Lali and her elephant friend (Appu) had saved the day!
The village headman spoke, “The king wishes to come to our village and go to the jungle to hunt. Bhola and Shankar will be the guides for the forest tour.”
The whole village rejoiced, but Lali seemed worried.
The next morning, she ran into the forest to talk to Appu. She (sat beside her friend and) said,
“Appu! The king wishes to come to the forest to hunt!”
Appu looked at his friend glumly.
As they were strolling in the jungle to get to the lake for some water, Appu refused to walk on the bridge. “What’s wrong?” asked Lali.
Appu gestured with his head that he would not move forward. Lali got down, leaned forward and noticed that the bridge at the other end was broken. “Let us go around it.”
The next day, the entire village was abuzz with activities. (There were musical instruments welcoming the king, with the local public dancing for him. The villagers kept all kinds of gifts for the king in a heap. ) Lali made a dash towards the forest. “I better save Appu,” she thought to herself.
Appu and Lali went around the bridge to the other side. Lali knew that the king would not be able to come to this side because of the broken bridge. As she sat with her friend under a tree, she saw the king and his party come, from a distance. The king was leading them. He did not notice the broken bridge and made his way towards it.
Lali jumped and said, “Appu! Our king will fall off the bridge. He doesn’t know it’s broken. We must warn him.”
She screamed, but the king continued to ride forward.
Lali turned to Appu and said, “They can’t hear me! Appu, hold the other end of the bridge while I run towards the king to warn him.”
Appu did as he was told, with all his might. Lali ran towards the king and screamed, “The bridge is broken! Turn back.”
Just in the nick of time, the king turned back. When Lali reached the other end, Appu let go and the whole bridge collapsed. Everyone marveled at how Lali and her elephant friend had saved the day.
“You saved my life, little girl. As a reward, you can ask for anything, it will be yours,” the king said happily.
Lali said hesitantly, “My Lord! Can you please not hunt here? The animals should live in peace.”
The king smiled and said, “Not only will I have never hunt here, but no one will be allowed to. Your friends are safe in my kingdom.”
Everyone praised the generosity of the king and for Lali and Appu, it was the happiest day of their life.
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