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- Umboo, the Elephant - 2/19 -
"Because he is dead," said Umboo. "Poor Jumbo was struck by one of those big puffing animals, of steam and steel and iron, that pull our circus train over the shiny rails."
"You mean a choo-choo-locomotive-steam-engine," said Woo-Uff, the lion.
"I suppose that is the name," said Umboo. "Anyhow, Jumbo was hit by an engine, and, big as he was, it killed him. His bones, or skeleton, are in a museum in New York now."
"Is New York a jungle?" asked Gink, who had not been with the circus very long.
"New York a jungle? Of course not!" laughed Snarlie, the tiger. "New York is a big city, and sometimes we circus animals are taken there to help with the show. I've been in New York lots of times."
"Well, don't let it make you proud," said Chako, the other monkey. "I have been there myself, and I'd much rather be in the jungle."
"Say, are we going to listen to you animals talk or hear the story Umboo is going to tell us?" asked Humpo, the camel. "I thought he was going to make us forget the heat."
"So I am," said Umboo, in a kind voice, "Only I wanted to speak about old Jumbo, There used to be a song about him, many years ago. It went something like this, and I heard a little English boy sing it:
"Alice said to Jumbo: 'I love you!' Jumbo said to Alice: 'I don't believe you do; 'Cause if you love me truly, As you say you do, Come over to America To Barnum's show!'"
"That's the song they used to sing about Jumbo, more than twenty years ago," said Umboo.
"My! How can you remember so far back?" asked Chako.
"Oh, we elephants live to a good old age," said Umboo. "Why, I am fifty years old now, and yet I am young! Some of the elephants in the jungle lived to be a hundred and twenty years old!"
"Oh, my!" cried Chako. "Did they have circuses as long ago as that?"
"Yes, but not the kind that traveled about, and showed in white tents," said Umboo. "But I have heard my father and mother say that we elephants live to be very old."
"And can you remember so far back, when you were a baby in the jungle?" asked Humpo.
"Oh, yes, very easily," answered Umboo. "I am going to tell you a story about how first I was a little elephant in the great, green forest, or jungle, and then I'll tell you how I was caught, and worked in a lumber yard in India, and how I was then sold to a circus."
"Well, then, please begin!" begged Chako. "It is getting hot again in this monkey cage, and if you haven't any water to squirt on us tell us your story."
"I will!" promised the elephant. And then, as the afternoon show was over, and it was not yet time for the night one to begin, the animals had a little quiet time to themselves. And, as they had done once before, they got ready to listen to a story.
In the book before this I have written for you the story of Woo-Uff, the lion. And before that I gave you the story of Snarlie, the tiger. And now we come to Umboo.
"The first thing I remember," began the elephant, "was when I was a little baby in the jungle."
"Were you very little?" asked Snarlie the tiger.
"Well, I have heard my mother say I weighed about two hundred pounds the first day I came into the world," answered Umboo. "So, though I was little for an elephant, I would have made a very big monkey, I suppose. And for a time I just stayed near my mother, between her two, big front legs, so the other elephants would not step on me, and I drank the milk my mother gave me, for my teeth were not yet ready for me to chew roots, leaves and grass."
"Tell us something that happened!" begged Chako, "and make it exciting, so we will forget about the heat!"
"Well," said Umboo, "I'll tell you of a terrible fright we had, and how--"
But just then something else happened. Into the tent came running one of the circus men, and he cried to another, who was asleep on some hay near the elephants.
"Come! Loosen Umboo! We need him to help us get one of the wagons out of the mud! Bring Umboo, the strongest of all elephants!"
ON THE MARCH
Umboo, the big circus elephant, was unchained from the stake in the circus tent to which he was made fast, and led out by one of the men.
"Oh, where are you going?" asked Horni, the rhinoceros, who had been taking a little doze, and who woke up, just as the men came in. "I thought I heard some one say you were going to tell a story, Umboo," spoke the rhinoceros.
"I was going to, and I started it," the elephant answered, "but now I must go out and help push a wagon loose from where it is stuck in the mud. I'll be back pretty soon, for it is no trouble at all for me to push even a big circus wagon."
"Yes, you are very strong," said Chako, the monkey. "Well, don't forget to come back and tell us about the jungle. That will make us forget the heat."
"Come, Umboo!" called one of the men, as he loosed the heavy elephant chains. "You must help us with the wagon."
Out of the circus tent walked the big elephant. He could understand some of the things the circus men said to him, just as your dog can understand you, when you call:
"Come here, Jack!" Then he runs to you, wagging his tail. But if you say:
"Go on home, Jack!"
How his tail droops, and how sadly your dog looks at you, even though you know it is best for him to go back, and not, perhaps, go to school with you, like Mary's little lamb.
So, in much the same way, Umboo knew what the men wanted of him. He was led across the circus lot, outside the big, white tent, that was gay with many-colored flags, and as Umboo swayed along, some boys, who were watching for what they might see, caught sight of the great elephant.
"Hey, Jim! Here's one of the big ones!" shouted one boy.
"Maybe he's going to take a drink out of the canal," said another.
"Maybe they're going to give him a swim," spoke a third boy.
But the men had something else for Umboo to do just then. They led him to where one of the big wagons, covered with red and gold paint, and shiny with pieces of looking glass, was stuck fast in the mud on a hill. For it had rained the day before the circus came to show in the town, and the ground was soft.
"Now, Umboo!" called the circus man, who was really one of the elephant keepers, and who gave them food and water, "now, Umboo, let us see if you can get this wagon out of the mud, as you did once before. The horses can not pull it, but you are stronger than many horses."
The horses, with red plumes on their heads, were still hitched to the wagon. There were eight of them, but they had pulled and pulled, and still the wagon was stuck in the mud.
"Are you going to help us, Umboo?" asked one of the horses who knew the elephant, for the circus animals can talk among themselves, just as you boys and girls do. "Are you going to help us?"
"I am going to try," Umboo answered. "You look tired, horsies! Take a little rest now, while I look and see which is the best way to push. Then, when I blow through my nose like a trumpet horn, you pull and I'll push, and we'll have the wagon out of the mud very soon!"
Umboo was led up to the back of the wagon. He looked at where the wheels were sunk away down in the soft ground, and then, being the strongest and most wise of all the beasts of the world, the elephant put his big, broad head against the wagon.
"Now, then, horsies! Pull!" he cried, trumpeting through his trunk, which was hollow like a hose. "Pull, horsies!"
The horses pulled and Umboo, the elephant, pushed, and soon the wagon was out on firm, hard ground.
"That's good!" cried the circus man. "I knew Umboo could do it!"
Then he gave the elephant a sweet bun, which he had saved for him, and back to the tent went Umboo.
"Now, please go on with your story!" begged Chako. "Tell us what happened in the jungle."
"I will," said Umboo, and this is the story he told. Umboo was only one of a number of baby elephants that lived with their fathers and mothers in the deep, green jungles of India. Not like the other jungle
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