Comic book writer Steve Ahlquist (Oz Squad, Strange Eggs) re-imagines a lost classic for a modern audience, creating an outrageous adventure story crossed with a tale of redemption and forgiveness.
Through the Sierra Nevada Pass
As the sun rose Harold and Ione crossed into California. The Elephant charged through hilly areas that presaged the far distant Sierra Mountains. Harold spent the morning instructing Ione in the Elephant’s operation and Ione took to the lessons quickly and soon took a long turn piloting while Harold consulted the detailed and exhaustive world maps he had found tucked away within the Elephant. After much study Harold made his best guess as to where he and Ione were presently located, and picked one of several passes the maps charted though the treacherous Sierra Mountains.
“The way we’re moving, we’ll be in Los Angeles in days,” said Harold over a lunch of dry, stale crackers found in a cupboard discovered by Ione. Ione had occupied the time she was not piloting the Elephant with exploring the many drawers, nooks and crannies within it, all of which were stuffed with a seemingly random assortment of tools, clothing, knick-knacks, money, equipment, weapons or just plain junk.
Ione’s mouth was full of crackers, “I’ve been to ‘Frisco, but not Los Angeles. I’ve heard it’s nice, but small.”
“Small is good,” said Harold, though his idea of a big city was anyplace with more than a hundred people. “I don’t want to attract too much attention to the Elephant. People might not believe how I got it, and I don’t want to lose it. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” Harold looked at Ione as she pretended to be hurt and pouted her lips. “Okay, the second best thing,” he added.
Ione smiled and Harold laughed and took a sip of water.
“These crackers are stale,” said Ione.
“I’m sick of them,” added Harold, though the crackers were more delicious than anything he had eaten on the work farm, “I’d love some real food.”
An hour later Harold’s wish for real food was granted. The Elephant was traveling along a winding rural road, and past several farms when it came to a small crossing that served as a trading post with a church, a general store, and some farm stands. The arrival of the Elephant caused great consternation and excitement among the fifteen or so people gathered.
As the Elephant approached the people backed away and one man at a fruit stand produced a shotgun, holding it at the ready. The Elephant marched to a point about thirty feet away, and then shuddered to a stop, becoming completely immobile. A few seconds later Harold and Ione stepped out from behind the Elephant and approached the nearest farm stand, holding hands and smiling. They made an odd couple, dressed in the oversized shirts and ill fitting pants they had found within the Elephant. They looked more like pirates than respectable people. No one knew what to make of them.
Harold nodded at the older woman who sold fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and lemons as Ione chose several delicious examples of each.
“Ma’am,” said Harold politely. The older woman pointedly ignored him.
“Harold, this food looks amazing,” said Ione, her mouth watering.
“Good. Let’s buy enough to last us until Los Angeles.”
Ione produced a five dollar gold coin from her pocket and offered it to the old woman as payment for the vegetables she had selected. The woman’s face showed disapproval.
“Women hadn’t ought to wear men’s pants, young lady,” said the woman, “It ain’t respectable.”
“I’m buying vegetables, old lady, not your respect,” replied Ione, still holding out the gold piece, “I was going to tell you to keep the change, but forget it now.”
Harold was taken aback by Ione’s brusk handling of the old woman’s impolite comment, but decided not to involve himself when he noticed a man in overalls selling chickens at a nearby stall. The man was very business like despite the unusual circumstances of Harold’s arrival. Harold bought five chickens, which he hoped the electric icebox on board the Elephant would preserve. As the man began the grisly task of slaughtering and plucking the chickens, Harold approached another stall where oranges were being sold by a boy about Harold’s age.
“Is that an Elephant?” asked the boy. He wore a white woven hat too small for his head and a blue bow tie.
“Yes,” said Harold, holding up an orange in each hand, “What are these?”
“Only the best damned oranges in the State of California,” said the boy with evident pride.
“Albert! Language!” said a middle aged woman Harold had not noticed. The woman sat in a rocking chair knitting, and admonished the boy Albert without bothering to look up.
“Can I try one?” asked Harold.
“Sure. They’re two for a penny, or two dozen for ten cents.”
A minute later Harold ran over to Ione with a sack of oranges and five wrapped chickens as she finished purchasing two medium sized burlap sacks of vegetables.
“Ione!” Harold nearly shouted, “You’ve got to try one of these!”
“Oranges, Harold. I’ve had them.”
Ione laughed. “I guess they are.”
