James Thurber: The Peacelike Mongoose
In cobra country a mongoose was born one day who didn't want to fight cobras or anything else. The word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn't want to fight cobras. If he didn't want to fight anything else, it was his own business, but it was the duty of every mongoose to kill cobras or be killed by cobras.
'Why' asked the peacelike mongoose, and the word went around that the strange new mongoose was not only pro-cobra and anti-mongoose but intellectually curious and against the ideals and traditions of mongoosism.
'He is crazy,' cried the young mongoose's father.
'He is sick,' said his mother.
'He is a coward,' shouted his brothers.
'He is a mongoosexual,' whispered his sisters.
Strangers who never laid eyes on the peacelike mongoose remembered that they had seen him crawling on his stomach, or trying on cobra hoods, or plotting the violent overthrow of Mongoosia.
'I am trying to use reason and intelligence,' said the strange new mongoose.
'Reason is six-sevenths of treason,' said one of his neighbours.
'Intelligence is what the enemy uses,' said another.
Finally, the rumour spread that the mongoose had venom in his sting, like a cobra, and was tried, convicted by a show of paws, and condemned to banishment.
MORAL: Ashes to ashes, and clay to clay, if the enemy doesn't get you your own folks may.
James Thurber: Further Fables for Our Time, Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex
1. KEY WORDS
coward, hood, plot, reason, treason, rumour, venom, sting, convicted, paw
1. an animal's foot
3.covering for the head, fastened for example to a coat
4. an uncourageous person
5. a sharp, poisonous, pointed organ
6. to make a secret plan
8. found guilty
9. brains, intellect, logic
10. poison, toxin
2. LEARN MORE ABOUT MONGOOSES
Visit this website and read more about mongooses. Then answer the questions below.
1. What is the Indian grey mongoose like?
2. Mention one world-famous mongoose.
3. Where do mongooses usually live?
4. What do they eat?
5. Why are they capable of killing cobras?
6. Why was the Egyptian mongoose called the "Pharaoh's mouse"?
3. WORK MORE WITH THE STORY
Here you have to re-write the story, and you can also learn more about the vocabulary of intolerance.
You can find more reading comprehension exercises here.
4. HAVE FUN
Visit this site where you can watch a video of a mongoose – cobra fight.
Read more for the answers.