Received the following query from a colleague at Illinois:

 In "The Stolen White Elephant," one
>detective telegraphs that "Glass factory broken open here during night and
>eight hundred bottles taken.  only water in large quantity near here is
>five miles distant.....:  and so on.
>So what exactly is the joke?  Some topical allusion?  I mean it
>certainly is odd that the elephant would take, or be thought to have taken,
>800 empty glass bottles--but the joke seems lame.  Some local in-group
>joke?  A reference to U.S. Grant?  Booze fit in anywhere here?

Any speculations?

Bruce Michelson