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THE ELEPHANT VANISHES

by MURAKAMI Haruki translated by Jay Rubin

When the ele hant disa eared !r"# "ur t"$n%s ele hant h"use& I read ab"ut it in the ne$s a er' My alar# (l"(k $"ke #e that day& as al$ays& at si)*thirteen' I $ent t" the kit(hen& #ade ("!!ee and t"ast& turned "n the radi"& s read the a er "ut "n the kit(hen table& and r"(eeded t" #un(h and read' I%# "ne "! th"se e" le $h" read the a er !r"# be+innin+ t" end& in "rder& s" it t""k #e a $hile t" +et t" the arti(le ab"ut the ,anishin+ ele hant' The !r"nt a+e $as !illed $ith st"ries "n S'-'I' and the trade !ri(ti"n $ith A#eri(a& a!ter $hi(h I l"$ed thr"u+h the nati"nal ne$s& internati"nal "liti(s& e("n"#i(s& letters t" the edit"r& b""k re,ie$s& real*estate ads& s "rts re "rts& and !inally the re+i"nal ne$s' The ele hant arti(le $as the lead st"ry in the re+i"nal se(ti"n' The unusually lar+e headline (au+ht #y eye. /ELEPHANT MISSIN0 IN T1K21 SU3UR3&4 and& beneath that& in ty e "ne si5e s#aller& /6ITI7ENS% 8EARS M1UNT' S1ME 6ALL 81R PR13E'4 There $as a h"t" "! "li(e#en ins e(tin+ the e# ty ele hant h"use' With"ut the ele hant& s"#ethin+ ab"ut the la(e see#ed $r"n+' It l""ked bi++er than it needed t" be& blank and e# ty like s"#e hu+e& dehydrated beast !r"# $hi(h the innards had been lu(ked' 3rushin+ a$ay #y t"ast (ru#bs& I studied e,ery line "! the arti(le' The ele hant%s absen(e had !irst been n"ti(ed at t$" "%(l"(k "n the a!tern""n "! May 9:th**the day be!"re;$hen #en !r"# the s(h""l*lun(h ("# any deli,ered their usual tru(kl"ad "! !""d <the ele hant #"stly ate le!t",ers !r"# the lun(hes "! (hildren in the l"(al ele#entary s(h""l=' 1n the +r"und& still l"(ked& lay the steel sha(kle that had been !astened t" the ele hant%s hind le+& as th"u+h the ele hant had sli ed "ut "! it' N"r $as the ele hant the "nly "ne #issin+' Als" +"ne $as its kee er& the #an $h" had been in (har+e "! the ele hant%s (are and !eedin+ !r"# the start' A(("rdin+ t" the arti(le& the ele hant and kee er had last been seen s"#eti#e a!ter !i,e "%(l"(k the re,i"us day <May 9>th= by a !e$ u ils !r"# the ele#entary s(h""l& $h" $ere ,isitin+ the ele hant h"use& #akin+ (ray"n sket(hes' These u ils #ust ha,e been the last t" see the ele hant& said the a er& sin(e the kee er al$ays (l"sed the +ate t" the ele hant en(l"sure $hen the si)*"%(l"(k siren ble$' There had been n"thin+ unusual ab"ut either the ele hant "r its kee er at the ti#e& a(("rdin+ t" the unani#"us testi#"ny "! the u ils' The ele hant had been standin+ $here it al$ays st""d& in the #iddle "! the en(l"sure& "((asi"nally $a++in+ its trunk

!r"# side t" side "r s?uintin+ its $rinkly eyes' It $as su(h an a$!ully "ld ele hant that its e,ery #",e see#ed a tre#end"us e!!"rt**s" #u(h s" that e" le seein+ it !"r the !irst ti#e !eared it #i+ht ("lla se at any #"#ent and dra$ its !inal breath' The ele hant%s a+e had led t" its ad" ti"n by "ur t"$n a year earlier' When !inan(ial r"ble#s (aused the little ri,ate 5"" "n the ed+e "! t"$n t" (l"se its d""rs& a $ildli!e dealer !"und la(es !"r the "ther ani#als in 5""s thr"u+h"ut the ("untry& 3ut all the 5""s had lenty "! ele hants& a arently& and n"t "ne "! the# $as $illin+ t" take in a !eeble "ld thin+ that l""ked as i! it #i+ht die "! a heart atta(k at any #"#ent' And s"& a!ter its ("# ani"ns $ere +"ne& the ele hant stayed al"ne in the de(ayin+ 5"" !"r nearly !"ur #"nths $ith n"thin+ t" d"**n"t that it had had anythin+ t" d" be!"re' This (aused a l"t "! di!!i(ulty& b"th !"r the 5"" and !"r the t"$n' The 5"" had s"ld its land t" a de,el" er& $h" $as lannin+ t" ut u a hi+h*rise ("nd" buildin+& and the t"$n had already issued hi# a er#it The l"n+er the ele hant r"ble# re#ained unres"l,ed& the #"re interest the de,el" er had t" ay !"r n"thin+' Still& si# ly killin+ the thin+ $"uld ha,e been "ut "! the ?uesti"n' I! it had been a s ider #"nkey "r a bat& they #i+ht ha,e been able t" +et a$ay $ith it& but the killin+ "! an ele hant $"uld ha,e been t"" hard t" (",er u & and i! it e,er (a#e "ut a!ter$ard the re er(ussi"ns $"uld ha,e been tre#end"us' And s" the ,ari"us arties had #et t" deliberate "n the #atter& and they !"r#ulated an a+ree#ent "n the dis "siti"n "! the "ld ele hant. <9= The t"$n $"uld take "$nershi "! the ele hant at n" ("st' <@= The de,el" er $"uld& $ith"ut ("# ensati"n& r",ide land !"r h"usin+ the ele hant' <A= The 5""%s !"r#er "$ners $"uld be res "nsible !"r ayin+ the kee er%s $a+es' I had had #y "$n ri,ate interest in the ele hant r"ble# !r"# the ,ery "utset& and I ke t a s(ra b""k $ith e,ery (li in+ I ("uld !ind an is I had e,en +"ne t" hear the t"$n ("un(il%s debates "n the #atter& $hi(h is $hy I a# able # +i,e su(h a !ull and a((urate a(("unt "! the ("urse "! e,ents' And $h"le #y a(("unt #ay r",e s"#e$hat len+thy& I ha,e (h"sen # se( it d"$n here in (ase the handlin+ "! the ele hant r"ble# sh"uld bear dire(tly u "n the ele hant%s disa earan(e' When the #ay"r !inished ne+"tiatin+ the a+ree#ent**$ith its r",isi"n that the t"$n $"uld take (har+e "! the ele hant**a #",e#ent " "sin+ the #easure b"iled u !r"# $ithin the ranks "! the " "siti"n arty <$h"se ,ery e)isten(e I had ne,er i#a+ined until then=' /Why #ust the t"$n take "$nershi "! the ele hantB4 they de#anded "! the #ay"r& and they raised the !"ll"$in+ "inty <s"rry !"r all these liars& but I use the# t" #ake thin+s easier t" understand=. <9= The ele hant r"ble# $as a ?uesti"n !"r ri,ate enter rise**the 5"" and the de,el" erC there $as n" reas"n !"r the t"$n t" be("#e in,"l,ed' <@= 6are and !eedin+ ("sts $"uld be t"" hi+h'

