The Elephant by Alexander Kuprin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – The Elephant – Contents

< < < . III .
. V . > > >


In two hours’ time he was seated in the front row at the menagerie, and watching trained animals perform their different parts under the direction of the manager. Clever dogs jumped, turned somersaults, danced, sang to music, made words with large cardboard letters. Monkeys—one in a red skirt, the other in blue knickers—walked the tight rope and rode upon a large poodle. An immense tawny lion jumped through burning hoops. A clumsy seal fired a pistol. And at last they brought out the elephants. There were three of them: one large and two quite small ones, dwarfs; but all the same, much larger than a horse. It was strange to see how these enormous animals, apparently so heavy and awkward, could perform the most difficult tricks which would be out of the power of a very skilful man. The largest elephant distinguished himself particularly. He stood up at first on his hind legs, then sat down, then stood on his head with his feet in the air, walked along wooden bottles, then on a rolling cask, turned over the pages of a large picture-book with his tail, and, finally, sat down at a table and, tying a serviette round his neck, had his dinner just like a well-brought-up little boy.

The show came to an end. The spectators went out. Nadya’s father went up to the stout German, the manager of the menagerie. He was standing behind a partition smoking a long black cigar.

“Pardon me, please,” said Nadya’s father. “Would it be possible for you to send your elephant to my house for a short time?”

The German’s eyes opened wide in astonishment, and his mouth also, so that the cigar fell to the ground. He made an exclamation, bent down, picked up the cigar, put it in his mouth again, and then said:

“Send? The elephant? To your house? I don’t understand you.”

It was evident from his look that he also wanted to ask Nadya’s father if he were a little wrong in the head…. But the father quickly began to explain the matter: his only daughter, Nadya, was ill with a strange malady which no doctor could understand nor cure. She had lain for a month in her bed, had grown thinner and weaker every day, wasn’t interested in anything, was only dull—she seemed to be slowly dying. The doctors had said she must be roused, but she didn’t care for anything; they had said that all her desires were to be gratified, but she didn’t wish for anything at all. To-day she had said she wanted to see a live elephant. Wasn’t it possible to manage that she should?

And he took the German by the button of his coat, and added in a trembling voice:

“Well … of course I hope that my little girl will get well again. But suppose … God forbid it!… her illness should take a sudden turn for the worse … and she should die! Just think—shouldn’t I be tortured for all the rest of my life to think that I hadn’t fulfilled her last, her very last wish!”

The German wrinkled up his forehead and thoughtfully scratched his left eyebrow with his little finger. At length he asked:

“H’m…. And how old is your little girl?”


“H’m…. My Lisa’s six, too. H’m. But you know, it’ll cost you a lot. We’ll have to take the elephant one night, and we can’t bring it back till the next night. It’ll be impossible to do it in the day-time. There’d be such crowds of people, and such a fuss…. It means that I should lose a whole day, and you ought to pay me for it.”

“Of course, of course … don’t be anxious about that.”

“And then: will the police allow an elephant to be taken into a private house?”

“I’ll arrange it. They’ll allow it.”

“And there’s another question: will the landlord of your house allow the elephant to come in?”

“Yes. I’m my own landlord.”

“Aha! That’s all the better. And still another question: what floor do you live on?”

“The second.”

“H’m…. That’s not so good…. Have you a broad staircase, a high ceiling, a large room, wide doorways, and a very stout flooring. Because my ‘Tommy’ is three and a quarter arshins in height and five and a half long. And he weighs a hundred and twelve poods.”[1]

[1]An arshin is about 3/4 of a yard, and a pood is 36 lbs.

Nadya’s father thought for a moment.

“Do you know what?” said he. “You come with me and look at the place. If it’s necessary, I’ll have a wider entrance made.”

“Very good!” agreed the manager of the menagerie.

< < < . III .
. V . > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – The Elephant – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

If you liked this site, subscribe , put likes, write comments!

Share on social networks

Check out Our Latest Posts

© 2023 Akirill.com – All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s