The Elephant That Cried "Mouse!"

by Dr. Chordate

The herd of elephants walked lazily about the jungle enjoying a fine, warm day. After an excellent lunch of bananas, they all lay down on some soft grass to take naps.

All except one young elephant that did not feel tired enough to sleep. Since he had no one to play with (all the other young elephants were asleep) he just wandered around for awhile smelling the flowers, looking into hollow trees, and chasing butterflies. And getting bored.

The young elephant sat down to try to think of something more exciting to do. Suddenly, he had a splendid idea! He would play a funny trick on all the other elephants and get a good laugh.

Quietly, he crept back to where the elephants lay sleeping. Then, in his loudest voice, he cried,

"Mouse! Mouse!"

All of the other elephants awoke from their sleep, and with rather amazing speed and agility, jumped high into the snake-infested banana trees where they clung to the branches with all their might. For nothing--absolutely nothing--terrifies an elephant like a mouse.

The young elephant laughed and laughed until he thought his belly would split open. He rolled on the ground holding his sides and gasping for breath.

When the other elephants finally saw that the young elephant had tricked them, for there was no mouse, they climbed down from the banana trees. Since elephants are rather friendly creatures, they soon forgave the young elephant. Then they decided to go down to the river for a drink of water.

The young elephant followed them, congratulating himself on his clever trick. He was so proud of himself that he began to look for another chance to play the same trick.

When all the other elephants had lined up on the bank of the river drinking water, the young elephant came up behind them, and, in his loudest voice, he cried,

"Mouse! Mouse!"

Without thinking, all of the elephants jumped into the crocodile-infested river, crouching down low in the water so that only the tips of their trunks showed and they could still breathe. For nothing--absolutely nothing--terrifies an elephant like a mouse.

The young elephant laughed and laughed until he thought his belly would split open. He rolled on the ground holding his sides and gasping for breath.

At last the other elephants stuck their heads out of the water and saw that the young elephant had tricked them again. For there was no mouse. They blew the water out of their trunks and climbed out of the river. And since elephants are rather friendly and good-natured creatures, they soon forgave the young elephant. Then they decided to go back into the jungle to look for more bananas to eat.

The young elephant followed them. He had never had so much fun in his life, and he looked for another chance to play the same trick.

Suddenly, the young elephant heard a noise behind him. When he turned to look at what made the noise, what did he see?

A real mouse!

The young elephant ran to catch up with the others.

"Mouse! Mouse!"

he cried in his loudest voice.

"Mouse! Mouse!"

But this time the other elephants did not jump and they did not run. "He is just trying to trick us again," they said among themselves. "But we will not fall for that trick this time."

"No, it is a real mouse!"

cried the young elephant.

"It really is a mouse this time!"

But the other elephants did not believe him. They just went on eating their bananas until . . .

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