Chapter 4 | Christmas Fun | The Story of a Stuffed Elephant

Since there were no real persons up in the attic—no boys or girls or grown folks—to spy around, the toys and other things in the dusty top of the house could do as they pleased. The toys could pretend to come to life, and even such a thing as a Spinning Wheel could whirl about and speak.

Thus when the Spinning Wheel had invited whoever wished to get on and have a Merry-Go-Round ride, and the harsh voice had called: "Make way! Here I come!" the Stuffed Elephant hardly knew what was going to happen.

Then, all at once, a big brown Rat—a real, live rat and not a toy—ran from a hole in the corner, and, with a squeal of delight, jumped up on the twirling Spinning Wheel.

"Here I go on the Merry-Go-Round! I ride this way every night!" squeaked the Rat to the Elephant and the other Christmas toys which Mr. Dunn had hidden in the attic until it was time for Santa Claus to come around.

"Do you, indeed?" asked the Elephant. "You must have lots of fun."

"I do," answered the Brown Rat. "But who are you?" and he stood up among the spokes of the Spinning Wheel and looked over toward the moonlight patch on the floor where stood the new toy.

"I am a Stuffed Elephant," was the answer. "And I have just had the most dreadful adventure! I was pitched out of the auto into a snow bank."

"I don't like snow!" squeaked the Rat. "It's too cold. But I am glad to see you, Mr. Elephant. Don't you want a ride on this Merry-Go-Round?"

"Thank you, I'm afraid I'm too big," answered the Elephant. "And I never before saw a Merry-Go-Round that spun this way, like a wheel. In Mr. Mugg's store, where I came from, there was a toy Merry-Go-Round, but it spun like a top."

"I'm not a regular Merry-Go-Round," said the Spinning Wheel. "I just make believe I'm one up here in the attic. Time was when I used to spin yarn for the grandmother of Mr. Dunn. But now all yarn is spun in factories by machinery, and spinning wheels are out of fashion. So I am up here in the dust, and it makes the time pass more quickly to pretend I am a Merry-Go-Round."

"Yes, and we Rats and Mice have good times!" cried the brown chap, as he wound his tail among the spokes of the wheel, to hold on tightly as he spun around and around.

"I believe I'd like a ride, too," said a Tin Soldier, which was another toy Mr. Dunn had brought home.

"All right! Climb up!" called out the Rat.

So the Tin Soldier, being able to pretend to come to life since no prying eyes saw him, got up on the Spinning Wheel and rode with the Rat. The Elephant wanted to have this fun, but he was too large to get on the wheel.

"Besides," he said, "something might happen to my trunk." He was very proud of his trunk and his tusks, was the Stuffed Elephant.

Several days passed, during which the toys had to remain hidden in the attic, waiting for Christmas. They did not mind it, however, as they were left to themselves and could have fun.

At last, however, Christmas eve came, and when the house was quiet and still, when Santa Claus was on his way flying over the chimneys with his sleigh and eight reindeer, the Stuffed Elephant and the other toys were carried down to the parlor and placed beneath the Christmas tree.

And when Christmas morning came Archie Dunn came racing downstairs, in his little pajamas, crying:

"Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! What did Santa Claus leave for me?"

"Go and look," replied his mother.

When Archie saw all his toys, but especially the Stuffed Elephant, the little boy shouted and clapped his hands for joy and cried:

"Oh, what a lovely Christmas! Oh, I always wanted a Stuffed Elephant, and now I have it! Oh, what a fine, big Elephant you are!"

He threw his arms around the stuffed creature's neck and hugged him so hard that the cotton stuffing almost oozed out of the Elephant's ears.

"I hope he doesn't squeeze me any harder," thought the Elephant, though he dared not so much as give a trumpet sound, and as for saying anything or waving his trunk—that was not to be thought of!

For Archie was there, and his sister Elsie, and Mr. and Mrs. Dunn and the servants—a room full of people—and of course the Elephant had to remain quiet.

"Look at my new Dollie!" called Elsie to Archie, and it is a good thing the little boy had something else to look at, or he might have kept on squeezing the Elephant until he was out of shape.

"Yes, your Dollie is nice, but I like my Elephant better," said Archie.

"Elephants is for boys an' Dollies is for girls; isn't they, Daddy?" asked Elsie.

"I guess that's right," replied Mr. Dunn. "But get dressed now, children, and have breakfast. Then you may play with your toys."

Archie and Elsie were so excited over Christmas that they did not want to stop to dress, or even eat. But they managed to get some clothes on, eat a little, and then they started again to play with the many presents Santa Claus had brought them.

About ten o'clock Elsie, looking out of the window across the snow-covered yard, gave a squeal of delight and cried:

"Oh, here comes Mirabell, and she has her Lamb on Wheels! Oh, now we can have fun, and I can show her my new Doll!"

