Excerpt of The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
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"I am sorry, sir," said Peter.
"I am quite certain that you are," said Vilna
Lutz. "You are also dismissed." He picked up
his battle plans. He held them up to the light
of the candle and muttered to himself, "So,
and it must be so, and then . . . so."
Later that night, when the candle was
quenched and the room was in darkness and
the old soldier was snoring in his bed, Peter
Augustus Duchene lay on his pallet on the
floor and looked up at the ceiling and thought,
He lies; she lies; he lies; she lies.
Someone lies, but I do not know who.
If she lies, with her ridiculous talk of elephants,
then I am, as Vilna Lutz said, a fool - a fool who
believes that an elephant will appear and lead me to a
sister who is dead.
But if he lies, then my sister is alive.
His heart thumped.
If he lies, then Adele lives.
"I hope that he lies," said Peter aloud to the
And his heart, startled at such treachery,
astonished at the voicing aloud of such an
unsoldierly sentiment, thumped again, much
harder this time.
Not far from the Apartments Polonaise, across
the rooftops and through the darkness of the
winter night, stood the Bliffendorf Opera
House, and that evening upon its stage, a
magician of advanced years and failing reputation
performed the most astonishing magic
of his career.
He intended to conjure a bouquet of lilies,
but instead, the magician brought forth an
The elephant came crashing through the
ceiling of the opera house amid a shower of
plaster dust and roofing shingles and landed
in the lap of a noblewoman, a certain Madam
Bettine LaVaughn, to whom the magician had
intended to present the bouquet.
Madam LaVaughns legs were crushed.
She was thereafter confined to a wheelchair
and given to exclaiming often, and in a voice
of wonder, in the midst of some conversation
that had nothing at all to do with elephants or
roofs, "But perhaps you do not understand,
I was crippled by an elephant! Crippled by
an elephant that came through the roof!"
As for the magician, he was immediately, at
the behest of Madam LaVaughn, imprisoned.
The elephant was imprisoned, too.
She was locked in a horse stable. A chain
was wrapped around her left ankle. The chain
was attached to an iron rod planted firmly in
At first, the elephant felt one thing and one
thing only: dizzy. If she turned her head too
quickly to the right or the left, she was aware
of the world spinning in a truly alarming manner.
So she did not turn her head. She closed
her eyes and kept them closed.
There was, all about her, a great hubbub
and roar. The elephant ignored it. She wanted
nothing more than for the world to hold itself
After a few hours, the dizziness passed.
The elephant opened her eyes and looked
around her and realized that she did not know
where she was.
She knew only one thing to be true.
Where she was, was not where she
Excerpted from The Magician's Elephant
by Kate DiCamillo Copyright © 2009 by Kate DiCamillo. Excerpted by
permission of Candlewick Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.