THE SILVER ELEPHANT
AN ADVENTURE STORY FOR CHILDREN.
My earliest memory is of a duck pond and a toy sailing ship. I have always loved sailing and the sea. I watched that small ship dancing on the sparkling water.
Then came the mighty roar of a gun, and that ship flew apart into scraps of wood and paper. My uncle came and sat beside me, smoking pistol in hand.
“You got him, Uncle,” I said.
“Only half lad, his vessel, but not his life,” said he.
However, the most distinct memory of my childhood was The Adventure of The Silver Elephant. This was the first time in my eventful youth that I realized that my uncle, his crew and our enemies- the Ninjas- were not like most people.
It began many years ago when Uncle Bloodbeard (yes, that was his real name) took me ‘Out East’. That mysterious part of the world, which he called ‘Out East’ was very hot and very dangerous.
The year was 2013. My uncle and his crew were disappointed that the world had not ended in 2012, and needed a seriously good adventure to cheer them up.
“We’re going Out East, lad,’ Uncle Bloodbeard said.
‘Alright Uncle,’ said I.
In those days, I did as I was told.
‘We’re going to find the Silver Elephant,’ he continued.
‘The greatest treasure on Earth.’
Who could say no to that? We jumped on his ship and set sail.
We could, I guess, have flown on a plane, but my uncle does not live that way. So we sailed. It took several months.
I will never forget the endless jade sea under the turquoise sky, and the blinding sun which pinned us to the deck.. We were Out East.
Before long, the Ninjas attacked.
I was in the Captain’s Cabin, studying maps with my Aunty June. Suddenly, two slim, dark figures smashed through the window.
Aunty June is not a small woman. She simply picked up the two Ninjas and threw them back out again. We heard shouts of alarm and ran up to the deck.
My uncle was fighting one ninja: cutlass against katana. The First Mate, John Jones was hid behind the mast, firing his pistols at a ninja who hid behind a barrel and threw throwing-stars at him.
I did what any sensible young lad would do, and found a good place to watch.
A ninja’s skills are speed and silence. In an open fight, they don’t really stand a chance against us. Soon they had retreated, and only Jones had received a few scratches from a throwing star..
‘You won!’ I called out to my uncle.
‘Only half lad, we took their honour but not their lives,’ He replied.
Then he stopped to think, a rare thing for him to do.
‘This means we must be close to our goal,’ he continued. ‘Look… I see it now, on the port side… Castaway Island.’
I looked and I saw. A large island with palm covered mountains and golden beaches. There were small boats at the dock and larger, exotic looking ships at anchor. I later learnt that they were called Junks… but they looked alright to me.
As we came closer, I saw a big bamboo building. It had a sign that read ‘Castaway Hotel’.
‘Awesome ship man!’
A young man greeted us as we rowed to shore in our boat. He wore a vest and shorts and looked like he had not washed for days.
‘Thanks,’ Bloodbeard replied. ’I stole her myself’.
There were many more young men and women at the beach. Some sat around in the same shorts and vest as the lad who greeted us, some swam in the sea. Castaway island was very popular.
‘How are we going to find the Silver elephant?’ I asked my aunty.
‘We have a map,’ she replied.
She showed me a map of the island and surrounding bay.
‘We are walking to the skull and crossbones, right?’ I asked.
It was a short walk, as the crow flies, but we could not fly. So it was a long walk through the jungle and over the mountain. I had never been so hot as I was in that steaming jungle.
Eventually we reached a beach surrounded by jagged rocks. More unwashed young people sat around drinking from coconuts or swam.
At the end of the beach stood a ride designed by a madman. Or a rollercoaster for a place with no electricity. That is the only way I can describe it. Bamboo poles reached up from a lagoon, five times the height of a man, and supported some sort of giant swing.
‘The elephant is up there,’ Aunty June said. ‘It sings to me.’
I looked puzzled.
‘Fate, lad,’ Bloodbeard explained to me. ‘Go get it, will you?’
I cannot clearly remember what happened next. It was like a crazy dream.Hung above a lagoon of pure blue water was a massive bamboo cage. The cage swung on the tall bamboo frame. Several young people were already riding in it, most of them looked sick and excited at the same time.
It was scary, but not too scary, because the most important thing in life is other people. Everything else is just shadows against a cave wall. I’m lucky because my family taught me that.
