Mijbil the Otter By Gavin Maxwell
Early in the New Year of 1956 I travelled to Southern Iraq. By then it had crossed my mind that I should like to keep an otter instead of a dog, and that Camusfearna, ringed by water a ston’s throw from its door, would be an eminently suitable spot for this experiment.
When I casually mentioned this to a friend, he as casually replied that I had better get one in the Tigris marshes, for there they were as common as mosquitoes, and were often tamed by the Arabs. We were going to Basra to the Consulate-General to collect and answer our mail from Europe. At the Consulate-General we found that my friend’s mail had arrived but that mine had not.
I cabled to England, and when, three days later, nothing had happened, I tried to telephone. The call had to be booked twenty-four hours in advance. On the first day the line was out of order; on the second the exchange was closed for a religious holiday. On the third day there was another breakdown. My friend left, and I arranged to meet him in a week’s time. Five days later, my mail arrived.
I carried it to my bedroom to read, and there, sqatting on the floor were two Arabs; beside them lay a sac that squirmed from time to time. They handed me a note from my friend: “here is your otter……”
With the opening of that sack began a phase of my life that has not yet ended, and may, for all I know, not end before I do. It is, in effect, a thraldom to otters, an otter fixation, that I have since found to be shared by most other people, who have ever owned one.
The creature that emerged from this sac on the spacious tiled floor of the Consulate bedroom resembled most of all a very small, medievally conceived, dragon. From the head to the tip of the tail he was coated with symmetrical pointed scales of mud armour, between whose tips was visible a soft velvet fur like that of a chocolate-brown mole. He shook himself, and I half expected a cloud of dust, but in fact it was not for another month that I managed to removed the last of the mud and see the otter, as it were, in his tue colours.
Mijbil, as I called the otter, was, in fact, of a race previously unknown to science, and was at length christened by zoologists Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli, or Maxwell’s otter. For the first twenty-four hours Mijbil was neither hostile nor friendly; he was simply aloof and indifferent, choosing to sleep on the floor as far from my bed as possible. The second night Mijbil came on to my bed in the small hours and remined asleep in the crook of my knees until the servant brought tea in the morning, and during the day he began to lose his apathy and take a keen, much too keen, interest in his surroundings. I made a body-blet for him and took him on a lead to the bathroom, where for half an hour he went wild with joy in the water, plunging and rolling in it, shooting up and down the length of the bathtub underwater, and making enough slosh and splash for a hippo. This, I was to learn, is a characteristic of otter; every drop of water must be, so to speak, extended and spread about the place; a bowl must at once be overturned, or, if it will not be overturned, be sat in and sploshed in until it overflows. Water must be kept on the move and made to do things; when static it is wasted and provoking.
Two days later, Mijbil escaped from my bedroom as I enterd it, and I turned to see his tail disappearing round the bend of the corridor that led to the bathroom. By the time I got there he was up on the end of the bathrub and fumbling at the chromium taps with his paws. I watched, amazed; in less than a minute he had turned the tap far enough to produce a trickle or water, and after a moment or two achieved the full flow. (He had been lucky to turn the tap the right way; on later occasions he would sometimes screw it up sitll tighter, chittering with irritation and disappoinment at the tap’s failure to cooperate.)
Very soon Mij would follow me without a lead and come to me when I called his name. He spent most of his time in play. He spent hours shuffling a rubber ball round the room like a four-footed soccer player using all four feet to dribble the ball, and he could also throw it, with a powerful flick of the neck, to a surprising height and distance. But the real play of an otter is when he lies on his back and juggles with small objects between his paws. Marbles were Mij’s favourite toys for his pastime: he would lie on his back rolling two or more of them up and down his wide, flat belly without ever dropping one to the floor.
The days passed peacefully at Basra, but I dreaded the prospect of transporting Mij to England, and to Camusfearna. The British airline to London would not fly animals, so I booked a flight to Paris on another airline, and from there to London. The airline insisted that Mij should be packed into a box so that he would become accustomed to it, and left for a hurried meal.
When I returned, there was an appaling spectacle. There was complete silence from the box, but from its airholes and chinks around the lid, blood had trickled and dried. I whipped off the lock and tore open the lid, and Mij, exhausted and blood spattered, whimpered and caught at my leg. He had torn the lining of the box to shreds; when I remoed the last of it so that there were no cutting edges left, it was just ten minutes until the time of flight, and the airport was five miles distant. I put the miserable Mij back into the box, holding down the lid with my hand.
I sat in the back of the car with the box beside me as the driver tore through the streets of Basra like a richochetting bullet. The aircraft was waiting to take off; I was rushed through to it by infuriated officials. Luckily, the seat booked for me was at the extreme front. I covered the floor around me feet wtih newspapers, rang for the air hostess, and gave her a parcel of fish (for Mij) to keep in a cool place. I took her into my confidence about the events of the last half hour. I have retained teh most profound admiration for that air hostess; she was the very queen of her kind. She suggested that I might prefer to have my pet on my knee, and I could have kissed her hand in the depth of my gratitude. But, not knowing otters, I was quite unprepared for what followed.
Mij was out of the box in a flash. He disappeared at high speed down the aircraft. There were sqawks and shrieks, and a woman stood up on her seat screaming out, “A rat! A rat!” I caught sight of Mij’s tail disappearing beneath the legs of a portly white-turbaned Indian. Diving for it, I missed, but found my face covered in curry. “Perhaps,” said the air hostess with the most charming smile, “it would be better if you resumed your seat, and I will find the animal and bring it to you.”
I returned to my seat. I was craning my neck trying to follow the hunt when suddenly I heard from my feet a distressed chitter of recognition and welcome, and Mij bounded on to my knee and began to nuzzle my face and my neck.
