Weirdly enough, if the internet is to be believed, it was illustrated by the man who would go on to create Dogs Playing Poker.
“Where it came from; how it got there; where it was going; are all mysteries unsolved to this day. All that is known is this: It was seen for the first time in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.”
A door opens in the side of the elephant and stairs come out! (Presumably he thinks “Elephants don’t have stairs!” but the text doesn’t say.)
And my food just arrived, so talk amongst yourselves for ten minutes.
The young man hands him the vial but he spills it and drops dead with a cry of rage.
HAROLD: Woohoo, free elephant!
Harold buries the old man in a cave, thereby doing possibly the last thing any of us will admire him for in the entire book.
Harold thinks “Eight hours ago I was a poor boy without money, friends or relatives.” He still has no friends, for reasons that will soon become obvious, but he’s got a dead guy’s elephant!
Hey, remember how he was on horseback? Yeah, neither did the author. Harold’s horse vanishes into the aether of authorial forgetfulness.
This is a direct quote. There is a reason Harold has no friends.
Ah, yes, handwavium.
Also the elephant is carrying cash. Thousands and thousands of dollars, in 1903 money.
Chapter Three: Harold Discovers A Companion.
...let’s unpack this a bit.
Shit got dark.
I am not making this up.
I’ll bet anyone a dollar that Montgomery grew up on captive narratives and was just like “this never goes out of style!”
“Will do!” says Harold. “Hey, you want to travel the world in my elephant?”
“Yes! I will cook and do domestic duties while you run the elephant!” she says.
That’s the end of the chapter but I hate to end on mass murder, so let’s keep going.
Whoever said that Harold is just Fritz from Swiss Family Robinson, I am ready to believe you, because this is the stupid big fan hunting chapter.
“They can’t get in here!” says Harold.
“Oh, right, I forgot,” says Ione.
“Nooo!” says Ione.
“Go Team Bear,” sez I.
I TOLD YOU THIS WAS THE WEIRDEST KID BOOK OF 1903
Harold is like “but if I hasn’t shot the bear, I wouldn’t know you were awesome!”
“This’ll be hilarious,” says Harold, and immediately pretends to be a real elephant.
The circus is like “Woo! Free random elephant!”
I gotta assume at this point she’s like “yep, ok, stowing away in a futuristic elephant with a murderous bastard was not a great idea.”