Peter Saves the Village
School is over at last. Peter dashes out of the stuffy building and into the fresh air. He drags off his tie, wraps it round his head and tears down the dusty red path towards home.
From every direction comes the sound of drums, their beat becoming more and more urgent. It is as if the whole world is drumming. Peter picks up speed. He runs swiftly on his long legs, faster than he has ever run before. He knows that those drums mean only one thing – danger. Gradually the drumming dies down. As Peter gets closer to his village he sees men armed with sticks and spears scurrying in all directions. He is almost at the gate when he sees his father.
“Peter!” his father shouts. “There’s a herd of elephants heading this way. We need to stop them reaching the village.” He hands Peter a spear.
Peter and the men walk for a long time. They are tired and thirsty. They see warthog, impala, jackal and hyena, but no elephants. “Perhaps the elephants have changed direction,” suggests Peter. “Perhaps we should go home. It will be dark soon.”
But the men shake their heads and continue to walk. In front of Peter is a large tree. He can climb it easily. “Wait!” He shouts to the men. “I’ll climb this. I be able to see the elephants.”
Peter climbs the tree. He sees a single male elephant, at the top of a hill. He shouts down to the men, pointing in the direction of the elephant. He sees that the elephant is joined by another, and yet another. Soon there is a whole herd of elephants moving down the hill towards the men, in the direction of Peter’s village.
“They’re heading for our village!” shouts Peter.
The men bang drums; they light sticks and throw them into the air. The male elephant raises its trunk. He trumpets loudly, but he does not turn. He carries on down the hill towards the men. The herd of elephants follow.
Suddenly a younger male elephant is startled by a fire stick. He takes fright and runs towards the tree which Peter had climbed.
The men shout at Peter to warn him. “Throw your spear,” they yell.
Peter raises his spear as the elephant comes nearer. But the spear becomes tangled in the branches of the tree. He pulls and pulls. But the spear is stuck fast. He cannot get it free. The elephant stops. It has seen Peter in the tree. It flaps its ears, trying to scare him off.
“Be careful,” shout the men. “It might charge.”
Peter reaches in his trouser pocket. What does he take out? Is it a stone, a catapult? No, it is a whistle. Peter puts the whistle to his lips and blows. Parp! The elephant looks at Peter. Peter blows the whistle again. Parp! Parp! The elephant raises his trunk and turns. It walks towards the rest of its herd. The big male elephant watches the younger one come towards him. He stares solemnly at Peter.
Peter blows the whistle so hard his eyes nearly pop out of his head. Slowly, slowly, the large elephant turns. The rest of the herd turn with him and walk off in the direction from which they had come. The men race to the tree. Peter climbs down to their waiting arms. They lift him up, raise him above their heads and carry him all the way back to the village.
The men chant, “Peter … Peter our hero … Peter the great elephant hunter.”
That evening everyone gather round the camp fire. The men drink beer and pass round the pipe. The women sing and dance, holding hands and jumping in rhythm. Soon the men dance too. They jump into the air, higher and higher. Peter jumps highest of all. He is full of energy; like a young impala, he jumps for joy, higher and higher into the night sky.