The second part of Death & Elsie.

An Elephant's Memory

Death, Elsie and the circus elephant wandered in tranquility, each silent in his (and her) thoughts. There was no sound of crunching leaves as they walked, for the travelers were but spirits in the autumn night. The littlest one was displeased with something. It showed on her tiny face, which was presently scrunched up in perplexion.

"What's on your mind?" Death said to Elsie. Barcas, the elephant, made an idle whumpf with his trunk.

"Why they do that?" asked Elsie.

"Why did who do what?" Death returned. He had been thinking of the next name on his list and whether it should be saved for later. He was not certain he could be kind to this one, and little girls should not see such things. Neither, for that matter, should elephants.

Elsie huffed impatiently and pointed to the deep scars and scabs from years of shackles on Barcas' ankles. These would fade as the creature forgot them, and indeed, they were a little less severe than they had been just moments ago.

"Ah," said Death in understanding. "In answer to that I can only say that the circus men are only people, Little Miss, and people do not yet understand the feelings of others. Not all of them, anyway."

Elsie frowned. "Why he not get away?"

"He tried," was Death's answer.

They continued their journey in silence for a time until a very slow and wrinkly voice interrupted the quietude.

It said, "I think that I was very fond of peanuts once."

"Yes. I believe you were," Death replied.

Barcas whumpfed with his trunk again.

"I do not think that I can tell you how delighted I would be if I were to have a peanut now."

"I like peanuts," Elsie quietly agreed.

"Then I am happy to tell you," said Death with a smile, "that where we are going, you can have all the peanuts you wish, and you may have them forever and forever. If you like."

Barcas the elephant and Elsie the child were both very pleased, and Death was pleased for them. But in his heart--whatever and wherever his heart might be--he was also a little sad.

It was time.