“The Mogul Elephant,” an unpublished first draft by Robert E. Howard later revised into “The Dragon of Kao Tsu,” is a tale of adventure, intrigue, and deception set against the exotic backdrop of the Far East. The story follows Wild Bill Clanton, a man of questionable morals, as he navigates through a complex plot involving theft, murder, and a valuable ivory elephant.

Howard wrote some spicy adventure tales. For this one, he used the pseudonym, Sam Walser.

The final story was sold by Binder to Trojan circa February 1936 for $26.50. It’s not known if Howard got paid since it was published after his death.

Howard’s tale weaves together elements of adventure, historical intrigue, and moral ambiguity, showcasing his skill in creating a vivid and compelling world where the lines between hero and villain are often blurred.

See The Dragon of Kao Tsu for more information about the final and published story.

The story

The narrative begins in the Anglo-American Bar, where Clanton contemplates his next criminal venture. His plans are interrupted by Marianne Allison, a woman of high society with a taste for adventure and danger. She accuses Clanton of deceiving her in their quest to acquire a rare ivory elephant known as the Mogul elephant, believed to be crafted for Emperor Akbar by a Persian artist during Alexander the Great’s invasion of India. The elephant is not just a priceless artifact but also holds a secret contract between Marianne’s father and Gop Kang, a powerful figure in China.

The story unfolds as Clanton and Marianne venture into the dark underworld of Singapore to retrieve the authentic Mogul elephant. Their journey is fraught with danger, including a confrontation with Gop Kang’s men and a brutal encounter with a murderous thief named Diego de Strozza, who is found dead with his throat slit. The plot thickens when Hurricane Davies, another criminal, becomes entangled in their quest, leading to further violence and betrayal.

As the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that the ivory elephant is more than just an antique; it is a symbol of power and greed, with various parties willing to kill for it. Clanton and Marianne navigate through a series of deadly encounters, including a tense moment where Marianne is nearly violated by Davies and later, almost raped by Shareef Ali, another antagonist who seeks the elephant for his own ends.

The climax of the story involves a daring rescue by Clanton, who manages to outsmart the villains and secure the elephant. However, the victory is bittersweet. Marianne, realizing the lengths to which she has gone and the company she has kept, reflects on her choices and their consequences.

In the end, Clanton reveals the true nature of the Mogul elephant: it contains a hidden contract granting valuable concessions in China. The story concludes with Clanton asserting his control over the situation, demanding not just financial compensation but also a personal favor from Marianne, hinting at a darker, more personal form of retribution for her betrayal.


  • Wild Bill Clanton: The protagonist, a criminal with a code of honor, navigating the treacherous waters of the Far East’s underworld to retrieve the Mogul elephant.
  • Marianne Allison: A wealthy socialite with a penchant for danger, she employs Clanton to acquire the Mogul elephant, only to find herself embroiled in a deadly game of deception and betrayal.
  • Diego de Strozza: A thief who initially steals the Mogul elephant but is later found murdered, setting off a chain of events that entangle Clanton and Marianne in a dangerous quest.
  • Hurricane Davies: A brutish criminal who seeks the Mogul elephant for his own gain, he becomes a formidable adversary to Clanton and Marianne.
  • Gop Kang: A powerful figure in China, indirectly involved in the quest for the Mogul elephant through his historical ties to the secret contract contained within it.
  • Shareef Ali: Another antagonist who seeks the Mogul elephant, Ali becomes a direct threat to Marianne and Clanton, showcasing the lengths to which individuals will go to possess the artifact.
  • Yakub: A knowledgeable figure who confirms the authenticity of the Mogul elephant, providing crucial information that propels the narrative forward.

Published in: