Rikki-Tikki-Tavi teaches us two things, first, we must always protect who we love and who put their faith in us, second, to show bravery and a clear head in the face of fear.


                                                      At the hole where he went in 

                                                      red I called two wrinkled skin,

                                                     here is what little red I Seth’s nag

                                                     come up and dance with death,

                                                      eye to eye and head to head

                                                            keep the measure nag,

                                                      this shall end when one is dead

                                                              at that pleasure, nag

                                                       turn for turn and twist for twist

                                                               run and hide the nag

                                                       ha the hooded death has missed

                                                               will be tied to the nag.

This is the story of the great war that Rikki-Tikki-Tavi fought single-handed

through the bathrooms of the big bungalow, and sag a lowly cantonment

der zee, the tailorbird helped him, and choo Chandra the Muskrat, who never comes

out into the middle of the floor,  but always creeps round by the wall, gave him advice,

but Rikki-Tikki did the real fighting. He was a mongoose rather like a little cat in his fur

in his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head, in his habits, his eyes, and the end

of his restless nose was pink, he could scratch himself anywhere he pleased

with any leg, front or back that he chose to use, he could fluff up his tail till it looked

like a bottle brush, and his war cry as he scuttled through the long grass was

Rikki-Tikki teka teka teka.

One day a high summer flood washed him out of the burrow where he lived with his

father and mother and carried him kicking and clucking down a roadside ditch,

he found a little wisp of grass floating there and clung to it till he lost his senses

when he revived he was lying in the hot sun in the middle of a garden path very

draggled indeed, and a small boy was saying “here’s a dead Mongoose, let’s have

a funeral”, “no,” his mother said, “let’s take him in and dry him, perhaps he isn’t really

dead”, they took him into the house and a big man picked him up between his finger

and thumb and said “he was not dead, but half choked”, so they wrapped him

in cotton, wool and warmed him, and he opened his eyes and sneezed, “now”,

said the big man – he was an Englishman who had just moved into the bungalow –

“don’t frighten him, and he will see what he’ll do”, it was the hardest thing in the world

to frighten a mongoose because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity.

The motto of all the Mongoose family is run and find out and Rikki-Tikki was a true

Mongoose, he looked at the cotton wool, decided that it was not good to eat,

ran all around the table, sat up, and put his fur in order, scratched himself,

and jumped on the small boy’s shoulder. “don’t be frightened Teddy”, said his father,

that’s his way of making friends, “how He’s tickling under my chin!” said Teddy, 

Rikki-Tikki looked down between the boy’s collar and neck stuffed at his ear,

and climbed down to the floor, where he sat rubbing his nose, “good gracious”

said Teddy’s mother, and “that’s a wild creature, I suppose he’s so tame because

we’ve been kind to him, all mongooses are like that” said her husband, “if Teddy

doesn’t pick him up by the tail, or try to put him in a cage, he’ll run in and out

of the house all day long, let’s give him something to eat”.

They gave him a little piece of raw meat, Rikki-Tikki liked it immensely,

and when it was finished, he went out into the veranda

and sat in the sunshine and fluffed up his fur to make it dry to the roots,

then, he felt better.

“There are more things to find out about in this house,” he said to himself,

“then all my family could find out in all their lies, I shall certainly stay and find out”,

he spent all that day roaming over the house, he nearly drowned himself in

the bathtubs put his nose into the ink on the writing-table and burnt it on the end

of the big man’s cigar, where he climbed up into the big man’s lap to see

how writing was done, at nightfall he ran into Teddy’s nursery to watch how

kerosene lamps were lighted, and when Teddy went to bed Rikki-Tikki climbed up too,

but he was a restless companion because he had to get up and attend to every noise

all through the night, and find out what made it.

Teddy’s mother and father came in the last thing to look at their boy and Rikki-Tikki

was awake on the pillow, “I don’t like that” said Teddy’s mother, “he might bite

the child”, “he’ll do no such thing” said the father, “Teddy is safer with that little beast,

and if he had a bloodhound to watch him, if a snake came into the nursery

now…”, but Teddy’s mother wouldn’t think of anything so awful.

