246 The Stolen White Elephant
When Detective Brown and I arrived, some time after, we entered enclosure and proceeded to identify elephant by photograph and description. All marks tallied exactly except one, which we could not see — the boil-scar under armpit. To make sure, Brown crept under to look, and was immediately brained—that is, head crushed and destroyed, though nothing issued from debris. All fled; so did elephant, striking right and left with much effect. Has escaped, but left bold blood-track from cannon-wounds. Rediscovery certain. He broke southward, through a dense forest.
That was the last telegram. At nightfall a fog shut down which was so dense that objects but three feet away could not be discerned. This lasted all night. The ferry-boats and even the omnibuses had to stop running.
Next morning the papers were as full of detective theories as before; they had all our tragic facts in detail also, and a great many more which they had received from their telegraphic correspondents. Column after column was occupied, a third of its way down, with glaring head-lines, which it made my heart sick to read. Their general tone was like this:
"The White Elephant at Large! He moves upon his Fatal March ! Whole Villages deserted by their Fright-stricken Occupants ! Pale Terror goes before Him, Death and Devastation FOLLOW AFTER ! AFTER THESE, THE DETECTIVES ! BARNS DESTROYED, Factories gutted, Harvests devoured, Public Assemblages
DISPERSED, ACCOMPANIED BY SCENES OF CARNAGE IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE! Theories of thirty-four of the most distinguished Detectives on the Force! Theory of Chief Blunt!"
"There!" said Inspector Blunt, almost betrayed into excitement, " this is magnificent! This is the