To my Mother

I dedicate this book to my mother, who read to us from Kipling, Dickens, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Mother took requests. How many times did I ask for “the story of the great war that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought single-handed, through the bathrooms of the big bungalow”? So many times that, when I learned to read, it felt right to reach for The Jungle Books.

Yet not until ten years after Mother was gone did I notice that Kipling puts only three syllables in Chu-chun-dra, the name of the muskrat who “never comes out into the middle of the floor, but always creeps round by the wall.”

Mother gave it four beats—Chu-chu-RUN-dra.

I tried Kipling’s version, but it didn’t feel right. So I give that famous muskrat’s name the proper beat of four.

P.S. – Sunday afternoons, Mother, a good Free Methodist, read to us from Egermeier’s Bible Story Book.

Friend of the King. Enemy of the Queen.

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