You remember that Nip, the big dog, had carried away the Stuffed Elephant when Archie set his toy down on the barn floor for a moment. And, coming back, after having gone to look for the nest of a cackling hen, Archie did not find his Elephant awaiting him as he expected to.
“Oh, Elsie!” exclaimed the little boy. “Didn’t I leave my Elephant right here?” and he pointed to the place where he had set it.
“Why, yes, I think you did,” Elsie answered. “I saw you put it there. I was going to leave my Doll there, too, but she isn’t feeling very well, and has a little cold, so I carried her in my arms. I have her here now,” she added, as she held up her toy.
“Well, my Elephant is gone!” exclaimed Archie. “And I know I left it here! Yes, you can see where his feet stood,” he added, as he pointed to some marks in the dust of the barn floor.
Elsie, holding her Doll, stooped down beside her brother and looked at the dust.
“There are lots of marks,” said the little girl. “Your Elephant must have been walking around. Oh, Archie!” she cried, with shining eyes, “maybe he came to life and walked away!”
“Nope! He couldn’t do that!” Archie said. Of course he knew nothing of what the toys did after dark—how they made belief come to life, talked, and had fun among themselves.
“But now I know what has happened!” Archie exclaimed. “I can tell by the marks in the dust.”
“What happened?” asked Elsie.
“Nip has been here,” went on the little boy. “I can tell his paw marks in the dust. It wasn’t my Elephant walking around, it was Nip! And Nip has carried off my Elephant!”
“Oh, just as he did once with my old Rag Doll!” cried Elsie.
“That’s it!” her brother said. “Nip has carried away my Elephant. Come here, Nip! Where are you?” called Archie.
Now Nip was always ready to come when Archie called, for he and the little boy had many good times together, romping and playing tag in the yard. So, when he heard his name called, Nip came running into the barn to where Elsie and Archie were standing.
“Nip!” said Archie sternly, “did you take my Elephant? Did you carry him away?”
Now Nip understood a great deal that was said to him. He knew that he had taken away the Elephant. So, when Archie talked this way, Nip hung his head and put his tail between his legs.
“Nip!” went on Archie, “where is my Stuffed Elephant? Go get it! Bring back my Elephant! Go on, Nip!”
Nip gave a little bark. He sprang up, barked again, louder than before, and off he ran to a dim and distant part of the barn.
“Is he going after your Elephant?” asked Elsie.
“I hope so,” her brother answered. “We’ll follow him and see where he goes.”
But Nip ran too fast for the children to follow. Down the stairs, into the dark corner of that part of the barn where the garden tools were kept, ran Nip. He knew he had been found out, and that he must bring back Archie’s Elephant.
So, just as the Shovel, the Rake and the Pick had hurried away to look for the prize, and while the Wheelbarrow, the Hoe and the Lawn Mower were fussing to see why they couldn’t have a chance to win, Nip pounced down on the Elephant, lifted him up, and started back with him to Archie.
“Oh, I’m so glad you came to get me!” said the Elephant. “I was just going to try to find my way back myself, for I have had a most dreadful time trying to settle a dispute among the garden tools. Oh, I never should like to be a Judge!”
Nip did not answer, because he had the Stuffed Elephant in his mouth.
“I hope we are going to be friends, Mr. Nip,” went on the Elephant. “Please don’t carry me away again.”
Nip wanted to say that he wouldn’t but just then Elsie and Archie came running up, and the dog could not talk, nor could the Elephant pretend to be alive, for the eyes of the children were upon them.
“Oh, he has my Elephant!” joyfully cried Archie. “I guess you must have hidden him, Nip, for you knew where to find him! Bring my Elephant here!”
Nip put the Elephant down on the barn floor at Archie’s feet, and then the dog wagged his tail.
“He’s asking you to forgive him,” said Elsie.
“And I will,” promised Archie. “But don’t do it again!” he added, shaking his finger at Nip.
“Woof, woof!” barked the dog, and perhaps that meant he would not.
“Oh, I’m so glad to have my Elephant back!” said Archie, as he began playing with his toy.
“And I’m glad to be back,” thought the Elephant. “That Judge business was a great trial!”
Through the spring and into the summer Archie had fun with his Elephant. Then one day something very exciting happened. Archie was playing out in the backyard, near a little brook, with his Elephant, when along the front road came a music man and a monkey. Archie and his sister ran to hear the music and see the monkey, and Archie left his Elephant in the grass.
Soon after this it began to rain very hard and the children hurried into the house. Going up the steps Archie fell and bumped his head, making his nose bleed, and there was so much excitement for a time that the Elephant was forgotten. He was left out in the storm, and the rain came down harder and harder, making little puddles and tiny brooks in the yard; brooks that flowed into the large one.
“Oh, this is dreadful!” thought the poor Elephant, as the rain pelted down on him. “Of course if I was real I wouldn’t mind the rain, for real Elephants like water. But I’m getting soaking wet! It’s beginning to come through my stuffing. I’m feeling like a sponge!
“Oh, why doesn’t Archie come and get me, or at least give me an umbrella! I think I’ll try to walk under a toadstool to keep out of the wet. If I can only find one large enough.”
As no one was watching him, the Elephant had a chance to move about and make belief come to life. But he had waited too long. The rain had soaked into his cotton stuffing making him so heavy that now he could not move.
“Oh no, what is going to happen?” he thought.