Early in the morning, Rikki-Tikki came to early breakfast in the veranda riding on

Teddy’s shoulder and they gave him banana and some boiled egg, and he sat on all

of their laps one after the other because every well-brought-up mongoose

always hopes to be a house mongoose someday, and have rooms to run in,

and Rikki-Tikki‘s mother, she used to live in the general‘s house in Sigelei and carefully

told Rikki what to do if he ever came across white men.

Then Rikki-Tikki went out into the garden to see what was to be seen, it was a large

garden only half cultivated with bushes as biggest summer houses as of marshal

Niel Rose’s lime, and orange trees, clumps of bamboos, and thickets of high grass.

Rikki-Tikki licked his lips, “this is a splendid hunting ground” he said, and his tail grew

bottled brushy at the thought of it, and he scuttled up and down the gardens

snuffling here and there till he heard very sorrowful voices in a thorn-bush,

it was “dar zee” the tailorbird, and his wife.

They had made a beautiful nest by pulling two big leaves together and stitching

them up the edges with fibers and it filled the hollow with cotton and downy fluff,

the nest swayed to and fro as they sat on the rim and cried “what is the matter” asked

Rikki-Tikki, “we’re very miserable,” said dar zee, one of our babies fell out of the nest

yesterday and nag ate him!!”, “hmm,” said Rikki-Tikki, “that is very sad, but I am

a stranger here, who is nag?”, dar zee and his wife only cowered down in the nest

without answering, from the thick grass at the foot of the bush that came to a low hiss,

a horrid cold sound that made Rikki-Tikki jump back to clear feet, then inch by inch out

of the grass rose the head and spread hood of Nag, the big black Cobra,

and he was five feet long from tongue to tail. When he had lifted 1/3 of himself clear

of the ground, he stayed balancing to and fro, exactly as a dandelion tuff  balances

in the wind, and he looked at Rikki-Tikki with the wicked snake’s eyes that never

change their expression whatever the snake may be thinking of.

“Who is nag!!!” said he”, “I am Nag, the Great God Brahm put his mark upon all of

our people, when the first Cobra spread his hood to keep the sun off Brahm

as he slept, look and be afraid”, he spread out his hood more than ever

and Rikki-Tikki saw the spectacle mark on the back of it that looks exactly like

the eye part of a hook-and-eye fastening, he was afraid for a minute,

but it is impossible for a mongoose to stay frightened for any length of time,

and though Rikki-Tikki had never met a live Cobra before, his mother had fed him on

dead ones and he knew that all a grown mongoose‘s business in life was to fight

and eat snakes.

Nag knew that too, and at the bottom of his cold heart he was afraid,

“well”, said Rikki-Tikki and his tail began to fluff up again,

“marks or no marks do you think it is right for you to eat fledglings out of a nest?”,

Nag was thinking to himself and watching the least little movement in the grass

behind Rikki-Tikki, he knew that mongooses in the garden meant death sooner

or later for him, and his family, but he wanted Rikki-Tikki off his guard, so he dropped 

his head a little and put it to one side, “let us talk” he said,  “you eat eggs, why

should I not eat birds, “behind you, look behind you” sang dar zee, 

Rikki-Tikki knew better than to waste time and staring, he jumped up in the air

as high as he could go, and just under him whizzed by the head of Nagaina, nag‘s

wicked wife, she had crept up behind him as he was talking to make an end of him,

and he heard her savage hiss as the stroke missed, he came down almost across

her back, and if he had been an old Mongoose he would have known that

then was the time to break her back with one bite, but he was afraid of the terrible

lashing return stroke of the Cobra, he bit indeed but did not bite long enough,

and he jumped clear of the whisking tail leaving Nagaina torn and angry,

“wicked, wicked dar zee,” said nag lashing up as high as he could reach towards

the nest in the thornbush, but dar zee had built it out of reach of snakes and it only

swayed to and fro. Rikki-Tikki felt his eyes growing red and hot when a mongoose‘s

eyes grow red he is angry, and he sat back on his tail and hind legs like a little

kangaroo, and looked all around him and chattered with rage, but nag and Nagaina

had disappeared into the grass. when a snake misses its stroke it never says

anything or gives any sign of what it means to do next.

