In Rudyard Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", the central conflict exists between the mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and the two snakes, Nag and Nagaina. A young boy named Teddy and his family discover Rikki-Tikki "lying in the hot sun on the middle of a garden path, very draggled indeed," and decide to bring him home to their bungalow in Segowlee Cantonment, which is an area in India that was home to a British military base. Rikki-Tikki quickly settles into his new environment, making friends with the many animals that live in the garden outside of the family's home.
What Rikki-Tikki does not realize, however, is that the snakes, Nag and Nagaina, consider themselves the rulers of that garden and are made very unhappy by the arrival of this new pet. Mongooses are excellent predators, and they are especially skilled at killing snakes. Nag and Nagaina are worried not only for themselves, but also for their babies who are about to hatch. When Rikki-Tikki kills another snake, Karait, Nag and Nagaina decide that they must get rid of Rikki-Tikki.
Nagaina decides that the best way to get rid of Rikki-Tikki is to kill the family living in the bungalow. She explains to Nag, "When the house is emptied of people...he will have to go away, and then the garden will be our own again." In Teddy's mother's bathroom, there is a hole in the wall for water from the tub to drain out of called a sluice. Nag decides to sneak in through there to get to the family. He describes his plan to Nagaina, saying, "I will kill the big man and his wife, and the child if I can, and come away quietly. Then, the bungalow will be empty, and Rikki-Tikki will go."
Luckily, Rikki-Tikki overhears Nag and Nagaina explaining their plan and is lying in wait when Nag comes into the bathroom.