Lost Lenore by Charles A. Beach
The elephant's autobiography
"Why has this letter not been delivered before?" I inquired of the man, speaking as calmly as I could.
"He apologised, by saying that the letter had only been in his possession _four days_; and that no one could expect him to come that distance in a snow storm, when he had no other letter to deliver on the way!
"I took up an old chair--the only article of furniture in the house--and knocked the man senseless to the floor.
"His skull was broken by the blow; and he soon after died.
"I was tried, and convicted of manslaughter, for which I received a sentence of ten years transportation.
"At the end of three years, I obtained a ticket-of-leave for good conduct. And now, gentlemen, I have nothing more to tell you, that would be worth your listening to."
At the conclusion of Norton's narrative, several of the company, who seemed to be restraining themselves with great difficulty, broke into loud shouts of laughter. Norton did not appear to be at all displeased at this, as I thought, unseemly exhibition!
I afterwards learnt why he had taken it in such good part. It was generally known, that he had been transported for robbing a postman; and the cause of their mirth was the contrast between the general belief, and his own special account of the crime.
For my part, I could not join in their mirth. His story had been told with such an air of truth, that I could not bring myself to disbelieve it. If not true, the man deserved some consideration for the talent he had exhibited in the construction of his story: for never was truth better counterfeited, or fiction more cunningly concealed, under an air of ingenuous sincerity.
Volume Three, Chapter XVI.
THE "ELEPHANT'S" AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
When tranquillity had been again restored, the "Elephant" was called on for his autobiography--which was given nearly as follows:--
"My father is a `squatter' in New South Wales--where I was myself born.
"At the age of seventeen, I was sent to England to be educated; and, being well supplied with money, the design of those who sent me was not defeated: for I did learn a good deal--although the knowledge I obtained, was not exactly of the kind my parents had meant me to acquire.
"I possessed the strength, and soon acquired the skill, to defeat all my fellow students in rowing or sculling a boat. I was also the best hand amongst them with a bat. I became perfect in many other branches of knowledge, of like utility. During my sojourn in Europe, I made several trips to Paris--where I obtained an insight into the manners and customs of that gay capital.
"My father had a sister living in London--a rich widow, who had an only daughter. I called on them two or three times, as I could not well avoid doing so. I was not infatuated with my cousin, nor did my visits beget in my mind any great affection for my aunt.