<A= What did the #ay"r intend t" d" ab"ut the se(urity r"ble#B <D= What #erit $"uld there be in the t"$n%s ha,in+ its "$n ele hantB /The t"$n has any nu#ber "! res "nsibilities it sh"uld be takin+ (are "! be!"re it +ets int" the business "! kee in+ an ele hant**se$er re air& the ur(hase "! a ne$ !ire en+ine& et(&4 the " "siti"n +r"u de(lared& and $hile they did n"t say it in s" #any $"rds& they hinted at the "ssibility "! s"#e se(ret deal bet$een the #ay"r and the de,el" er' In res "nse& the #ay"r had this t" say. <9= I! the t"$n er#itted the ("nstru(ti"n "! hi+h*rise ("nd"s& its ta) re,enues $"uld in(rease s" dra#ati(ally that the ("st "! kee in+ an ele hant $"uld be insi+ni!i(ant by ("# aris"nC thus it #ade sense !"r the t"$n "n the (are "! this ele hant' <@= The ele hant s" "ld that it neither a(e n"r $as likely t" "se a dan+er t" any"ne' <A= When the ele hant died& the t"$n $"uld take !ull "ssessi"n "! the land d"nated by the de,el" er' <D= The ele hant ("uld be("#e the t"$n%s sy#b"l' The l"n+ debate rea(hed the ("n(lusi"n that the t"$n $"uld take (har+e "! the ele hant a!ter all' As an "ld& $ell*established residential suburb& the t"$n b"asted a relati,ely a!!luent (iti5enry& and its !inan(ial !""tin+ $as s"und' The ad" ti"n "! a h"#eless ele hant $as a #",e that e" le ("uld l""k u "n !a,"rably' Pe" le like "ld ele hants better than se$ers and !ire en+ines' I #ysel! $as all in !a,"r "! ha,in+ the t"$n (are !"r the ele hant' True& I $as +ettin+ si(k "! hi+h*rise ("nd"s& but I liked the idea "! #y t"$n%s "$nin+ an ele hant' A $""ded area $as (leared& and the ele#entary s(h""l%s a+in+ +y# $as #",ed there as an ele hant h"use' The #an $h" had ser,ed as the ele hant%s kee er !"r #any years $"uld ("#e t" li,e in the h"use $ith the ele hant' The (hildren%s lun(h s(ra s $"uld ser,e as the ele hant%s !eed' 8inally& the ele hant itsel! $as (arted in a trailer t" its ne$ h"#e& there t" li,e "t its re#ainin+ years' I E"ined the (r"$d at the ele hant*h"use dedi(ati"n (ere#"nies' Standin+ be!"re the ele hant& the #ay"r deli,ered a s ee(h <"n the t"$n% s de,el" #ent and the enri(h#ent "! in (ultural !a(ilities=C "ne ele#entary*s(h""l u il& re resentin+ the student b"dy& st""d u t" read a ("# "siti"n </Please li,e a l"n+ and healthy li!e& Mr' Ele hant4=C there $as a sket(h ("ntest <sket(hin+ the ele hant therea!ter be(a#e an inte+ral ("# "nent "! the u ils% artisti( edu(ati"n=C and ea(h "! t$" y"un+ $"#en in s$ayin+ dresses <neither "! $h"# $as es e(ially +""d*l""kin+= !ed the ele hant a bun(h "! bananas' The ele hant endured these ,irtually #eanin+less <!"r the ele hant& entirely #eanin+less= !"r#alities

$ith hardly a t$it(h& and it (h"# ed "n the bananas $ith a ,a(ant s("re' When it !inished eatin+ the bananas& e,ery"ne a lauded 1n in ri+ht rear le+& the ele hant $"re a s"lid& hea,y*l""kin+ sled (u!! !r"# $hi(h there stret(hed a thi(k (hain erha s thirty !eet l"n+& and this in turn $as se(urely !astened t" a ("n(rete slab' Any"ne ("uld see $hat a sturdy an(h"r held the beast in la(e. the ele hant #"ld ha,e snu++led $ith all ha #i+ht !"r a hundred years and ne,er br"ken the thin+' I ("uldn%t tell i! the ele hant $as b"thered by in sha(kle' 1n the sur!a(e& at least& it see#ed all but un("ns(i"us "! the en"r#"us (hunk "! #etal $ra ed $"und in le+' It ke t its blank +a+e !i)ed "n s"#e indeter#inate "int in s a(e& its ears and the !e$ $hite hairs "n its b"dy $a,in+ +ently in the bree5e' The ele hant%s kee er $as a s#all& b"ny "ld #an' It $as hard t" +uess his a+eC he ("uld ha,e been in his early si)ties "r late se,enties' He $as "ne "! th"se e" le $h"se a earan(e is n" l"n+er in!luen(ed by their a+e a!ter they ass a (ertain "int in li!e' His skin had the (a#e darkly ruddy& sunburned l""k b"th su##er and $inter& his hair $as sti!! and sh"rt& his eyes $ere s#all' His !a(e had n" distin+uishin+ (hara(teristi(s& but his al#"st er!e(tly (ir(ular ears stu(k "ut "n either side $ith disturbin+ r"#inen(e' He $as n"t an un!riendly #an' I! s"#e"ne s "ke t" hi# he $"uld re ly& and he e) ressed hi#sel! (learly' I! he $anted t" he #"ld he al#"st (har#in+**th"u+h y"u al$ays kne$ he $as s"#e$hat ill at ease' 0enerally& he re#ained a reti(ent& l"nely* l""kin+ "ld #an' He see#ed t" like the (hildren $h" ,isited the ele hant h"use& and he $"rked at bein+ ni(e t" the#& but the (hildren ne,er really $ar#ed t" hi#' The "nly "ne $h" did that $as the ele hant' The kee er li,ed in a s#all re!ab r""# atta(hed t" the ele hant h"use& and all day l"n+ he stayed $ith the ele hant& attendin+ its needs' They had been t"+ether !"r #"re than ten years& and y"u ("uld sense their (l"seness in e,ery +esture and l""k' Whene,er the ele hant $as standin+ there blankly and the kee er $anted it t" #",e& all he had t" d" $as stand ne)t t" the ele hant& ta it "n a !r"nt le+& and $his er s"#ethin+ in its ear' Then& s$ayin+ in hu+e bulk& the ele hant $"uld +" e)a(tly $here the kee er had indi(ated& take u in ne$ "siti"n& and ("ntinue starin+ at a "int in s a(e' 1n $eekends& I $"uld dr" by the ele hant h"use and study these " erati"ns& but I ("uld ne,er !i+ure "ut the rin(i le "n $hi(h the kee er*ele hant ("##uni(ati"n $as based' Maybe the ele hant underst""d a !e$ si# le $"rds <it had (ertainly been li,in+ l"n+ en"u+h=& "r erha s it re(ei,ed in in!"r#ati"n thr"u+h ,ariati"n in the ta s "n in le+' 1r "ssibly it had s"#e s e(ial "$er rese#blin+ #ental tele athy and #"ld read the kee er%s #ind' I "n(e asked the kee er h"$ he +a,e his "rders t" the ele hant& but the "ld #an Eust s#iled and aid& /We%,e been t"+ether a l"n+ ti#e.%

