Written by Laura Lee Hope.
Anxious as the Nodding Donkey was to help his friend the Stuffed Elephant, nothing could be done. For the rope had suddenly been pulled up, taking the Elephant with it. And there he swung, dangling to and fro, the coil of rope getting tighter and tighter, squeezing the poor toy.
“Oh, I know all the stuffing will be squeezed out of me! I just know it will!” sighed the Elephant. “Then I’ll look like a balloon with all the air out of it! Oh dear!”
“Can’t you get yourself loose?” asked the Donkey. “I wish I could climb up and help you, but I can’t.”
“And I’d help you, for I am a good climber, only I can’t get off my stick. I’m fastened on tight just now,” chattered Herbert’s Monkey.
“Well, something will have to be done, if I am to be saved!” called the Elephant, of course not speaking loudly enough for the children, in another part of the barn, to hear.
Archie and his friends were still having fun sliding down the slippery hay, and they were making a great deal of noise. But you know how it is yourself. You often get tired of playing one game and want to go on to another.
It was this way with Archie and his friends. They slid and slid and slid on the hay until they had had enough of it. Then Elsie said:
“Let’s go back and get our playthings. I want to see my Dollie.”
Back to where they had left the toys trooped the children, and Archie, who ran ahead, was just in time to see his Stuffed Elephant swaying on the rope that was squeezing him.
“Oh, look! Look at my Elephant!” cried Archie. “He’s stuck in a rope! Oh, Oh, dear!”
“Run and grab him down! Pull him down!” shouted Joe.
Archie ran, but by this time the rope was pulled up still further and the Elephant was so far above the barn floor that even Herbert, who was taller than Archie, could not reach the plaything.
“Oh, stop!” cried Archie. “Stop squeezing my nice Elephant, Rope!”
Archie’s voice was loud and clear. Suddenly the rope which had been winding up, around the big wheel, came to a stop, and a voice called:
“What’s the matter down there? Are any of you children hurt?”
“Oh, that’s Jake!” exclaimed Elsie. “It’s our friend Jake!”
“What’s the trouble there, Archie?” Jake asked. He was somewhere in the loft of the barn.
“It’s my Elephant!” Archie answered, trying to keep from crying. “My nice, Stuffed Elephant. He’s stuck in a rope!”
“In a rope?” exclaimed Jake. “Do you mean this wheel rope that I use to hoist up bags of oats to the bin here? Is that the rope?”
“I don’t know—but it’s some rope!” Archie answered. “Can’t you save my Elephant?”
“Of course I can!” called Jake. “Don’t worry! Your Elephant isn’t alive—squeezing him with a rope won’t hurt him!”
“Yes, it will, too!” insisted Archie. “It can squeeze all the stuffing out of him and make him flat like a pancake.”
“Well, yes, that might happen,” admitted Jake. “But I didn’t know any of your toys were tangled in the hoisting rope, or I would not have pulled it. Wait a minute, now, and I’ll turn the wheel the other way and let your Elephant down to you.”
Slowly the big wheel turned in the other direction, and the end of the rope that was around the Elephant dropped toward the barn floor. The Elephant, also, began slowly to come down.
“Thank goodness!” said the toy to himself. “I could not have stood being squeezed much longer. I’m glad it’s over!”
And it was over a moment later when Archie could reach up, take the loop of rope from around his plaything and set the Elephant down on the barn floor.
“How did it happen?” asked Jake. He came down out of the loft, or place where he stored the bags of oats. The oats were hauled to the lower floor of the barn. There a rope was put around each bag and it was lifted to the upper floor where it was stored in a bin. The lifting rope went around a big wheel, acting like a dumbwaiter in some houses.
Jake had turned the wheel by pulling on a second rope upstairs in the barn, and as the wheel turned it wound up the longer rope. It was the end of this rope that had looped itself about the Elephant.
“How did it happen?” asked Jake again.
