The First Chapter: In which the Elephant arrives
The Elephant was on Erica’s doorstep on the morning of her tenth birthday. There was also a piece of paper stating that she, Erica Perkins, had a Legal Right to the Elephant. “But it’s all very well,” said Erica, “fussing about whether I have a Right to the Elephant. The Elephant has been Left to me, and that seems to be the bigger problem.” She looked the Elephant in the eye. “Who left you?” she demanded. “And why?”
TRONK, said the Elephant. It seemed to Erica to be the sort of TRONK which said, I am the wrong elephant to ask. I am confused by life in general and your doorstep in particular.
She felt a little sorry for the Elephant, TRONKing on the step with no idea why he was there or who had sent him, so she patted him on the trunk and led him inside. He broke the doorframe, but TRONKed so sadly about it that Erica wasn’t even cross. Besides, it wasn’t really his fault. The house was certainly not built for a fine, big elephant like him. It was a two-up, two-down terraced house by the coast, with nice views of the sea but very little space.
Erica had lived in that house for as long as she could remember. At first she had shared it with Uncle Jeff, who was the only family she had. He meant well, but he was very distracted, and he usually forgot that she was there. He was an ornithologist, which means he studied birds, and he was forever thinking about birds and where he could go to see them and what sort of binoculars he ought to take. Erica had to do all the practical things like cooking and cleaning the house. When she was eight he left to hunt for a bird called the Lesser Pip-footed Woob. He had left some money in an envelope to last until his return, but here she was two years later, with only £30.42 left and no word from Uncle Jeff.
And now there was an elephant in her house.
“Well,” she said, “I suppose you can have Uncle Jeff’s room.”
TRONK, said the Elephant. This time the meaning was a bit unclear, but Erica thought he sounded confused about what an unclejeffsroom was, and unsure about whether it was a good thing to have. She sighed. He was not going to be an easy houseguest to look after.
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