Ho-Ho Learns to Skate

 

One day Henry woke up feeling very, very happy.  “I wonder what we shall do today?”  he thought out loud.  Suddenly there was a little ‘plop’ in the garden.  Henry smiled “that must be Ho-Ho coming down from his tree!” he whispered.  Soon there was a gentle knocking at the window; it was Ho-Ho tapping with his trunk.

“Good morning Ho-Ho shall I bring you a drink on the lawn?”

“Yes please” replied Ho-Ho, stretching.  “It’s been a long night.”  In no time at all the two friends were sitting on the lawn underneath Ho-Ho’s tree drinking orange juice.

“What shall we do today?” asked Henry.

Ho-Ho smiled; he wasn’t the sort for making decisions.  “What would you like to do?” he replied.  Henry thought for a minute; “well I’d like us to go to the seaside, but I know it’s impossible, Ho-Ho.”

“I’d like to go to the seaside too,” said Ho-Ho.  “I’ve seen pictures of the seaside and it looks such fun.”

“The seaside is wonderful” added Henry.  “But we have no way of getting there – its miles too far to walk and I couldn’t take you on the train.”

Henry couldn’t help laughing at the thought of taking the enormous elephant on the train.

“What is the fastest you can travel yourself?” asked Ho-Ho, smiling as always when faced with an impossible problem.  Henry thought for a moment; “running,” he finally said, “running, cycling or roller skating.”

“What is roller skating?” asked Ho-Ho.

Henry could not believe his wise old friend had never heard of roller skates.  In a trice he rushed into the garage and brought out a couple of old pairs.  Quickly he strapped on his favourite blue pair and began skating up and down the drive, falling over several times in the process.  Ho-Ho was helpless with laughter with giant tears rolling down his enormous cheeks.  Finally he could speak again.

“What an amazing and wonderful way to travel; may I try?”  At this Henry burst into laughter; the idea of an elephant roller skating was just too silly for works.

“Anyway, Ho-Ho where would you find roller skates big enough for you  ... these are far too small.”

“Perhaps,” said Ho-Ho thoughtfully, “the roller skates are too small for me or perhaps I am too large for them!”  The two friends stared at each other, though Henry had no idea what the jolly elephant meant.  Then, to Henry’s astonishment, Ho-Ho began to shrink.  In front of his very eyes the amazing creature became smaller and smaller and smaller until he was the perfect size to fit the roller skates.  Eagerly the two friends strapped a roller skate onto each of Ho-Ho’s feet and Ho-Ho began to ‘skate’ in one of the strangest sights imaginable.  He fell onto his head, his back, his side; he rolled over into the potato patch and into the hedge, he tumbled into the compost heap … Henry was beside himself with laughter.  Indeed for many years afterwards, Henry could always cheer himself up by remembering that morning when Ho-Ho learned to skate.

“Well that’s it,” said ho-Ho finally.  “I can now roller skate.”  He stood up and attempted a little bow, which unfortunately made him fall over into the rhubarb.  The two friends dissolved again into tears of laughter.  When he had recovered, Henry made a startling discovery; “Ho-Ho, you’re back to your normal size, and look!”  The roller skates still fit you perfectly – they somehow grew with you when you came back to normal size!”

“How very fortunate, said Ho-Ho, “perhaps we can go to the seaside after all!”

 

 

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The journey went very quickly, in spite of a couple of mishaps and Henry having to explain about having to stop when the traffic lights are on red; Ho-Ho was certainly an excellent roller skater.

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 The sun was shining as the two friends arrived at the seaside.  They played in the sand, went paddling in the sea and had some candy floss and ice cream.  Unfortunately they hadn’t enough money to buy a bucket of ice cream, and that’s what Ho-Ho really wanted to cool him down after skating all that way!

Just then Henry heard a lady crying.  She seemed to be very upset and was explaining her problem to a policeman.

“I’d just accepted the ring from Arthur,” she said, “when that crazy seagull swooped down and took it from my hand!”  She pointed to a rocky cliff where a seagull had flown.  Henry could even see the ring glinting in the sun, but the cliff was so steep, recovering the ring looked impossible.  Henry felt very sorry for her, and he and Ho-Ho decide to help.

They went down to the bottom of the cliff where the seagull had her nest.  Even though the cliff was sheer, Henry decided to try to climb, but it was hopeless; there just seemed no way to rescue the lost ring.

“Have you any ideas Ho-Ho?” asked Henry.

“We just need something enormously long to reach it” said Ho-Ho.  Henry was disappointed; was that the best suggestion his wise old friend could think of?

“The longest thing around here is your trunk,” said Henry, “but even that is far too short.”

“Yes,” said Ho-Ho, “besides, I’m so hot I feel like I’m melting!”  Henry thought for a moment.  He didn’t know very much about normal elephant’s trunks – never mind magic ones.  But surely, if he were very hot, it might stretch further than normal.  Ho-Ho listened to Henry’s theory and decided to give it a try.  He stood at the foot of the cliff and stretched up as far as he possibly could.  Then he began to reach up with his trunk.  At first it looked very silly as the distance was far too great, but after some effort the trunk began to stretch – just a little at first, but then more and more.

“Imagine it’s getting longer still,” cried Henry, “If you can learn to roller skate, you can certainly stretch your trunk!”  Ho-Ho was so proud remembering how he had learned to skate; he puffed with pride and his trunk grew even more until it was able to dip into the seagull’s nest and take the ring.

The lady could not believe her eyes when the small boy and his friend returned her ring.  She really would have given them anything they had asked …. But there was only one thing that a very hot elephant with a sore outstretched trunk wanted – a bucket of ice cream!  Even Henry was impressed by the mess that Ho-Ho made with his ‘reward’; he sloshed it in his eyes, his ears and over his head.  All the children came to see the happy elephant eating his bucket of ice cream.  They all had a wonderful time.

 

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That night in bed Henry smiled to himself.  What a wonderful day it had been:  Ho-Ho learning to roller skate, the trip to the seaside, finding the lady’s ring and the bucket of ice cream.  What a wonderful day it had been with his friend Ho-Ho.  He was exhausted by his adventures, it was not long before he was sound asleep dreaming of tomorrow.

 

©bernard shevlin

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