The Tiger Who Would Be King
by James Thurber
One morning the tiger woke up in the jungle and told his mate that he was king of beasts.
"Leo the lion, is king of beasts," she said.
"We need a change," said the tiger. "The creatures are crying for a change."
The tigress listenend but she could hear no crying, except that of her cubs.
"I'll be king of beasts by the time the moon rises,"
said the tiger. "It will be a yellow moon with stripes in my honor."
"Oh, sure," said the tigress as she went to look
after her young, one of whom, a male, very like his father, had got an
imaginary thorn in his paw.
The tiger prowled through the jungle till he came to
the lion's den. "Come out," he roared, "and greet the king of beasts!
The king is dead, long live the king!"
Inside the den, the lioness woke her mate. "The king is here to see you," she said.
"What king," he inquired sleepily.
"The king of beasts," she said.
"I am the king of beasts," roared Leo, and he
charged out of the den to defend his crown against the pretender.
It was a terrible fight, and it lasted until the
setting of the sun. All the animals of the jungle joined in, some
taking the side of the tiger and others the side of the lion. Every
creature from the aardvark to the zebra took part in the struggle to
overthrow the lion or to repulse the tiger, and some did not know which
they were fighting for, and some fought for both, and some fought
whoever was nearest, and some fought for the sake of fighting.
"What are we fighting for," someone asked the aardvark.
"The old order," said the aardvark.
"What are we dying for," someone asked the zebra.
"The new order," said the zebra.
When the moon rose, fevered and gibbous, it shone
upon a jungle in which nothing stirred except for a macaw and a
cockatoo, screaming in horror. All the beasts were dead except the
tiger, and his days were numbered and his time was ticking away. He was
monarch of all he surveyed, but it didn't seem to mean anything.