“I don’t know,” Archie replied. “I left my Elephant here when I went to slide down the hay. When I came back he was on the rope.”
“Some of you children must have left the Elephant too near the end of the rope,” said Jake. “When I wound it up the Elephant became tangled in a loop, and of course he was lifted up.”
“No! No! We didn’t leave the Elephant near the rope; did we?” asked Archie of his little friends.
“No!” they all answered.
“Well, that’s strange,” said Jake. “That Elephant never got on the rope by himself, I’m sure.”
But that is just what the Elephant did, as we know.
“Anyhow I’m glad he’s all right now,” said Archie, as he looked carefully at his new toy. “None of the stuffing came out.”
But it might have, if the Elephant had been left squeezed much longer by that rope.
Finding that everything was all right and that none of the children was in danger, Jake went back to the oat bin. There was a long chute, or slide, from the upper bin to a box on the first floor of the barn. And the oats came rushing down this slide when a door in the top bin was opened. This door could be opened by pulling a rope near the horse stalls, and sometimes Archie was allowed to pull the rope, open the door of the large grain bin, and let the oats slide down the chute to the smaller bin on the lower floor.
But this day Jake was putting a new supply of oats in the upper bin, and Archie was not allowed to play near it. The little boy and his friends soon began having more fun with their toys, giving the Clown and smaller dolls rides on the back of the Stuffed Elephant.
And this is how the days passed, and the Elephant lived and was happy in Archie’s home. The Elephant did not often think of Mr. Mugg and his daughters Geraldine and Angelina. He liked it much better in Archie’s house than in the store. Of course the toy store was a jolly place, but no boys or girls were permitted to play with the toys. They were there for sale, and could only be played with after being bought and taken home.
So the Elephant was glad he belonged to Archie, who was a boy that took very good care of his playthings. Nearly every day Joe, Richard or Arnold would come over to see Archie, bringing their playthings, and in this way the Elephant met many friends whom he had adventures with.
And at night, when Archie and Elsie were in bed, of course the Elephant, and the other toys in the Dunn house, had their usual fun. They would make believe come to life and talk and play about in the nursery or in the closet—wherever they happened to be left at the close of the day.
It was still winter, though Archie and Elsie wished spring would come so they might play more often outside. And one rainy day, when it was too cold and stormy to be out, Archie and Elsie went to the big, warm barn to have fun. Archie carried his Elephant and Elsie had her Doll.
“Let’s go upstairs to the grain bins,” suggested Elsie, when they had played about in the hay for a time.
“Maybe Jake will let us open the bin door from up there, and we can watch the oats slide down the chute,” said Archie. “I like to watch the oats slide.”
“So do I,” Elsie admitted. The grain bin was so built that the door of the chute could be opened from above or below.
Up to the upper floor of the barn went the two children, with the Elephant and the Doll.
“Are you here, Jake?” called Archie, but there was no answer.
“I guess he’s not around,” said Elsie.
“I guess not,” replied Archie. “But I don’t think he’d care if I let down some oats. I looked in the lower bin and there’s hardly any there. I’m going to let some down the chute.”
“I’ll watch you,” offered Elsie, as she set her Doll on top of a big oat box.
The cover to the box was open. Archie liked this because he could see the smooth oats go down the wooden chute, or slide, like so much water.
“I will let a lot of oats down,” the little boy said to his sister. He placed his Elephant on the edge of the bin, near the Doll. Then Archie pulled on the handle that opened the door. It was hard work, for the oats pressed against the door. Elsie came to help him, and at last the children managed to get it open.
“There they go!” cried Archie, as the oats began to pour down the chute.
“Yes, and there goes your Elephant!” shouted Elsie. As she spoke, the stuffed toy fell into the oat bin, and, a moment later, the poor guy was pulled into the smooth chute, with the running grain, and the oats closed over his head. Lost to the sight of the children, the Stuffed Elephant was taking a dangerous slide.