And s" a year $ent by' Then& $ith"ut $arnin+& the ele hant ,anished' 1ne day it $as there& and the ne)t it had (eased t" be' I "ured #ysel! a se("nd (u "! ("!!ee and read the st"ry a+ain !r"# be+innin+ t" end' A(tually& it $as a retty stran+e arti(le;the kind that #i+ht e)(ite Sherl"(k H"l#es' /L""k at this& Wats"n&4 he%d say& ta in+ his i e' /A ,ery interestin+ arti(le' Very interestin+ indeed'4 What +a,e the arti(le its air "! stran+eness $as the "b,i"us ("n!usi"n and be$ilder#ent "! the re "rter' And this ("n!usi"n and be$ilder#ent (learly (a#e !r"# the absurdity "! the situati"n itsel!' 2"u ("uld see h"$ the re "rter had stru++led t" !ind (le,er $ays ar"und the absurdity in "rder t" $rite a /n"r#al4 arti(le' 3ut the stru++le had "nly dri,en his ("n!usi"n and be$ilder#ent t" a h" eless e)tre#e' 8"r e)a# le& the arti(le used su(h e) ressi"ns as /the ele hant es(a ed&4 but i! y"u l""ked at the entire ie(e it be(a#e "b,i"us that the ele hant had in n" $ay /es(a ed'4 It had ,anished int" thin air' The re "rter re,ealed his "$n ("n!li(ted state "! #ind by sayin+ tint a !e$ /details4 re#ained /un(lear&4 but this $as n"t a hen"#en"n that ("uld be dis "sed "! by usin+ su(h "rdinary ter#in"l"+y as /details4 "r /un(lear&4 I !elt' 8irst& there $as the r"ble# "! the steel (u!! that had been !astened t" the ele hant%s le+' This had been !"und still locked' The #"st reas"nable e) lanati"n !"r this $"uld be that the kee er had unl"(ked the rin+& re#",ed it !r"# the ele hant%s le+& locked the ring again& and run "!! $ith the ele hant**a hy "thesis t" $hi(h the a er (lun+ $ith des erate tena(ity des ite the !a(t that the kee er had n" keyF 1nly t$" keys e)isted& and they& !"r se(urity%s sake& $ere ke t in l"(ked sa!es& "ne in "li(e head?uarters and the "ther in the !ireh"use& b"th bey"nd the rea(h "! the kee er;"r "! any"ne else $h" #i+ht atte# t t" steal the#' And e,en i! s"#e"ne had su((eeded in stealin+ a key& there $as n" need $hate,er !"r that ers"n t" #ake a "int "! returnin+ the key a!ter usin+ it' 2et the !"ll"$in+ #"rnin+ b"th keys $ere !"und in their res e(ti,e sa!es at the "li(e and !ire stati"ns' Whi(h brin+s us t" the ("n(lusi"n that the ele hant ulled its le+ "ut "! that s"lid steel rin+ $ith"ut the aid "! a key**an abs"lute i# "ssibility unless s"#e"ne had sa$ed the !""t "!!' The se("nd r"ble# $as the r"ute "! es(a e' The ele hant h"use and +r"unds $ere surr"unded by a #assi,e !en(e nearly ten !eet hi+h' The ?uesti"n "! se(urity had been h"tly debated in the t"$n ("un(il& and the t"$n had settled u "n a syste# that #i+ht be ("nsidered s"#e$hat e)(essi,e !"r kee in+ "ne "ld ele hant' Hea,y ir"n bars had been an(h"red in a thi(k ("n(rete !"undati"n <the ("st "! the !en(e $as b"rne by the real*estate ("# any=& and there $as "nly a sin+le entran(e& $hi(h $as !"und l"(ked !r"# the inside' There $as n" $ay the ele hant ("uld ha,e es(a ed !r"# this !"rtresslike en(l"sure' The third r"ble# $as ele hant tra(ks' -ire(tly behind the ele hant en(l"sure $as a stee hill& $hi(h the ani#al ("uld n"t "ssibly ha,e (li#bed& s" e,en i! $e su "se that the ele hant s"#eh"$ #ana+ed t" ull its le+ "ut "! the steel rin+ and lea ",er the ten* !""t*hi+h !en(e& it $"uld still ha,e had t" es(a e d"$n the ath t" the !r"nt "! the