As most of the people at the crossing watched with great curiosity, Harold and Ione walked back to the Elephant and then behind it. Three of the people gathered at the farm stands followed at a distance and watched as Harold produced the key from around his neck and unlocked the Elephant, letting the stairs tumble out.
“That’s quite the unusual creature you got there,” said a man as Ione entered the Elephant and Harold handed her the bags of groceries.
“I suppose it is,” answered Harold. He followed Ione into the the Elephant, retracted the stairs and awkwardly waved to the group of onlookers as the door closed and sealed. After a moment the Elephant trembled back to life, and trumpeted loudly, rearing its head back. The three onlookers backed away in a hurry, and the people gathered at the small trading post watched the great beast with concern, but the Elephant merely charged up the road, out of town and towards the Sierra Mountains.
The boy selling oranges turned to his mother and the dour old woman selling vegetables and asked, “What do you make of that?”
“That girl was a hussy, plain and simple,” said the old woman, and the boy’s mother nodded her head in agreement, refusing to look up from her knitting. The boy nodded with his mother, but secretly thought that the man in the Elephant was the luckiest person on Earth.
Miles east, Billy Twister and Bea Smalls were walking across a wide plain, towards the mountains in the distant west. Billy had recovered his guns and a small amount of money from the wreckage of the cart. Everything else was left behind, too heavy to carry. The horses had run off, and he did not want to be dragging a heavy load on foot through Shug Country, especially given his recent history with the tribe.
Bea marched alongside her brother, singing some idiotic song to herself, driving Billy crazy. She sang so quietly that only some of the words were audible and Billy caught mere fragments of lyrics and scraps of melody. Despite his best efforts it was impossible to fill the inaudible spaces with anything that sensibly linked the random patches of song to any music he knew.
“Bea, I swear to God, either sing or don’t sing,” said Billy with exasperation, “but if you keep on with your idiot chanting I’ll shoot you.”
“Sorry, Billy,” answered his sister in her singsong voice, “I forget all the songs so I jumbled them up in my head.”
“That’s just stupid, Bea.”
Bea said nothing in response, and Billy received nearly ten minutes of merciful silence before Bea started singing again. “Someone’s in the kitchen…” she sang, off key, “…and she ain’t what she used to be…”
Billy silently prayed for a Shug attack.
From a distance, Billy heard a sound unlike any he had ever heard before. He silently revoked his prayer for an Indian attack and pulled Bea into a crouch with him, hoping to hide in the tall grass. Peering through the grass, which scarcely covered him, Billy saw something running towards his position, something like a large bird, with white and black feathers. A dangerous looking old man dressed like an undertaker was riding the bird, a look of fire in his eyes. As if this were not unusual enough, the bird was pulling a two-wheeled wagon that contained a pained faced Indian, holding on for dear life.
Billy thought hard for a moment, and came to an instinctual understanding that this large bird was in some way related to the Elephant. Billy stood and waved his arms for the rider to stop.
The bird and cart altered course and slowed to approach Billy. Billy had met a lot of cruel men in his life, in fact he considered himself to be one, but he had never met a man like the one atop the curious bird, who radiated cruelty the way fire radiates heat. He saw nothing in the man with a top hat but meanness and spite. Billy knew that this was a man to be handled carefully.
The man atop the bird said nothing, but merely glared at Billy with his gray dead eyes. He had his hand on the grip of his revolver, and did not give the impression that he would hesitate to use it. Billy said, “I reckon you’re in pursuit of an Elephant?”
The old man’s expression went from scowl to deep frown and he squinted his eyes, focusing so intently on Billy that Billy was forced to look away. After a moment the tall man dismounted from the bird, stumbling a bit in doing so. He rubbed his bottom and revealed an almost human appreciation for the pain his body was in. The Indian leapt down from the cart and stretched pops from his back and shoulders.
“You have information on this Elephant,” said the old man, keeping his attention on Billy Twister with his penetrating, birdlike gaze. It was not a question; it was a statement of fact. Billy sensed that the old man had spent a lifetime breaking the wills of weaker men.
Billy did not like this one bit. He liked to think he knew all the angles, but even though he was armed with pistol and shotgun, facing a tired old man riding a ridiculous mechanical bird, he was feeling out of his depth. Summoning all his willpower, Billy met the old man’s gaze and played a hunch. “It’s not the Elephant you’re after, is it?”
The old man with the top hat said nothing in response, but Billy knew he was on the right track now.
“You’re after the boy,” said Billy.
