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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Clean Elephant

While all the other elephants soaked in the muddy rivers, James sat in the tall savannah grasses watching butterflies and the wind blowing through the baobab trees. “I don’t understand why those elephants want to get dirty! How horrifying!”

James never sat in the grass without first brushing all the dust off every leaf. He shook the trees to make sure no dead leaves would fall on him. Before he ate his meals, he made sure no sand could possibly blow on his food.

One morning the sky filled with dark clouds. They grew blacker with each passing moment. When the first raindrop fell James made sure he ran for cover under the ledge of a huge boulder. At first the drops came now and then, but they soon pelted down, turning the dirt to a muddy brown paste.

“This will not do. How will I get home? I can’t possibly walk through this muck. How disgusting!”  James moved further back against the stone wall, trying to protect his feet from the approaching mud.

The rain kept falling. Soon the water swirled around James’s trunk-like legs. “I must get out of here. I just cleaned my toenails this morning.” He stepped into the open and bumped right into a giraffe. All the jungle animals headed up the hill. When James saw the river overflowing, he knew he needed to follow them.

All day and night the animals huddled together, fearful that the floodwaters would rise and drown them all. James lifted his big ears so some of the smaller animals could hide under them and be protected from the downpour.

The next morning the rain stopped. Inch by inch the water receded, leaving mud in its path. James’s hide was coated with dark brown filth. It clung to his legs, his bottom, his tummy and his trunk. He itched so badly that he rubbed himself against a tree trunk, trying to scrape the dried dirt off. “I can’t stand this. I hate having mud all over my skin!”

He avoided the mud as much as possible, staying on clumps of grass and rocks. “The waterfall! I’ll go there and wash myself off.”  On the way there James watched other animals pass. He could hardly tell what sort of animal they were because they were completely covered with the mud. “Disgusting creatures, though I suppose I look as bad.”

The waterfalls pummeled over the top of the cliff, forming a pool of clear water. James stepped into the pond and then stood right under the waterfall. The mud washed off his body and floated away. “Ah, that’s much better! I’m clean again.” He was about to step out from the waterfall when a river of mud came pouring over him. “Yikes! The waterfall’s turned to mud.” He rushed out and stood on the banks. “Sigh! I guess I’ll have to stay muddy one more day.”

James headed back to the river and saw all the other animals splashing about. “Come in James,” shouted a rhinoceros.

The rhino looked quite clean.

“Maybe I will join you.” James ran into the water. The coated mud washed away. He filled his trunk with river water and sprayed it all over the giraffe’s long neck, cleaning it. He sprayed all the other animals too.

From then on James bathed in the river with all the others and didn’t worry so much about being dirty.

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