The Tiger King - Summary

The story begins with explaining who the story is about. It is about the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram. His real name was quite long and included several words to explain his achievements. But, for short, he was referred to as the Tiger King.
The story is about how he came to be known as the Tiger King. As soon as he was born, the astrologers had foretold that he would have a sudden death one day. Astonishingly, it is said that the ten day old prince started speaking when the astrologers gave their prediction and said that it is not strange for someone to die as everyone who is born has to die some day. Further, he asked them to tell him about the manner in which his death would come.
Everyone, including the astrologers, was stunned at hearing a ten day old baby speak and ask intelligent questions. The chief astrologer looked at the horoscope and predicted that his death would come from a tiger. At that, the baby growled and, as if giving a warning to all the tigers, said, ‘‘Let tigers beware!’’
The tale sound a lot like some kind of a rumour as it sounds absolutely unbelievable. However, the rest of the story explains that it wasn’t entirely a rumour.
The prince grew up the manner in which all Indian princes used to grow up in British India and got English education and mannerisms. When he attained the age of twenty years, the state, which was being managed by the court of wards till then, came into his hands and he became the king. The people started talking about the prediction about his death by a tiger as foretold by the astrologers and the word soon reached the king. There were a lot of forests in the kingdom and all had plenty of tigers. As per an old Hindu saying, one can kill even a cow in self-defence and it would not be a sin. The Maharaja twisted it to suit his purpose and since a tiger was supposed to be the cause of his death, he decided that it wouldn’t be a sin to kill all the tigers in ‘self-defence’. And, thus, he started out on a tiger hunt.
After killing the first tiger, he called the chief astrologer and asked him what he felt upon knowing that the Maharaja is going to kill all the tigers and defy death. But, the astrologer said that he may kill as many as ninety – nine tigers but the hundredth tiger would get him. When the Maharaja asked what if he killed even the hundredth tiger, the astrologer staked everything he had on his prediction coming true and said he would tear up all his astrology books, would set them fire, will cut off his hair, and would give up astrology to take up selling insurance.
But, the Maharaja was defiant and decided to wipe out all the tigers. He passed a new rule that banned hunting of tigers by anyone other than the Maharaja and all the wealth and property would be confiscated from anyone who even tried to hurt a tiger.
The Maharaja took to hunting full time and despite facing several dangers during his hunts, he managed to keep killing tigers one after another, sometimes fighting with his bare hands.
His vow to kill the tigers even brought him to the brink of losing his kingdom. A high-ranking British officer wanted to go tiger-hunting as he loved to get photographed with tigers he had killed. But, the Maharaja refused permission for that. He said that he would allow hunting of anything in his kingdom except tigers. The officer’s secretary even proposed that the Maharaja may kill the tiger himself and just let the officer get photographed with it. But, even that proposal was declined by the Maharaja. That became an issue and he could have lost his kingdom.
However, he came up with a solution that saved his kingdom after discussions with his Dewan. He asked a famous British jeweler from Calcutta to send samples of expensive diamond rings of different designs and the jeweler sent around fifty rings. The Maharaja sent all the rings to the wife of the British officer. He thought that the lady would choose two or three rings and would send the rest back. However, the lady kept all the rings and sent a thank you note for the gifts. Thus, saving his kingdom cost him three lakh rupees.
The Maharaja continued with his hunting and managed to kill seventy tigers in ten years. And, then, his hunting was suddenly brought to a standstill by the fact that the tigers had disappeared from the forests of his kingdom. But, he soon came up with a solution to that problem too. He asked his Dewan to prepare statistics of other kingdoms in the region to find out which kingdoms have a good enough tiger population along with a girl of marriageable age in the royal family. His plan was to marry such a girl and hunt tigers in the kingdom of his in-laws.
The Dewan soon found such a girl and after marriage, the Maharaja would visit that kingdom every now and then and would kill five or six tigers in every visit. In that manner, he managed to kill ninety-nine tigers whose skins were hung all over the walls of the reception hall of his palace.
His anxiety grew a lot when he realized that only one tiger remained to be killed and even his father-in-law’s kingdom was out of tigers. He had decided to give up hunting altogether after killing the hundredth tiger.
He had become quite sad and gloomy due to the fact that he could not find a tiger to kill. That gloom was lifted when reports came in that sheep had started disappearing from a hillside village in his own kingdom. That could mean only one thing; a tiger was hunting there. The Maharaja was so happy to hear this news from the villagers that he gave them a three year holiday from taxes. And, he set out on the hunt immediately.
But, despite their best efforts, the Maharaja and his officers were not able to locate the tiger. The Maharaja’s anger kept growing by the day and he fired a lot of his officers. One day, he even warned his Dewan that even he might lose his job soon. The Dewan grew worried but by that time, he had already made arrangements to fulfill the Maharaja’s wish. He had procured an old tiger from the People’s Park in Madras and had kept it hidden in his house for such an eventuality. At midnight, he had his wife dragged the tiger in their car and he drove the car to the forest where the hunt was taking place. Once there, he dragged the tiger out of the car with extreme difficulty and left.
Next morning, the old tiger wandered into the Maharaja’s vision and just stood there. The Maharaja took careful aim and shot the tiger and it fell down. He was overjoyed as he had managed to kill the hundredth tiger and thereby defied the prediction. He ordered the tiger to be brought to the capital and left.
After he had left, the other hunters of the party went to take a closer look at the tiger and found out that the tiger wasn’t dead and had merely fainted from the shock of the bullet shot. The hunters were confused about what to do but decided that it would be better if the Maharaja did not come to know about his missing the target as he might fire them from their jobs in anger. So, one of the hunters took aim and shot the tiger from close distance and killed it. Then, as per the orders, they took the dead tiger in a procession through the town, buried it, and erected a tomb over the burial place.
A few days later, celebrations were organized for Maharaja’s son’s third birthday as he wanted to give all his attention to the prince since the tiger hunting was over upon completion of his vow. He decided to give a special gift to the prince and went to the shopping center himself to choose one. He went to every shop and finally, decided to buy a wooden tiger from a toy-shop.
On the prince’s birthday, they played with the tiny little wooden tiger. That tiger was made by an unskilled carpenter and its surface was quite rough. Tiny slivers of wood stood all over the surface like quills. One such sliver pierced the Maharaja’s right hand. He pulled it out with his left hand and did not pay much attention to it.
Next day, an infection flared up in his hand and developed into a very bad sore in four days and spread out all over the arm. Three famous surgeons were called in from Madras and after looking at it, they decided to operate on the hand. They operated but could not do much and the Maharaja died during the operation.
It was in that manner that the hundredth tiger took its revenge upon the Tiger King.


Kindly note that this copy of the text prescribed by NCERT has been reproduced for free circulation among students of CBSE board to help them prepare for their exams through electronic medium. English Emperor does not hold any copyright over the material. Therefore, kindly do not reproduce this text without permission from the original copyright holder(s) if you are reproducing it for any purpose other than educational.

No comments:

Post a Comment