The Heffalump Problem
It was barely 6.29 in the morning when I was woken by a loud knocking on my back door.
‘Who on earth could it be?’ I wondered, but of course it was Alun, the only other resident of 100 Acre Island.
I quickly dressed and rushed downstairs to find Alun in an unusually excitable mood.
“There’s a heffalump, Jed,” he said.
“A heffalump?” I said. “Are you sure?” It seemed highly unlikely.
“Yes Jed, I was walking past the well and I heard a heffalump herumphing and gerumphing from inside. It must have fallen in.”
“We’d better take a look I suppose. Not that we can do a lot if there is a heffalump. How do you get a heffalump out from the bottom of a well? You’d need a crane, not to mention a complex pulley system.”
“Nonsense Jed, you don’t need any of that. You just need a honey pot.”
“A honey pot?”
“To lure the heffalump out with, Jed. Heffalumps love honey, everybody knows that.”
“There’s a difference between liking honey and gaining the power to levitate 300 metres up a well shaft when honey is present,” I said.
“Oh, stop being so cynical Jed, just fetch a honey pot and we’ll put my theory to the test.”
“I don’t have any honey in the house,” I said. “The bees keep breaking in and stealing it.”
“I’ve got a honey pot, Jed. You wait here and I’ll go and fetch it.”
Alun left, at his ‘off to fetch honey' pace.
I waited for him to return.
What was he playing at? How long can it take a man to fetch honey, what was he doing milking the bees en route? Eventually I tired of waiting and made my way to the well to see if he’d gone straight there.
There was no sign of Alun when I arrived, but I could hear the rumblings and hrgrumblings of a heffalump echoing up the shaft of the well. Alun was right for once, there really was a heffalump in the well. “Hrrumph,” it said, “Grrnngghph.”
I looked up the words ‘Hrrumph’ and ‘Grrnngghph’ on the So You Want to Speak Heffalump website. Roughly translated the phrase meant. “Hello, I am a heffalump. I appear to be stuck at the bottom of a well.”
There was no doubt about it, there was a heffalump trapped at the bottom of the well and I had not even the smallest jar of honey to lure it out with. What was I to do?
There was no sign of Alun. I could walk to his house, but the fact that he wasn’t here already suggested that he must have gotten distracted, and if I went round his house now he’d get me involved in whatever it was that had distracted him, and that could take days, weeks or even months.
I decided to take a look inside the well while I was waiting, to gauge the exact predicament the heffalump had gotten itself into. Was it trapped, had it broken one of its legs in the fall, or was it just being lazy, lounging around at the bottom of the well in the hope that someone would eventually pass by carrying honey?
I climbed down the rope ladder down into the deep, dark well until I reached the bottom.
I could hear the heffalump breathing, it was very close now, hrrumphing and grrnngghphing like a wild thing. I had never in my life been so close to a heffalump.
It was pitch black, but luckily Alun had installed an electric light in the well, in case we needed to use it as an alien invasion shelter. I flicked the switch …. and there was Alun, with a honeypot on his head.
“You’re not a heffalump,” I said.
“Gnnggghrrrr, hmmmpphhhh,” the heffalump said. I looked the phrase on the So You Want to Speak Heffalump website. Roughly translated, it meant: “Of course I’m not a heffalump, Jed. It’s me, Alun, I’ve fallen in the well and the honeypot has fallen on my head.”
“Why are you speaking in heffalump?” I asked.
“Jnnnggg, Flllrrrr,” Alun said.
I looked up the phrase on the website. Roughly translated the phrase meant: “I’m not, Jed, it’s just a coincidence that the sound of my honey-potted grumblings sound like common heffalump expressions.”
“Here, let me help you take the honey pot off your head.”
I grabbed the honey pot and pulled it with all my might. “Hrrmmpp, Ggggsss, Tnnnghht,” Alun said. I didn’t bother to look it up.
I wrestled with the honey pot for a while, but finally it came off with a slurping great plop, revealing a honey-covered Alun.
I passed him a wet towel (Alun always kept a wet towel in the well, just in case), with which he wiped himself clean.
“There wasn’t really a heffalump, Jed,” he said eventually, “It was just me with a honeypot on my head.”
“Yes, that’s what I heard, but what did you hear?”
Alun looked thoughtful for a moment. “I must have travelled in time and heard myself at the bottom of the well,” he said. “It happens all the time on Dr Who.”
“Yes,” I said, “either that or you imagined the heffalump and made a fuss about nothing.”