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- Umboo, the Elephant - 10/19 -
Umboo. "Did the snake bite you?"
"Oh, can't you keep quiet?" asked Woo-Uff, the lion, in his deep, rumbly voice. "Let Umboo alone! He'll tell us what happened."
"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Chako. "I was so anxious that I could hardly wait to hear. We monkeys are very much afraid of snakes, you know."
"So I have heard," said Woo-Uff. "Please go on, Umboo."
So Umboo told the rest of his story.
In the jungle he stood, with one foot raised, ready to crush the big snake.
"Please do not step on me!" hissed the snake, for that was his way of talking. "Please do not put your big foot on me, elephant boy!"
"But I am afraid you will bite me," said Umboo.
"No, I'll not do that," answered the snake. "I do sometimes bite, when I am hungry, but I am not hungry now. Besides, you are quite too big to bite."
"Oh, ho, if you feel that way about it, all right," said Umboo, and he put his foot down, but not on the snake. "There are much larger elephants though, than I am. I wish I could see some of them now. Tell me," he asked the hissing serpent, "did you see anything of the elephant herd on your travels through the jungle?"
"No, not exactly," the snake made answer. "But, as you were kind enough not to step on me, I will do you a favor. I will show you the way through the jungle to where the other elephants are.
"Can you do it?" asked Umboo.
"Surely," replied the snake. "We serpents are the wisest of all creatures, not even excepting you big elephants. For we have to stay so low down on the ground that we would easily be stepped on and killed by other beasts, if we were not wise enough to keep out of the way. So, though I have not seen your mother, or the elephant herd, I can find them for you."
"How did you know I was looking for my mother?" asked Umboo. "I did not tell you that."
"No, but you told the rhinoceros," said the snake.
"Ha! Then you must have very good ears, Mrs. Snake, to have heard that, for it was a long way from here," said Umboo. "You must have very good ears indeed, though they are not as large as mine. In fact I can not see them at all."
"Never mind about my ears," said the snake. "I told you we serpents were very wise. We know many things. And now, if you please, follow me and I will show you the way through the jungle to where your mother is, and the rest of the herd. But as I have to crawl along on the ground, please be careful not to step on me. We snakes do not like to be stepped on."
"I'll be careful," promised Umboo.
Then the snake glided, or crawled, along through the jungle, and Umboo, watching which way she went, followed, carrying in his trunk the branch of palm nuts for his mother.
On and on went the snake, now and then stopping to coil and raise her head above the ground so she might listen. The water drops glistened on her shiny scales, and she was very beautiful in color, though she was so dangerous and deadly.
"What are you stopping for?" asked Umboo at one time.
"I am trying to listen to hear the tramp of the herd of elephants," the snake answered. "Do not make any noise."
So Umboo stood still, and was very quiet, but he could hear nothing. However, the snake must have heard, for she uncoiled herself and started off another way, saying:
"Follow me, Umboo."
"How did you know my name was Umboo?" asked the elephant boy. "I did not tell you that."
"We serpents are wise, and know many things," was the answer, and Umboo began to believe that.
"It is a good thing I met her," he said to himself, as he followed the glistening snake through the jungle. "I am glad I did not step on her as I was first going to do."
On and on through the jungle went Umboo, following the guiding snake, whose glistening scales and bright colors he could easily see amid the green leaves and bushes. At last the snake came to a stop and once more coiled and reared up her head.
"Make no noise, big elephant boy!" she hissed.
Umboo stood still and was very quiet.
"Ha! I thought so!" said the snake. "Go over that way," and she pointed with her head. "Walk about a mile, straight along, and you will come to your mother and the herd of elephants."
"How do you know?" asked Umboo.
"Because I can hear them," answered the snake. "I can hear the tramping of their big feet. I can hear them trumpeting through their long noses of trunks, and I can hear them tearing down the tree branches and stripping off the bark. That is how I know.
"I would go closer, and take you nearer to them, but some of them might step on me, without finding out first, that I would do them no harm. But you can easily find your way from here. Keep straight on," said the snake.
"Thank you, I will," answered Umboo. "I would give you some of these palm nuts, only I am saving them for my mother."
"Thank you," said the snake. "But I do not eat palm nuts. Take them on to your mother, elephant boy."
Then the snake glided away through the jungle, and, watching the end of her tail vanish under a bush, Umboo started off by himself. He had not heard the sounds spoken of by the serpent, but he knew the noises were such as a herd of elephants would make.
"She must have good ears, to hear what she heard," thought the elephant boy. "And yet her ears were not as large as mine."
So, flapping his own big ears, and wishing he could hear with them as well as the snake could with her small ones, Umboo stalked on through the jungle in the way she had told him to go.
It was not very long before he heard a crashing sound. Then he lifted his trunk, still holding the palm branch, and he sniffed and snuffed. And then, to the long, rubbery nose of the elephant boy, came the wild smell of other jungle animals.
"Ah! Now I smell the herd!" he cried. "Now I am not lost any more! Hurray!"
Of course when an elephant says "Hurray" it is different than the way you boys and girls say it. But it means the same thing.
On hurried Umboo. The crashing noises sounded more plainly now, and the elephant smell became stronger. Then, as he burst his way through the bushes, Umboo saw the other elephants standing together in a little clearing in the jungle, and Umboo's mother seemed to be talking to them.
"Ha!" suddenly cried Keedah, the larger elephant boy, as he saw the lost one. "Here he comes now! Here is Umboo!"
Mrs. Stumptail swung around and started toward him.
"Where in the world have you been?" she asked. "Why, Umboo! I have been so worried about you, and so has your father! We were just going out into the jungle to look for you."
"That's what we were," said Tusker. "And hard work it would have been with night coming on. We want to travel to a new place, too, and looking for you would have held us back. What do you mean by going off by yourself this way?"
"I went to see if I could knock over a big palm tree when the ground was soft from rain," said Umboo.
"And did you do it?" asked Mr. Stumptail.
"I did," answered Umboo. "I knocked over a big tree. It was easy, and here is a branch of it for you, and it has some nuts on," and he handed his mother the one he had brought with him all the way through the jungle.
"Oh, thank you!" said Mrs. Stumptail. "You are a very good boy, Umboo, and I shall like these nuts very much. But why did you stay away so long?"
"I was lost," answered the elephant chap. "I could not find my way back after I knocked over the tree. I met a rhinoceros, but he could not tell me where you were. Then I met a kind snake, and she showed me how to find you."
"Well, don't get lost again," said Umboo's mother. "We are glad you have come back, for, as Tusker says, we are about to travel on, and we did not want to leave you behind. So get ready now, we are going to a new part of the jungle."
A little later the herd started off, and Umboo walked with some of the other young elephants, or calves, as they are called. He told them the different things that happened to him when he was lost in the jungle.
On and on went the herd of elephants. They traveled nearly all night, and the next day they stopped to rest, for the sun was too hot for even such big, strong beasts.
Umboo and the others were feeding in a quiet part of the forest, when
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