NCERT Class 10 English A Triumph of Surgery

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A Triumph of Surgery

I WAS really worried about Tricki this time. I had pulled up my car when I saw him in the street with his mistress and I was shocked at his appearance. He had become hugely fat, like a bloated sausage with a leg at each corner. His eyes, bloodshot and rheumy, stared straight ahead and his tongue lolled from his jaws.

Mrs Pumphrey hastened to explain, “He was so listless, Mr Herriot. He seemed to have no energy. I thought he must be suffering from malnutrition, so I have been giving him some little extras between meals to build him up, some malt and cod-liver oil and a bowl of Horlicks at night to make him sleep — nothing much really.”

“And did you cut down on the sweet things as I told you?” “Oh, I did for a bit, but he seemed to be so weak I had to relent. He does love cream cakes and chocolates so. I can’t bear to refuse him.” I looked down again at the little dog. That was the trouble. Tricki’s only fault was greed. He had never been known to refuse food; he would tackle a meal at any hour of the day or night. And I wondered about all the things Mrs Pumphrey hadn’t mentioned. “Are you giving him plenty of exercise?” 

“Well, he has his little walks with me as you can see, but Hodgkin, the gardener, has been down with lumbago, so there has been no ring-throwing lately.”  I tried to sound severe: “Now I really mean this. If you don’t cut his food right down and give him more exercise he is going to be really ill. You must harden your heart and keep him on a very strict diet.” Mrs Pumphrey wrung her hands. “Oh I will, Mr Herriot. I’m sure you are right, but it is so difficult, so very difficult.” She set off, head down, along the road, as if determined to put the new regime into practice immediately.

I watched their progress with growing concern. Tricki was tottering along in his little tweed coat; he had a whole wardrobe of these coats — for the cold weather and a raincoat for the wet days. He struggled on, drooping in his harness. I thought it wouldn’t be long before I heard from Mrs Pumphrey.

The expected call came within a few days. Mrs Pumphrey was distraught. Tricki would eat nothing. Refused even his favourite dishes; and besides, he had bouts of vomiting. He spent all his time lying on a rug, panting. Didn’t want to go for walks, didn’t want to do anything. I had made my plans in advance. The only way was to get Tricki out of the house for a period. I suggested that he be hospitalised for about a fortnight to be kept under observation.

The poor lady almost swooned. She was sure he would pine and die if he did not see her every day. But I took a firm line. Tricki was very ill and this was the only way to save him; in fact, I thought it best to take him without delay and, followed by Mrs Pumphrey’s wailings, I marched out to the car carrying the little dog wrapped in a blanket.

The entire staff was roused and maids rushed in and out bringing his day bed, his night bed, favourite cushions, toys and rubber rings, breakfast bowl, lunch bowl, supper bowl. Realising that my car would never hold all the stuff, I started to drive away. As I moved off, Mrs Pumphrey, with a despairing cry, threw an armful of the little coats through the window. I looked in the mirror before I turned the corner of the drive; everybody was in tears.

Out on the road, I glanced down at the pathetic little animal gasping on the seat by my side. I patted the head and Tricki made a brave effort to wag his tail. “Poor old lad,” I said. “You haven’t a kick in you but I think I know a cure for you.”

Talk about it

1. This episode describes the silly behaviour of a rich woman who is foolishly indulgent, perhaps because she is lonely. Do you think such people are merely silly, or can their actions cause harm to others?

2. Do you think there are also parents like Mrs Pumphrey?

3. What would you have done if you were: (i) a member of the staff in Mrs Pumphrey’s household, (ii) a neighbour? What would your life have been like, in general?

4. What would you have done if you were in the narrator’s place?

Suggested reading

• ‘Rikki Tikki Tawi’ by Rudyard Kipling

• Dog Stories by James Herriot

• ‘A Zoo in My Luggage’ by Gerald Durrell

• ‘A Tiger Comes to Town’ by R.K. Narayan


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