So I just climbed up the bamboo ladder, and on to that dangerous ride, and tried my best.
On all fours like an animal, I looked around that bamboo cage. Then down at the strange little fish beneath, then around at the youths who shared the cage. Soon the cage swung and began to rise.
Up and up, it swang above the trees. People cheered, some were sick. I held onto the bars and looked around.
I saw it! A tiny silver elephant hung from the neck of a man who was curled in a ball, passed out, with a bottle of beer in his hand. He rolled around in a corner of the swing cage, not really ill, just sleeping and luckily the silver elephant was dangling free on a silver chain.
It is wrong to steal, and know one likes a thief… but as my uncle always says,’ treasure is treasure.’
That little elephant became mine, and I was wondering what was so special about it… when the Ninja struck.
She swung up from the trees and landed- katana at the ready.
She lept towards me and I dodged aside.
She stabbed at me and I jumped away.
Then the cage began to rock again.
As the floor swung under us, I fell. The Ninja fell on top of me.
With one hand she began to strangle me, with the other she reached for the elephant.
The cage swung again and we fell apart. I rolled out and fell down into the lagoon. As I fell, I lost my grip on the silver elephant.
A moment later, I heard the silver elephant singing to me.
Immediately, I dived down for it..
Through that clear water, past those strange fish, I swam to the elephant. I grasped it, and swam up again.
There was no sign of the Ninja, so I swam to shore where my family were waiting.
It was a pretty little thing, that elephant. It was a bit bigger than my thumb and beautifully carved, but I could not see why it was a ‘Great Treasure.’
‘This is not THE Silver Elephant, lad,’ Uncle bloodbeard explained,’ but it will lead us to the real one.’
Back on ship, Aunty June put the elephant on our map of ‘Out East’ Then she began to sing a slow, sweet song in a language which I did not know.
That little elephant sang back to her with a tiny, silvery voice and started walking across the map. It was- at that time- the strangest thing which I had ever seen..
The elephant did not have far to walk. It soon sat down on an island not far from us, and stopped singing.
‘We’ve got it!’ I shouted.
‘Only half lad,’ my uncle reminded me.
The name of the tiny island where the elephant sat was ‘Monkey Island’. That was where we sailed. Castaway Island did not have real castaways, so I wondered if Monkey Island would have real monkeys.
As soon as we landed on the shore, a family of monkeys ran out of the tree line, showing their fangs and screaming.
My family easily beat them off with the spades they were carrying, but the monkeys were almost as big as me. I was wrestled to the sand. I held it by its neck and kept it at arm’s length. Then a second monkey started scratching and biting at my leg.
Luckily, John Jones came to my rescue. He fired his pistol into the air and scared off the monkeys.
As my aunt bandaged my leg, I looked around the island. It looked about a mile long, was covered in palm trees, and had a steep mountain in the middle. I hoped that my family did not plan to dig up the entire place.
Bloodbeard took the silver elephant out of his pocket and put it down on the sand. As soon as Aunty June sang to it, it started walking and singing. We followed. It had tiny legs, so we followed it, very slowly, for hours.
I hoped that we would find the treasure before the Ninja attacked again.
We followed it up to the top of the mountain, where it stopped singing and sat down. Then we dug.
It did not take long before we hit solid silver. We dug carefully around it.
Down and down we dug. Wider and deeper. Hour after sweaty hour.
Then it was finally there… in a pit, 3 yards deep and 9 yards wide…
A life sized silver elephant.
‘Wow!’ I gasped. ‘The greatest treasure on Earth!’
‘Yes, and we found it,’ Aunty June smiled.
‘Quite an adventure, eh?’ Uncle Bloodleard roared.
‘Aye, but how will we get it back to the ship?’ I asked.
‘What lad?’ Aunty June asked.
‘It must weigh 20 tons, how will we move it?’ said I.
‘Don’t be daft lad, what on earth would I want all that silver for?’ said Bloodbeard.
John and Aunty June laughed.
I could not see the joke.
‘It’s all about the adventure, lad,’ John told me.
‘What? Why did we go all this way? I could have died… Why?’
‘For the adventure,’ said Bloodbeard. ‘The great game. To find the treasure. We got the whole lot, not half! That can never be taken from us,’ said Bloodbeard.
Aunty June and John nodded.
That was that. We went home.
I did not understand my family in those days.
We were different from other people.