The old man moved forward, surprising Billy with his speed and strength. The guns were knocked out of Billy’s hands and the old man grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, bringing them nose to nose as he hissed, “Tell me about the boy.”
Despite his resolve Billy looked away from the old man’s gaze. “Had me at gunpoint, he did,” said Billy.
“Then you’re lucky to be alive” said the old man, “Harold Frederick is a stone cold killer.”
Maybe, thought Billy, but a reluctant one. Billy smiled slightly, he had been dealt another card. The man with the top hat needed to demonize the boy, and Billy was happy to play into that need. “He took my sister with him,” said Billy, “Kidnapped her.”
This bit of information took the old man by surprise and Billy was happy to see some confusion on the grizzled, white whiskered face. Before the old man could fully process this new fact, however, Bea stood up, revealing herself.
“I’m your sister,” said Bea.
Billy cursed silently to himself, not sure how the sudden appearance of his idiot sister would affect his discourse with the old man, but to Billy’s delight Bea’s presence wrought a transformation on the old man. Bea’s revelation had delivered Billy another card to play.
The old man let go of Billy’s collar, smoothing some of the wrinkles in his shirt with his dry, boney hands, and then turned towards Bea, taking several long steps in her direction. Billy looked to the ground where his guns had fallen, but the Indian was watching him, his gun at the ready, so Billy merely smiled politely and bided his time.
“My dear, pardon my manners,” said the old man, flashing an accusing look at Billy, somehow implying that whatever lapse of etiquette had occurred was Billy’s fault. “I had no idea there was a lady present.” The old man bent his crooked frame into a low bow.
“My name is Crow,” said the old man, “Mordecai Crow, and this Indian is my hired guide, who goes by the name of Mr. Fox, because his non-Christian name is most certainly unpronounceable.”
Bea giggled again as Mr. Fox frowned.
Mr. Crow extended Bea a hand, leading her from the tall grass into the clearing. “And you are…?”
“Bea. Bea Smalls, war widow.”
Mr. Crow nodded with sympathy. “What a world we suffer through, when one so young and beautiful can be so sorely tested.”
“Mr. Crow,” said Bea, “you say such pretty things.”
“Please, call me Mordecai,” began Mr. Crow, “I too have suffered great loss. My twin brother…”
“Oh, Mr. Smalls was no great loss,” said Bea, “In fact we made…”
“Bea!” said Billy Twister, before Bea could say something stupid, and incriminating, “We mustn’t speak ill.”
Bea closed her mouth, making a small popping sound.
“Her husband was a hard man,” explained Billy quickly, “and it was not an easy marriage, Mr. Crow.”
Mr. Crow frowned at Billy Twister. It was hard for the old man to reconcile his immediate distaste for Billy Twister with his immediate attraction towards Bea. Mr. Crow brought his attention back to the original conversation, addressing Billy, “What about your other sister?”
“Trish, but she calls herself Ione now,” said Billy, and then he explained, “She was taken by Shugs, and we rescued her, only to have that boy and his Elephant come and take her away.”
“Is there no end to the boy’s depravity?” asked Mr. Crow, “I ran a school for wayward youth, and much of my time was spent beating the sin out of them. Young Harold Fredericks was a particularly nasty boy. I shudder to imagine what he has in mind for your sister.”
“Calm yourself, Mrs. Smalls,” said Mr. Crow, choosing to interpret her giggles as nervous concern, “We may rescue your sister as of yet. My companion, Mr. Fox, has discovered a means by which the Elephant may be tracked, and the bird I arrived on is the Elephant’s superior in speed, even pulling the attached cart.”
At a gesture from Mr. Crow Mr. Fox reluctantly held up the small luminous tracking device for everyone to see.
Mr. Crow thought for a moment and said, “I think it best if you and your sister accompany us, this is still, after all, savage Indian country…”
“Actually, it’s not…” said Mr. Fox, but no one paid him heed.
“I was to suggest that myself,” said Billy. “I could share the cart with the Indian, and Bea could share the saddle with you, Mr. Crow.”
Mr. Crow was startled by the suggestion. “Well, I…”
At an invisible signal from Billy, Bea moved in, and wrapped her arms around Mr. Crow. “Oh, Mordy, I’d feel safer if you was closer to me.”
Mr. Crow melted under her embrace and agreed to the seating arrangements. The old man climbed onto the cart and from there to the saddle of the Ostrich, and then with help from Billy and Mr. Fox Bea was hoisted into place behind him. Mr. Crow felt paralyzed and his skin tingled as Bea wrapped her thin arms around his waist, and rested her soft cheek against his bony back.
