Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/62

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had positively succeeded in purchasing from the King of Siam a sacred white elephant. The press was splendidly "worked" in advance, and the sacred white elephant monopolized the gossip of circus circles.


A great rivalry had for some years existed between Mr. Barnum and a Philadelphia circus man, and the public was greatly surprised, just before the opening of the season, to find that, according to newspaper report, the latter also had quietly and unostentatiously imported a sacred white elephant known as the "Light of Asia," which, from the descriptions of the few favored scribes who had seen it, was a marvel of beauty and color. Rumors also were circulated that Barnum's white elephant was not genuine, but only a diseased or leprous elephant with a "blaze" of cream color down its trunk, and discolored or spotted legs, while the Philadelphia showman's animal was of snowy whiteness, without spot or blemish. Public sentiment ran high, especially in Philadelphia, where the shows were to exhibit simultaneously. While public opinion was divided as to the genuineness of these "sacred" animals, it may be well to say that the Barnum