Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger
NCERT English Class X —- Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger
Para 1 .. Mrs. Packletide’s nature was far from being self-effacing. She wanted to shoot a tiger, not so much for the thrill or a desire to rid India of a menace, but to settle scores with one Mrs. Loona Bimberton, who had won accolades for her trophies in feline hunting. It was an affront to Mrs. Packletide’s vanity. It is not known if anyone else thought so, but for the vainglorious Mrs. Packletide, Mrs. Bimberton’s rise to fame was jarring.
She was bent upon shooting a tiger. The desire was born out of jealousy. She was desperate to outdo her rival Mrs. Bimberton who had recently been flown around for eleven miles by an Algerian pilot for recognition of her hunting acumen. Mrs. Packletide chose to hunt down Nirmod, the tiger whose skin she could flaunt under the glare of a bevy of press photographers’ cameras. The celebration could be followed by a lunch to be hosted by her in her Curzon Street residence ostensibly to felicitate her rival Mrs. Bimberton.
To rub salt on Mrs. Bimberton’s wounds, she could present a tiger-claw brooch. No doubt, it was a deft one-upmanship move of Mrs. Packletide. It was clear that she was consumed by her dislike of Mrs. Bimberton. She could go to any length to settle the score with her rival.
The villagers were clearly excited by the one thousand rupees on offer. Children were asked to maintain vigil in the nearby jungle to ensure the cat did not stray off. They could shoe-horn the tiger towards the village. Some weak domestic goats were deliberately left loose to entice the old tiger. The worry was the dotage of the infirm tiger. People prayed for it to stay alive till Mrs. Packletide fired her fatal shot. Mothers heading home with their babies through the forest toned down their singing to let the tiger have its blissful sleep.
Para 3 .. The night arrived, with clear skies and moon shining radiantly. At a certain height in a tree, a secured platform was erected so that the shooters could perch atop it comfortably. Miss. Mebbin came with Mrs. Packletide as the shooting companion. She was hired by the latter. A tender nervous goat was tethered at a convenient spot to offer the tiger and its shooter a convenient view. The shooter waited with baited breath for the tiger to approach. She had her fingers ready on the trigger.
Para 4 .. Apparently to justify her hiring, Miss. Mebbin sensed some impending danger.
Para 5 .. Miss. Mebbin had a penchant to overdo things, particularly when it came to serve her masters.
Para 6 .. Mrs. Packletide dismissed the suggestion of any risk. The tiger they had paid Rs.1000 for was too weighed down by age to spring as high as their platform, affirmed Mrs. Packletide.
Para 7 .. Miss. Mebbin was at it again. She came with another unsolicited advice. She commented that the old tiger had been over-paid for.
Para 8 .. Louisa Mebbin instinctively tried to project herself as a protector of money of whoever hired her. In some occasion, she had successfully dissuaded her patrons from greedy waiters in a Moscow sojourn. She could stanch the outflow of cash of the people she accompanied. Just when she was about to pronounce her views on pricing of the remains of tigers, the much-awaited animal appeared on the scene. With little difficulty, it sighted the tethered prey. Surprisingly, instead of the beastly charge characteristic of an animal of prey, the tiger relapsed to a supine pose. The usual aggression was starkly missing. Perhaps, it wanted to catch a wink before springing its charge.
Para 9 .. The headman lay in wait behind a nearby bush. Miss. Mebbin proclaimed loudly that the animal was perhaps ill.
Para 10 .. Mrs. Packletide silenced her. Just then, the tiger began to crawl forward towards its prey.
Para 11 .. Miss. Mebbin urged her patron to shoot. A cost-saving idea flashed through her mind. If the tiger could be killed before harming the goat, Mrs. Packletide could avoid paying for the bait.
Para 12 .. ‘Boom’ the hunter’s rifle roared. The tiger leaped up and flipped to one side. Apparently, the beast had breathed its last. For Mrs. Packletide, it was ‘Mission accomplished’. In the wink of an eye, enthusiastic onlookers converged on the dead beast. A sense of triumph and glee seemed to grip everyone around. The success of Mrs. Packletide had the village richer by a thousand rupees. It added to their jubilant spirits. Mrs. Packletide conjured up the grand lunch in Curzon Street. As the ace shooter, she would confront her bête noire Mrs. Bimberton.
Para 13 .. Miss. Mebbin played the spoiler when she mentioned that the bullet had killed the goat leaving the tiger unscathed. The debilitated tiger had suffered a fatal heart attack on hearing the rifle’s burst. Her discovery was a dampener that upset Mrs. Packletide. But, she was in no mood to concede the setback. Quite brazenly, she posed for the camera standing beside the trophy. Her pictures were published in Texas Weekly Snapshot and Novoe Vremya. Mrs. Bimberton, understandably, didn’t turn up for the lunch.
Para 14 .. Louisa Mebbin continued to harp on the fact that tiger had died of a heart attack. Her persistence was sinister. She virtually threatened to spill the beans.
Para 15 .. Mrs. Packletide was not amused at her paid mate’s stand.
Para 16 .. In a taunting tone, Miss. Mebbin kept reminding Mrs. Pakletide about the undeserved credit that the latter was claiming.
Para 17 .. Mrs. Packletide stood her ground, but she was visibly disconcerted. She maintained that few would buy the suggestion that a tiger could have died of heart attack.
Para 18 .. Miss. Mebbin knew how vulnerable Mrs. Packletide was. She asserted that Mrs. Bimberton would relish the truth behind the shooting. It made Mrs. Packletide really distraught. Her face grimaced in disapproval.
Para 19 .. Mrs. Packletide, feeling suddenly very vulnerable, pleaded with her paid mate to keep the secret.
Para 20 .. Quite nonchalantly, Miss. Mebbin spoke about a cottage she wanted to buy. It was near Darking. She said she was short of funds.
Para 21 .. She got the money from Mrs. Packletide through an uniquely executed act of extortion. The cottage was rechristened ‘Les Fauves’. It was a scenic property that was admired by all her friends.
Para 22 .. Her friends were clueless as to how Miss. Mebbin could arrange the funds to buy the property.
Para 23 .. Mrs. Packletide was obviously chastened by the experience. She stopped thinking about shooting.
Para 24 .. When goaded by friends about her loss of enthusiasm for tiger hunting, she wryly replied that the ‘incidental’ expenses were too heavy.
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