“I can hear your beating heart,” said Bea.
Billy Twister and Mr. Fox climbed into the cart. It was agreed that until everyone got to know everyone else a little better, Billy would be separated from his guns, which were kept by Mr. Fox. Then the Indian guide consulted the glowing screen of the tracking device and said, “Proceed due west, Mr. Crow.”
The Ostrich stretched its neck forward and dug its feet into the soft earth. After a few steps and several seconds the Ostrich was running at speeds Billy Twister had only experienced when traveling by express locomotive.
“Whee!” said Bea, as her bonnet flew off and her hair fell free.
Mordecai Crow, tall in the saddle, flying towards the mountains with a beautiful woman clinging to him and a mission of vengeance in his heart, never felt more alive.
That night Harold and Ione started a fire and roasted a chicken for dinner. They prepared a salad, another food Harold had never seen at the work farm. It rivaled the orange for flavor and deliciousness. After dinner, seated on the stairs of the Elephant, Harold studied the maps by the electric lights. Ione had found a harmonica among the items stashed within the Elephant and was busy trying to get something that sounded like music out of the instrument.
“I think I found a way through the mountains,” said Harold, pointing to a place on the map. “There are several passes we can try, but I think the best and the easiest will be this one.”
Ione squinted at the words and symbols on the map, pretending to understand what she saw. “Looks fine to me,” she said, then she screeched a few bars on the harmonica and kissed Harold on the cheek. “We have a full day tomorrow. Let’s go to bed.”
“I’m not really tired,” said Harold.
“Neither am I,” said Ione. Harold needed an extra moment to understand Ione’s meaning, then realization struck and he hurried after the girl.
Later that evening Harold was laying on the couch, wrapped in blankets with Ione, who was staring at the swords and knives stuck into the ceiling of the Elephant.
“Ione, how old are you?” Harold asked.
“A lady doesn’t say, Harold,” said Ione.
Ione laughed. “I’m nineteen, and no lady.”
Harold was silent for a minute, digesting this.
“Don’t worry, Harold, I know you’re younger than me. What are you, seventeen?”
“Yep,” Harold lied, “you guessed it.”
“Age doesn’t matter when you’re in love Harold. I knew this girl younger than me who was married off to a man older than her father. She was his third wife too. The first two wives hated her, but she loved the old man, and he loved her.”
“You love me?” asked Harold.
Ione stopped her story and thought about what she had just said. The words had come without thinking, as if no other words would do.
“I love you too Ione,” said Harold, “I really do.”
They squeezed each other tight and kissed.
The next morning Harold and Ione packed up and headed northwest, towards what Harold hoped was the same pass he had found on the map.
Two hours after the young couple had broken camp a gigantic mechanical Ostrich arrived on the scene bearing Mr. Crow and Bea Smalls and pulling a cart containing Billy Twister and Mr. Fox.
Mr. Fox climbed down from the cart, sore and tired, and put his hand over the fire. They were so close now that the tracking device was useless. The small blinking Elephant symbol covered an area on the green glowing map that was at least six miles in diameter, and the Elephant could be anywhere within.
“Fire’s been out for one or two hours, Mr. Crow.”
“We can’t be too far behind him then!” yelled the old man triumphantly, “Onward!”
“Mr. Crow,” said Billy Twister, “We is all plum tuckered.”
“But our prize is near!”
Billy played his trump card. “Bea’s so tired she’s liable to simply fall out of your saddle.”
“My bum hurts,” said Bea, by way of agreement.
“Can’t hurt to rest a couple hours,” said Billy, jumping from the cart as if the issue were resolved, “They’re heading into the mountains, most like, and we can catch them there.”
“I can get the fire started again,” suggested Mr. Fox.
Billy helped Bea down from the Ostrich. Mr. Crow stood in the stirrups, frustrated and alone. He felt at once so close and so far away, but as he caught himself yawning, he realized the wisdom of his companion’s course of action. Reluctantly the old man dropped from the Ostrich and removed his bedroll from the side of the Ostrich. Mr. Fox got the fire started, and the four strange companions quickly fell asleep.
That night Mordecai Crow had a strange dream. He was running through an orchard with his brother, Uriah. The orchard was familiar, he remembered playing here as a child, and the trees were ripe with pears. There were children around, but Mr. Crow and his brother were old. As the children ran about the orchard, they would pick up pieces of fallen fruit and hurl them at each other, using the trunks of trees and each other as cover. It was the sort of casual horseplay children engaged in, the kind of game that lasts until someone is hurt serious enough to mandate the game’s end.
