But still Rataplan would not give in: his body was weak and getting visibly thinner, but his spirit was as strong, as wild and as unbreakable as ever.
There was a consultation among the mahouts, and it was decided, as he was still so savage, there was nothing to be done but to leave him yet one more day.
But the next day Rataplan presented a piteous sight. His poor ankles were swollen enormously; his eyes were so inflamed that he was quite blind, and, to make matters worse, the mahouts saw that he was suffering now from the Ceylon Murrain.
There was nothing to be done then but kill him.
It had been a wet night which had made his poor, ulcerated ankles as bad as they could be, and the pain in his eyes was maddening. Suffering from the murrain, too, it was far too dangerous to take him among other elephants, and so the end of Rataplan, the Rogue, was that, in spite of his grand physique, his unbreakable spirit, and his indomitable patience, he was actually shot by the very things he had despised all his life—those silly little things that carried guns.
And Kinka, when she knew that he was dead, was not even sorry. She only gave a triumphant little trumpeting as she thought of the triumph of her capture.
And so no one grieved for Rataplan, no one cared or thought about him. But then we must not forget that he was and always had been Rataplan, the Rogue.
A tall, stately, gentle creature, standing about eighteen feet high.
A pretty, graceful head; large, tender, dark eyes; a beautiful, tawny coat, covered with rich, dark spots; a long neck; a rather short body, measuring about seven feet in length; slender, shapely legs, terminating in feet with divided hoofs; and a long tail, ending in a wisp of dark-colored hair, which was a splendid thing with which to whisk off the flies.
This was Gean, the Giraffe, and she belonged to a tribe which boasted of the fact that they were the tallest of all animals. But they were not aggressive about it at all, for giraffes are the most modest and gentle creatures to be found anywhere. They are quiet and inoffensive in all their ways and movements, shy and timid to a degree, and so cautious and wary that it is extremely difficult to get near them in their wild state.
Gean was just as timid and wary as the rest of her tribe; indeed, she was peculiarly so, for she had been unfortunate enough to lose her mother when quite young, and, deprived of that mother’s care and protection, she had experienced some very narrow escapes from many kinds of dangers and difficulties, and these had made her suspicious of every fresh object she came across. There were times when she was really too cautious, and would not accept friendly overtures from strangers of her own kind.