Gaspar and the other adult elephants watched Winston with patient sympathy. Burdened with perfect memories of every pull, every failed attempt and all the wasted energy, in every afternoon, through the weeks and months of their first years in camp, they knew. Winston wasn't strong enough to break the chains around his leg. In time, he'd learn.
Morag was an old bull elephant next in line on the other side of Gaspar. He didn't like the constant disruption of Winston and his pulling. Several times Winston had upturned their buckets of dinner, leaving half of the herd to go hungry. He complained loudly to Gaspar that this nonsense must stop. Gaspar tried to argue that the matter would run its course in time, once Winston learned; but siding with Morag, the other elephants in line weren't satisfied to wait. Gaspar realized that it was time.
"The chains are too strong, Winston."
"Why don't you break them?!" Winston asked. "You are huge!"
"Elephants can't break the chains that hold us."
"You knock me aside with your leg, when you are not looking."
"I'm sorry for that, Winston."
"But, you must be strong enough to break your chains."
"No, like you, we've tried. We could not."
"But, try now."
"There would be no point; we know what will happen when we pull on the chains."
"Try just once; show me!"
Winston thought on this. He knew there would be no budging an elephant when it came to his memory. He'd have to think of something.
"What if you and I pull on the chains together? Have you tried that?"
Gaspar grunted somewhat angrily. He didn't like frustration in the ranks and could feel Morag growing surly next to him.
"We can't break the chains, Winston. Others have tried that. I've heard many stories..."
"But have you tried that? Have you tried pulling on the chains? ...with another elephant?"
Gaspar had to admit the truth. "No, I haven't."
Winston put his foot on top of the chain on Gaspar's leg.
"We can pull together then."
"Just once more. Try once more. Then, I'll stop."
Morag trumpeted loudly and knocked Gaspar sharply in the ribs.
"No, Winston! Stop this!" Gaspar said. "It's time for the elephants to sleep."
"We must give the others peace, Winston!"
Winston began to complain again, but Gaspar quickly pulled him in closely with his trunk and disciplined him sternly in hushed tones. He released him again.
Gaspar's counsel seemed to work, as Winston looked defeated at the ground, kicking it several times and scraping it with his trunk.
"Now go to sleep, Winston. Tomorrow will be a new day."
Winston circled some, eyeing Gaspar, but then lay down his head and finally gave up.
"Al last," Morag said, triumphantly.
"We will have our afternoons of quiet returned to us!" the other elephants trumpeted.
"Yes," Winston said. "I told you all, it would run its course. We can all get some sleep now."
The elephants fell in line, one after the other, and slept content that quiet would return to the edge of camp, in the days, weeks, and months to follow.
Soon the trainers would awake, they decided. They'd know what to do.