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Then the Elephant's Child sat back on his little hind legs, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile held the Elephant's Child's nose, and he also pulled, and pulled, and pulled.

And the Elephant's Child's nose stretched and stretched; and the Elephant's Child spread all his four little legs and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose stretched and stretched; and the Crocodile pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and at each pull the Elephant's Child's nose grew longer and longer.

Then the Elephant's Child felt his legs slipping, and he said through his nose, which was now nearly five feet long, "This is too much for me!"

Then the Black and White Rock-Snake came down from the rock, and he coiled up round the Elephant's Child's hind legs, and said, "Little traveller, let us pull together, because if we do not pull hard enough, the Crocodile will have you for dinner."

So the Black and White Rock-Snake pulled, and the Elephant's Child pulled, and the Crocodile pulled; but the Elephant's Child and the Black and White Rock-Snake pulled harder; and at last the Crocodile let go of the Elephant's Child's nose.

Then the Elephant's Child sat down, and though his nose hurt him badly he did not forget to say "Thank you" to the Black and White Rock-Snake; and then he wrapped his poor pulled nose up in cool banana leaves, and put it into the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River to cool.

"What are you doing that for?" said the Black and White Rock-Snake.

"Excuse me," said the Elephant's Child, "but my nose is too long now, and I am waiting for it to shrink."

"Then you will have to wait a long time," said the Black and White Rock-Snake. "Some people do not know what is good for them."

The Elephant's Child sat there for three days, and though his nose was in the water it did not grow any shorter. Now it looked like a trunk, the same as all Elephants have today.

At the end of the third day a fly came and stung him on the shoulder, and before he knew what he was doing he lifted up his trunk and killed that fly with the end of it.

"Advantage number one!" said the Black and White Rock-Snake. "You could not have done that with your little nose, which was no bigger than a boot. Try and eat a little now."

Before he thought what he was doing the Elephant's Child put out his trunk, picked some grass, and put it into his mouth.

"Advantage number two!" said the Black and White Rock-Snake. "You could not have done that before with your little nose, which was no bigger than a boot. Don't you think the sun is very hot here?"

"It is," said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he was doing he took some mud from the river and put it on his head.

"Advantage number three!" said the Black and White Rock-Snake. "Now tell me, do you want to be spanked again?"

"Excuse me, I do not want it at all," said the Elephant's Child.

"But would you like to spank somebody?" said the Black and White Rock-Snake.

"I would like it very much indeed," said the Elephant's Child.

"Very well," said the Black and White Rock-Snake, "you will find that it is quite easy to spank people with your trunk."

"Thank you," said the Elephant's Child, "I'll remember that; and now I think I'll go home to all my dear family and try."

So the Elephant's Child went home across Africa. When he wanted to eat fruit he just pulled fruit down from a tree, instead of waiting for it to fall, as he used to do. When he wanted grass he just picked it up from the ground, instead of going on his knees as he used to do. When flies bit him he broke off a branch of a tree and whisked the flies away. When the sun was hot he made himself a new cool mud-cap. And once he even spanked a Hippopotamus (though she was not his aunt) to make sure that the Black and White Rock-Snake had spoken the truth about his new trunk.

One dark evening he came back to all his dear family, and he coiled up his trunk and said, "How do you do?" They were very glad to see him, and immediately said, "Come here and we shall spank you for your curiosity."

"No," said the Elephant's Child. "I don't think you know how to do it; but I do, and I'll show you."

And very quickly he knocked down two of his dear brothers with his new trunk.

"Oh!" said they, "where did you learn that trick, and what have you done to your nose?"

"I got a new nose from the Crocodile on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River," said the Elephant's Child. "I asked him what he had for dinner, and he gave me this trunk."

"It looks very ugly," said his hairy uncle, the Baboon.

"It does," said the Elephant's Child. "But it's very useful." And he picked up his hairy uncle, the Baboon, by his hairy leg, and threw him into a hornet's nest.

Then that bad Elephant's Child spanked all his dear family without stopping for a long time. He pulled out the tail-feathers of his tall aunt, the Ostrich; and he caught his tall uncle, the Giraffe, by his hind leg, and dragged him through a thorn-bush; and he shouted at his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and blew bubbles into her ear when she was sleeping after her dinner; but he never let anybody touch Kolokolo Bird.

At last when all the Elephant's Child's sisters and brothers saw how useful the trunk was, they went one by one in a hurry to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River to get new noses from the Crocodile. When they came back nobody spanked anybody any more; and since that day all the Elephants that you will ever see, besides all those that you won't see, have trunks exactly like the trunk of the Elephant's Child.

* * *

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.

But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

A. Correct the sentences using the words:

fly, hurt, useful, pull, cool, hind legs, trunk, stretch, spank, shrink, harder, stung

  1. The crocodile caught the elephant's child by his nose and started to push him into the river.
  2. The elephant's child's nose began to disappear.
  3. Then the rock-snake came down from the rock and coiled around the elephant's child's tail.
  4. The elephant's child and the rock-snake pulled softer than the crocodile.
  5. Though his nose spanked him badly, the elephant's child didn't forget to say "Thank you" to the rock-snake.
  6. The elephant's child put his nose into the Limpopo River to warm it.
  7. The elephant's child thought that his nose would stretch in the water.
  8. But it didn't grow any shorter, it looked like a hoof, the same as all elephants have today.
  9. At the end of the third day a dog came and bit him on the shoulder.
  10. The rock-snake told the elephant's child that the trunk was very funny.
  11. The elephant's child understood that it was easy to help people with his trunk.

B. Learn the words of exercise A for the dictation.

C. Retell the second part of the story.

D. Why was the trunk better than a nose? Fill in the table:

When the elephant's child had a little flat nose, But when he got a trunk,
1) he waited till …

2) he went on his knees to …

3) he couldn't get rid of …

4) everybody …

1) …

2) …

3) …

4) …


E. Answer the questions.

  1. What is the setting of the story?
  2. Who is the protagonist in the story?
  3. How do his relatives treat him? Why do you think they do it?
  4. Why does he want to find the crocodile?
  5. What is the most dangerous moment for the main character?
  6. Who helps the protagonist to solve the problem?
  7. How does the protagonist change? Is it a positive or a negative change?
  8. Does he realize from the very beginning how useful the change is?
  9. Can you call the rock-snake wise? Why?
  10. When does the author call the elephant's child "bad"? Why?
  11. Why doesn't he let anyone touch Kolokolo bird?
  12. What influence does the change in the elephant's child have on his relatives?
  13. What is the main idea of the story?

F. Write down the adjectives to characterize the elephant's child.

G. Tell the story from the point of view of:

a) the elephant's child; b) one of his relatives; c) the rock-snake; d) the crocodile.