The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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248                  ELEPHANT SHOOTING
armed men on its back. In the wars between Carthage and Rome, Hannibal is said to have ranged his elephants in the front of his lines, to break the shock, and to trample down the advancing foe. But in the end, the Romans got accustomed to these tactics, and learned how to foil them.
A number of these tales—not always true or even likely—were collected about two hundred and fifty years ago by a man named Topsel, who published them in a book called ' The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents,' illustrated with some very funny pictures. Topsel assures us that in their wild state old elephants are cared for by the young ones, who gather food for them and fight for them when they are not able to fight for themselves; and that when they are dead, green boughs are laid over them by the rest of the herd. He further declares that they have been known to pull darts and spears out of each other's bodies, and that when Porus, king of the country beyond the Indus, was defeated by Alexander the Great, his favourite elephant drew the javelins out of his wounds with his trunk, and then knelt down very gently, so that if the king was still alive, he might not be shaken. Topsel does not tell us whether it was Porus, or another Indian king, who had a bodyguard of elephants, which were trained to watch him by turns while he was asleep, and never failed to appear at their appointed hours, like sailors on board ship.
One story he quotes from Arrian the writer, of an Indian who had brought up a white elephant from the time it was a little creature, and loved it dearly. Now white elephants are greatly valued in many countries ; indeed, in Siam, they take rank immediately after the king, and before the heir to the throne ; and the king of that part of India, hearing of the white elephant, sent to the man and demanded it should be given him as a present. The Indian could not bear the thought
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