Mr. Crow and his brother towered over the children. As the twins ran through the orchard they scooped up rotting pears and hurled them with deadly accuracy. Near by, watching the sport was Bea Smalls and her identical twin sister Trish, preparing a picnic lunch on a checkered blanket. Mr. Crow was dimly aware that the sisters and the picnic were the prize for winning the game.
Child after child fell beneath the hurtling pears of Mordecai and Uriah Crow. With ruthless efficiency and deadly accuracy the brothers cornered and destroyed their prey, save for one particular boy. This boy wove and dodged through the trees, his spirit unbreakable, no matter the punishment. The boy rounded a tree with a wide trunk. Mr. Crow signaled his brother to round the tree from one side as he took the other. The tree was almost impossibly wide, but eventually Mr. Crow got around in time to see the boy throw his pear with unbelievable strength. The pear splashed into the chest of Uriah Crow, exploding in a shower of blood.
Mr. Crow shouted and ran to his brother, taking him into his arms, only to have him melt away like sand. Rage flowed through the old man. The murderous whelp who had killed his brother ran off laughing, towards the girls on the picnic blanket. Pausing at the picnic the boy turned slightly and Mr. Crow recognized the face. It was Harold Fredericks. Harold grabbed one of the Small sisters, threw her over his shoulder and ran into the deep woods, out of sight.
Mr. Crow ran forward and checked on Bea. She was crying for her lost sister, as Mr. Crow cried for his brother. He held her in his arms and their twin tragedies seemed to melt them into one. Mr. Crow felt her lips on his as they pawed and caressed each other’s bodies. In the dream there was no embarrassment, no boundaries. They rolled over and now Bea was on top of Mr. Crow, and he was in her, and…
He was no longer dreaming.
Mr. Crow woke up. He was at the camp, and the sun was just peeking over the horizon. His pants were around his ankles and Bea Smalls was straddling him, her skirt spread out to cover them both. She gently swayed and rocked her hips. Her eyes were closed and she smiled, humming gently to herself.
“Bea!” Mr. Crow grabbed Bea by the waist, torn between throwing her off and finishing the act.
“Oh, Mordy, you are such a man.”
Mr. Crow looked around for Mr. Fox or Billy Twister. They were nowhere about. “This is most…”
Bea thought she understood her lover’s concern. “Shsh. They’s out hunting. Finding some food, giving us some alone time.”
“We- we’re not married…” Mr. Crow stammered, torn between morality and desire.
“We could be married, or just pretend,” replied Bea. She was breathing heavily now, and Mr. Crow joined her.
After it was over, and Bea stood up and arranged her dress as if nothing had happened, Mr. Crow quickly stood and dressed himself. He found tears in his eyes and wiped them away, embarrassed.
Bea touched his shoulder, and Mr. Crow jumped.
The old man’s shoulders slumped, “Bea, I’m so ashamed…”
“It’s okay. I understand,” said Bea, “You was a virgin, now you ain’t.”
“I’m not, I wasn’t…”
“It’s all all-right,” said Bea.
“Everything hunky dorry over here?” Mr. Crow jumped at the sudden appearance of Billy Twister. The old man fought for composure, mentally checking himself and the area for signs of his recent sin of fornication. He did not notice the look that passed between brother and sister.
If Billy or Mr. Fox had noticed anything untoward, neither spoke of it.
“We shot some rabbits,” said Billy, but at a look from Mr. Fox amended that to, “Well Mr. Fox here did, any ways.”
In silence the four travelers prepared and cooked the rabbits. Bea sat close to Mr. Crow, and slowly he began to feel like his old self again. In fact, he felt better than his old self. He felt like a giant, like a monster, like the very wrath of God Himself.
Somehow reconciled to his recent transgression, Mr. Crow smiled, and bit into the tender flesh of the overcooked rabbit, tearing flesh from bone and savoring the taste of the ash dry meat, spitting pellet shot into the fire. Like a demon he was consuming the rabbit’s soul. In his mind the rabbit was Harold Fredericks.
Harold Fredericks piloted the Elephant into the Sierra Mountains and the path became ever more treacherous with each step. Ione sat on the couch, using a sewing kit to alter some of the clothing she had found into something that would fit Harold better. She had also found a box of women’s clothing stored away under the couch, amazing European style dresses fit for a princess, but she lacked the sewing skills necessary to alter them. Perhaps, she thought, when she and Harold reached Los Angeles she would have the opportunity to hire a seamstress.
