He always said:
"Let them rail on; he laughs best who laughs last."
My admiration for the man grew into a species of worship. I was at his side always. His office had become an unpleasant place to me, and now became daily more and more so. Yet if he could endure it I meant to do so also--at least, as long as I could. So I came regularly, and stayed --the only outsider who seemed to be capable of it. Everybody wondered how I could; and often it seemed to me that I must desert, but at such times I looked into that calm and apparently unconscious face, and held my ground.
About three weeks after the elephant's disappearance I was about to say, one morning, that I should have to strike my colors and retire, when the great detective arrested the thought by proposing one more superb and masterly move.
This was to compromise with the robbers. The fertility of this man's invention exceeded anything I have ever seen, and I have had a wide intercourse with the world's finest minds. He said he was confident he could compromise for one hundred thousand dollars and recover the elephant. I said I believed I could scrape the amount together, but what would become of the poor detectives who had worked so faithfully? He said:
"In compromises they always get half."
This removed my only objection. So the inspector wrote two notes, in this form:
DEAR MADAM,--Your husband can make a large sum of money (and be entirely protected from the law) by making an immediate, appointment with me. Chief BLUNT.
He sent one of these by his confidential messenger to the "reputed wife" of Brick Duffy, and the other to the reputed wife of Red McFadden.
Within the hour these offensive answers came:
YE OWLD FOOL: brick Duffys bin ded 2 yere. BRIDGET MAHONEY.
CHIEF BAT,--Red McFadden is hung and in heving 18 month. Any Ass but a detective know that. MARY O'HOOLIGAN.
"I had long suspected these facts," said the inspector; "this testimony proves the unerring accuracy of my instinct."
The moment one resource failed him he was ready with another. He immediately wrote an advertisement for the morning papers, and I kept a copy of it:
A.--xWhlv. 242 ht. Tjnd--fz328wmlg. Ozpo,--2 m! 2m!. M! ogw.
He said that if the thief was alive this would bring him to the usual rendezvous. He further explained that the usual rendezvous was a glare where all business affairs between detectives and criminals were conducted. This meeting would take place at twelve the next night.
We could do nothing till then, and I lost no time in getting out of the office, and was grateful indeed for the privilege.
At eleven the next night I brought one hundred thousand dollars in bank-notes and put them into the chief's hands, and shortly afterward he took his leave, with the brave old undimmed confidence in his eye. An almost intolerable hour dragged to a close; then I heard his welcome tread, and rose gasping and tottered to meet him. How his fine eyes flamed with triumph! He said:
"We've compromised! The jokers will sing a different tune to-morrow! Follow me!"
He took a lighted candle and strode down into the vast vaulted basement where sixty detectives always slept, and where a score were now playing cards to while the time. I followed close after him. He walked swiftly down to the dim and remote end of the place, and just as I succumbed to the pangs of suffocation and was swooning away he stumbled and fell over the outlying members of a mighty object, and I heard him exclaim as he went down:
"Our noble profession is vindicated. Here is your elephant!"
I was carried to the office above and restored with carbolic acid. The whole detective force swarmed in, and such another season of triumphant rejoicing ensued as I had never witnessed before. The reporters were called, baskets of champagne were opened, toasts were drunk, the handshakings and congratulations were continuous and enthusiastic. Naturally the chief was the hero of the hour, and his happiness was so complete and had been so patiently and worthily and bravely won that it made me happy to see it, though I stood there a homeless beggar, my priceless charge dead, and my position in my country's service lost to me through what would always seem my fatally careless execution of a great trust.