en(l"sure& and there $as n"t a sin+le #ark any$here in the s"!t earth "! that ath that ("uld be seen as an ele hant%s !""t rint' Riddled as it $as $ith su(h er le)ities and lab"red (ir(u#l"(uti"ns& the ne$s a er arti(le as a $h"le le!t but "ne "ssible ("n(lusi"n. the ele hant had n"t es(a ed' It had ,anished' Needless t" say& h"$e,er& neither the ne$s a er n"r the "li(e n"r the #ay"r $as $illin+ t" ad#it**" enly& at least**that the ele hant had ,anished' The "li(e $ere ("ntinuin+ t" in,esti+ate& their s "kes#an sayin+ "nly that the ele hant either /$as taken "r $as all"$ed t" es(a e in a (le,er& deliberately (al(ulated #",e' 3e(ause "! the di!!i(ulty in,"l,ed in hidin+ an ele hant& it is "nly a #atter "! ti#e till $e s"l,e the (ase'4 T" this " ti#isti( assess#ent he added that they $ere lannin+ t" sear(h the $""ds in the area $ith the aid "! l"(al hunters% (lubs and shar sh""ters !r"# the nati"nal Sel!*-e!ense 8"r(e' The #ay"r had held a ne$s ("n!eren(e& in $hi(h he a "l"+i5ed !"r the inade?ua(y "! the t"$n%s "li(e res"ur(es' At the sa#e ti#e& he de(lared& /1ur ele hant*se(urity syste# is in n" $ay in!eri"r t" si#ilar !a(ilities in any 5"" in the ("untry' Indeed& it is !ar str"n+er and !ar #"re !ail*sa!e than the standard (a+e'4 He als" "bser,ed& /This is a dan+er"us and senseless anti*s"(ial a(t "! the #"st #ali(i"us kind& and $e (ann"t all"$ it t" +" un unished'4 As they had the year be!"re& the " "siti"n* arty #e#bers "! the t"$n ("un(il #ade a((usati"ns' /We intend t" l""k int" the "liti(al res "nsibility "! the #ay"rC he has ("lluded $ith ri,ate enter rise in "rder t" sell the t"$ns e" le a bill "! +""ds "n the s"luti"n "! the ele hant r"ble#'4 1ne /$"rried*l""kin+4 #"ther& thirty*se,en& $as inter,ie$ed by the a er' /N"$ I%# a!raid t" let #y (hildren "ut t" lay&4 she said' The (",era+e in(luded a detailed su##ary "! the ste s leadin+ t" the t"$n%s de(isi"n t" ad" t the ele hant& an aerial sket(h "! the ele hant h"use and +r"unds& and brie! hist"ries "! b"th the ele hant and the kee er $h" had ,anished $ith it' The #an& N"b"ru Watanabe& si)ty*three& $as !r"# Tateya#a& in 6hiba Pre!e(ture' He had $"rked !"r #any years as a kee er in the #a##alian se(ti"n "! the 5""& and /had the ("# lete trust "! the 5"" auth"rities& b"th !"r his abundant kn"$led+e "! these ani#als and !"r his $ar#& sin(ere ers"nality'4 The ele hant had been sent !r"# East A!ri(a t$enty*t$" years earlier& but little $as kn"$n ab"ut its e)a(t a+e "r its / ers"nality'4 The re "rt ("n(luded $ith a re?uest !r"# the "li(e !"r (iti5ens "! the t"$n t" ("#e !"r$ard $ith any in!"r#ati"n they #i+ht ha,e re+ardin+ the ele hant' I th"u+ht ab"ut this re?uest !"r a $hile as I drank #y se("nd (u "! ("!!ee& but I de(ided n"t t" (all the "li(e**b"th be(ause I re!erred n"t t" ("#e int" ("nta(t $ith the# i! I ("uld hel it and be(ause I !elt the "li(e $"uld n"t belie,e $hat I had t" tell

the#' What +""d $"uld it d" t" talk t" e" le like that& $h" $"uld n"t e,en ("nsider the "ssibility that the ele hant had si# ly ,anishedB I t""k #y s(ra b""k d"$n !r"# the shel!& (ut "ut the ele hant arti(le& and asted it in' Then I $ashed the dishes and le!t !"r the "!!i(e' I $at(hed the sear(h "n the se,en*"%(l"(k ne$s' There $ere hunters (arryin+ lar+e* b"re ri!les l"aded $ith tran?uilli5er darts& Sel!*-e!ense 8"r(e tr"" s& "li(e#en& and !ire#en ("#bin+ e,ery s?uare in(h "! the $""ds and hills in the i##ediate area as heli(" ters h",ered ",erhead' 1! ("urse& $e%re talkin+ ab"ut the kind "! /$""ds4 and /hill4 y"u !ind in the suburbs "utside T"ky"& s" they didn%t ha,e an en"r#"us area t" (",er' With that #any e" le in,"l,ed& a day sh"uld ha,e been #"re than en"u+h t" d" the E"b' And they $eren%t sear(hin+ !"r s"#e tiny h"#i(idal #ania(. they $ere a!ter a hu+e A!ri(an ele hant' There $as a li#it t" the nu#ber "! la(es a thin+ like that ("uld hide' 3ut still they had n"t #ana+ed t" !ind it' The (hie! "! "li(e a eared "n the s(reen& sayin+& /We intend t" ("ntinue the sear(h'4 And the an(h"r#an ("n(luded the re "rt& /Wh" released the ele hant& and h"$B Where ha,e they hidden itB What $as their #"ti,eB E,erythin+ re#ains shr"uded in #ystery'4 The sear(h $ent "n !"r se,eral days& but the auth"rities $ere unable t" dis(",er a sin+le (lue t" the ele hant%s $hereab"uts' I studied the ne$s a er re "rts& (li ed the# all& and asted the# in #y s(ra b""k**in(ludin+ edit"rial (art""ns "n the subEe(t' The albu# !illed u ?ui(kly& and I had t" buy an"ther' -es ite their en"r#"us ,"lu#e& the (li in+s ("ntained n"t "ne !a(t "! the kind that I $as l""kin+ !"r' The re "rts $ere either "intless "r "!! the #ark. /ELEPHANT STILL MISSIN0&4 /0L11M THI6K IN SEAR6H HG&4 /M13 3EHIN- -ISAPPEARAN6EB% And e,en arti(les like this be(a#e n"ti(eably s(ar(er a!ter a $eek had +"ne by& until there $as ,irtually n"thin+' A !e$ "! the $eekly #a+a5ines (arried sensati"nal st"ries;"ne e,en hired a sy(hi(**but they had n"thin+ t" substantiate their $ild headlines' It see#ed that e" le $ere be+innin+ t" sh",e the ele hant (ase int" the lar+e (ate+"ry "! /uns"l,able #ysteries'4 The disa earan(e "! "ne "ld ele hant and "ne "ld ele hant kee er $"uld ha,e n" i# a(t "n the ("urse "! s"(iety' The earth $"uld ("ntinue its #"n"t"n"us r"tati"ns& "liti(ians $"uld ("ntinue issuin+ unreliable r"(la#ati"ns& e" le $"uld ("ntinue ya$nin+ "n their $ay t" the "!!i(e& (hildren $"uld ("ntinue studyin+ !"r their ("lle+e*entran(e e)a#s' A#id the endless sur+e and ebb "! e,eryday li!e& interest in a #issin+ ele hant ("uld n"t last !"re,er' And s" a nu#ber "! unre#arkable #"nths $ent by& like a tired ar#y #ar(hin+ ast a $ind"$' Whene,er I had a s are #"#ent& I $"uld ,isit the h"use $here the ele hant n" l"n+er li,ed' A thi(k (hain had been $ra ed r"und and r"und the bars "! the yard%s ir"n +ate& t" kee e" le "ut' Peerin+ inside& I ("uld see that the ele hant*h"use d""r had als" been (hained and l"(ked& as th"u+h the "li(e $ere tyin+ t" #ake u !"r ha,in+ !ailed t" !ind the ele hant by #ulti lyin+ the layers "! se(urity "n the n"$ e# ty ele hant h"use' The area $as deserted& the re,i"us (r"$ds ha,in+ been re la(ed by a !l"(k "! i+e"ns restin+ "n the r""!' N" "ne t""k (are "! the +r"unds any l"n+er& and thi(k& +reen su##er +rass had s run+ u there as i! it had been $aitin+ !"r this " "rtunity' The (hain ("iled