Rikki-Tikki did not care to follow them or he did not feel sure that he could manage

two snakes at once, so he trotted off the gravel path near the house and sat down

to think, it was a serious matter for him.

If you read the old books of natural history you will find they say that when

the Mongoose fights the snake and happens to get bitten he runs off and eat

some herb that cures him, this is not true, the victory is only a matter of quickness of eye

and quickness of foot, snakes blow against mongoose‘s jump and as no eye can

follow the motion of a snake’s head when it strikes, that makes things much more

wonderful than any magic herb.

Rikki-Tikki knew that he was a young Mongoose, and it made him all the more

pleased to think that he had managed to escape a blow from behind, it gave him

confidence in himself and when Teddy came running down the path, Rikki-Tikki was

ready to be petted, but just as teddy was stooping something flinched a little in the

dust and a tiny voice said “be careful, I am death” he was “Carried”, the dusty brown

snake telling that lies for choice on the dusty earth and his bite is as  dangerous

as the cobra’s, but he is so small that nobody thinks of him and so he does more

harm to people.

Rikki-Tikki ‘s eyes grew red again and he danced up to “Carried” with the peculiar

rocking swaying motion that he had inherited from his family, it  looks very funny,

but it is so perfectly balanced a gait that you can fly off from it at  any angle

you please, and in dealing with snakes this is an advantage, if Rikki-Tikki had only

known he was doing a much more dangerous thing than fighting Nag , for “Carried”

is so small and can turn so quickly that unless Rikki bit him close to the back

of the head, he would get the return stroke in his eye or lip, but Ricky did not know,

his eyes were all red and he rocked back and forth looking for a good place to hold,

“Carried” struck out, Rikki jumped sideways and tried to run in, but the wicked little

dusty gray head lashed within a fraction of his shoulder, and he had to jump over

the body and the head followed his heels close, Teddy shouted to the house

“oh look here, our Mongoose is killing a snake”, and Rikki-Tikki heard a scream

from Teddy’s mother, his father ran out with a stick, but by the time he came up

“Carried” had lunged out once too far, and Rikki-Tikki had sprung jumping on

the snake’s  back, dropped his head far between his forelegs, bitten as high up

the back as he could get a hold and rolled away, that bite paralyzed “Carried”

and Rikki-Tikki was just going to eat him from the tail after the custom of his family

at dinner, when he remembered that a full meal makes a slow Mongoose,

and if he wanted all of his  strength and quickness ready, he must keep himself thin,

he went away for a dust bath under the castor-oil bushes.

While Teddy’s father beat the dead cerate, “what’s the use of that”, thaught  Rikki-Tikki,

“I have settled it all”, and then Teddy’s mother picked him up from the dust

and hugged him crying that he had saved Teddy from death, and Teddy’s father said

that he was a Providence, and Teddy looked on with big scared eyes.

Rikki-Tikki was rather amused at all the fuss which of course he did not understand,

Teddy’s mother might just as well have petted Teddy for playing in the dust,

Rikki was thoroughly enjoying himself.

That night at dinner walking to and fro among

the wineglasses on the table, he could have stuffed himself three times over with

the nice things but he remembered Nag and Nagaina and thought it was very pleasant

to be patted and petted by Teddy’s mother, and to sit on Teddy‘s shoulders, his eyes

would get red from time to time, and he would go off into his long war cry a “Ricky

ticky ticky ticky ticky ticky”.

