The story begins with a description of what it is like when a cobra and mongoose fight one another, which is apparently a common occurrence in India. The snake is venomous, but the mongoose is faster. The mongoose feints and strikes, wearing the snake out, and, finally, the mongoose can snap the great snake's vertebrae with its jaws.
The narrator says that the author once saw such a fight from his seat in a banyan tree when he was just a boy. He'd made friends with a small squirrel, high up in his tree, and he had a little platform on which he could sit and take in the world around him. He sees the cobra come out from a clump of cacti while the mongoose emerges from some bushes, moving straight toward the snake. They begin to fight, and a myna and a crow—two birds—enter the scene, and the fray, as well. However, when the birds try to get involved, the myna is bloodied and the crow ends up dead as a result. Eventually, the mongoose is victorious and drags his prize into the bushes.