Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji    

Chapter 3: Kari Goes to Town

Performer: Librivox - Adrian Praetzellis

When Kari was about five years old, another adventure befell him. We took him to see the town, but before we had started, we tried to train him to like dogs and monkeys. Elephants are proverbially irritated by dogs. When an elephant goes through a village, every dog barks at him, and while most elephants are too dignified to pay any attention, there are some who get extremely annoyed and try to chase the dogs. Sometimes, in fact, an elephant will chase a dog so hard that he will lose his way in the village.

Knowing that there were many unknown little hamlets between our village and the city, we thought we would train Kari to like dogs before we started, for we did not want to be led astray into all sorts of little alleys while he chased the dogs who had annoyed him.

But as all the dogs of our village had seen Kari grow up they never paid any attention to him, and that made it all the more difficult to train Kari to like other dogs. He always thought the dogs in our little village were the right kind since they did not bark at him. Whenever a strange dog barked at him, he would chase the poor creature through the whole village and waste hours in trying to find his way back to the road.

We tried to train Kari by taking him to villages that he had not yet seen. There were no dogs in the first village we came to. We went through it without any trouble. In the second village we came across one or two dogs that barked a few times, then disappeared in the distance. Then, as we were leaving this village we heard terrible snorts and growls all around us and were suddenly surrounded by a pack of angry mongrels, curs and wild dogs. It was terrible to see Kari trying to chase them with his trunk. Sometimes he would try to step right on the back of a dog, but the dog would slip away from under him. Little by little as the dogs began to bark all around him, he started to go round and round in a circle, faster and faster till he was spinning like a top.

We had a hard time sitting on his back because we felt terribly dizzy. We were almost falling off, when we heard a piercing yell and saw the whole pack of tormentors running away. Kari had stepped on one of the dogs and killed it and that frightened the others away.

We then brought Kari home, gave him his bath in the river and offered him nice saplings and twigs, but he would eat none of them.

From that day on, Kari was never upset by the barking of dogs, but went through strange villages without paying any attention to them, no matter how hard they barked at his heels.

Now that he had become immune to dogs, we tried to make him like monkeys. Monkeys, as you know, are very annoying little creatures. I had a pet monkey of my own named Kopee, who was red-faced and tawny-coated. He never came near the elephant, and Kari never thought of going near him. Whenever we went out, this monkey used to sit on my shoulder, and if we passed through bazaars where mangoes and other fruits were sold, it was very difficult to keep Kopee from getting into mischief. In India everything is shown in the open, and the mangoes lie in baskets piled up one above the other like little hills. There were places where oranges were heaped up like big burning rocks. Here and there you could see brown men robed in white sitting near these mountains of fruit, bargaining about the prices.

Now it is very good to smell the fragrance of fruit, and one day while going through the lane of a village, as the fragrance of the fruit grew stronger, I forgot all about Kopee, and did not realize that I was carrying him on my shoulder.

Somehow the little monkey always knew when I was not thinking of him. At such moments he would invariably jump off my shoulder and run straight for the oranges or mangoes, take one or two of them and then make a dive for a sheltered spot. This upset the whole bazaar. Hundreds of men would pursue him from tree to tree, yelling and throwing stones till he vanished out of sight.

Of course, I used to get terribly frightened, fearing that the men would attack me for carrying such a mischievous monkey. I would hurry out of the bazaar and make for home as fast as I could go. Then in an hour or two I would find Kopee on the house top, looking perfectly innocent and scratching himself. No one could ever tell by his face that he had stolen fruit a short while before.

When the time came for me to go to town, I was anxious to take Kopee and Kari with me, and I wanted the elephant to like the monkey and the monkey to behave like a gentleman toward the elephant. One day I brought the monkey on my shoulder and held him tight with both hands in front of the pavilion where the elephant was busy eating all kinds of saplings. Sometimes he would take a strong twig and unravel the top into a soft, fluffy tuft; then he would seize the other end of it with his trunk and brush himself. The moment he saw the monkey, he snorted and raised his trunk to grab him. With one wild scream the monkey jumped off my shoulder, climbed up the pavilion post and disappeared on the roof.

I went to Kari and spoke to him. I said, "Kari, in order to like dogs you killed one, now don't kill my monkey in order to like monkeys." He was very displeased that I should ever want him to like monkeys, because elephants are very much like some people who don't like to associate with others who have come from nowhere and whom they consider their inferiors. Elephants don't like to associate with monkeys, for they came from nowhere. You must remember, too, that elephants rarely see monkeys because monkeys are above the elephants most of the time, jumping and squealing among the trees in a manner most annoying to a quiet and sedate creature like an elephant.