Teddy carried him off to bed and insisted on Rikki-Tikki sleeping under his chin,

Rikki-Tikki was too well-bred to bite or scratch but as soon as Teddy was asleep,

he went off for his nightly walk around the house and in the dark, he ran up against

“Jitendra”, the Muskrat creeping around by the wall “Jitendra” as a brokenhearted

little beast, he whimpers and cheeps all the night trying to make up his mind

to run into the middle of the room, but he never gets there, “don’t kill” me

said “Jitendra” almost weeping, “Rikki-Tikki don’t kill me”, “do you think a snake killer

kills muskrats?” said Rikki-Tikki scornfully, “those who kill snakes get killed by snakes,”

said “Jitendra” more sorrowfully than ever, and how am I to be sure that Nag won’t

mistake me for you some dark night, “there’s not the least danger,” said Rikki-Tikki,

“But Nag is in the garden and I know you don’t go there”, “my cousin Chua the rat told

me,” said “Jitendra” and then she stopped, “told you what?”, said Rikki-Tikki,

“Nag is everywhere Rikki-Tikki, you should have talked to Chua in the garden”,

“I didn’t, so you must tell me quickly “Jitendra” or I’ll bite you,” said Rikki-Tikki,

“Jitendra” sat down and cried till the tears rolled off his whiskers “up a very poor bad,

he sobbed “I never had a spirit enough to run out into the middle of the room,

I mustn’t tell you anything, can’t you hear Rikki-Tikki”, Rikki-Tikki listened, the house

was as still, as still, but he thought he could just catch the faintest scratch,

scratch in the world, a noise as faint as that of a wasp walking on a windowpane,

or a scratch of a snake scale on brickwork, “that’s Nag and Nagaina,” he said

to himself, and he is crawling into the bathroom sluice, “you’re right “Jitendra”,

I should have talked to Chua”,  he stole off to Teddy’s bathroom but there was

nothing there and then to Teddy’s mother’s bathroom, at the bottom of the smooth

plaster wall there was a brick pulled out to make a sluice for the bathwater,

and as Rikki-Tikki stole in by the masonry curb where the bath is put, he heard

Nag and Nagaina whispering together outside in the moonlight: “house‘s emptied

of people” said Nagaina to her husband, “he will have to go away then that garden

will be our own again, go in quietly and remember that the big man who killed

“Carried” is the first one to bite, and come out and tell me, and we will hunt

for Rikki-Tikki together “, “but are you sure there is anything to be gained by killing

the people?” asked Nag,  “everything, when there are no people in the bungalow,

did we have any mongoose in the garden? so long as the bungalow was empty

we are king and queen of the garden remember that as soon as our eggs

in the melon bed hatch as they made tomorrow, children will need room and quiet”, 

“I had not thought of that, I will go but there is no need that we should hunt for

Rikki-Tikki afterward, I will kill the big man and his wife and the child if I can,

and come away quietly, and then the bungalow will be empty, and Rikki-Tikki will go”.

Rikki-Tikki tingled all over with rage and hatred at this and then nags head came

through the sluice and his five feet of cold body followed it, angry as he was,

Rikki-Tikki was very frightened as he saw the size of the big Cobra, Nag coiled

himself up, raised his head, and looked into the bathroom in the dark and Rikki could

see his eyes glitter, “now if I kill him here, Nagaina we’ll know, and if I find him on the

open floor the odds are in his favor! what am I to do?” said Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,

Nag waved to and fro, and then Rikki-Tikki heard him drinking from the biggest

water-jar that was used to fill the bath, “that is good” said the snake,

“now when “Carried” was killed the big man had a stick he may have that stick still,

but when he comes to bathe in the morning, he will not have a stick, I shall wait here

until he comes, Nagaina do you hear me? I shall wait here in the cool, till daytime”, 

there was no answer from outside so Rikki-Tikki knew Nagaina had gone away, Nag

coiled himself coil by coil around the bolts at the bottom of the water jar,

and Rikki-Tikki stayed as still as death.

