veryone has a dream pet. And regardless of if it’s got fur, fins, scales or lots of creepy legs, it’s gotta have one thing: loyalty.
Teddy finds a half-drowned mongoose out near a stream and proposes a funeral for it, but his mother (happily) suggests they dry it and feed it. Given that they have only just arrived in India from England and moved into a recently empty bungalow, this proves to be a good idea given the fact that there as a couple of cobras living in a hole in the garden, and thirty-plus eggs warming up to hatch on a sunny spot on the garden wall. Yeah, it’s like a snake-bomb about to go off, and only Rikki Tikki stands between them and venomous Armageddon.
But, frankly, what a pet. Rikki-tikki-tavi is a bubbling optimist. It’s his job to be curious, it’s his job to keep on ear open while sleeping with Teddy in his bed, and it’s his job to kill snakes whenever he can find them. As a reader, you can’t help but like the always-positive Rikki, with his open nature and his shortness with not-getting-to-the-point birds and the like.
When Nag, the male snake, does slip into the house (for if those sneaky snakes can kill the family, the bungalow will be theirs again, the perfect place for those dozens of children) Rikki hears and Rikki comes. The battle is tremendous, and Teddy’s father (who blows the snake in half with both barrels while Rikki hangs on for dear life) quickly realizes what a furry paladin the mongoose is. Yet this is proven, ten times over, when the cobra widow comes seeking vengeance. And there is a scene that will curl your spine. Suddenly things are moving a light speed, there is twist and counter-twist, and everything seems to be hanging on knife-edge (or rather snake-fang). It’s battles in the dark, limber poisonous foes, an animal hero with a heart of gold, everything you can want. And it’s short – a setting if that. I’m even giving to you HERE, as part of the Jungle Book collection. You really should check it out.