ar"und the d""r "! the ele hant h"use re#inded #e "! a hu+e snake set t" +uard a ruined ala(e in a thi(k !"rest' A !e$ sh"rt #"nths $ith"ut its ele hant had +i,en the la(e an air "! d""# and des"lati"n that hun+ there like a hu+e& " ressi,e rain (l"ud'

I #et her near the end "! Se te#ber' It had been rainin+ that day !r"# #"rnin+ t" ni+ht**the kind "! s"!t& #"n"t"n"us& #isty rain that "!ten !alls at that ti#e "! year& $ashin+ a$ay bit by bit the #e#"ries "! su##er burned int" the earth' 6"ursin+ d"$n the +utters& all th"se #e#"ries !l"$ed int" the se$ers and ri,ers& t" be (arried t" the dee & dark "(ean' We n"ti(ed ea(h "ther at the arty #y ("# any thre$ t" laun(h its ne$ ad,ertisin+ (a# ai+n' I $"rk !"r the P'R' se(ti"n "! a #aE"r #anu!a(turer "! ele(tri(al a lian(es' and at the ti#e I $as in (har+e "! ubli(ity !"r a (""rdinated line "! kit(hen e?ui #ent& $hi(h $as s(heduled t" +" "n the #arket in ti#e !"r the autu#n $eddin+ and $inter* b"nus seas"ns' My E"b $as t" ne+"tiate $ith se,eral $"#en%s #a+a5ines !"r tie*in arti(les**n"t the kind "! $"rk that takes a +reat deal "! intelli+en(e& but I had t" see t" it that the arti(les they $r"te didn%t s#a(k "! ad,ertisin+' When #a+a5ines +a,e us ubli(ity& $e re$arded the# by la(in+ ads in their a+es' They s(rat(hed "ur ba(ks& $e s(rat(hed theirs' As an edit"r "! a #a+a5ine !"r y"un+ h"use$i,es& she had ("#e t" the arty !"r #aterial !"r "ne "! these /arti(les'4 I ha ened t" be in (har+e "! sh"$in+ her ar"und& "intin+ "ut the !eatures "! the ("l"r!ul re!ri+erat"rs and ("!!ee#akers and #i(r"$a,e ",ens and Eui(ers that a !a#"us Italian desi+ner had d"ne !"r us' /The #"st i# "rtant "int is unity&4 I e) lained' /E,en the #"st beauti!ully desi+ned ite# dies i! it is "ut "! balan(e $ith its surr"undin+s' Unity "! desi+n& unity "! ("l"r& unity "! !un(ti"n. this is $hat t"day%s kit-chin needs ab",e all else' Resear(h tells us that a h"use$i!e s ends the lar+est art "! her day in the kit-chin' The kit-chin is her $"rk la(e& her study& her li,in+ r""#' Whi(h is $hy she d"es all she (an t" #ake the kit* (hin a leasant la(e t" be' It has n"thin+ t" d" $ith si5e' Whether it%s lar+e "r s#all& "ne !unda#ental rin(i le +",erns e,ery su((ess!ul kit-chin& and that rin(i le is unity' This is the ("n(e t underlyin+ the desi+n "! "ur ne$ series' L""k at this (""kt" & !"r e)a# le'''' She n"dded and s(ribbled thin+s in a s#all n"teb""k& but it $as "b,i"us that she had little interest in the #aterial& n"r did I ha,e any ers"nal stake in "ur ne$ (""kt" ' 3"th "! us $ere d"in+ "ur E"bs' /2"u kn"$ a l"t ab"ut kit(hens&4 she said $hen I $as !inished' She used the Ja anese $"rd& $ith"ut i(kin+ u "n /kit-chin'4 /That%s $hat I d" !"r a li,in+&4 I ans$ered $ith a r"!essi"nal s#ile' /Aside !r"# that& th"u+h& I d" like t" (""k' N"thin+ !an(y& but I (""k !"r #ysel! e,ery day'4

