are up to your weight, I guess. You ain't scared, are you?"
"N-not if you say it's all right," Hugh stammered.
"Wouldn't give you the chance if it weren't. Bless you, they wouldn't hurt a butterfly. Let little Ali piek you up."
He whistled to the smallest elephant. Hugh had hardly time to feel afraid. A soft black rope suddenly curved round his waist, and he was off his feet, checking his first impulse to struggle. Then he found himself sitting just behind the great ears, higher than he had ever been mounted in his life. The keeper grinned up at him.
"I'll take you down if you say so, son. But it's all right. Like to stay?"
"Y-yes." He didn't want to stay at all, but something in him would not let him say so.
"Well, hold on to his ears if you feel like slipping. I'll keep close to you—not as there's any need. Ali 'ud look after a year-old baby an' give it its bottle, he's that motherly. Come on, boys."
The clumsy bulk beneath Hugh swayed forward with a lurch that almost disposed of the rider. But the elephant-man's hand was tight on his ankle in a flash, and he gripped an ear that feit like old dry leather. Then he found he did not need it. His natural sense of balance was good: he grew used to the swaying motion, letting his body become flexible, once the first stiffness of fear had left him. The hand on his ankle was withdrawn, and