Written by Laura Lee Hope.
Banging, puffing, and grinding noises sounded all about the Stuffed Elephant. Around him swirled the white flakes of snow, but he could hardly see them, for part of his head, part of his trunk, and one eye were stuck in the snowdrift.
Mr. Dunn’s car had lurched to one side as Archie’s father tried to send it through a big, white drift. And the noise was made by the motor, or engine, of the car, working its best to force the car ahead. The glass window of the automobile had broken as it tipped to one side, a piece of ice flying through.
And it was through the broken window that the Stuffed Elephant had been tossed, right out into a snowdrift!
“Oh, but it’s so cold! So cold!” said the Elephant, shivering.
Of course it was cold at the workshop, and there was more snow and ice than near Archie’s home. But there the Elephant had been inside the warm shop, just as he had been kept in the warm toy store, and, until a few minutes ago, in the warm car.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to back up and go around another way,” said Mr. Dunn, after a while. “I can’t make my car go through that snowdrift. No use in trying! I’ll upset if I do! What, one of the windows is broken, too! I’m sorry about that, but I can go on with a broken window, which I couldn’t do if I had a broken wheel. And I guess the toys won’t catch a cold. Yes, I must back up and go home by another road.”
Starting the car slowly, Mr. Dunn backed it out of the drift. The front wheels and the radiator, where the water is, were covered with masses of white flakes, but aside from the broken window no damage had been done.
“I’d better hurry home, too,” said Mr. Dunn, talking to himself, a way some jolly men have. “It’s snowing worse, and I don’t want to be kept out here all night. I want to get back with the presents. Archie will surely like that Stuffed Elephant.”
And then, never thinking that the Elephant had been tossed out of the broken window into a bank of snow, Mr. Dunn started his car off on another road, leaving the poor Elephant stuck in the drift.
“Oh, this is dreadful! Terrible!” thought the Elephant. “I am so cold! I want to have adventures, but none like this! What shall I do?”
If the Elephant had only been allowed to come to life and call out when Mr. Dunn was around all would have been well. For, though Archie’s father might have been surprised at hearing a toy speak, he never would have gone away and left it in the snow.
But the toy Elephant did not dare call out, though, now that no one could see him, he pretended to come to life and began to struggle to get out of the snow. It was getting dark, and growing colder, and even a toy Elephant does not like to be left all night in a snowdrift.
“Oh, if only I can pull my trunk out and get the snow from my left eye, maybe I can see which path Mr. Dunn took and follow him home,” thought the Elephant. “I don’t want to stay here alone! It is dark, and no human eyes can see me moving. I must get out!”
He struggled and wiggled, but he seemed to be sinking deeper into the snow instead of getting out. Down, down, down into the white flakes sank the poor Stuffed Elephant, farther and farther, down—down—down——
Knowing nothing of having lost the fine new Elephant out of his car, Mr. Dunn went along an easier road, where there were not so many drifts. He was driving past a garage when a man outside called:
“Hey, mister! Your car door is open!”
“I guess you mean the window is broken, don’t you?” asked Archie’s father. “I know about that, thank you. I ran into a drift.”
“No, your door is wide open, and is swinging to and fro,” the garage man went on. “It may bang against something and break off. Wait a minute and I’ll close it for you.”
Mr. Dunn had slowed his car as the man called to him, and now he brought it to a stop.
“So the door is open, is it?” Mr. Dunn asked. “Well, that’s too bad. I didn’t know about that. It must have come open after the glass was broken. And if the door is open some of the things may have fallen out. I’d better get out and take a look.”
And no sooner had Mr. Dunn looked within the car than he cried:
“The Elephant is gone!”
“Elephant!” exclaimed the garage man. “Elephant?”
“Surely! An Elephant I was taking home to my boy Archie,” went on Mr. Dunn. “I had the Elephant in the car and——”
“Oh, my!” cried the garage man, backing away, and nearly falling into a snowdrift himself. “Do you mean to tell me you had an elephant in that car?”
“Oh, I see what you’re thinking of! You mean a real elephant, and I’m speaking of a Stuffed Elephant that I bought in the toy store. It’s a toy Elephant that is lost,” Mr. Dunn explained.
“Oh, that’s different!” laughed the man. “I was wondering how a real elephant could get inside your car—unless he was a baby one.”
“No, this was a toy one,” said Mr. Dunn. “And I think I know where he must have slipped out—back at the big drift where I broke the glass of the door, trying to smash my way through. I’ll go back there and see if I can find Archie’s present.”