"Is anybody else coming?" asked Archie. "I want to show somebody my Stuffed Elephant."

Elsie looked again, before running to the door to welcome her little caller.

"Yes," went on Archie's sister, "I see Joe, and he has his Nodding Donkey!"

"That's good!" laughed Archie.

Into the house came Mirabell, who carried a Lamb on Wheels, which had been given her as a present some time before.

"Course this isn't for Christmas," said the little girl. "I didn't bring out my Christmas presents 'ceptin' this," and she showed on her finger a gold ring that Santa Claus had left.

"And I got a steam engine, only I couldn't bring it over," said Joe, who used to be lame but who was better now. "So I just brought my old Nodding Donkey," he added. "He was in the hospital once, as I was, and Mr. Mugg mended his broken leg."

At the mention of the name "Mr. Mugg" the Stuffed Elephant began to listen more carefully. If he had dared he would have flapped his big ears, but that was not allowed.

"I wonder," thought the Elephant, "if he means the same Mr. Mugg of the toy store where I came from? I wish the children would go out of the room a minute until I could speak to the Nodding Donkey and the Lamb on Wheels."

But the children were having too much fun to leave the room. Mirabell with her Lamb and Joe with his Donkey looked at the presents Santa Claus had brought for Elsie and Archie. Then there came a ring at the door bell, and in came a boy named Sidney, with a Calico Clown, and a girl named Dorothy with a Sawdust Doll. These toys were not new Christmas presents, for Dorothy and Sidney had brought only their old toys, since it was snowing again.

The Stuffed Elephant was getting excited. He had heard these other toys spoken of by his friends in Mr. Mugg's store, and wanted to talk to them. But while the children were in the room he dared not say a word.

At last, however, Mrs. Dunn invited the little callers out to the dining room to have some milk and cake, and out they rushed, leaving the toys in the middle of the floor.

"Ah, at last we are alone!" said the Elephant. "Please tell me, Mr. Nodding Donkey," he said, "were you ever in Mr. Mugg's store?"

"I came from there," was the answer.

"So did I!" joyfully exclaimed the Elephant.

"I don't remember seeing you there," the Nodding Donkey said, swaying his head up and down.

"I was one of the very newest toys," went on the Elephant. "I suppose you were there last year, or the one before."

"Yes," said the Donkey, "it was some time ago, and I have had many adventures. Tell me, did you ever have a broken leg?"

"Mercy, no!" exclaimed the Elephant.

"Well, I did. And Mr. Mugg mended it for me," went on the Donkey, proudly. "This Sawdust Doll here," he went on, "has also had many adventures. Tell him about them, Sawdust Doll."

"Oh, it would take too long," replied Dorothy's plaything. "But they are all in a book. And Dorothy's brother Dick has a White Rocking Horse, and his adventures are in a book, too."

"For that matter I have had a book written about me," said the Donkey.

"So have I!" declared the Calico Clown, jumping up and down. "It tells about my trousers catching fire."

"I wonder if I'll ever have a book written about me," sighed the Elephant.

"Perhaps," answered the Lamb on Wheels. "You are much larger than I, and there is a book about me. But let's have some fun, now that the children are out of the room."

"All right," agreed the Elephant. "This is like it used to be in Mr. Mugg's store after closing time. What shall we do?"

"I know what I should like to do," said the Calico Clown, as he looked at the big stuffed toy.

"What?" asked the Nodding Donkey.

"I should like to ride on the Elephant's back," went on the Clown. "All my life I have wanted a ride on an elephant's back, and I never yet had the chance."

"You shall have it now," replied the kind Elephant. "I'll come over and get you. Can you climb up? I'm pretty tall, you see."

"I'll stand on top of this toy trolley car," said the Clown.

One of Archie's presents was a toy trolley car, and by jumping up on this the Clown managed to reach the Elephant's back.

"Now hold on tightly, and you won't fall," said the Elephant. "If I had thought, I could have lifted you up in my trunk, as I did the Rolling Mouse. But I'll lift you down again. Sit tight now."

So the Clown sat tight, and the Elephant walked around the room with him, giving the gay fellow a fine ride. The Sawdust Doll was just making up her mind that she would be brave enough to get on the Elephant's back, when, all at once, the Nodding Donkey cried:

"Quick! Quiet every one! The children are coming back!"

"Oh, let me get off your back!" whispered the Clown to the Elephant. "They must never see me up here. It isn't allowed!"

But he was too late! Before he could slide off the Stuffed Elephant, Archie, Elsie and the other children came running into the room!

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" they cried, as they saw the Calico Clown on the back of the Stuffed Elephant.