Mr. Jackson and his African friend, Joey, raised their heads with a jerk, then stood motionless and tense. Around them the people of the jungle paused momentarily and listened too.
The whole atmosphere seemed full of a terrifying sound, steadily approaching, a cross between a roar of rage and a cry of pain.
Before either man could decide which way to run, a giant bull elephant thundered into the clearing. Protruding from his thigh were two arrows. The great beast’s piglike eyes were dilated with terror; his ears lay back against his head like two large maps of India.
Desperate with pain, he did not know how to shake those searing arrows from his flesh.
Hesitating but a moment, the white man and Joey laid a plan. They would attempt to drive the pain-crazed animal into a small gulley not far from the house and there they would try to take out the arrows.
Suffering seemed to have muddled the elephant’s thinking, and he easily allowed himself to be driven down the steep incline. With skill and agility, the two men secured him with ropes.
Joey appointed himself to remove the arrows while Mr. Jackson stood in readiness with a gun in case the plan backfired.
The big animal thrashed the air with his powerful trunk feeling, feeling, for the man who, perhaps, was planning to cause him more suffering.
Joey, fully conscious of his danger, darted to the elephant’s side, one eye alert to the malicious trunk. With an artfulness born of lifelong jungle existence, he deftly removed the arrows. Then he loosened the ropes, and with a leap like a leopard’s, sprang back beside his friend.
The elephant paused for a moment, breathing heavily. Then with a loud trumpeting pounded into the jungle.
Some time after this episode, Joey rushed breathlessly to Mr. Jackson and warned him that a band of terrorists was about to attack their house. Grabbing weapons, the household ran to defend themselves.
The terrorists were experienced gunmen and the advantages seemed to be all on their side, even though the defenders put up a gallant fight. Then, just when the outlook was becoming grim and hopeless, new danger threatened. A great thundering sound arose from across the neighboring stream.
To Mr. Jackson’s horror, a herd of elephants broke into view. They charged across the stream right for the village, then paused a moment on the shore. And it seemed to Mr. Jackson that the lead elephant was arranging the beasts into position to attack.
The terrorists were forgotten in the instant of panic. The Jacksons would rather face armed men than a band of destruction-bent elephants.
To the speechless amazement of the onlookers, the lords of the jungle separated into two groups and circled the house. With a great trumpeting of victory, they surged forward–stamping, crushing, destroying. Their target?–the terrorists! And the animals did not stop their onslaught until every terrorist had been put to flight!
Then they gathered–a quiet little army–at the edge of the stream. Their leader stood without moving a muscle–erect, proud, grand.
Joey stepped forward and advanced cautiously toward him. When beast and man met at the water’s edge, there seemed to be a secret understanding between them. Joey caressed the elephant with his chocolate-colored hands while the animal in turn gently touched the boy with his powerful trunk again and again.
Mr. Jackson stood silent with disbelief.
Presently, Joey, dwarfed by the immense companion at his side, walked slowly toward the house.
“Bwana, he wants to meet you,” he stated simply.
And then it was all over. The great bull elephant turned to join his animal followers, and in that instant, Mr. Jackson understood. For on that great, gray thigh he caught sight of two ugly scars!
By Peggy Hewlett
Reprinted from the July 11, 1956, issue of Guide.