Grey Skin's Adventures by Unknown

But for an undue affection on my part for fruit of all kinds, you would probably never have heard my story; for I might possibly have been free, and the happiest lives, they say, are those which have no history.

What happy times we had in that far-away land over the seas—the gambols and the pranks we played! I was always fond of freedom, in fact I loved it beyond anything, and it was this that first led me into misfortune.

I disobeyed my good old mother, by going beyond the bounds appointed, and through this I was brought into captivity. An elephant-hunter caught me, almost before I knew where I was, and then, good-bye to freedom!

I was shipped on board a huge vessel. What a voyage it was to be sure! I trumpeted for hours in misery. Once I felt certain I was going to the bottom, but my fears were unfounded, for we reached England in perfect safety, none the worse for our stormy experiences. Shortly after landing, I was dispatched to my new home.

I should not have minded so much if I had been sent to the Zoo, for I hear some of the elephants there have fine times and are treated like royalty. But I was bought by a circus company. Fancy, taking me to a common thing like a circus! At first I moped; who would not, under such trying circumstances? By degrees, however, I got used to my surroundings, and learned to do all sorts of clever things. I was young and teachable, so they said. I could stand on a tub, sit at a table and dine, ring the bell for the waiter to come and clear away, after which I would eat my dessert with the air of a gentleman.

In fact, I was 'The Children's Delight,' 'The Elephant Extraordinary,' and 'The Marvel of the World.' That is what they said on the circus-bills! I used to feel proud, at times, of all the praise which was bestowed upon me, and gave myself airs. You see, it is not everybody who is 'The Marvel of the World.'

However, praise alone did not satisfy me for very long. Freedom was what I wanted, and one day, to my delight, freedom was what I managed to get.

And didn't I enjoy myself!

Never mind how I accomplished it; let me say simply that I eluded my keeper and got into a sort of forest (I suppose it was a country wood), and there I stayed all night, laughing in my trunk to think what a panic the circus company would be in. If only I could have made my way to some seaport town, and have been shipped off home again, I would gladly have endured the roughest voyage to be once more in my own dear native land.

Towards morning I got weary of my loneliness, and hungry too, I must admit. Feeling a bit more courageous than when I first escaped, I decided to take a walk, and I found my way into an adjoining town. Here it was, alas! that I came to grief.

I met a baker's boy on the road with a basket of rolls. I gobbled up every one, and so partly satisfied my hunger.

The boy was dreadfully scared. Had I not been so busy with my breakfast, I should have been quite anxious about him. For a few seconds he stood open-mouthed with fear; then he flew like the wind. What for, I did not know, for I had no intention of doing him any harm. All I wanted was his rolls.

Of course, after having appeased my hunger, I ought to have made my way back to the woods again. I realise this now.

But I saw, not far off, a greengrocer's shop, and the things there displayed were enough to tempt any one's appetite, I simply could not resist them. I broke the window, and upset the fruit over the pavement. What a feast I had to be sure! The people in the shop were afraid to interrupt me, so I had it all to myself. Two basketsful I demolished, and was prepared to attack a third, when suddenly, to my horror, I was caught.

My keeper, with two or three other men, who were helping in the search, happened to see me in the middle of my feast, and then—well, here I am, again in captivity.

I said I liked fruit. Yes, but that is a thing of the past, now.

I have pretty well settled down again to my life as 'The Children's Delight,' and 'The Elephant Extraordinary,' although at times I still yearn for the freedom of the forest. But this one lesson I have learnt—that if you cannot get the things you want, the wisest plan is to make the very best of the things you have.