Chapter 37 Summary
The father saddles a donkey and rides to their rescue. Before he leaves, he asks Elizabeth and Ernest to follow with their cart and provisions for a month. He calculates it will take several weeks to build a stronger residence to replace the demolished one.
Nearing the area, he sees massive damage to trees as well as many huge footprints, which he identifies as belonging to an elephant herd. The footprints, to his great relief, have moved in two different directions—one forward, the other returning. He hopes the herd has moved back to their normal feeding grounds on the wilder side of the island.
Reaching his sons, the father is very relieved to find them well. Through the night, as they sit by their signal fire, they discuss what must be done. In the morning, they expect Elizabeth and Ernest to arrive with the wagon.
The next morning, the family begins to design a new defense to discourage all wild animals from entering their cultivated lands. They also complete their ideas about the new residence. Rather than building a house on stilts which the elephants easily could knock down, they will use four strong trees growing in a square near one another as the foundation. The trees are of equal size, approximately twelve feet apart.
Twenty feet above the ground, they build a bamboo platform and raise four walls. Then they strip the bark off trees they cut down to construct a waterproof roof. They allow the flooring to stick out from the front wall, thus providing a porch.
After constructing sheds for their animals and restocking their food stores, the family returns to Tentholm. Jack has brought a mysteriously bulging bag that he insists on keeping wet. Once home, Jack disappears into the marsh and returns empty handed.
That night, the whole family is startled by strange loud sounds from the marsh. Jack runs back into the marsh as his parents fret. When he returns, Jack exhibits his prize, one he had hoped to show after another month, when the creatures would be mature. Out of the bag, Jack pulls two African bullfrogs, the biggest anyone has ever seen. They are to grow even larger, Jack points out, and would have been an even bigger surprise if they had not enjoyed so much singing.