Back through the storm drove Mr. Dunn. The snow was coming down thicker and faster, and the wind was piling it into more drifts. It was dark, too, but the headlights on the car made the road bright enough, especially on account of the white snow, for Mr. Dunn to see his way.
Soon he was back again at the same drift which had made him turn around and take another road.
“Now to find that Elephant,” said Mr. Dunn.
All this time the Stuffed Elephant had been trying to wiggle out of the snowdrift. But, not being used to such work, he was not having very good luck. The snow was soft, and the more he wiggled the deeper in he sank.
“Oh, dear!” sighed the poor Elephant. “What am I going to do? The snowflakes are getting in my trunk! And they tickle me and make me want to sneeze. It’s no fun to be in a snowdrift. I used to like to look at them through the window in the workshop, but they’re prettier to look at than to be in.
“If only a lot of the Nodding Donkeys and four or five of the White Rocking Horses were here now, they could pull me out of this drift,” went the Elephant. “But they aren’t here, and I’ll have to help myself. I wonder if I gave a trumpet or two through my trunk whether that would do any good?”
He was just about to try it when, all at once, he heard a noise.
“That sounds like a car,” thought the Elephant. “I don’t dare move or trumpet if any real people are around. I’ll have to stay quiet and then—oh, then I’ll sink deeper into the snow!”
Just then a man’s voice said:
“It was right here I ran into the drift. The Elephant must be here somewheres.”
Dazzling lights shone in the Elephant’s one eye that was not in the drift. He saw a big car come to a stop just on the other side of the snowdrift. And Mr. Dunn jumped out.
“Oh, now I’ll be alright, I guess!” joyfully thought the poor Elephant.
Mr. Dunn stalked through the snow, until he was close to the drift. The headlights on the car made it almost as bright as if the moon had shone.
“Ah, there he is!” cried Archie’s father.
A moment later he caught hold of the Elephant and pulled him from the drift.
“Here’s Archie’s Elephant!” exclaimed Mr. Dunn. “Not hurt a bit! Only some snow on him, but that will brush off. I’m glad that man at the garage saw my open door, or I’d never have known I had lost the Elephant. Now for home!”
A moment later the Elephant was put back into the car with the other toys.
“I’ll cover them with a blanket to keep the snow from blowing in on them through the broken window,” said Mr. Dunn to himself. The Elephant was glad for this, for he felt very cold.
Then Mr. Dunn started the auto, and it was so warm and cozy under the blanket that the Elephant almost fell asleep. He wanted to talk to the other toys, and tell them what had happened, but he did not dare do this with Mr. Dunn on the front seat.
At last the car turned into the drive of a nice country place. Mr. Dunn tooted the horn, a door of the house opened, letting out a stream of light, and a boy’s voice cried:
“You’re late, Daddy!”
“Yes, I ran into a snowdrift. But now listen to me, Archie! You go inside and keep out of the way until I bring in some things.”
“Oh, Daddy! What are you going to bring in?” cried a small boy.
“Never mind now. They aren’t for you to see—just yet. Besides, they are covered with snow, for some came in through the broken window, and I don’t want you to catch a cold. Go hide yourself, Archie, until I call you to come.”
Archie laughed and went into another room, away from the front hall, and then Mr. Dunn carried in all the bundles, including the Stuffed Elephant, which was not closely wrapped in paper, as were some of the others.
“Oh! For Archie!” whispered Mrs. Dunn.
“Sh!” cautioned her husband. “He might hear! I’ll take the things up to the attic to stay there until it’s time to give them to Archie.”
So the Elephant was carried up to the attic. It was a strange, old, dusty place, and when the Elephant had been put on the floor, with some other toys, Mr. Dunn went downstairs and closed the door.
At first the Elephant did not know where he was. But he soon saw the moonlight streaming in through a window, and he noticed the other toys around him.
“Hello, there! Who are you?” asked a creaking voice, and near the Elephant a big wheel of wood began slowly turning. “Anybody want a ride?” asked the Wheel. “I’m a spinner, I am, and I’m making believe I’m a Merry-Go-Round! Anyone want a ride?”
“Dear me! What a strange place an attic is,” thought the Stuffed Elephant. “It isn’t as nice as the toy shop, but still maybe I can have some fun. I wonder if I could ride on that wheel? I’m afraid I’m too big. But I could try. I may never have another chance, and——”
But before the Elephant could ask the Spinning Wheel how to get on, all at once there was a banging noise in one corner of the attic, and a voice cried:
“Make way! Stand aside! Here I come!”
“My! I wonder who this is. Not a Lion I hope,” thought the Elephant.