He tried to lift first one leg, then another, but it was hard work. The water was beginning to rise around him. His feet were in mud puddles. He struggled hard to pull them out, and then, all at once, he lurched to one side, and fell over flat—right into a pool of water!
Down pelted more and more rain, harder and harder, until the backyard, where Archie had been playing with the Stuffed Elephant, was almost a little lake of water. The puddle rose higher and higher around the Stuffed Elephant as he lay on his side, unable to move because he was so soaked with water—like a sponge.
Inside the house where Archie lived there was trouble, because the little boy was hurt worse in his fall than was at first supposed. They had to send for the doctor, and of course no one thought of the poor Elephant.
“I’m glad I’m not out in this rain with my Doll,” said Elsie, as she sat at the window after the doctor had gone.
“Yes, it is a regular flood,” said Mother, sadly thinking of her little boy.
And still no one thought of the Elephant out in all the storm.
If Elsie remembered anything at all, she probably thought that Archie had brought his Elephant into the house. As for Archie, the doctor had given him something to make him sleep, and the little boy was too sick to even dream of his Stuffed Elephant.
As for the Elephant; well, he was in a sad state! The wet cotton stuffing inside him was cold and clammy. His trunk was like a wet piece of paper, and he feared his wooden tusks would come out, if the glue that held them in got too wet.
“Oh, dear! What am I to do?” thought the poor toy.
Now it happened that Jeff, a neighborhood boy, lived not far from Archie’s home. And about this time Jeff’s mother sent him to the store.
“Do I have to go to the store in this rain?” asked the little boy.
“You sure do!” replied his mother. “You aren’t made of sugar so you won’t melt. Put on your old coat and go to the store, please!”
So Jeff went. He took a “short cut” which led across the Dunn’s back yard, and Jeff passed the place where the poor Elephant lay in a puddle of water.
“Oh, man!” cried Jeff, laughing. “I found a toy, YIPEE! I know just what I’m going to do. I’ll put this Elephant on a board until I come back from the store. Then I’ll take him home with me!”
Jeff looked around until he found a flat board, large enough to hold the elephant. Putting the toy on this board, Jeff laid it to one side, and ran on to the store.
But Jeff was not to have that Elephant. While he was at the store the rain came down harder than ever, making so much water that the little brook in Archie’s back yard rose higher and higher.
The brook rose so high that the water reached the board on which the limp and soaking Elephant was lying on his side. And then the water lifted up the board, Elephant and all, and floated them down stream.
“Oh, my!” thought the poor Stuffed Elephant. “This is the last of me! I am going on a long voyage! I shall never see Archie again!”
Down the stream he floated on the board which was like a boat. Once a fish poked his head out of the water and called:
“Who are you and where are you going?”
Before the Elephant could answer the swift current had carried him farther downstream and away from the fish.
Once the board with the Elephant on it bumped against a big Water Rat.
“Be careful who you’re bumping!” snarled the Rat.
“Excuse me,” replied the Elephant. “I didn’t mean to.”
The Rat tried to grab the Elephant’s trunk, but again the swift current carried the boat downstream.
Finally the rain stopped, after a day or so, but by that time the Elephant had been carried a long way down the brook, at last coming to a stop when the board was caught in the roots of an overhanging tree. By now the Elephant was almost glued fast to the board, he was so wet.
The rain stopped, the brook went down, the sun came out, and the Elephant dried. But he still lay on the board, on the bank of the stream, under the roots of the tree.
A man, who happened to be passing, saw the Elephant, picked him off the board, and, seeing that he was an expensive toy, took the plaything to his home.
“What a fine Elephant!” said the man’s wife. “I’ll put him on the mantel, over the stove, so he’ll dry out more. Some child lost this. I wish I could find out who owned this Elephant.”
“I wish so, myself,” thought the Elephant. “Oh, shall I ever get back to Archie?”
It was a day or so after the big storm that Archie was able to be up and around, and the first thing he thought of, when he could go outdoors, was his Elephant.
“Oh, where is he?” cried the little boy. “I remember I left him in the yard when we heard the music man and ran to see the monkey. And then it rained and I fell down and bumped my nose. Oh, where is my Elephant?”
“If you left him out here in the yard I’m afraid the Elephant may have floated away,” said Mrs. Dunn. “The brook rose very high—almost up to our back steps—and it probably carried your Elephant away.”
“Oh, no. Will I ever get him back?” cried Archie, feeling sad.
“I don’t know,” his mother answered.
Archie felt so upset about his toy that his father put an ad in the paper, asking whoever found the Elephant to please bring him back and get a reward.
The man who had taken the Elephant home read the paper, and he saw the ad Mr. Dunn put in.
“There!” called the man to his wife. “Now I know where that Elephant belongs. I’ll take him back to the little boy.”
“Well, he’s good and dry,” said his wife. “I mean the Elephant is good and dry. He’s almost as good as new.” And, in fact, the Elephant was, for she had brushed off all the mud, and the heat had dried out the water.
Carrying the Stuffed Elephant, the man who had found the toy took it to Archie’s house.
“Oh, here he is! My Stuffed Elephant! He’s come back to me! Oh, how glad I am!” cried Archie, as he clasped the Stuffed Elephant in his arms. “Oh, how glad I am!”
“And I’m glad, too!” thought the Elephant. “I feared I would never see Archie and Elsie again! And I’m even glad to see Nip!” for the dog came to the door, wagging his tail.
Once again there was happiness in the Dunn house, for the lost Elephant was back.