/Still& I $"nder i! unity is all that ne(essary !"r a kit(hen'4 /We say Hkit-chin&% / I ad,ised her' /N" bi+ deal& but the ("# any $ants us t" use the En+lish'4 /1h' S"rry' 3ut still& I $"nder' Is unity s" i# "rtant !"r a kit-chinB What d" y"u thinkB4 /My ers"nal " ini"nB That d"esn%t ("#e "ut until I take #y ne(ktie "!!&4 I said $ith a +rin' /3ut t"day I%ll #ake an e)(e ti"n' A kit(hen r"bably does need a !e$ thin+s #"re than it needs unity' 3ut th"se "ther ele#ents are thin+s y"u (an%t sell' And in this ra+#ati( $"rld "! "urs& thin+s y"u (an%t sell d"n%t ("unt !"r #u(h'4 /Is the $"rld su(h a ra+#ati( la(eB4 I t""k "ut a (i+arette and lit it $ith #y li+hter' /I d"n%t kn"$**the $"rd Eust " ed "ut&4 I said' /3ut it e) lains a l"t' It #akes $"rk easier& t""' 2"u (an lay +a#es $ith it& #ake u neat e) ressi"ns. Hessentially ra+#ati(&% "r H ra+#ati( in essen(e'% I! y"u l""k at thin+s that $ay& y"u a,"id all kinds "! ("# li(ated r"ble#s'4 HWhat an interestin+ ,ie$B% /N"t really' It%s $hat e,eryb"dy thinks' 1h& by the $ay& $e%,e +"t s"#e retty +""d (ha# a+ne' 6are t" ha,e s"#eB4 /Thanks' I%d l",e t"'4 As $e (hatted ",er (ha# a+ne& $e reali5ed $e had se,eral #utual a(?uaintan(es' Sin(e "ur art "! the business $"rld $as n"t a ,ery bi+ "nd& i! y"u t"ssed in a !e$ ebbles "ne "r t$" $ere b"und t" hit a #utual a(?uaintan(e' In additi"n& she and #y kid sister ha ened t" ha,e +raduated !r"# the sa#e uni,ersity' With #arkers like this t" !"ll"$& "ur ("n,ersati"n $ent al"n+ s#""thly' She $as un#arried& and s" $as I' She $as t$enty*si)& and I $as thirty*"ne' She $"re ("nta(t lenses& and I $"re +lasses' She raised #y ne(ktie& and I raised her Ea(ket' We ("# ared rents and ("# lained ab"ut "ur E"bs and salaries' In "ther $"rds& $e $ere be+innin+ t" like ea(h "ther' She $as an attra(ti,e $"#an& and n"t at all ushy' I st""d there talkin+ $ith her !"r a hill t$enty #inutes& unable t" dis(",er a sin+le reas"n n"t t" think $ell "! her' As the arty $as breakin+ u & I in,ited her t" E"in #e in the h"tel%s ("(ktail l"un+e& $here $e settled in t" ("ntinue "ur ("n,ersati"n' A s"undless rain $ent "n !allin+ "utside the l"un+e%s an"ra#i( $ind"$& the li+hts "! the (ity sendin+ blurry #essa+es

thr"u+h the #ist' A da# hush held s$ay ",er the nearly e# ty ("(ktail l"un+e' She "rdered a !r"5en -ai?uiri and I had a S("t(h*"n*the*r"(ks' Si in+ "ur drinks& $e (arried "n the kind "! ("n,ersati"n that a #an and $"#an ha,e in a bar $hen they ha,e Eust #et and are be+innin+ t" like ea(h "ther' We talked ab"ut "ur ("lle+e days& "ur tastes in #usi(& s "rts& "ur daily r"utines' Then I t"ld her ab"ut the ele hant' E)a(tly h"$ this ha ened& I (an%t re(all' Maybe $e $ere talkin+ ab"ut s"#ethin+ ha,in+ t" d" $ith ani#als& and that $as the ("nne(ti"n' 1r #aybe& un("ns(i"usly& I had been l""kin+ !"r s"#e"ne**a +""d listener**t" $h"# I ("uld resent #y "$n& uni?ue ,ie$ "n the ele hant%s disa earan(e' 1r& then a+ain& it #i+ht ha,e been the li?u"r that +"t #e talkin+' In any (ase& the se("nd the $"rds le!t #y #"uth& I kne$ that I had br"u+ht u "ne "! the least suitable t" i(s I ("uld ha,e !"und !"r this "((asi"n' N"& I sh"uld ne,er ha,e #enti"ned the ele hant' The t" i( $as**$hatB**t"" ("# lete& t"" (l"sed' I tried t" hurry "n t" s"#ethin+ else& but& as lu(k $"uld ha,e it& she $as #"re interested than #"st in the (ase "! the ,anishin+ ele hant& and "n(e I ad#itted that I had seen the ele hant #any ti#es she sh"$ered #e $ith ?uesti"ns**$hat kind "! ele hant $as it& h"$ did I think it had es(a ed& $hat did it eat& $asn%t it a dan+er t" the ("##unity& and s" !"rth' I t"ld her n"thin+ #"re than $hat e,eryb"dy kne$ !r"# the ne$s& but she see#ed t" sense ("nstraint in #y t"ne "! ,"i(e' I had ne,er been +""d at tellin+ lies' As i! she had n"t n"ti(ed anythin+ stran+e ab"ut #y beha,i"r& she si ed her se("nd -ai?uiri and asked& /Weren%t y"u sh"(ked $hen the ele hant disa earedB It%s n"t the kind "! thin+ that s"#eb"dy ("uld ha,e redi(ted'4 /N"& r"bably n"t&4 I said' I t""k a ret5el !r"# the #"und in the +lass dish "n "ur table& sna ed it in t$"& and ate hal!' The $aiter re la(ed "ur ashtray $ith an e# ty "ne' She l""ked at #e e) e(tantly' I t""k "ut an"ther (i+arette and lit it I had ?uit s#"kin+ three years earlier but had be+un a+ain $hen the ele hant disa eared' /Why H r"bably n"t%B 2"u #ean y"u ("uld ha,e redi(ted itB% /N"& "! ("urse I ("uldn%t ha,e redi(ted it&4 I said $ith a s#ile' /8"r an ele hant t" disa ear all "! a sudden "ne day**there%s n" re(edent& n" need& !"r su(h a thin+ t" ha en' It d"esn%t #ake any l"+i(al sense'4 /3ut still& y"ur ans$er $as ,ery stran+e' When I said& HIt%s n"t the kind "! thin+ that s"#eb"dy ("uld ha,e redi(ted&% y"u said& HN"& r"bably n"t'% M"st e" le $"uld ha,e said& H2"u%re ri+ht% "r H2eah& it%s $eird& "r s"#ethin+' See $hat I #eanB4

