The Stolen White Elephant

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First edition

"The Stolen White Elephant" is a short story written by Mark Twain and published in 1882 by James R. Osgood. In this detective mystery, 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.

The main characters of the story include:

  • Mark Twain, who functions as the initial speaker and author of the story.
  • An elderly Indian gentleman who had at one time spoken to Twain during a train ride; he was once a member of his nation’s civil service and in charge of transporting the white elephant.
  • Chief Inspector Blunt, a detective who is in charge of finding the lost elephant; he first receives the report of the elephant’s disappearance.
  • “Hassan Ben Ali Ben Selim Abdallah Mohammed Moist Alhammal Jamsetjejeebhoy Dhuleep Sultan Ebu Bhudpoor” or “Jumbo”, the white elephant
  • Alaric, a young worker at the detectives’ office.
  • Captain Burns, another employee of the detectives’ office; he is in charge of carrying out Inspector Blunt’s orders.
  • The Queen of England plays a non-speaking role.
  • The Emperor of India plays a non-speaking role.

Also, A number of other detectives, servants and civilians play minor roles in the story.

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