In Mrs. Packletide's Tiger by Saki, did Loona Bimberton shoot a tiger?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hello! In Mrs. Packletide's Tiger, Loona Bimberton did not shoot a tiger; her chief accomplishment was being flown by an Algerian aviator eleven miles in an airplane. Mrs. Packletide and Loona Bimberton are what we would colloquially call frenemies today. They do not really care for each other's company but are careful to mask any private animosities; by displaying a carefully crafted pretense, hinting at friendly co-existence, both are able to act out their hostilities without betraying their shallow natures to the casual observer. In Saki's humorous story, Mrs. Packletide decides that the best way to trump Loona's "accomplishment" is to shoot a tiger and to display plenty of press photographs to present the evidence of her courageous act.

However, Mrs. Packletide cheats: in all respects, she's not much of a hunter. She bribes some villagers with one thousand rupees for the purposes of finding her a tiger to shoot; the idea is to find one which would not be too difficult for her to kill. The villagers do find an old tiger, so feeble and worn out that it has taken to seeking out the smaller domestic animals for its food. The villagers carefully tether their less commercially viable goats in plain view in order to allow the old tiger to satisfy its hunger without too much trouble. In this way, the crafty villagers are able to keep the tiger within the vicinity of their village until the night of Mrs. Packletide's "great" hunt.

When the time comes, a goat "gifted with a particularly persistent bleat" is tethered at the correct distance from Mrs. Packletide's vantage point. When the tiger appears, Mrs. Packletide shoots. However, her paid companion, the parsimonious (overly frugal) and grasping Miss Mebbin, points out that Mrs. Packletide's bullet didn't actually hit the tiger. It was the goat Mrs. Packletide had shot. The old tiger presumably died of heart failure due to fright. So, neither Loona Bimberton nor Mrs. Packletide shoots a tiger.

Mrs. Packletide quietly absorbs the price of Miss Mebbin's silence with the gift of a pretty weekend cottage near Darking. The villagers, gifted with one thousand rupees, also "gladly connived at the fiction that she had shot the beast." This allowed Mrs. Packletide to

...face the cameras with a light heart, and her pictured fame reached from the pages of the Texas Weekly Snapshot to the illustrated Monday supplement of the Novoe Vremya.

Thanks for the question!

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