I sent a ,a+ue n"d in her dire(ti"n and raised #y hand t" (all the $aiter' A kind "! tentati,e silen(e t""k h"ld as I $aited !"r hi# t" brin+ #e #y ne)t S("t(h' /I%# !indin+ this a little hard t" +ras &4 she said s"!tly' /2"u $ere (arryin+ "n a er!e(tly n"r#al ("n,ersati"n $ith #e until a ("u le "! #inutes a+";at least until the subEe(t "! the ele hant (a#e u ' Then s"#ethin+ !unny ha ened' I (an%t understand y"u any#"re' S"#ethin+%s $r"n+' Is it the ele hantB 1r are #y ears layin+ tri(ks "n #eB4 /There%s n"thin+ $r"n+ $ith y"ur ears&% I said' /S" then it%s y"u' The r"ble#%s $ith y"u' I stu(k #y !in+er in #y +lass and stirred the i(e' I like the s"und "! i(e in a $hiskey +lass' /I $"uldn%t (all it a H r"ble#&% e)a(tly' It%s n"t that bi+ a deal' I%# n"t hidin+ anythin+' I%# Eust n"t sure I (an talk ab"ut it ,ery $ell& s" I%# tryin+ n"t t" say anythin+ at all' 3ut y"u%re ri+ht**it%s ,ery stran+e'4 /What d" y"u #eanB% It $as n" use. I%d ha,e t" tell her the st"ry' I t""k "ne +ul "! $hiskey and started' /The thin+ is& I $as r"bably the last "ne t" see the ele hant be!"re it disa eared' I sa$ it a!ter se,en "%(l"(k "n the e,enin+ "! May 9>th& and they n"ti(ed it $as +"ne "n the a!tern""n "! the ei+hteenth' N"b"dy sa$ it in bet$een& be(ause they l"(k the ele hant h"use at si)'4 /I d"n%t +et it' I! they (l"sed the h"use at si)& h"$ did y"u see it a!ter se,enB% /There%s a kind "! (li!! behind the ele hant h"use' A stee hill "n ri,ate r" erty& $ith n" real r"ads' There%s "ne s "t& "n the ba(k "! the hill& $here y"u (an see int" the ele hant h"use' I%# r"bably the "nly "ne $h" kn"$s ab"ut it'4 I had !"und the s "t urely by (han(e' Str"llin+ thr"u+h the area "ne Sunday a!tern""n& I had l"st #y $ay and ("#e "ut at the t" "! the (li!!' I !"und a little !lat " en at(h& Eust bi+ en"u+h !"r a ers"n t" stret(h "ut in& and $hen I l""ked d"$n thr"u+h the bushes there $as the ele hant*h"use r""!' 3el"$ the ed+e "! the r""! $as a !airly lar+e ,ent " enin+& and thr"u+h it I had a (lear ,ie$ "! the inside "! the ele hant h"use' I #ade it a habit a!ter that t" ,isit the la(e e,ery n"$ and then t" l""k at the ele hant $hen it $as inside the h"use' I! any"ne had asked #e $hy I b"thered d"in+ su(h a thin+ I $"uldn%t ha,e had a de(ent ans$er' I si# ly enE"yed $at(hin+ the ele hant durin+ its ri,ate ti#e' There $as n"thin+ #"re t" it than that' I ("uldn%t see the ele hant $hen the h"use $as dark inside& "! ("urse& but in the early h"urs "! the e,enin+ the kee er $"uld

ha,e the li+hts "n the $h"le ti#e he $as takin+ (are "! the ele hant& $hi(h enabled #e t" study the s(ene in detail' What stru(k #e i##ediately $hen I sa$ the ele hant and kee er al"ne t"+ether $as the "b,i"us likin+ they had !"r ea(h "ther;s"#ethin+ they ne,er dis layed $hen they $ere "ut be!"re the ubli(' Their a!!e(ti"n $as e,ident in e,ery +esture' It al#"st see#ed as i! they st"red a$ay their e#"ti"ns durin+ the day& takin+ (are n"t t" let any"ne n"ti(e the#& and t""k the# "ut at ni+ht $hen they ("uld be al"ne' Whi(h is n"t t" say that they did anythin+ di!!erent $hen they $ere the#sel,es inside' The ele hant Eust st""d there& as blank as e,er& and the kee er $"uld er!"r# th"se tasks "ne $"uld n"r#ally e) e(t hi# t" d" as a kee er. s(rubbin+ d"$n the ele hant $ith a de(k br""#& i(kin+ u the ele hant%s en"r#"us dr" in+s& (leanin+ u a!ter the ele hant ate' 3ut there $as n" $ay t" #istake the s e(ial $ar#th& the sense "! trust bet$een the#' While the kee er s$e t the !l""r& the ele hant $"uld $a,e its trunk and at the kee er%s ba(k' I liked t" $at(h the ele hant d"in+ that' /Ha,e y"u al$ays been !"nd "! ele hantsB% she asked' /I #ean& n"t Eust that arti(ular ele hantB% /H## ' ' ' ("#e t" think "! it& I d" like ele hants&4 I said' /There%s s"#ethin+ ab"ut the# that e)(ites #e' I +uess I%,e al$ays liked the#' I $"nder $hy'4 /And that day& t""& a!ter the sun $ent d"$n& I su "se y"u $ere u "n the hill by y"ursel!& l""kin+ at the ele hant' May;$hat day $as itF4 /The se,enteenth' May 9>th at > P'M' The days $ere already ,ery l"n+ by then& and the sky had a reddish +l"$& but the li+hts $ere "n in the ele hant h"use'4 /And $as there anythin+ unusual ab"ut the ele hant "r the kee erB% /Well& there $as and then $asn%t' I (an%t say e)a(tly' It%s n"t as i! they $ere standin+ ri+ht in !r"nt "! #e' I%# r"bably n"t the #"st reliable $itness'4 /What did ha en& e)a(tlyB% I t""k a s$all"$ "! #y n"$ s"#e$hat $atery S("t(h' The rain "utside the $ind"$s $as still ("#in+ d"$n& n" str"n+er "r $eaker than be!"re& a stati( ele#ent in a lands(a e that $"uld ne,er (han+e' /N"thin+ ha ened& really' The ele hant and the kee er $ere d"in+ $hat they al$ays did;(leanin+& eatin+& layin+ ar"und $ith ea(h "ther in that !riendly $ay "! theirs' It $asn%t $hat they did that $as di!!erent' It%s the $ay they l""ked' S"#ethin+ ab"ut the balan(e bet$een the#'4 /The balan(eB4

