An Elephant Never Forgets

      

In 1934, the well known explorer and safari leader, Sir Nigel Baines-Pikelet, was leading a hunting party into the jungles of Central Africa.  Apart from the numerous porters, the party consisted of mainly bored, wealthy members of the aristocracy, who had travelled to Africa to shoot endangered species and then discuss their adventures around the campfire over gin and tonics every evening.  Sir Nigel had little time for these people, they did nothing but complain and ridicule the hard working porters, but this was how he made his living, he just hoped that they would develop some appreciation for this beautiful country.

On the afternoon of the third day, after a short but spectacular hike along the banks of the mighty River Zimbongo, Sir Nigel began to hear complaints of tiredness coming from some of the travelling party, so he reluctantly led them into a small clearing and told the porters to set up camp for the night.  The porters removed their huge packs and began to unload camping and cooking equipment and lots of other items deemed absolutely essential to the upper classes when on safari. Such as snuff, copies of the Financial Times, a one hundred piece Royal Dalton dinner service and hundreds of little umbrellas for cocktails.   The camp was soon set up and before long the party were enjoying the tranquillity along with a pre dinner glass of sherry.  Suddenly that tranquillity was shattered by the most terrifying roar any of them had ever heard. Several of them dropped their glasses and dived to the ground in fear, but then, seeing Sir Nigel run into the jungle towards the fearful sound, they grabbed their rifles and followed.

What confronted them was a pathetic sight, a magnificent elephant had become trapped in a mud pool. The more he bravely fought to free himself, the further he sank to his inevitable death. As Sir Nigel looked on, the elephants eyes seemed to stare into his own and plead for assistance. Some of the hunters, sensing an easy target, raised the rifles. Sir Nigel leapt in between them and the huge beast and shouted,  “if any one wants to kill this animal, they will have to shoot me first”. The amazed hunters immediately lowered their weapons. The native porters were ordered to fetch tree branches and ropes. After several hours of digging and tugging, the great elephant suddenly sprang free from his muddy grave. For several moments it stared deeply into Sir Nigel’s eyes, then turned and slowly shuffled off into the jungle…….

SIXTEEN YEARS LATER

Sir Nigel had lived in London for nearly six years now, yet had never visited the zoo. He could not bear to think of animals being confined to cages and areas too small for them. Recently though, he had completed his memoirs, and now had the urge to once more see the great animals he had once lived amongst.

It was an hour into his visit, he had seen the lions, tigers, giraffes and many other animals and was becoming more and more depressed by the cramped conditions they were forced to live in..  Just then, as he was about to return home, he heard a loud roar, which seemed strangely familiar.  Has he rounded the corner, he saw a large crowd had gathered around the elephant enclosure. He noticed a woman screaming for help. When he reached her, he saw there was a eight foot drop beyond the low wall around the enclosure, and when he looked down he saw that a young boy had fallen in.  Without a seconds thought, Sir Nigel climbed over the wall and dropped down to the ground.  Brave, though he was, Sir Nigel was no longer a young man and has he had hit the ground, a tremendous pain had shot up his leg. When he tried to stand, he found he could put no weight upon his ankle. He slowly turned and was relieved that the elephant was nowhere to be seen.  Using the wall he slowly dragged himself to his feet and called the terrified boy to his side. Though in great pain, he somehow lifted the young lad onto his shoulders, and then summoning all his strength, lifted him to the waiting arms of the crowd leaning down from above. Then, overcome by pain, Sir Nigel slumped to the ground to rest for a moment. Suddenly, he once more heard the loud roar, which had initially attracted his attention.  Looking up, he saw that a huge old elephant had emerged from the bushes and was slowly walking towards him. Sir Nigel, once more, slowly dragged himself to his feet and extended his right arm towards the beast, “easy boy” he said calmly. The crowd above watched in disbelief as the elephant came to a halt, and the two adversaries stared into each others eyes for several moments. The elephant gently extended his trunk towards Sir Nigel, then all of a sudden, knocked him to the ground and stamped upon his head, killing him instantly.

It was a different elephant.

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