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0100_005E The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter VIII: The Captive

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.......   G |
E           |
            | F

F is the fort, as before. G is the gun, as before. E, the elephants, as we have previously seen them. What then is x? x is the line taken by the ball fired from G, which took off ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FOUR ELEPHANTS' TRUNKS, and only spent itself in the tusk of a very old animal, that stood the hundred and thirty-fifth!

I say that such a shot was never fired before or since; that a gun was never pointed in such a way. Suppose I had been a common man, and contented myself with firing bang at the head of the first animal? An ass would have done it, prided himself had he hit his mark, and what would have been the consequence? Why, that the ball might have killed two elephants and wounded a third; but here, probably, it would have stopped, and done no further mischief. The trunk was the place at which to aim; there are no bones there; and away, consequently, went the bullet, shearing, as I have said, through one hundred and thirty-five probosces. Heavens! what a howl there was when the shot took effect! What a sudden stoppage of Holkar's speech! What a hideous snorting of elephants! What a rush backwards was made by the whole army, as if some demon was pursuing them!

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Away they went. No sooner did I see them in full retreat, than, rushing forward myself, I shouted to my men, "My friends, yonder lies your dinner!" We flung open the gates--we tore down to the spot where the elephants had fallen: seven of them were killed; and of those that escaped to die of their hideous wounds elsewhere, most had left their trunks behind them. A great quantity of them we seized; and I myself, cutting up with my scimitar a couple of the fallen animals, as a butcher would a calf, motioned to the men to take the pieces back to the fort, where barbecued elephant was served round for dinner, instead of the miserable allowance of an olive and a glass of wine, which I had promised to my female friends, in my speech to them. The animal reserved for the ladies was a young white one--the fattest and tenderest I ever ate in my life: they are very fair eating, but the flesh has an India-rubber flavour, which, until one is accustomed to it, is unpalatable.

It was well that I had obtained this supply, for, during my absence on the works, Mrs. Vandegobbleschroy and one or two others had forced their way into the supper-room, and devoured every morsel of the garrison larder, with the exception of the cheeses, the olives, and the wine, which were locked up in my own apartment, before which stood a sentinel. Disgusting Mrs. Van! When I heard of her gluttony, I had almost a mind to eat HER. However, we made a very comfortable dinner off the barbecued steaks, and when everybody had done, had the comfort of knowing that there was enough for one meal more.

The next day, as I expected, the enemy attacked us in great force, attempting to escalade the fort; but by the help of my guns, and my good sword, by the distinguished bravery of Lieutenant Macgillicuddy and the rest of the garrison, we beat this attack off completely, the enemy sustaining a loss of seven hundred men. We were victorious; but when another attack was made, what were we to do? We had still a little powder left, but had fired off all the shot, stones, iron-bars, &c. in the garrison! On this day, too, we devoured the last morsel of our food: I shall never forget Mrs. Vandegobbleschroy's despairing look, as I saw her sitting alone, attempting to make some impression on the little white elephant's roasted tail.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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