/In si5e' 1! their b"dies' The ele hant%s and the kee er%s' The balan(e see#ed t" ha,e (han+ed s"#e$hat' I had the !eelin+ that t" s"#e e)tent the di!!eren(e bet$een the# had shrunk'4 She ke t her +a5e !i)ed "n her -ai?uiri +lass !"r a ti#e' I ("uld see that the i(e had #elted and the $ater $as $"rkin+ its $ay thr"u+h the ("(ktail like a tiny "(ean (urrent' /Meanin+ that the ele hant had +"tten s#allerB4 /1r the kee er had +"tten bi++er' 1r b"th si#ultane"usly'4 /And y"u didn%t tell this t" the "li(eB4 /N"& "! ("urse n"t&4 I said' /I%# sure they $"uldn%t ha,e belie,ed #e' And i! I had t"ld the# I $as $at(hin+ the ele hant !r"# the (li!! at a ti#e like that I%d ha,e ended u as their Nu#ber 1ne sus e(t'4 /Still& are y"u certain that the balan(e bet$een the# had (han+edB4 /Pr"bably' I (an "nly say H r"bably'% I d"n%t ha,e any r""!& and& as I kee sayin+& I $as l""kin+ at the# thr"u+h the air ,ent' 3ut I had l""ked at the# like that I d"n%t kn"$ h"$ #any ti#es be!"re& s" it%s hard !"r #e t" belie,e that I ("uld #ake a #istake ab"ut s"#ethin+ as basi( as the relati"n "! their si5es'4 In !a(t& I had $"ndered at the ti#e $hether #y eyes $ere layin+ tri(ks "n #e' I had tried (l"sin+ and " enin+ the# and shakin+ #y head& but the ele hant%s si5e re#ained the sa#e' It de!initely l""ked as i! it had shrunk;s" #u(h s" that at !irst I th"u+ht the t"$n #i+ht ha,e +"t h"ld "! a ne$& s#aller ele hant' 3ut I hadn%t heard anythin+ t" that e!!e(t& and I $"uld ne,er ha,e #issed any ne$s re "rts ab"ut ele hants' I! this $as n"t a ne$ ele hant& the "nly "ssible ("n(lusi"n $as that the "ld ele hant had& !"r "ne reas"n "r an"ther& shrunk' As I $at(hed& it be(a#e "b,i"us t" #e that this s#aller ele hant had all the sa#e +estures as the "ld "ne' It $"uld sta# ha ily "n the +r"und $ith its ri+ht !""t $hile it $as bein+ $ashed& and $ith its n"$ s"#e$hat narr"$er trunk it $"uld at the kee er "n the ba(k' It $as a #ysteri"us si+ht' L""kin+ thr"u+h the ,ent& I had the !eelin+ that a di!!erent& (hillin+ kind "! ti#e $as !l"$in+ thr"u+h the ele hant h"use**but n"$here else' And it see#ed t" #e& t""& that the ele hant and the kee er $ere +ladly +i,in+ the#sel,es ",er t" this ne$ "rder that $as tryin+ t" en,el" the#**"r that had already artially su((eeded in en,el" in+ the#' Alt"+ether& I $as r"bably $at(hin+ the s(ene in the ele hant h"use !"r less than hal! an h"ur' The li+hts $ent "ut at se,en*thirty**#u(h earlier than usual**and& !r"# that "int "n& e,erythin+ $as $ra ed in darkness' I $aited in #y s "t& h" in+ that the li+hts $"uld +" "n a+ain& but they ne,er did' That $as the last I sa$ "! the ele hant'

/S"& then& y"u belie,e that the ele hant ke t shrinkin+ until it $as s#all en"u+h t" es(a e thr"u+h the bars& "r else that it si# ly diss"l,ed int" n"thin+ness' Is that itB4 /I d"n%t kn"$&4 I said' /All I%# tryin+ t" d" is re(all $hat I sa$ $ith #y "$n eyes& as a((urately as "ssible' I%# hardly thinkin+ ab"ut $hat ha ened a!ter that' The ,isual i#a+e I ha,e is s" str"n+ that& t" be h"nest& it%s ra(ti(ally i# "ssible !"r #e t" +" bey"nd it'4 That $as all I ("uld say ab"ut the ele hant%s disa earan(e' And& Eust as I had !eared& the st"ry "! the ele hant $as t"" arti(ular& t"" ("# lete in itsel! t" $"rk as a t" i( "! ("n,ersati"n bet$een a y"un+ #an and $"#an $h" had Eust #et' A silen(e des(ended u "n us a!ter I had !inished #y tale' What subEe(t ("uld either "! us brin+ u a!ter a st"ry ab"ut an ele hant that had ,anished**a st"ry that "!!ered ,irtually n" " enin+s !"r !urther dis(ussi"nB She ran her !in+er ar"und the ed+e "! her ("(ktail +lass& and I sat there readin+ and rereadin+ the $"rds sta# ed "n #y ("aster' I ne,er sh"uld ha,e t"ld her ab"ut the ele hant' It $as n"t the kind "! st"ry y"u ("uld tell !reely t" any"ne' /When I $as a little +irl& "ur (at disa eared&4 she "!!ered a!ter a l"n+ silen(e' /3ut still& !"r a (at t" disa ear and !"r an ele hant t" disa ear**th"se are t$" di!!erent st"ries'4 /2eah& really' There%s n" ("# aris"n' Think "! the si5e di!!eren(e'4 Thirty #inutes later& $e $ere sayin+ +""dbye "utside the h"tel' She suddenly re#e#bered that she had le!t her u#brella in the ("(ktail l"un+e& s" I $ent u in the ele,at"r and br"u+ht it d"$n t" her' It $as a bri(k*red u#brella $ith a lar+e handle' /Thanks&4 she said' /0""d ni+ht&4 I said' That $as the last ti#e I sa$ her' We talked "n(e "n the h"ne a!ter that& ab"ut s"#e details in her tie*in arti(le' While $e s "ke& I th"u+ht seri"usly ab"ut in,itin+ her "ut !"r dinner& but I ended u n"t d"in+ it' It Eust didn%t see# t" #atter "ne $ay "r the "ther' I !elt like this a l"t a!ter #y e) erien(e $ith the ,anishin+ ele hant' I $"uld be+in t" think I $anted t" d" s"#ethin+& but then I $"uld be("#e in(a able "! distin+uishin+ bet$een the r"bable results "! d"in+ it and "! n"t d"in+ it' I "!ten +et the !eelin+ that thin+s ar"und #e ha,e l"st their r" er balan(e& th"u+h it ("uld be that #y er(e ti"ns are layin+ tri(ks "n #e' S"#e kind "! balan(e inside #e has br"ken d"$n sin(e the ele hant a!!air& and #aybe that (auses e)ternal hen"#ena t" strike #y eye in a stran+e $ay' It%s r"bably s"#ethin+ in #e' The a ers rint al#"st n"thin+ ab"ut the ele hant any#"re' Pe" le see# t" ha,e !"r+"tten that their t"$n "n(e "$ned an ele hant' The +rass that t""k ",er the ele hant en(l"sure has $ithered n"$& and the area has the !eel "! $inter'