The Stolen White Elephant 231
stated my errand. It did not flurry him in the least; it had no more visible effect upon his iron self-possession that if I had told him somebody had stolen my dog. He motioned me to a seat, and said, calmly:
" Allow me to think a moment, please."
So saying, he sat down at his office table and leaned his head upon his hand. Several clerks were at work at the other end of the room; the scratching of their pens was all the sound I heard during the next six or seven minutes. Meantime the inspector sat there, buried in thought. Finally he raised his head, and there was that in the firm lines of his face which showed me that his brain had done its work and his plan was made. Said he — and his voice was low and impressive:
"This is no ordinary case. Every step must be warily taken; each step must be made sure before the next is ventured. And secrecy must be observed — secrecy profound and absolute. Speak to no one about the matter, not even the reporters. I will take care of them ; I will see that they get only what it may suit my ends to let them know." He touched a bell; a youth appeared. " Alaric, tell the reporters to remain for the present." The boy retired. "Now let us proceed to business — and systematically. Nothing can be accomplished in this trade of mine without strict and minute method."
He took a pen and some paper. " Now—name of the elephant?"
" Hassan Ben Ali Ben Selim Abdallah Mohammed Moise* Alhammal Jamsetjejeebhoy Dhuleep Sultan Ebu Bhudpoor."
" Very well. Given name?"
"Very well. Place of birth?"
" The capital city of Siam."