


RATAPLAN, A ROGUE ELEPHANT AND OTHER STORIES

By ELLEN VELVIN, F.Z.S.

Author of "Tales Told at the Zoo," "Jack's Visit," Etc.

With illustrations

by GUSTAVE VERBEEK

To GRACE GALLATIN THOMPSON SETON THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED

TO THE AUTHOR, COMING AS A STRANGER TO THIS COUNTRY, HER HELP, ADVICE AND LOYAL FRIENDSHIP HAVE BEEN INVALUABLE

PREFACE

If an excuse for this book were needed, the undying interest of young people in both wild and domesticated animals would afford it. From time immemorial they have been amused and instructed by stories of animals, and it is not hard to trace the educational and humane influence of such tales.

There are heroes and tyrants, cruel and gentle natures in the animal world, as in our own, and, judged by our standards, their lives are pastorals or tragedies, even as ours are, while their histories are often even more interesting than those of men or women. Then, too, young people should know that these dwellers in forest wilds have, in part at least, the same aims, hopes and fears as ourselves.

In the preparation of this book the best of authorities have been consulted, and careful study given to the habits, traits and characteristics of the animals whose intimate lives are told in these stories. In addition, I have endeavored to tell young people, as pleasantly as possible, that they often make grave blunders in caring for their pets--blunders due to ignorance as to the requirements of their living toys.

ELLEN VELVIN.

New York City.

CONTENTS

RATAPLAN, ROGUE

GEAN, THE GIRAFFE

KEESA, THE KANGAROO

CARA, THE CAMEL

SICCATEE, THE SQUIRREL

LEO, THE LION

CHAFFER, THE CHAMOIS

JINKS, THE JACKAL

PERO, THE PORCUPINE

TERA, THE TIGRESS

HIPPO, HIPPOPOTAMUS

OSRA, THE OSTRICH

SEELA, THE SEAL

BRUNIE, THE BEAR

MONA, THE MONKEY

BULON, THE BUFFALO

ILLUSTRATIONS

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"

RATAPLAN, ROGUE

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.

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


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