Study Guide

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from The Jungle Book Paragraphs 38-62

By Rudyard Kipling

Paragraphs 38-62

  • That night, the family offers Rikki-tikki enough food to stuff himself Goku-style, but he remembers Nag and Nagaina and refrains. He's got to keep himself in fighting trim, so he indulges in the lovings instead.
  • Teddy carries him off to bed, but once the boy's asleep, Rikki-tikki sneaks away and patrols the house.
  • He runs into Chuchundra, a cowardly muskrat. Chuchundra pleads for the mongoose not to kill him, but he needn't have bothered. That's not Rikki-tikki's thing. He kills snakes not muskrats.
  • But Chuchundra is worried about Nag as well. Rikki-tikki assures the muskrat that Nag is in the garden, but Chuchundra tells him to listen.
  • Rikki-tikki hears the faint scratching sound of scales on brickwork.
  • And there's no brickwork in the garden.
  • Cue creepy horror music.
  • He searches the house and hears Nag and Nagaina outside an opening leading to the bathroom.
  • Like all villains ever, they discuss their plan in explicit detail to each other, conveniently allowing the hero to overhear.
  • The gist is that Nag will go into the house and kill the family. Without the humans, the mongoose will leave, freeing up more space for their up-and-coming family. Ready…break!
  • Nag slithers into the bathroom. Rikki-tikki doesn't attack, partly out of fear but mostly because he knows the noise of the scuffle would alert Nagaina.
  • On the other side of the wall, Nag tells Nagaina that he'll wait there until morning. If he goes for the big man now, he might still have a stick with him.
  • But when he comes into the bathroom tomorrow, he'll be stickless (one presumes anyway).
  • When Rikki-tikki hears no response, he knows Nagaina is no longer there.
  • The mongoose sizes up his opponent. It takes a while, because Nag is pretty big.
  • Then he pounces, sinks his teeth into the hooded dome, and holds on for dear life (literally). Nag shakes to and fro, battering Rikki-tikki against the floor.
  • The father rushes in wielding a double-barreled boomstick. He takes the shot, and Rikki-tikki shuts his eyes thinking his time is done.
  • Luckily, the father's a crack shot. He picks up Rikki-tikki and praises the critter for having saved them twice in one day.
  • They take Rikki-tikki to Teddy's room, and the mongoose spends the rest of the night tenderly checking his wounds.