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Book Review: The Four Feathers by Ruskin Bond

The Four Feathers by Ruskin Bond is a short story originating from his school days, when he was in Shimla in a prep school. Bond and three more friends of him formed a gang of boys; they took different features to signify their worth in the gang. Also, it meant that they are companions in adventure, comrades-in-arms, and Knights of the Round Table. The features were from peacock, woodpecker, parrot and falcon. They chose as per their skills and behavior. For Bond it was of a parrot’s, since he hadn’t much choice.

They have had affinity for adventure – they wanted to help people in distress, as taught to them. In fact, other than the semblance of being Hardy Boys, they were also scouts, so they had strong moral values.

One day they were out in the hills of Shimla, strolling for no strong reason. While walking about the narrow lanes of hills, they were talking about the panther and leopards. In the hills, it was quite often that these wild animals hunt on domestic animals and humans. Suddenly, they heard a shrill crying of baby. Upon noticing for some time they found a baby crying under a plum tree. It was new born. Why did someone leave the baby here, open for wild animals. Bond picked up the baby and the boys began planning as how and where to keep the baby. First they thought of keeping the baby in their dorm, well that’s not possible. Mrs. Fisher, their teacher and the wife of the head master, could take this baby – they assumed. So, they came to her room with the baby.

As they were discussing about the baby, some villagers along with a wailing woman entered the school and accused the boys of stealing her baby. Bond tried to make them understand but they were boisterous. Even Mrs. Fisher believed the tale of Bond. The lady said that she had kept her baby underneath a plum tree so that she could pluck some fruits. Upon hearing this, Mr. Fisher turned the table on the woman and villagers; he said that those plum trees fell in the boundary of school and how you dared to enter the area defined for the school.

Mr. Fisher took out his cane to beat Bond and others but Mrs. Fisher intervened and said that it was the duty of scouts to help people in distress. So, in a sense Bond was right in saving that child.


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