The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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5<>
WHAT ELEPHANTS CAN DO
Long, long ago the earth was very different from what it is now, and was covered with huge forests made up of enormous trees, and in these forests there roamed immense beasts, whose skeletons may sometimes be seen in our museums.
Of all these beasts there is only one remaining, and that is the elephant. Now the elephant is so big and shapeless that he makes one think he has been turned out by a child who did not know how to finish his work properly. He seems to need some feet badly and to want pinching about his body. He would also be the better for a more imposing tail; but such as he is, the elephant is more useful and interesting than many creatures of ten times his beauty. Large and clumsy though he may be, he alone of all animals has ' between his eyes a serpent for a hand,' and he turns his trunk to better account than most men do their two hands.
Ever since we first read about elephants in history they were just the same as they are now. They have not learnt, from associating with men, fresh habits which they hand down from father to son; each elephant, quick though he is to learn, has to be taught everything over again.
Yet there is no beast who has lived in such unbroken contact with man for so many thousands of years. We do not know when he first began to be distinguished for his qualities from the other wild animals, but as far back as we can trace the sculptures which adorn the Indian temples the elephant has a place. Several hundred years
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