Harold piloted the Elephant further and higher into the mountains. Ione dozed off, but awoke when the Elephant shuddered to a stop.
“Ione! Look at this!”
Ione leaned over Harold’s shoulder and peered out of the Elephant’s eyes. At first she could not understand what had so excited Harold. “What is it?”
“Look!” said Harold, pointing.
Ione laughed. “That’s snow, Harold.”
Harold looked at Ione, then back at the snow. It was no more than a light flurry, but to Harold it was amazing. Harold suddenly got out of the pilot seat and opened the door to the Elephant. The snow was intensifying, and the cold air from outside swirled in, bringing a light sprinkling of flurries into the Elephant. Harold reached out a hand and touched snow for the first time.
The snow was coming down harder now. Harold stepped outside onto the narrow pass. It was just wide enough to accommodate the Elephant and himself. He moved to the front of the Elephant, and saw how the ever-increasing snow was now covering the path and clinging to the walls of the pass, turning the entire world white. Ione joined him, wrapped in a blanket from the couch. She was looking at the sky with growing apprehension.
Harold squatted and touched the ground, fascinated by the way the snow clumped at his touch. “This is amazing Ione. Back at the farm, we didn’t have this.”
Harold tasted the snow. “Amazing.”
“We should get back inside the Elephant, Harold.” The snow was coming down harder now, and Harold was beginning to feel the cold. “This might be the beginning of a blizzard.”
Harold followed Ione back to the Elephant. The ground had become slippery. Once inside Harold closed up the Elephant and after consulting the instruction manual, found a dial that regulated the interior temperature. Soon he and Ione felt warm, dry and comfortable. Harold carefully started the Elephant forward, driving more carefully now, due to the slippery snow.
The snow continued to fall, faster and faster, until it was impossible to see anything but thrashing whiteness. Harold stopped the Elephant.
“I can’t go any further, Ione,” said Harold, “Without being able to see the path I might drive us right off the edge. It’s too dangerous.”
“We can’t stay here,” said Ione, “We’ll be snowed in.”
“That’s possible?” asked Harold, and Ione nodded seriously.
Harold consulted the instruction manual. He searched for any reference to snow, and found what he was looking for buried in several other passages dealing with inclement weather and the water-tightness of the Elephant.
ALL WEATHER DRIVE
THE ELEPHANT IS EQUIPPED WITH ALL-WEATHER DRIVE, AND CAN SAFELY NAVIGATE VIRTUALLY ALL TERRAIN, EVEN UNDERWATER. IF VISIBILITY BECOMES AN ISSUE, TOGGLE THE SWITCH BENEATH THE EXTERNAL VIEWER TO NIGHT-MODE.
Harold glanced under the viewer, beyond the switches that magnified the view, and noted a toggle switch that was set forward to “Day.” Harold pulled the switch to “Night” and the view through the eyes of the Elephant suddenly shifted to a greenish hue, and the path before him with the sheer drop to the left and the cliff face to the right became instantly visible.
Ione inhaled sharply at the sight. “I’m starting to think that there’s nothing the old man didn’t think of.”
Harold smiled and set the Elephant to moving forward, finding that the crunching snow provided more traction than he had thought. Slowly but steadily, the Elephant walked through the mountain pass, pausing only when Harold became too tired to press on. Exhausted, he fell asleep on the couch next to Ione.
Another whole day had passed, and Mr. Crow knew that he was within a mile or two of the Elephant now. Mr. Fox had noted fresh tracks of the beast. But the snow was making further progress impossible, it was already six inches deep. Mr. Crow fumed as he huddled for warmth beneath the overturned cart with Bea at his side. Nearby Billy Twister and Mr. Fox were trying to work a fire with the meager fuel they could marshal. The snow continued to fall rapidly and it was impossible to see more than a few feet in any direction.
Mr. Crow listened to the sound of Bea’s breathing, as she dozed against his arm. Her face was illuminated in the green glow of the tracking device as the old man watched the tiny elephant on the glowing screen move slowly ever westward. Despite the Ostrich’s greater speed, the Elephant seemed to have no trouble in navigating through snow and darkness, and therefore once more the boy eluded Mr. Crow’s rightful vengeance.
Mr. Fox and Billy Twister had no luck with the fire, and soon all four were huddled together beneath the overturned cart, with only thin blankets and the fury of Mr. Crow’s justice denied to keep them warm.