The Story Of Hathi Ganesh The White-eared Elephant

: The Sa'-zada Tales

It was very hot. The Summer moon, pushing lazily through the whispering

tracery of tall elm trees that cut the night sky, fell upon the same

group of forest friends gathered in front of Tiger's cage that had been

there the previous evening, when the Leopard brothers had discoursed so

pleasantly of their Jungle life.

"What is the tale to-night, Sa'-zada, loved Master?" asked Magh, the

Ourang-Outang, standi
g with one hand on Mooswa's back, who was lying


"It is the talk of Hathi," answered the Keeper.

Hathi could be heard blowing softly through his trunk to clear his

throat, then he began his story:

"We were a mighty herd, all of forty, with two great Bulls in charge, I

remember; though to be sure when it came to be a matter of danger they

seemed to forget all about being in charge and cleared off as fast as

they could. I soon got to know that the herd was very proud of me."

"I should think they would be, my big beauty," cried Magh, patting his

forehead affectionately.

"You see," continued Hathi, "these white and pink spots all over my

neck and ears were a sign that great luck had come to the herd. Even

the Men-kind--but that, of course, I discovered years after at

Ava--even the Men-kind looked upon me as sacred, being a White

Elephant. Besides, I had but the one tusk, the right, and that is why I

am Ganesh, the Holy One.

"We wandered about in the Jungle, and when we Babe Elephants were

tired, the whole herd waited until we had rested and fed. That's why

the Bulls had nothing to do with leading the herd. They knew little of

what a calf could stand, so Mah, my Mother, always gave the signal when

we were to start or stop. I think she was very proud of being the

mother of the lucky Calf.

"But it was a lovely land to dwell in; all hills and valleys with

plenty of cover; and down in the flat lands the Men grew raji and rice,

and plantains.

"I think there must be some very wise animal who arranges all these

things--puts each one in the Jungle he likes best. Pardus was happy in

his hills, and White Chita liked the snow mountains, and Yellow Leopard

the rice fields; and Mooswa has told me when we've talked together,

that on the far side of his lands are the loveliest spruce forests any

Moose could wish to live in."

"Perhaps it was Sa'-zada or one of his kind," ventured Muskwa, the


"It is God who arranges it," declared the Keeper, in a soft voice.

"I don't know who that may be," muttered Hathi, "but I thought there

was someone. Such a lovely Jungle it was; tall teak trees and pinkado,

and Telsapa from which the Men-kind drew oil for their fires.

"For days, and weeks, and months it would be hot and dry; and then

three times the big flower would come out on the padouk tree, and all

the Elephants would laugh and squeal with their trunks, for they knew

the rain would surely come. Yes, when we could see for the third time a

big cluster of flowers, patter, patter on the leaves we could hear the

rain, and soon drip, drip, drip, trickle it would come down on our

backs, washing the dust and little sticks out of every wrinkle until

even the old Bulls would commence to play like Calves.

"We finally came to a big river early in the morning, and every one

went in for a wash. Mind, I was only a babe about the size of a

Buffalo. The old ones lay down in the river, just keeping their trunks

out to breathe, and I thought to do the same, of course; but when I

flopped over on my side--bad footing! there was nothing anywhere but

soft, slippery water--there was quite a thousand miles of it, and dark

as the blackest night. I could see nothing, hear nothing only the

angry talk of the water that ran fast. They said that I screamed like a

young pig. Then something strong grabbed me by the hind leg, and pulled

me out up on the bank--it was Mah. She scolded roundly. Then she

spanked me good and hard.

"All that season I was not allowed to go in the water again. Mah washed

me down with her trunk, squirting the water over me.

"The eating was sweet in those Jungles; but best of all I liked the

young plantains when they were just beyond the blossom age, all wrapped

up in a big leaf, and juicy, and sweet.

"The first happening was from an evil-minded Bagh (tiger). That evening

I had wandered a little to one side, not knowing it, and Bagh, with a

fierce word in his big throat, jumped full on my head. Of course I


"Like a Pig," interjected Boar.

"Like a Babe Hathi," corrected Elephant. "And Mah, who had been looking

for me, just in the nick of time threw Bagh many yards into the Jungle

with her trunk. I don't know how other animals get along without a

trunk; it seems just suited for every purpose.


"The next happening was worse, for it came from the Men-kind. It was a

hot, hot day. We were all standing on a hill in the shade of trees,

flapping our ears to keep the flies off, when suddenly Old Bull kinked

his head sideways, whistled softly through his trunk, and we all

stopped flapping to listen. Even Calf as I was, I knew there was some

danger near. In the wind there was nothing--nothing unusual, just the

sweet scent of the tiny little white flowers that grow close to the

short grass. But Old Bull was afraid; he gave a signal for us to move,

and we started.

"In a minute there was an awful cracking like the breaking of a tree,

only different, and we all ran here, there, everywhere. Of course since

that, having been taken in the hunt by the Men-kind, I know it was a

gun, as they call it.

"Old Bull charged straight for a little white cloud that rose from

where the noise had been; then crack! crack! crack! the guns trumpeted

all over the Jungle--but I won't tell any more of that happening,

because Old Bull was killed; and Mah, too--though the Men-kind said

afterwards, so I've heard, that it was a mistake, as they only killed

Bulls, being white hunters, for the sake of the feet and tusks.

"It was late in the evening before the herd gathered again, and we

traveled far, fearing the evil of the Men-kind."

"Was there no evil with your own people?" queried Wolf. "Just feeding,

and nothing else?"

