This is the story of a great battle that was fought in the big bungalow and won by Rikki-tikki-tavi. Of course Darzee, that fine feathered friend, gave him a hand, but Rikki-tikki-tavi won the battle all by himself.
Rikki-tikki-tavi was a mongoose, an animal that has the fur and tail of a cat and the small head and fierceness of a weasel.
One morning, a summer flood went tumbling through the hole that Rikki-tikki-tavi shared with his mother and father. The flood carried the poor mongoose down the road, where a small boy found him dripping wet. The boy, whose name was Teddy, took Rikki-tikki-tavi home with him.
Teddy carried the wet little mongoose into his house to show to his parents. “Is it dead?” he asked his father.
Teddy’s father picked up Rikki-tikki-tavi, looked him over, and said, “No, this mongoose is very much alive. But he seems to be choked from the water.”
Teddy’s mother brought a fluffy cotton towel into the kitchen and wrapped Rikki-tikki-tavi up in it. After he was warm and dry, the little mongoose opened his eyes and let out a wet little mongoose sneeze.Rikki-tikki-tavi crawled out of the towel and began to look around. He nibbled on the corner of the towel, as members of the mongoose family are rather curious.
But he realized that the towel was not food. He then sniffed at Teddy’s face and gave the boy a lick.
“Oh, my,” said Teddy’s father, “I think he’s so friendly because we saved his life.”
“Can we keep him?” Teddy asked his parents.
“No,” said Teddy’s mother. “What if he bites?”
“Rubbish!” announced Teddy’s father. “Teddy would be as safe with a mongoose for a pet as he would be with a dog. Besides, if ever a snake came into his bedroom, this little fellow could take care of it.”
You see, snakes and mongooses are enemies. Mongooses are also one of the few animals that can win a fight with a snake. And it wouldn’t be long before Rikki-tikki-tavi had his first encounter with a snake.
One day Rikki-tikki-tavi was visiting with his bird friend, Darzee, when the two heard a rustle in the grass.
“Oh, no,” said Darzee. “It’s Nag!”
“Who is Nag?” Rikki-tikki-tavi asked.
“I am Nag,” said a large, red-eyed cobra that came slithering from the brush.”Be afraid!” said Nag in a big, booming voice.
But Rikki-tikki-tavi was not afraid, for his mother had fed him cobras when he was young. The little mongoose knew that the life of a grown-up mongoose was spent catching and eating venomous snakes like Nag.Later that night, Rikki-tikki-tavi was wandering the bungalow when he heard a noise in the bathroom. He peeked in and spotted Nag and his cobra wife, Nagaina.
“We must empty this house of people,” Nagaina said.
“Yes,” agreed Nag. “For if we get rid of the house’s people, then the mongoose cannot stay.”
“Go in and bite the boy’s father first,” Nagaina told her husband. “And then come get me and together we shall beat that little mongoose called Rikki-tikki-tavi.”
Rikki-tikki-tavi knew that in order to save the family and himself, he had to stop that evil cobra, Nag. Once Nagaina had slithered away, Rikki-tikki-tavi saw his chance. With a quick mongoose jump, he threw himself at Nag.”No!” screamed Nag, in pain because of the sharp mongoose teeth that poked into his head. The great cobra thrashed around, trying to shake the little mongoose off of himself.
But Rikki-tikki-tavi held tightly to Nag’s head, knowing that if he should let go, Nag could bite him.
The snake and the mongoose thrashed around the bathroom. They crashed into the soap dish and the bath.
Suddenly there was a loud THUD! Rikki-tikki-tavi noticed that the cobra had stopped fighting. He looked up to see Teddy’s father holding a broomstick. With the man’s help, Rikki-tikki-tavi had defeated the deadly and vicious cobra, Nag.
“Bad Nag is gone, gone, gone,” Rikki-tikki-tavi heard someone sing. It was his friend, Darzee.
“But where did Nagaina go?” the mongoose asked.
“She is at the garbage pile, crying for her husband,” Darzee said. “But she has a nest of many eggs that will all hatch and become cobras.”
“Where is this nest?” Rikki-tikki-tavi asked the bird. Darzee told the mongoose where the nest was, and the two began to devise a plan to rid the house and garden of cobras once and for all.”Here is what you are to do,” Rikki-tikki-tavi told the bird. “You must pretend that your wing is hurt, in order to lure Nagaina away from her nest. Then I will steal away all of her eggs. Once I take care of Nagaina, we will be safe.”
The bird and the mongoose headed off, hoping that their plan would work.
Darzee distracted Nagaina with his pretend broken wing. At the same time, Rikki-tikki-tavi began to get rid of the eggs. Nagaina did not realize this was happening until only one of her eggs was left.Quickly, the mother snake grabbed the last egg and tried to escape. She found a hole to crawl into and was just about inside when . . .
. . . Rikki-tikki-tavi grabbed her by the tail. “Drop that egg, Nagaina!” the brave little mongoose yelled.
Nagaina, being much larger than her enemy, pulled Rikki-tikki-tavi right down into the hole. By this time, Teddy and his family were watching. They were worried that their loving pet was lost. Darzee began to sing, “Brave Rikki-tikki-tavi is gone, gone, gone.”
But just when hope was lost, Rikki-tikki-tavi climbed from the hole. He was safe, and now so was his family!