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The small Indian boy Toomai wakes up under a pile of leaves, guarded by his wise elephant, Kala Nag. After a breakfast of fruit and a bath in the river, Kala Nag lifts Toomai atop his head with his trunk, and they head for the Kalapur jungle. There Petersen Sahib is gathering an expedition to capture a herd of elephants, which has remained elusive during the past season. Petersen hires Toomai's father and Kala Nag, but tells Toomai that he is too young to be in the expedition. Petersen is convinced later, however, to allow Toomai to join the group when he witnesses the boy's rsspect and command of his elephant. A corral is built while beaters spend six weeks looking for the elephants. As time passes, Petersen, as well as his native assistant, Machua Appa, begins to lose hope. The older mahouts mock little Toomai, equating his faith with the myth told to all Indian boys of seeing the elephants dance. Tragedy strikes the expedition when Toomai's father is killed on a tiger hunt, and Kala Nag's grief leads him to go on a rampage, destroying the camp. He is only stopped by the courageous Toomai. Rham Lahl, a cruel mahout injured by Kala Nag, demands the elephant's death. Toomai, unaware that Petersen has refused Rham Lahl's demand, flees with Kala Nag into the jungle. While Toomai sleeps, Kala Nag joins an enormous elephant herd which gathers to shake the earth with their feet, wave their trunks and flap their ears. Observing their behavior, Toomai believes that they are dancing. The next day, Toomai thinks that he may have dreamed this almost mystical experience, yet he finds the river is filled with the hitherto elusive elephants. After Petersen and his search party catch up with Toomai, the herd of elephants is captured and driven into the corral. For having been favored by the gods of the jungle, Tooomai is welcomed by the mahouts and given over to Machua Appa to train into a great hunter. No longer little Toomai, the boy is now, like his grandfather before him, Toomai of the Elephants.