This week I read the Criminals Rudyard Kipling's great short story, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. If you don't know the story, it's about a little mongoose named Rikki-Tikki-Tavi who kills two cobras named Nag and Nagaina in order to save the family with whom he lives.The story is so brilliantly written that it's a pleasure to read to any child, even children with a very limited vocabulary and little frame of reference for this kind of material. They were glued to the carpet each time I read, chewing their nails as Rikki caroled his war-cry, "Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchahhh!" and they begged to finish the story today.
But I had to go to a meeting in the morning, and they all complained vociferously. "Miss Victoria! We need to read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi! Where are you GOING?" I said I was sorry, but they were very grumpy about the whole thing. I said I'd read to them after lunch if they didn't keep up the grumpy bad manners. They all very quickly smiled politely and said yes certainly they would be delighted to bide until after lunch and did I need help with that door on my way out?
After lunch we settled down to continue the story, but it's a short time between lunch and their specials time when Ms. Meehan comes to teach theatre arts (and Miss Victoria gets a break). Just as Miss Victoria and Rikki reached the veranda where Nagaina was holding the whole family hostage and getting ready to bite Teddy, the little boy, and Miss Victoria and Rikki snarled, "Turn around, Nagaina! Turn and fight!"...Ms. Meehan walked into the room.
"AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!" cried the Criminals, to a man, Charlie Brown come to life. Miss Victoria smiled sweetly, closed the book, and said, "We'll finish the story after Ms. Meehan is gone," and put the book down. With many dark looks, the Criminals shuffled to their desks to be entertained with Little Rabbit Foo-foo and the like (Ms. Meehan has not heard of the story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, therefore she is rendered useless to my brood).
I came back to shouts of, "Miss Victoria! Can we finish the story now?!?!" and settled down to read the end. Nagaina and the one egg she had left met their end, Rikki emerged triumphant from the snake hole, and Darzee the bird sang his chant of triumph. Everyone clapped wildly, and we sat down to color a picture of a mongoose to end our week. What a ride.