Written by Laura Lee Hope.
“Oh, how large he is!”
“Isn’t he? And such wonderfully strong legs!”
“See his trunk, too! Isn’t it cute! And he is well stuffed! This is really one of the best toys that ever came into our shop, Geraldine; don’t you think so?”
“Yes, Angelina. I must call father to come and look at him. He will make a lovely present for some boy or girl—I mean this Stuffed Elephant will make a lovely present, not our father!” said Miss Angelina Mugg as she smiled at her sister across the big packing box of toys they were opening in their father’s store.
“Oh, no! Of course we wouldn’t want father to be given away as a toy!” laughed Geraldine. “But this Stuffed Elephant—oh, I just love him!”
Miss Geraldine Mugg caught up the rather large toy animal and hugged it tightly in her arms.
“Be careful!” called her sister. “You might break him!”
“Oh, he’s just a Stuffed Elephant!” laughed Geraldine. “I mean he hasn’t any works inside him to wind up. He’s just full of cotton! But I am beginning to like him more than I care for some of the toys that do wind up. I almost wish I were small again, so I could have this Elephant for myself!”
“He is nice,” admitted Angelina.
“Well, I’m glad they like me,” thought the Stuffed Elephant to himself, for just now he was not allowed to speak out loud or move around, as the Make Believe toys could do at certain times. But these times were when no eyes of boys, girls, men or women were looking.
It was mainly at night, after the store was closed for the day, that the toys had their fun—talking to one another, moving about, doing tricks, and the like of that. Now all that the Stuffed Elephant could do was to stand on his four sturdy legs, with his tail on one end, and his trunk, almost like a second tail, at the other end of his body.
He had two white tusks sticking out on either side of his trunk, and at first you might have thought these tusks were toothpicks. But they were not. An elephant’s tusks are really teeth, grown extra long so he can dig up the roots of trees with the plants on which he feeds.
But a Stuffed Elephant doesn’t dig with his tusks, of course. He never has to eat, being already stuffed, you know. And the Elephant in this story was well stuffed with cotton.
“I am sure this Elephant is going to be one of our very nicest toys,” went on Miss Geraldine Mugg, as she lifted more playthings from the big box that had come from the workshop.
“Yes, I wish we had more like him,” added Miss Angelina.
The two girls helped their father, Mr. Horatio Mugg, in his toy store. It was a delightful place for children, and many boys and girls would have been glad to stay all day in the “Mugg Toy Shop,” as the big sign out front named the place.
“Well, here are some more of those Waving Cats,” went on Miss Geraldine, as she lifted some white cats from the box.
“Oh, aren’t they darling!” exclaimed her sister. “Do you remember the first one we had?”
“Indeed I do! It was bought for a little girl named Jennie. Only she told me, only the other day, that her Waving Cat had had so many adventures!”
“The dear child! The children, I believe, really think their toys are alive, and can move about!”
“Of course we can, only you don’t know it, and you never see us!” whispered the Stuffed Elephant to himself.
And then he winked one eye at a Waving Cat—an eye that neither Angelina nor Geraldine saw blinking. Gracious! how surprised the two girls would have been to see a Stuffed Elephant winking one eye at a Waving Cat.
But stranger things than that are going to happen, I promise you!
“Be careful, Geraldine! Be careful!” suddenly cried Angelina, as her sister arose from stooping over the box, and started toward the shelves with an armful of toys.
“What’s the matter?”
“Why, you nearly stepped on the Stuffed Elephant!”
“Oh, I’m glad that it didn’t really happen! We have only one toy like him, and it would never do to have him crushed out of shape before he is sold. I forgot that we left him standing on the floor. Gracious, but he is a big fellow!” she exclaimed.
“I’ll lift him up on the shelf,” Angelina said.
She picked up the Stuffed Elephant. Really he was one of the largest toys that had ever come from the workshop. And he was a very finely made toy, only the best cotton and cloth had been used.
“Does he squeak?” asked Geraldine, as she saw her sister set him on a broad shelf.
“Squeak? Goodness, of course not! What made you think that?”
“Well, some of the toy animals have a squeaker inside of them, and make a noise when you press it. I was thinking perhaps the elephant had a squeaker.”
“No. If he had anything he would have a sort of trumpet in him,” said Angelina. “Real elephants make a trumpeting noise through their trunks, but of course a stuffed one can’t!”
“Oh, ho! You just wait until it gets dark and this toy shop is closed!” whispered the Stuffed Elephant to himself. “Then I’ll show you whether I can trumpet or not. Though I forgot. I can’t show you nor let you hear, it isn’t allowed. But after the store is closed we’ll have some fun!”
