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The Stolen White Elephant

The Stolen White Elephant by Mark Twain
By: (1835-1910)

"The Stolen White Elephant" was written by Mark Twain and published in 1882. In it, an Indian elephant, en route from India to Britain as a gift to the 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. Twain's satirical look at the police and newspaper worlds of the 1880's illustrates some of the more outrageous proclivities of each.

First Page:


by Mark Twain

[Left out of A Tramp Abroad, because it was feared that some of the particulars had been exaggerated, and that others were not true. Before these suspicions had been proven groundless, the book had gone to press. M. T.]


The following curious history was related to me by a chance railway acquaintance. He was a gentleman more than seventy years of age, and his thoroughly good and gentle face and earnest and sincere manner imprinted the unmistakable stamp of truth upon every statement which fell from his lips. He said:

You know in what reverence the royal white elephant of Siam is held by the people of that country. You know it is sacred to kings, only kings may possess it, and that it is, indeed, in a measure even superior to kings, since it receives not merely honor but worship. Very well; five years ago, when the troubles concerning the frontier line arose between Great Britain and Siam, it was presently manifest that Siam had been in the wrong. Therefore every reparation was quickly made, and the British representative stated that he was satisfied and the past should be forgotten... Continue reading book >>

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