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"Well, Indian elephants are good enough for me," Hugh remarked. "They're the best in the world, I bet."

"You bet right, sonny. I'd like to see 'em out in the open, like my father used to. He said their speed was amazin'. A good horse 'ud hardly keep up with a herd gallopin', even in plain country: an', of course, in bush he'd be lost altogether, 'cause they'd crash through timber as if it wasn't there."

"Could you make them gallop now?" asked Nita, hopefully. She kicked Ali, with as much response as if she had kicked a house.

"Not if I know it. The one thing I don't ever want to see is one of ours gallop. He'd only do it if he was real annoyed, an' an annoyed elephant's a nasty thing. Look at 'em now—they know there's fun ahead."

The elephants had quickened their pace slightly, their trunks stretched forward. Just ahead a thick line of timber showed the course of the creek: dry, but wide and sandy. At the edge George halted them with a word: the three trunks came up, unbidden, to let their riders dismount.

"Don't they know!" said Hugh admiringly. He rubbed Gunga's trunk: the slender, finger-like tip curled round his wrist. George gave a curt command: the elephants plunged across the sand until they came to a deep hollow. They thrust in their trunks, and in a moment were halfhidden in the cloud of blown sand that covered them.

"Use it just like water," grinned George. "It's not my idea of enjoyment, to sniff sand up my nose an' squirt it