It did not take more than a week, however, to bring Kari and Kopee together. One day there was a pile of fruit lying in the open, and the elephant stood at one end eating and the monkey at the other, both enjoying the feast. Of course, the elephant ate faster than the monkey, and realizing this, Kopee began to eat more quickly and soon had enormous pouches on each side of his face. Before long all the fruit was gone and the two animals were left facing each other. The monkey trembled with fear. He was almost on the point of running away to a treetop, but, no one knows why, the elephant turned away from him and went into his pavilion. This gave the monkey great courage, so he went straight up to the roof of the pavilion, and peering down through the eaves, found out that the elephant lived on twigs and fruits and saplings just like himself. Having watched all this, I then got up on Kari's back and whistled to the monkey. He leaped down from the tree onto my shoulder. The elephant shivered for a moment and then was absolutely still. When I ordered him "mali," he walked on.

One day I took them to the bazaar, I on the elephant and the monkey on my shoulder. When we had reached a mountain of mangoes round the corner of a lane, the monkey jumped off and climbed up to the top of the pile. At this the owner of the fruit chased him away, yelling and shouting. The monkey climbed up the roof of a house, followed by a crowd. Kari, however, put out his trunk and helped himself to whatever fruits he liked, eating them with great relish. The moment he heard the people coming back from the monkey chase, he ran away — and you may be surprised to know that when an elephant runs, he can go more than ten miles an hour. By the time we reached home, Kopee had buried his face in an enormous mango and was covered with the juice. And you know that mangoes taste very much like strawberries and cream with sugar on them.

At last we set off for the city, Kari, and Kopee now the best of friends. It was very interesting at night going through the jungle country. The moonlight was intense, falling like white waters on the land. You could see the treetops, and at midnight almost clear down to the very floor of the jungle where the shadows were thick like packs of wolves crouching in sleep. The elephant went through these regions perfectly care-free. He did not care who came or went or what happened.

But not so the monkey. Monkeys, you know, are always afraid of snakes, and do you know why? Snakes go up trees and eat birds and their younglings. Monkeys also live by stealing eggs from different birds' nests. Now it sometimes happens that the snake eats all the birds' eggs in the nest and is resting there when the monkey puts his hands in to grab the eggs, so the monkey instead of getting the eggs is stung to death. As this sort of thing has been happening for thousands of years, it is natural that they fear snakes.

Monkeys also get punished for using their hands too much. Now, if you come across a snake, the best thing to do is not to touch it. Monkeys, however, accustomed to using their hands continually, grab a snake whenever they see one with the result that the snake usually stings them to death. I have never seen a snake do this, but I have seen dead snakes with marks on their bodies showing that monkeys had twisted them like ropes, broken their backs and thrown them down before the snakes could use their fangs. This, however, is very rare.

As we were going through the jungle that night, Kopee would shiver with terror whenever there was a swish of a snake's body in the grass below or in the leaves above, and I had to put my hand on his back and whisper, "Don't be afraid, you are on the elephant's back and nothing can touch you."

Another thing that used to frighten him was the hooting of the night owl. Any monkey that lives in the jungle is used to this, but as Kopee was born among human beings and had always lived with them, he had never heard jungle noises. When the owls beat their wings and gave the mating call and hoot, it was like a foam of noise rising over a river of silence. I, too, was alarmed when I would suddenly hear the hooting in my sleep, but both Kopee and I soon got used to it.

About four o'clock in the morning Kari stopped and refused to go a step further. Though I was asleep, Kopee began to pull me by the hand, and instantly after being aroused, I heard, or rather felt, as if clouds were passing by. The monkey's eyes were all eagerness and burning with excitement, and I looked down where he was looking. The honey-colored moon was casting slanting rays into the jungle through dark moving clouds. We did not know what we saw. It seemed as though two or three hundred wild elephants in a herd were going through the jungle, or perhaps the clouds were feeding on the leaves that night. No one knows what it was, but we did know Silence walked by, telling us of the mysteries of the jungle, and we could not understand.

Then out of the stillness a bird's note fell through the jungle and there was a gleam of whiteness. That instant Silence was lifted, dawn began to sing through the jungle and you could hear its flute-like call fading away in the distance, followed by a momentary hush. Then the birds began to sing, and soon the sun came leaping over the forest like a horse of flame. This must have taken at least an hour and a half, but we did not even know when the elephant resumed his walk.

We soon came to a river where we stopped. I gave the elephant his bath. The monkey went off in search of food from tree to tree. Then I bathed myself and stood facing the East, saying these words of prayer:

"O Blossom of Eastern Silence,

Reveal to us the face of God,

Whose shadow is this day,

And whose light is always within us.

Lead us from the unreal to the Real,

From sound into Silence,

From darkness unto Light,

And from death into Immortality."

In India every hour has its prayer and every prayer can be said unconsciously anywhere. Nobody notices you if you kneel down on the road to say your prayer, in spite of the fact that you are blocking the traffic. Religion runs like singing waters by the shores of every human life in India.

I went to the forest nearby and got the elephant his food, and as he started to eat I began to cook my own meal. When traveling, it is better to cook one's own meal so that it will be clean and uncontaminated. Very soon I saw a caravan coming. Apparently Kopee had seen it from the treetop as he was chattering with great excitement to tell me it was coming. I told him to hold his tongue because the elephant was getting restless.