"Well," answered Hathi, hesitatingly, "sometimes in a herd there grows

up one who is a 'Rogue.' We had one such, I remember. But that also

came about because of the Men-kind--a yellow man. It was a Hill-man,

and when this Rogue of whom I speak--he also was a Bull--was just full

grown, a matter of perhaps twenty years, this Hill-man thrust into his

head, from a distance, too, being seated in a tree, an arrow.

"The arrow remaining there as it did, caused this Bull to become of an

evil temper. Quarreling, quarreling always, butting his huge head into

a comrade because of a mere nothing; and with his tusks putting his

mark on many of us without cause; sometimes it would be a kick from his

forefoot, or a slap of his trunk. When we were near to the places of

the Men-kind he would wallow in the rice fields, and pull up the young

plantain trees by the roots, even knock the queer little houses they

lived in to pieces, for they were but of bamboo and leaves. Of course

the dwellers ran for their lives, and sometimes brought fire, and made

noise with their guns, and beat gongs to frighten him away.

"Many times we drove him forth from the herd; and sometimes he stayed

away himself for days, sulky. In the end we lost him altogether, and we

were all glad; but strange as it may appear, I saw him again in Rangoon

in the timber yards. That was after I was caught."

"Tell us about that happening," pleaded Sa'-zada, "for it is even not

written in The Book."

"I was taken in a manner full of deceit, and because I had faith in

those of my own kind. I was, perhaps, fifteen or twenty years old at

the time--but in a Hathi's life a year or two is of no moment, for we

are long-lived--and what might be called second in charge of the herd,

a condition of things which I resented somewhat, but the Herd Bull had

been leader while I was growing up, so there was no just claim on my

part really.

"And it happened in our wanderings that we came not far from the

greatest of all the Men's places in that land, Ava (Mandalay). One day

as I was pulling down the young bamboos and stripping the feathered

top, a strange Hathni (female elephant) came to me and put her trunk

softly on my neck. She was all alone, and I felt sorry for her;

besides, she was nice--showed me such lovely places for good feeding. I

spent a whole day with her, and the next day, too, and as we went

through the jungle, suddenly we came to a sort of immense, strong

hauda. It wasn't a bit like the Men's haudas that they live in,

else I should never have been deceived; great trunks of trees growing

up out of the ground straight, and close together, but no branches or

leaves to them; as square on top as the end of my leg. This

queer-looking jungle thing troubled me. 'What is it?' I asked Hathni.

"'It's my home,' she replied; 'come in, Comrade.'"

"And of course the woman had her way," remarked Sa'-zada; "you went

into the parlor, Hathi, old chap, I suppose."

"Not by that name knew I it, Sa'-zada; they called it a Keddah, as I

found out. But I went in."

"And was caged," laughed Black Chita.

"Inside," continued Hathi, "was a winding path, and Hathni trotted down

this so fast that I lost her. A great wooden gate dropped behind me,

and I knew that I was in a trap. It was a big place, but no openings to

get out.

"Then the Men-kind showed their yellow faces all over the walls, just

like Hanumen--the gray-whiskered Monkey of those parts.

"'A White Elephant at last, at last!' they cried; 'now will the King be


"I was left alone that night, but the next day the Men-kind came with

two ruffianly Bulls of my kind who bunted and bustled me about, and

fought me, while the men slipped great strong ropes over my legs. In a

week I was that tired and sore from this treatment that I was ready to

go any place. Then I was taken to Ava; and such doings! I dislike to

tell it all; it's hardly modest.

"They put a silk covering over me to keep the Flies off, and a garland

of white jasmine flowers about my neck--sweet-smelling flowers they

were; in my ears two big red stones of the ruby kind were placed; and

always as I walked a great silk umbrella was over my head. And as for

eating--humpf, humpf, humpf! they just made me ill with sweets to be

eaten out of gold dishes."


"Is this a true tale, O Sa'-zada?" queried Black Leopard. "For one of

the jungle folk it is a strange happening."

"It is true," replied the Keeper; "that was the way with the White

Elephant at the Burma King's court, it is written in another book I

have read."

"And no one was allowed to ride on my back but the King," declared

Hathi, "excepting, of course, the Mahout. As I walked I was afraid of

stepping on some one; the Men-kind were forever flopping down on their

knees to worship me. It was this way for years; then one season there

came war; great guns spoke with a roar louder than Bagh's; and vast

herds of the white-faced Men-kind came, letting free the blood of the

yellow-faced ones; and in the end I was taken away, and sent down to

Rangoon, and put to work in the timber yards. There was no worship, and

few sweetmeats, and for silk covering I was given a harness with

leather collar and chain traces. It was like being back in the jungle

again--I was just a common Hathi, only I was called there Raj Singh.

"It was at that time I met the Bull who was a Rogue. He was also

working in the timber yards, but it had done him much good--his temper

was improved."

"Was it kind treatment cured him?" asked Sa'-zada.

"No," replied Hathi; "they whipped him into a gentle behavior. Two big

Bulls with heavy iron chains swinging from their trunks thrashed him

until he promised to cease making trouble. But one day he broke out

bad, and smashed everything--tore the Master's dogcart to pieces,

knocked the Cooly's haudas down, and trumpeted like an evil jungle

spirit. He even killed his Mahout, which was a silly thing, though he

declared his driver, the Mahout, sitting up on his back, one foot on

either side, had prodded viciously at his head until poor Rogue's blood

was on fire.

"But in the end they sent me away to Sa'-zada, and I am quite content";

and reaching his big trunk over to the Keeper, Hathi caressed the

latter's cheek lovingly.

"Oh, we are all content," declared Magh; "for Sa'-zada is a kind and

gentle Master."

"Now, all to your cages and your pens," cried the Keeper, "for it is

late. To-morrow night, perhaps, we shall have the tale of Gidar, the