The Elephant stood at attention, watching the parade pass by him from his position on the honorary platform. His chest swelled as the band reached the peak of God Save the Queen, causing his back to arch until his shoulder blades nearly touched. His gnarled hands lay one across the other on top of his cane, which had been a gift from a Maharaja in India. It was made from calamander and fitted with an ivory handle, which had been carved to resemble a small elephant from the tusk of one of the Maharaja’s own military stock, collected upon its passing at the glorious age of seventy-three. In a pinch, the handle could be twisted 45 degrees anticlockwise to unsheathe a slender sword from inside. The Elephant had made good use of this feature on several occasions, though none in recent years.
On this day, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, the Elephant would retire from his service to Her Majesty, the Queen. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander to the days ahead, when his time would be his, to do with as he pleased. He was sitting near the pond down the lane from his cottage, whiling away a summer afternoon. A fishing pole was propped securely against a rock, the line creating small ripples in the water. Sighing heavily, he leaned against a tree and began to doze off. Just then, the report of a cannon signaled the ceremony was to begin. The Elephant glanced down as his hands, which had suddenly become clammy. Wiping them on the front of his trousers, he turned and stiffly strode toward the podium, the cane making a hollow tapping sound each time it struck the wooden floorboards.