I decided to go with the caravan into the town because the caravan people knew the shortest way. I also preferred to travel in human company rather than alone. No sooner had the caravan reached us than our attention was drawn to the faces of the camels probing the distance. You know how a camel examines the air as he goes along — he is continually stretching forth his head and smelling the air, and he can do this easily with his long neck. As camels live in the desert they must keep smelling the air to find out its humidity. Every time the air is very humid they know that water is nearby. That is why we call camels the examiners of space; in your country you would call them animal barometers.

The moment Kari saw the camels he snorted in anger, though the monkey was excited and thrilled. You see, elephants are the aristocrats of animals, while camels are snobs. You can easily tell a snob, he holds his head in a very supercilious way, always looking down on everyone, and don't you think if you put a monocle on a camel's eye he would look like any snob that walks down the avenue? Nevertheless, I made my elephant join the camels. That is to say, we kept about one hundred yards behind them because I could not let the monkey bound from camel hump to camel hump, and it would not do to let the elephant put his trunk about the camels' necks and twist them.

Toward midday the whole caravan stopped and all the animals were tied under different trees for two or three hours to rest. As we knew we could easily reach the city by sun-down, we all enjoyed our siesta. About half-past three, the doves began to coo, and that made the monkey sit up and listen. Being a dweller of the trees by birth, Kopee was always sensitive to tree sounds. Soon a cuckoo called from the distance and in a few moments the caravan was ready to move on. Nothing exciting happened the rest of the journey.

    Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji Kari the Elephant by Dhan Gopal Mukerji    

Chapter 3: Kari Goes to Town

Performer: Librivox - Adrian Praetzellis


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read and/or listen to the chapter.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Study the vocabulary words.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Discuss the review questions.


The narrator trains Kari to like strange dogs in preparation for a trip to a large city. The narrator next trains Kari to get along with his mischievous monkey, Kopee. Once Kari is friendly toward both dogs and monkeys, the narrator, Kari, and Kopee begin their trip to the big city. On their trip they encounter snakes, owls, silence, and a caravan with camels.


Hamlet: A small village or a group of houses.
Mongrel: A dog of mixed kind or uncertain origin.
Cur: A contemptible or inferior dog.
Tawny: Of a light brown to brownish orange color.
Bazaar: A marketplace, particularly in the Middle East, and often covered with shops and stalls.
Caravan: A convoy or procession of travelers, their vehicles and cargo, and any pack animals, especially camels crossing a desert.


Activity 1: Recite the Book Information

  • Recite the name of the author, the title of the book, and the title of the chapter.

Activity 2: Narrate the Story

  • Narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 3: Copy and Dictate a Sentence   

Complete page 42 in 'Third Grade Prose Copywork and Dictation.'

  • Step 1: Students copy the script sentence.
  • Step 2: Instructors say the sentence aloud, and children write it.
  • Sentence: Silence walked by, telling us of the mysteries of the jungle.

Activity 4: Sketch a Caravan   

Complete page 43 in 'Third Grade Prose Copywork and Dictation.'

  • Make a quick pencil sketch of the caravan proceeding up the road to the Indian palace.

Activity 5: Map the Story

  • The story 'Kari the Elephant' takes place in the country of India.
  • Find and recite a few names of the large cities within India.


Question 1

Why does the narrator train Kari to like dogs and monkeys?
1 / 5

Answer 1

The narrator wishes to take Kari to a big city and does not want him to chase the dogs or monkeys and get lost.
1 / 5

Question 2

Who steals oranges and mangoes from the bazaar?
2 / 5

Answer 2

Kopee the monkey steals oranges and mangoes from the bazaar.
2 / 5

Question 3

Why are monkeys scared of snakes?
3 / 5

Answer 3

Monkeys like to rob birds' nests, but sometimes a snake has already eaten the eggs and has coiled up in the nest. If a monkey reaches into the next, the snake may sting the monkey to death.
3 / 5

Question 4

Why does Kari stop at four o'clock in morning?
4 / 5

Answer 4

The narrator does not know for certain why Kari stops, but at that time Silence walks by.
4 / 5

Question 5

Why doesn't Kari want to join the caravan?
5 / 5

Answer 5

Kari doesn't wish to join the caravan because it includes camels, who are snobs.
5 / 5

  1. Why does the narrator train Kari to like dogs and monkeys? The narrator wishes to take Kari to a big city and does not want him to chase the dogs or monkeys and get lost.
  2. Who steals oranges and mangoes from the bazaar? Kopee the monkey steals oranges and mangoes from the bazaar.
  3. Why are monkeys scared of snakes? Monkeys like to rob birds' nests, but sometimes a snake has already eaten the eggs and has coiled up in the nest. If a monkey reaches into the next, the snake may sting the monkey to death.
  4. Why does Kari stop at four o'clock in morning? The narrator does not know for certain why Kari stops, but at that time Silence walks by.
  5. Why doesn't Kari want to join the caravan? Kari doesn't wish to join the caravan because it includes camels, who are snobs.