Henry and Ho-Ho and A Strange Thief

 

Ho-Ho was sleeping soundly, upside down hanging by his trunk from a very high twig in his tree.  Even in his sleep he wore a happy smile.  Then, through his dreams came sounds of music.  Ho-Ho began to waken: as he began to waken he began to laugh, making his trunk uncurl from around the twig.  As the trunk uncurled he began to fall, until finally – ‘plop’ – he landed on the soft grass.  At once he began to grow from the tiny, pink curled up elephant into an enormous laughing elephant.

“Ho-Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho” laughed Ho-Ho.

“Good morning Ho-Ho” said Henry, smiling.

“Where’s the music coming from?” asked Ho-Ho.

“It’s a present I had for my birthday;” said Henry.

“It’s called a transitory radio – or something like that. You can hear all kinds of things on it.”

Ho-Ho was delighted.  He asked Henry to turn the radio first louder then softer and to tune it in to different radio stations.  He didn’t much care for all the talking, but he loved all the music.  He was so happy with the discovery he did a little dance.

“This is most wonderful,” said Ho-Ho, his eyes open wide with delight, “can we take it with us on today’s adventure?”

“Certainly,” said Henry, looking at his watch, “we ought to be off by now.”

The two friends strapped on Ho-Ho’s roller skates and they were soon speeding along the roads to their favourite seaside.  Ho-Ho loved to hear the music play as he skated along, though he had to stop himself from doing a little dance at the traffic lights.

Even on the beach, Ho-Ho wanted the music kept switched on – but not too loud so it didn’t disturb other people.  Henry thought it was about time to go and buy them an ice cream each; he left Ho-Ho fanning himself to music by Beethoven.

“Two tubs of ice cream please,” Henry asked the ice cream man, adding how beautiful the beach looked in the sun.

“Yes indeed” said the man, “there should be a lot more people around than this.”  He leaned over and whispered in Henry’s ear, “Its thieves that stop folks coming you know, the thieves.”  Henry was most curious about the ‘thieves’ and asked the ice cream man to tell him more.  It seems that over the past month, people had been losing things on the beach – some quite unusual things, such as deck chairs, beach-balls, sun-hats and parasols; someone had even lost a pet canary!  (Though what they were doing with a pet canary on the beach is another question).

“I hope you don’t have any valuables worth stealing” finished the ice cream man looking concerned.

Henry shook his head.  There was only his radio, and surely no-one would steel from an elephant.

While taking the ice creams back to Ho-Ho, Henry began to thinks about this mystery.  Who would want to steel a canary, or deck-chairs… it was certainly most odd.

When he arrived back, Ho-Ho was fast asleep, in a normal-sized daytime sleep.

“Wake up for your ice cream” said Henry.

Ho-Ho opened his eyes smiling.

“Put the music back on please Henry” asked Ho-Ho.

Then Henry noticed; his radio was gone!

The two friends looked around but there was no sign of it.  Then Henry remembered the warnings of the ice cream man, and explained all he knew about the thieves to Ho-Ho.

“What shall we do?” asked Henry.  Ho-Ho thought for a minute:

“If something is lost, you should look for it” he finally said.  Henry was unimpressed, but had no better ideas himself, so the two friends began to explore the beach looking for the small transistor radio.  They searched for hours but could see no signs of the missing radio.  It looked hopeless and Henry was beginning to despair when suddenly Ho-Ho began to dance.

“Why are you dancing,” asked Henry, “we’re supposed to be looking for the radio.”

“It’s that nice music “said Ho-Ho, “I just feel like dancing when they play that.”

Henry listened but could hear nothing – nor could he see any possible place where the music could be coming from.

“Where is the music coming from?” asked Henry curiously and forgetting for a moment his present worries.

“I’ll show you” said Ho-Ho “just follow me.”

Ho-Ho led the way.  Henry was amazed at how sharp Ho-Ho’s hearing must be.  He finally did hear it, and it seemed to be coming from inside a cave.

“It’s coming from in there” said Ho-Ho confidently.

The cave opening was quite small – far too small for a large elephant, so Henry put his head inside.

He nearly yelled with freight, for there was the biggest, most evil looking monster of an octopus that he had ever seen; he only just moved away in time before one of the giant tentacles moved in his direction.  He did have time to see where the music was coming from; it was his own transistor radio!  So here was the thief.  Henry discussed the problem with Ho-Ho, but neither of them had any idea what to do.

“Something may turn up” said Ho-Ho yawning, “I feel so sleepy though when they play this type of music.”  The radio was playing a lullaby and a sudden thought struck Henry.  He peeped again into the cave; the octopus’s eyes were shut.

“Quick” said Henry “run you trunk into the cave and rescue these things that have been stolen – but save the radio until last – we don’t want him to wake up!”

Well, Ho-Ho set to work; he pulled out several deck-chairs, sunglasses, parasols, umbrellas, a canary cage, three teddies, five dolls, a billiard cue and a tin of cat food, and many other things.  Once the octopus stirred but thought that ho-Ho’s trunk was just one of his tentacles.  Last of all Ho-Ho pulled out the transistor radio.  By now a crowd had gathered, including the local policeman.

“We’ve found you thief” said Henry pointing to the cave. “It’s a giant octopus, and all these things were hidden in there.”

The policeman was delighted and arranged for all of the property to be returned to its rightful owners.

“I suppose I’d better give you detectives a reward!” he concluded.  For a hot elephant on a beach there was only one possible reward, of course – a bucket of ice cream.  He really didn’t mind eating it in front of all the children who found the sight of Ho-Ho sloshing ice cream all over himself hilariously funny.

 

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That night in bed Henry felt especially happy.  He and Ho-Ho were certainly very good at solving mysteries.  Perhaps he would be a proper detective when he grew up – either that or a fireman…… but he still did want to drive a train, or perhaps one of those big lorries with a trailer behind…. There were so many things to do.  Henry was soon fast asleep with a happy smile on his face.

 

©bernard shevlin

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