H.G. Wells wrote this story in 1898 and dedicated it to his doctor's daughter, Marjory Hicks. The first book edition was a limited facsimile edition of Well's manuscript, published for private circulation in 1928 by The Amalgamated Press, London. It included a title page with 8 colour illustrations by Gil Dyer. The first American edition was published in 1929 by Frederick A. Stokes, New York. The present e-book edition includes a copy of the first facsimile edition. — RG
THERE was once a very rich proud man. He was so rich & proud that he wore diamonds for buttons & two gold watches jewelled in every hole, and rings—four or five on each finger, & gold lace round his clothes— he was so rich & proud.
And he always went about with a face like this—
Did you ever see such a proud expression?
But pride goeth before a fall, and one day as he was walking along a cliff, he stepped over & fell into the sea—
And he would certainly have been drowned, but (this was not his real name) a very nice boy named Tommy who happened to be fishing for sharks with some bait his grandfather had made for him, saw the accident, & fished him out again & so saved his life.
The rich proud man was very wet and kept sneezing (showing he had caught cold)
(not his real name you know) (Tommy's father, I mean, not the rich man's)
so Tommy rowed him home at once & his father who was I fancy a doctor though I am not sure), hung him over the cloths horse to dry thoroughly and—
gave him some nasty medicine & made him all right again.
Now the rich man was very grateful to Tommy for having saved his life, and wanted to give him a thousand pounds (£ 1000) he had in his pocket. But Tommy had been told never to take money from strangers, and refused this.
"Oh," said the rich man, "I must give you something."
"A good deed is it's own reward." said Tommy.
They talked a long time, and at last Tommy said that if the rich man really wanted to make him a present he could get him a pet animal to have for his very own. And with that the rich man went away.
But when the rich man went to the animal shop he was much too proud to buy Tommy a kitten, or a dog, or a rabbit, or white mice, or a lamb, or pony, or a pigeon, or a parrot, or a porcupine, or a gollifer, or a woggle, or any ordinary pet animal like that.
He wanted something larger and more expensive. He went to one shop after another. One shop was full of monkeys and another of guinea-pigs, but no! They were not magnificent enough. At one shop was a tiger, but he did not buy that because he doubted if Tommy's mother would like him to have such a pet— mothers are sometimes so particular.
And it was only after hunting all day in all the animal shops of London that he found at last just the very thing he wanted.
"Pack it carefully," he said, "and send it per South Eastern Railway carriage paid— to New Romney, to Master Tommy Bates (this was not his real name), enclose my card and send the bill in to me. And before you send him off, take him round to the place where they paint letters on people's trunks and have a nice large T B painted on both sides of him." All of which they did accordingly.
(you see they have done his trunk and tail & feet with straw)
They packed the elephant very carefully and sent him off by South Eastern Express delivery as the rich man had ordered. And in less than a month a train brought him into New Romney safe and sound; so swift & perfect has the railway traffic of our country districts become.
And the proud man got some new feathers for his hat and thought no more of the matter.
You may judge how surprised Tommy and his father were when a railway porter brought along this beautiful present.
Tommy was delighted and while father signed the porter's book, he unpacked the elephant's trunk and gave it some suger & ran for a ladder so that he might climb up & pat it.
And he decided, at once that he would call this new pet Augustus, after the Roman emperor of that name.
And all that Tommy did with Augustus and all that Augustus did with Tommy will perhaps be written someday in another book.