After an hour he began to move muscle by muscle toward the jar, Nag was asleep

and Rikki-Tikki looked at his big back wandering which would be the best place

for a good hold, “if I don’t break his back at the first jumps” said Rikki, “he can still

fight, and if he fights OHOOY Rikki…” he looked at the thickness of the neck below

the hood, but that was too much for him, and a bite near the tail would only make

Nag Savage, “must be the head,” he said at last, “the head above the hood when

I am once there I must not let go”,

then he jumped, the head was lying a little clear of the water jar, under the curve of it

and as his teeth met, Rikki braced his back against the bulge of the red earthenware

to hold down the head, this gave him just one seconds purchase and he made the

most of it, then he was battered to and fro as a radish shaken by a dog, to and fro on

the floor up and down and around in great circles but his eyes were red and he held on

as the body cart whipped over the floor upsetting the tin dipper and the soap dish

and the flesh brush and banged against the tin side of the bath, as he held he closed

his jaws tighter and tighter for he made sure he would be banged to death,

and for the honor of his family, he preferred to be found with his teeth locked, 

he was dizzy aching and felt shaken to pieces when something went off like

a thunderclap just behind him, a hot wind knocked him senseless, and red fire

singed his fur, the big man had been wakened by the noise and it fired both barrels

of a shotgun into nag just behind the hood, Rikki-Tikki held on with his eyes shut,

for now, he was quite sure he was dead, but the head did not move and the big man

picked him up and said “it’s the Mongoose again Alice, a little chap has saved

our lives now”, then Teddy’s mother came in with a very white face and saw

what was left of nag and Rikki-Tikki dragged himself to Teddy’s bedroom,

and spent half the rest of the night shaking himself tenderly to find out whether

he really was broken into forty pieces as he fancied.

When morning came he was very stiff but well pleased with his doing,

“Now I have Nagaina to settle with, and she will be worse than five Nags, and there’s

no knowing when the eggs she spoke of will hatch, goodness,

I must go and see Dar zee” he said, without waiting for breakfast, Rikki-Tikki ran

to the thornbush where “dar zee” was singing a song of triumph, at the top of his voice

the news of Nags death was all over the garden, for the sweeper had thrown the body

on the rubbish-heap, “oh you stupid tufted feathers” said Rikki-Tikki angrily,

“Is this the time to sing?”, “Nag is dead, is dead, is dead” sang dar zee,

“the valiant Rikki-Tikki caught him by the head and held fast, the big man brought

the bang stick and nag fell into two pieces, he will never eat my babies again”,

“All that’s true enough, but where’s Nagaina,” said Rikki-Tikki looking carefully around

him,  “Nagaina came to the bathroom sluice and called for Nag” dar zee went on “

and Nag came out at the end of the stick, the sweeper picked him up on the end

of his dick and threw him up on the rubbish heap, let us all sing about the great,

the red-eyed Rikki-Tikki”, and dar zee filled his throat and sang “Oh, if I could get up

to your nest, I’d roll all your babies out” said Rikki-Tikki, “you don’t know when to do

the right thing at the right time, you’re safe enough in your nest there, but it’s a war

for me down here, stop singing a minute dar zee”, for the great, the beautiful

Rikki-Tikki sake, I will stop” said dar zee “what is it o killer of the terrible Nag?”, 

“where is Nagaina for the third time?”,  “on the rubbish heap, by the stables,

mourning for Nag, great is Rikki-Tikki with the white teeth”,  “Oh bother my white teeth,

have you heard where she keeps her eggs?”,  “in the melon bed on the end nearest

the wall where the sun strikes nearly all day, she hid them there weeks ago”, 

“And you never thought it worthwhile to tell me, the end nearest the wall you said?”, 

“Rikki-Tikki you’re not going to eat her eggs?”,  “not eat exactly, No dar zee if you

have a grain of sense you will fly off to the stables and pretend that your wing

is broken, and let Nagaina chase you away to this bush, I must get to the melon bed,

and if I went there now she would see me”, Dar zee was a featherbrain little fellow

who could never hold more than one idea at a time in his head, and just because

he knew that Nagaina children were born in eggs like his own, he didn’t think at first

that it was fair to kill them, but his wife was a sensible bird and she knew that Cobras

eggs meant young Cobras, later on, so she flew off from the nest and left Dar zee

to keep the babies warm, and continue his song about the death of Nag,

Dar zee was very like a man in some ways.

