Study Material of Mrs Packletide's tiger (Summary, Character Sketch and Word Meanings)

Character Sketch

• Mrs Packletide: She was a vain individual whose main aim in life was to outshine her neighbour Loona Bimberton. When she came to know that Loona Bimberton had recently been carried eleven miles in an aeroplane by an Algerian aviator. She was smitten with great jealousy. She had a strong desire to do something for run down Loona 's adventure. So she decided to hunt a tiger and to procure his skin. If successful in doing so, her photographs would appear in the papers.

• Loona Bimberton: She was neighbour of Mrs Packletide. She had much like characters of her neighbour. He had strong belief in show off. The recent thing done by her which caused a lot of annoyance to Mrs. Packletide. She declined the invitation to the luncheon Mrs. Packletide had thrown in her “honour” and refused to look at the single newspaper for weeks for the fear of reading about her neighbour’s feats.

• Miss Mebin: She was paid companion of Mrs Packletide and very clever, opportunistic and money-minded. Firstly, she advised Mrs. Packletide that the thousand rupees she paid for an old tiger was too much. After tiger killing she used the fact that tiger was not killed by Packletide’s bullet as opportunity and blackmail Mrs. Packletide and successfully extorted a week-end cottage from her.

Summary of the Chapter

Mrs Packletide was an English lady who was overcome with a strong desire to shoot a tiger. Basically she was not adventurous or brave but she was smitten with jealousy when her friend, Loona Bimberton, had recently been carried in an aeroplane by an Algerian pilot. MrsPackletide wanted to outshine her and longed to prove that she was no less. Her ultimate desire was to obtain a tiger-skin and display it on the wall of her house. If she succeeded in killing a tiger, her photograph would appear in the press and she would host a party in Curzon Street in Loona Bimberton’s honour, but the talk would be of her hunting expedition. She also planned to present a tiger- claw brooch on Loona’s next birthday. All her motives were largely dominated by her dislike of Loona.

Circumstances proved to be favourable. An old and weak tiger was visiting a neighbouring village in search of food. Mrs Packletide offered to pay one thousand rupees to anyone who would help her in shooting a tiger. The villagers got very tempted as one thousand rupees was a lot of money in those days. They made all the efforts to confine the tiger within the village. Children were posted day and night on the outskirts of the local jungle to drive the tiger back to the village. Cheaper kind of goats were scattered here and there, to keep the tiger there. Mothers were told not to sing lullabys to their children loudly, lest the tiger’s sleep should be disturbed. The only anxiety was lest the tiger should die of old age before the day of hunting.

On the fateful night, Mrs Packletide came along with a paid companion Miss Mebbin. A platform had already been constructed in a comfortable and conveniently placed tree by the villagers. Both the ladies sat on the platform. A goat with a loud bleat was tied at proper distance from the tiger. Meanwhile the tiger appeared on the scene and slowly walked towards the goat. Mrs Packletide fired a shot with her rifle. The tiger fell down to one side. The excited villagers celebrated by beating drums and singing. Mrs Packletide was also too happy.

Miss Mebbin was very clever and alert. She drew Mrs Packletide’s attention to the fact that the bullet had actually hit the goat and the tiger had died due to heart attack, caused by the loud report of the rifle. Miss Mebbin pointed out that the tiger bore no wound. Mrs Packletide was disappointed but she consoled herself with the thought that she possessed the tiger-skin. The villagers agreed to keep the secret for they were happy to receive the money. Mrs. Packletide wasn’t insecure about Miss Mebbin forshe was a paid companion.

Mrs Packletide’s picture appeared in two weeklies. Loona refused to attend the lunch-party but coldly accepted the tiger-claw brooch. Miss Mebbin was very money-minded and cunning. She thought of exploiting this weak point of Mrs Packletide. She blackmailed Mrs Packletide by saying what would happen if Loona learnt that Mrs Packletide had shot the goat and not the tiger. Shrewd and clever, Miss Mebbin hinted that she wanted money to buy a weekend cottage near Dorking. To keep her mouth shut, Mrs Packletide was forced to pay for that cottage. Miss Mebbin named the cottage, “The Wild Beasts.” Since then Mrs Packletide never indulged in big game shooting. She confided to her friends that “incidental expenses were too heavy for such kind of hunting”.

Terms and Meanings from the Chapter

• Nimrod – a mighty hunter
• Ostensibly – supposedly
• Propitious – favourable
• Rendezvous – meeting
• Tethered – fastened
• Thumb - nail pack of patience cards - small sized playing cards to play solitaire
• Ambling - walk or move at a slow, relaxed pace
• Tawny - a brownish-orange or yellowish-brown colour
• Senile - characteristic of old age
• Book of patterns - Book showing the colour patterns of racing. Stables, with colours worn by jockeys
• Post-time- the start of horse race and deadline for placing a bet
• Les Fauves - French for ' The Wild Animals'
• Incidental - secondary

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