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244                      The Stolen White Elephant
est fright and excitement. Elephant raged around streets; two plumbers going by, killed one — other escaped. Regret general.
O'Flaherty, Detective.
" Now he is right in the midst of my men," said the inspector. " Nothing can save him."
A succession of telegrams came from detectives who were scattered through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and who were following clews consisting of ravaged barns, factories, and Sunday-school libraries, with high hopes — hopes amounting to certainties, indeed. The inspector said:
" I wish I could communicate with them and order them north, but that is impossible. A detective only visits a telegraph office to send his report; then he is off again, and you don't know where to put your hand on him."
Now came this dispatch:
Bridgeport, Ct., 12.15.
Barnum offers rate of $4,000 a year for exclusive privilege of using elephant as traveling advertising medium from now till detectives find him. Wants to paste circus-posters on him. Desires immediate answer.
Boggs, Detective.
" That is perfectly absurd !" I exclaimed.
" Of course it is," said the inspector. " Evidently Mr. Barnum, who thinks he is so sharp, does not know me —but I know him."
Then he dictated this answer to the dispatch:
Mr. Barnum's offer declined. Make it $7,000 or nothing.
Chief Blunt.
"There. We shall not have to wait long for an answer. Mr. Barnum is not at home; he is in the telegraph office — it is his way when he has business on hand. Inside of three —"