She fluttered in front of Nagaina by the rubbish-heap and cried out “all my wing

is broken, the boy in the house threw a stone at me and broke it” and she fluttered

more desperately than ever, Nagaina lifted up her head and hissed “you warned

Rikki-Tikki when I would have killed him indeed and truly you have chosen a bad place

to be lame in, and she moved towards Dar zee’s wife slipping along over the dusk,

“the boy broke it with a stone” shrieked Dar zee’s wife, “well, it may be as some

consolation to you when you’re dead to know that I shall settle accounts with the boy,

my husband lies on the rubbish heap this morning but before night the boy

in the house will lie very still, what is the use of running away I am sure to catch you

little fool, look at me”, but Dar zee’s wife knew better than to do that, for a bird who

looks at a snake’s eyes get so frightened that she cannot move, Dar zee’s wife

fluttered on piping sorrowfully and never leaving the ground and Nagaina

quickened her pace.

Rikki-Tikki heard them going up the path from the stables, and he raced for the end

of the melon patch near the wall, there is the warm litter about the melons very

cunningly hidden, he found 25 eggs about the size of a bantam’s eggs, but with

whitish skin instead of the shell, “I was not a day too soon!” he said where he could

see that baby Cobra curled up inside the skin, and he knew that the minute they were

hatched they would each kill a man or a mongoose, he bit off the tops of the eggs

as fast as he could, taking care to crush the young cobras, and turned over the litter

from time to time to see whether he had missed any, at last, there were only three

eggs left and Rikki-Tikki began to chuckle to himself when he heard dar zee’s wife

screaming “Rikki-Tikki, I led Nagaina toward the house and she has gone into

the veranda, and oh oh come quickly, she means killing”.

Rikki-Tikki smashed two eggs and tumbled backward down the melon bed

with the third egg in his mouth, and scuttled to the veranda as hard as he could,

put foot to the ground, Teddy and his mother and father were there at early breakfast

but Rikki-Tikki saw that they were not eating anything they sat stone-still,

and their faces were white, the gain it was coiled up on the matting by Teddy’s chair

with an easy striking distance of Teddy’s bare leg and she was swaying to and fro

singing a song of triumph “son of the big man that killed Nag” she hissed

“stay still I am NOT ready yet, wait for him little, keep very still all you three,  if you

move I strike, and if you do not move I strike, o foolish people who killed my Nag”

Teddy’s eyes were fixed on his father, and all his father could do was whisper

“sit still Teddy, you mustn’t move”, Teddy keep still, then Rikki-Tikki came up and tried

“turn around Nagaina, turn and fight”, “all in good time” said she without moving her

eyes, “I will settle my account with you presently, look at your friends Rikki-Tikki,

they are still and white, they are afraid, they dare not move, and if you come to a step

nearer, I strike”, “look at your eggs,” said Rikki-Tikki in the melon bed near the wall,

go and look Nagaina”, the big snake turned half round and saw the egg on

that veranda “AHA Yemi,” said Rikki-Tikki, putting his paws on each side of the egg

and his eyes were blood-red, “what did price for a snake’s egg for a young Cobra,

for a young king cobra, for the last the very last of the brood, the ants are eating

all of the others down by the melon bed”,  the gain of spun clear round, forgetting

everything for the sake of the one egg, and Rikki-Tikki saw Teddy’s father shoot

out a big hand to catch Teddy by the shoulder and drag him across the little table,

with the teacups safe and out of reach of Nagaina, “tricked, tricked, tricked”

chuckled Rikki-Tikki, “the boy is safe and it was I, I that caught Nag by the hood

last night in the bathroom”, then he began to jump up and down all four feet together,

his head close to the floor, “he threw me to and fro but he could not shake me off,

he was dead before the big man blew him in two, I did it”, “Ricky ticky ticky ticky ticky

ticky”, “come then Nagaina, come and fight with me, you shall not be a widow long”,

the gain I saw that she had lost her chance of killing Teddy and the egg lay

between Rikki-Tikki ‘s pause, “give me the egg Rikki-Tikki, give me the last of my eggs,

and I will go away and never come back” she said lowering her hood, “yes you will

go away, and you will never come back where you will go to the rubbish heap with nag,

fight widow”,  the big man has gone for his gun, “fight!” Rikki-Tikki was bounding

all around Nagaina keeping just out of reach of her stroke, his little eyes like hot coals,

Nagaina gathered herself together and flung out at him.

