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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Elephant Ride

Rajid lived in India with his mama and papa. Rajid loved India. It rained a lot in summer, but it was always green and there were a lot of beautiful buildings. Rajid's mama wore bright-colored dresses that hung to the ground. Her dark hair wrapped around her head like a snake. Rajid's papa went to work each day. He had a friend who was a snake charmer and the man had many cobras. Rajid didn't like cobras. Rajid loved elephants. He wanted to leave the city and go into the country to ride an elephant.

One day his papa took a day off work and they all went into the country on a drive. They stopped in the jungle. "Rajid, my friend is going to let you ride his elephant. It's a big elephant so you must be careful."

Ekalinga came out of the jungle on the back of his elephant. He had a spear and wore a turban on his head. "Hello, Rajid. Your papa says you want a ride on my elephant. Is this true?"

"Oh yes. What is the elephant's name?" Rajid stroked the elephant's trunk.

"His name is Panduranga. Climb up here and sit with me." Ekalinga moved back so Rajid could sit in front of him. "Wave goodbye to your papa and mama and we'll go into the jungle." Ekalinga made the elephant move. It plodded through the jungle.

"This is fun," Rajid said. "Will we see any wild animals?"

"Many," Ekalinga said. "You're not afraid, are you?"

"No. I'm brave."

"Very well." Ekalinga moved along on Panduranga. "Look over there," he said. "There's an Indian rhino."

"Wow! I've never seen one of those before. Look at its horn. It's a big animal, isn't it?"

"Very large, but not as large as my Panduranga. My elephant is very special to me." Ekalinga pointed. "Look over there, Rajid. There's a black buck."

"That's a pretty deer with big horns. I'm sure it can run fast," Rajid said.

"There are some cranes in the river. They eat fish and other river animals," Ekalinga said.

"I like birds. There are some pelicans and ducks and geese. They look gracious when they fly," Rajid said. "A peacock! How beautiful. It's spread it's tail."

"Be very quiet, Rajid." Ekalinga put his fingers to his lips.

"Why?" Rajid whispered.

"Don't make any sound. There is a Bengal tiger behind that tree. If we make noise, it might try to attack us."

"I won't say a word." The elephant walked past. Rajid's gaze was fixed on the tiger. It opened its mouth and showed its teeth. "I'm scared," he whispered. "I don't want a tiger to eat me."

"Do not worry. As long as you don't shout, we'll be all right."

Suddenly the elephant lifted its trunk and let out a loud screech. The tiger jumped up and ran towards them. "Oh no! The tiger is coming. What should we do, Ekalinga?" Rajid cried out in terror.

Panduranga lifted her trunk again and hit the tiger on the nose. The tiger growled and snarled, but then it ran away, back into the jungle. "See, Rajid. There was no reason to be afraid. My Panduranga knows how to take care of herself."

They went back along the path and stopped near Rajid's mama and papa stood. Rajid climbed off the elephant and ran over to them. "Mama! Papa! I saw a tiger!" He told them all about his walk with the elephant and Ekalinga. On the drive home Rajid fell asleep, dreaming about his day in the jungle.

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