He and Bruce both looked up involuntarily. Then they, too, burst into uproarious laughter at the spectacle.
The trainer had gone down onto the ledge with an armful of bread loaves to tempt the elephant out of the water. There he stood holding out a loaf invitingly while the elephant, still half submerged, held his great mouth open and his trunk aloft expecting the man to toss the bread toward him. But this was not the trainer's intention.
"Come on, Toby; come on. Yuh gotta come out t' git this meal," he called.
The elephant moved a little closer and waved his trunk aloft impatiently as if beckoning the trainer to toss the loaf.
"Oh, no, yuh don't. Come on out, Toby; come on—Hi! Go! ding yuh, leggo!— Hi! Help! Help!"
Toby had refused to be tempted any longer. The waving trunk descended and wrapped quickly about the trainer's leg. Then slowly the animal began to pull the man toward the water. The trainer was startled half to death. He dropped the bread and began to struggle mightily, for the black water looked cold to him even though the elephant did seem to enjoy it. He clutched at the smooth marble floor and tried to brace himself with his unincumbered leg, shouting lustily all the time.
"Hi! help me! Help! Kill th' beast! I don' wanna git a duckin'!
I—I—got a cold in—my—" Splash—blub—blub—blub—
Toby's black little eyes seemed to twinkle with mischief as he gave a final tug and plunged the trainer into the water. Then while the man floundered about, the animal deliberately put his two front feet onto the edge of the shelf and reached out toward the pile of loaves. One by one he picked them up and deftly slipped them into his mouth, disregarding the shouts of the trainer.
But once in the water the man decided that he would stay in and drive the elephant out.
"Hi, Jerry," he shouted. "Throw me down the pike. I'll git the blasted critter out o' here if it takes me all night!"
Jerry tossed the short pike pole down onto the shelf and the trainer climbed out to get it. When the elephant saw the pole he immediately began to wade across the quarry hole.
"Oh, no, yuh don't, Toby. I'll git yuh, now," shouted the man, as he plunged back into the water and began to swim toward the beast.
"Git outa here, yuh brute," he thundered, when he came alongside the huge bulk. And he accentuated his command by jabbing the pike deep into the beast's hide. As meekly as a lamb the elephant turned around, after allowing the trainer to climb onto the top of his head, he waded toward the shelf and climbed out of the water without the slightest sign of rebellion.
"There, consarn his pesky hide, he's out now," said the little manager to
Bruce, who was still laughing over the comical antics of the big beast.
"Good," said the lad. Then, turning, he called to Babe, "Hi! how about the blasting mat sling—is it finished?"
"Yes, it's ready," shouted the fat Scout.
"Well, then, we're all in good shape," said the patrol leader, inspecting the outfit. "Now for business. Ho, Jiminy, flash Mr. Ford the signal."
Instantly Gordon bounded out of the circle of light and climbed the nearest stone pile. Then with his battery he began to flash the Morse code toward headquarters, where Mr. Ford was waiting. The circus manager took the whole performance in with wide eyes.
"Say, hang it all, you Scouts know a thing or two, don't yuh?"
"Yes, we know enough to be fairly helpful," said Bruce modestly. Then, as he saw Mr. Ford flash back his O.K., he said, "Now we'll let 'er go."
He seized the reverse lever on the motor and threw it over. The derrick drums squeaked a moment before settling down to a business-like grumble. Then the rusted steel cable, with the improvised blasting mat sling dangling at its end, was played out swiftly until the mass of woven rope settled down on the ledge beside the circus men, who were hard at work putting chains about the elephant's feet and trunk so that he could not squirm about in the sling. The adjusting of the heavy affair was no easy task, but the men worked with a will and a few moments later Bruce caught their signal that all was ready.
For a moment he paused with his hand on the starting switch. He was almost afraid to throw it into position. "Oh, if the boom will only hold," he whispered to himself, for to have his plans fail now would have been more than he could endure.
He moved the switch. There was a slight arc as contact was made. Then slowly the motor began to turn. The boom stiffened and creaked ominously as the cable tightened. He pushed the switch over another notch. The big animal was lifted off its feet!
Would the boom hold? Bruce and every member of the troop stood tense and silent, as they saw the big body of the elephant dangling over the pit. He was lifted a foot, two feet, five feet! He was snorting and squirming in protest, and Bruce's heart almost stopped when he saw the boom give under his weight.