Rikki-Tikki jumped up and backward again and again and again, she struck and each

time her head came with a whack on the matting of the veranda and she gathered

herself together like a watch spring, then Rikki-Tikki danced in a circle to get behind

her, and again a spun around to keep her head to his head so that the rustle of her tail

on the matting sounded like dry leaves along by the wind, he had forgotten the egg it

still lay on the veranda and Nagaina came nearer and nearer to it till at last

while Rikki-Tikki was drawing breath she caught it in her mouth,

turned to the veranda steps, and flew like an arrow down the path with Rikki-Tikki

behind her.

When the Cobra runs for her life she goes as a whiplash flicked across the horse’s


Rikki-Tikki knew he must catch her or all the trouble would begin again, she headed

straight for the long grass by the thorn bush and as he was running Rikki-Tikki heard 

Dar zee still singing his foolish little song of triumph, but Dar zee’s wife was wiser,

she flew off her nest, as Nagaina came along and flapped her wings about Nagaina,

said “if Dar zee had helped, they might have turned her”, but Nagaina only lowered her

hood and went on still the instants delay brought Rikki-Tikki up to her, and as she

plunged into the rathole where she and Nag used to live, his little white teeth were

clinched on her tail and he went down with her, and very few mongooses however

wise and old they may be care to follow a cobra into its hole, it was dark in the hall

and Rikki-Tikki never knew when it might open out and give Nagaina room to turn

and strike at him, he held on savagely and struck out his feet to act as brakes

on the dark slope of the hot moist earth, then the grass by the mouth of the hole

stopped waving, and Dar zee said “it is all over with Rikki-Tikki, we must sing

his death song, valiant Rikki-Tikki is dead For Nagaina will surely kill him underground,

so we sang a very mournful song that he made up on the spur of the minute,

and just as he got to the most touching part, the grass quivered again, and Rikki-Tikki

covered with dirt dragged himself out of the hole, leg by leg, licking his whiskers,

Dar zee stopped with a little shout, Rikki-Tikki shook some of the dust out of his fur

and sneezed.

“It is all over,” he said, the widow will never come out again, and the red ants that live

between the grass stems heard him, and begin to troop down one after another to

see if he had spoken the truth. Rikki-Tikki curled himself up in the grass and slept

where he slept, and slept till it was late in the afternoon where he had done a hard

day’s work.

“now,” he said “when I awoke, I will go back to the house tell the coppersmith,

Dar zee and he will tell the garden that Nagaina is dead, the coppersmith is a bird

who makes a noise exactly like the beating of a little hammer on a copper pot,

and the reason he is always making it is that he is the town crier to every Indian

garden and he tells all the news to everyone who cares to listen, as Rikki-Tikki went

up the path, he heard his attention notes like a tiny dinner gong and then the steady

‘ding-dong duck nag is dead, dong nag is dead, ding dong COK that”, said all

the birds in the garden singing and the frogs croaking, for Nag and Nagaina used to

eat frogs as well as little birds, when Ricky got to the house, Teddy and Teddy’s

mother still looked very white, for she had been fainting and Teddy’s father came out

and almost cried over him, and that night he ate all that was given him until he could

eat no more and went to bed on Teddy’s shoulder, where Teddy’s mother saw him

When she came to look late at night “he saved our lives and Teddy’s life” she said

to her husband, “just think he saved all our lives”.

Rikki-Tikki woke up with a jump for all mongooses or light sleepers “oh it’s you”

he said, what are you bothering, for all the Cobras are dead and if they weren’t,

I’m here”, Rikki-Tikki had a right to be proud of himself but he did not grow too proud,

and he kept that garden as a mongoose should keep it with tooth and jump and spring

and bite till never a cobra dared showed its head inside the walls.

The End