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The Stolen White Elephant

Mark Twain

Book Overview: 

In this Mark Twain short story an Indian elephant, en route from India to Britain as a gift to Queen, disappears in New Jersey. The local police department goes into high gear to solve the mystery but it all comes to a tragic end.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Have fifty thousand copies of this printed at once and mailed to every detective office and pawnbroker's shop on the continent." Alaric retired. "There—so far, so good. Next, I must have a photograph of the property."

I gave him one. He examined it critically, and said:

"It must do, since we can do no better; but he has his trunk curled up and tucked into his mouth. That is unfortunate, and is calculated to mislead, for of course he does not usually have it in that position." He touched his bell.

"Alaric, have fifty thousand copies of this photograph made the first thing in the morning, and mail them with the descriptive circulars."

Alaric retired to execute his orders. The inspector said:

"It will be necessary to offer a reward, of course. Now as to the amount?"

"What sum would you suggest?"

"To begin with, I should say—well, twenty-five thousand dollars. It is an intricate and dif. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Read January 23, 2010, re-read August 4, 2015. Absolutely hilarious.

Enjoyed this Twain tale.
So a white elephant which should be a peace gift, mysteriously goes missing, so the man who should be in charge of it makes a report to the authorities and the chief detective immediately starts the search. Well after quite a while the elephant is found dead, and the poor...more

The following curious history was related to me by a chance railway acquaintance.

Had a great little read while waiting in a queue at the bank.

A little known short story by Mark Twain, The Stolen White Elephant, deserves much more notoriety than it has received. It is truly a satirical jewel propped full with Clements’ wit, humor and genius. It is a detective spoof that far outdistances the fabled tales of the great Sherlock Holmes and...more

Mark Twain, often regarded for children classics like ‘Tom Sawyer’ also wrote some amusing mysteries. ‘The Stolen White Elephant’ is a hilarious detective fiction from the legend. The short story is a satirical take on police investigations and how they deceive and loot victims. The narration is...more

A funny collection of witty, silly stories. My favorite was the one by the same title, The Stolen White Elephant. The least favorite would have to be The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

If those Grimm brothers were around today they should be pointed out two stories and told this is how you do it!

The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn't Come to Grief and The Story of the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper.

Delightfully subersive tales that gets all the moral points only to thr...more

I just struggle with Mark Twain's works. He actually drives me crazy. This is a funny farce and I am not sorry that I read it, but I am quite relieved that it was a short story. The illustrations (done by Robert Ingpen in the first edition book I read) were stunning though. One quote from the boo...more

Odd, short & silly.

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