Toy after toy was taken from the big packing box. There were Sawdust Dolls, Candy Rabbits, Tin Soldiers, Plush Bears and a Monkey.
As the toys were taken out of the box they were placed on the shelves in Mr. Mugg’s store. This was in a back room, for the toys had yet to be sorted and looked over, to make sure each one was all right, before they were put in the front part of the store to be sold.
Mr. Mugg had a large fine store. And, having a large store, Mr. Mugg bought larger things, such as the Stuffed Elephant.
Finally all the new toys were taken from the box and placed around on the shelves. While Angelina and Geraldine had been doing this, their father was in the front part of the store, waiting on customers. After a bit, when it grew dark outside, and the lights were lit inside the store, Mr. Mugg locked the front door and came back into the back room.
“I think we have worked enough for to-day,” the toy man told his daughters. “We will wait until tomorrow before looking over the new things and marking prices on them. I am tired and want to go to bed.”
“Good!” thought the Stuffed Elephant. “That is, I’m not glad Mr. Mugg is tired,” he went on, in his thoughts; “but I am glad he is going to bed so I can move about and talk to some of my toy friends. It’s been no fun to be shut up in that box ever since I came from the workshop.”
A little while later the store was in darkness, except for a small light burning near the back.
“Hello, everybody!” suddenly called the Stuffed Elephant, waving his trunk around in the air. “How are you all?”
“Who is that speaking?” asked a Nodding Donkey, a toy whose head kept moving all the while, as if it was fastened on a pivot.
“A new chap—a Stuffed Elephant,” answered a Jumping Jack, who wore a blue and yellow cap.
“A Stuffed Elephant! Let me see him! I never heard of such a creature!” brayed the Nodding Donkey, and he slid along the shelf to get a better look.
For it was the mystic hour when the Make Believe toys could pretend to be alive—when they could move about and talk.
“Here I am, right over here!” trumpeted the Stuffed Elephant, and if Miss Geraldine and Miss Angelina, or even Mr. Mugg, could have heard him they would have been very much surprised.
“Oh, you have two tails!” cried the Nodding Donkey.
“No, only one,” said the Stuffed Elephant. “The other is my trunk. It really is a long nose, but it is called a trunk.”
“Is there anything inside it?” asked a Calico Clown.
“Nothing but air—I breathe through my trunk,” the Stuffed Elephant answered. “But I, myself, am filled with the very best cotton, lots and lots of it! Have you cotton inside you?” he asked the Donkey.
“No, I’m wood clear through,” was the reply. “But as long as you are a new toy, let me welcome you among us. We are glad to see you. What is the latest news from the workshop?”
“Well, let me see. So many things happen there that I hardly know where to start to tell you about them,” replied the Stuffed Elephant. “In the first place——”
“I’m stuffed, too!” suddenly interrupted a high, squeaky voice. “Only I’m stuffed with sawdust. Here over here, I am here!”
“Yes, Miss Sawdust Doll, we see you,” brayed the Nodding Donkey. “But please don’t interrupt the Stuffed Elephant. He is going to tell us about the workshop, and I want to hear, as it has been some time since I came from the workshop.”
“Well, I can tell you as well as that Stuffed Elephant can,” went on the squeaky Sawdust Doll. “I came from the workshop in the same box with him.”
“You’re not the first Sawdust Doll, though. She was bought by a little girl named Dorothy, I’ve heard said,” remarked a rubber dog.
“Yes, that’s right,” said the Nodding Donkey. “And her brother Richard had a White Rocking Horse. But as long as the Stuffed Elephant kindly offered first to tell us the latest news from the workshop, I think it would be only polite to let him finish.”
“Oh, of course—yes!” squeaked the new Sawdust Doll.
“Well,” began the creature with the trunk and tusks, “I think I will tell you——”
But just then there was a whirring noise at the end of the shelf, and a little voice cried:
“Oh, save me, somebody! Please save me! I’m wound up too tight, and my wheels are running away with me! I’ll run to the edge of the shelf and fall off! Save me, somebody, please!”
A Rolling Mouse, that could run across the room on wheels when wound up, dashed along the toy shelf. As she had said, she was in danger of falling off. Straight toward the Stuffed Elephant ran the Rolling Mouse, squeaking in fright.
“I’ll save you! I’ll save you!” trumpeted the big toy. “Don’t be afraid, Miss Mouse! I’ll save you!”
He uncoiled his long nose of a trunk, stretched it out, and reached toward the Rolling Mouse.