Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/402

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388
MR. SEWARD'S FOSSIL ELEPHANT

having, in so doing, deserved well of his country and mankind in general. He was duly thanked, of course, and we kicked it about from one side of the coach to the other, with many a secret blessing on the donor and the faithful servant who had returned it.

At Palmar, I placed it under my bed, and congratulated myself on having seen the last of it, as the coach rolled away next morning. Vain delusion! At Orizaba, next day, I went into the dilligence office to transact some business, when the agent said to me:

"Señor, you lost something at Palmar, but give yourself no uneasiness; it will be down here to night by the dilligence. They are honest people and would not take anything from you."

"Was it money that they found?" I asked, affecting a carelessness I was far from feeling.

"O no, Señor: a big rock; very curious indeed, and doubtless very valuable."

My heart was too full for words, and I could only bow my thanks and shake his hand in silence.

On leaving Orizaba I tried it on and failed more ignobly, for it was picked up and placed upon my hatbox, which it smashed down at once; and so in spite of every effort I could make, it clung to me like the nightmare, and turned up in due time at Vera Cruz.

But in that ancient city I was master of the situation. I occupied a room at a hotel, pending the arrival of Mr. Seward from Orizaba,—having gone down to the coast in advance of the remainder of the party from that point—and had no one to watch my actions, with a view of doing me a service on every occasion in spite of myself. I took it one night, carefully wrapped up in paper, and carrying it down to the city front, climbed