Mij and I remained in London for nearly a month. He would play for hours with a selection of toys, ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit, and a terrapin shell that I had brought back from his native marshes. With the ping-pong ball he invented a game of his own which could keep him engrossed for up to half an hour at a time. A suitcase that I had taken to Iraq had become damaged on the journey home, so that the lid, when closed, remained at a slope from one end to the other. Mij discovered that if he placed the ball on the high end it would run down the length of the suitcase. He would dash around the other end to ambush its arrival, hide from it, crouching, to spring up and take it by surprise, grab it and trot off with it to the high end once more.
Outside the house I exercised him on a lead, precisely as if he had been a dog. Mij quickly developed certain compulsive habits on these walks in the London streets, like the rituals of children who on their way to and from school must place their feet squarely on the center of each paving block; must touch every seventh upright of the iron railings, or pass to the outside of every second lamp post. Opposite to my flat was a single-storied primary school, along whose frontage ran a low wall some two feet high. On his way home, but never on his way out, Mij would tug me to this wall, jump on it, and gallop the full length of its thirty yards, to the hopeless distraction of pupils of staff within.
It is not, I suppose, in any way strange that the average Londoner should not recognise an otter, but the variety of guesses as to what kind of animal this might be came as a surprise to me. Otters belong to a comparatively small group of animals called Mustellines, shared by the badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink and others. I faced a continuous barrage of conjectural questions that sprayed all the Mustellines but the otter; more random guesses hit on ‘a baby seal’ and ‘a squirrel’. ‘Is that a walrus, mister?’ reduced me to giggles, and outside a dog show I heard a’a hippo’. A beaver, a bear cub, a leopard – one, apparently, that had changed its spots – and a ‘brontosaur’; Mij was anything but an otter.
But the question for which I awared the highest score came from a labourer digging a hole in the street. I was still far from him when he laid down his tool, put his hands on his hips, and began to stare. As I drew nearer I saw his expression of surprise and affront, as though he would have me know that he was not one upon whom to play jokes. I came abreast of him; he spat, glared, and then growled out, “Here, Mister – what is that supposed to be?”
Mijbil the Otter Summary
Maxwell Decides to Keep an Otter
Maxwell travelled to Southern Iraq in 1956. He decided to keep an otter as a pet. As his native place of living, Camusfearna, had much water around so, an otter was suitable for the experiment.
Maxwell and his Friend Travel to Basra
When Maxwell mentioned about his wish to keep on otter as a pet to this friend, he suggested him to take an otter from Tigris marshes as they are quite common there. They were going to Basra to collect their mails. The mail of his friend reached but his mail did not arrive.
Maxwell mail Arrives and He Gets the Otter
Maxwell sent a telegram to England as his mail had not arrived. For three days, there was no reply. He tried to make a phone call but due to some problems he was not able to get through. Finally, after five days his mail arrived.
Once his mail arrived, he went to his room to read it. There, he saw two Arabs with an otter. They told it was for him.
Strangeness of the Otter
The otter changed the life of Maxwell. The otter came on the tiled floor from the sac (bag). At once, it appeared like a small dragon. From head to tail, his body was covered with mud. In between the mud, a velvet fur-like creature resembling a chocolate brown mole appeared. There was a lot of dust on his body. It took Maxwell a month’s time to remove all the dust from his body.
Domestication of the Otter
Maxwell named the otter as Mijbil. In short, he was called Mij. For the first twenty-four hours, the otter was neither unfriendly nor friendly. He was aloof and indifferent. He kept on sleeping on the floor far from the bed. The second night, he came onto Maxwell’s bed and slept in the crook of his knees. In the day, he kept a keen interest in his surroundings. Maxwell made a body belt for him. The otter liked playing in the water in the bathroom.
Mijbil’s Escape from the Bedroom
two days later, Mijbil escaped from Maxwell’s bedroom. He went to the bathroom. He entered the bathtub and turned the top on with his paws within minutes.
Mijbil Becomes Friendly
Within a very less time, he became very friendly. He followed Maxwell when he called his name. He spent most of the time in playing with the rubber ball. He played it like a soccer ball. His favourite toys were the marbles.
Taking Mijbil Back to Home
Days passed peacefully at Basra. Maxwell had a fear of transporting Mij to England and then to Camusfearna. The British airlines would not fly animals. He booked a flight to Paris and then from there to London. The airlines told him to pack Mij in a box. He made a box for Mij. He put him inside the box before the flight so that he become habitual to it. then Maxwel wen to have lunch.
The Otter and the Box
When Maxwell came back after sometime, he was shocked to see a complete silence from the box. Blood was coming out from the airholes. He opened the box. He saw Mij covered with blood. Only 10 minutes were left for the flight and the airport was five miles away. He kept Mij inside the box and held the lid with his hands.
Maxwell Leaves for Airport
Maxwell sat in the car with the box beside him. the driver drove the car very fast. Just when the aircraft was about to take off, he was rushed through to it by the angry officials at the airport.
Maxwell in the Aircraft
Maxwell had booked the front seat for him. He covered the floor around his seat with newspapers. He gave the parcel of fish to the air-hostess for the otter. She suggested him to keep the otter on his knees.
Mijbil Goes Out of the Box
Mij was out of the box at once. He disappeared in the aircraft. There was a woman shouting, ” A rat! A rat!” in fear. Maxwell tried to catch the otter but he failed. The airhostess told him to be seated and said that she would find the otter for him. Very soon the otter came near Maxwell and climbed on his knees. He started rubbing his face and neck with his nose.
Mijbil Reaches London
Maxwell remained in London for almost a month. Mij kept on playing with ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit and a terrapin shell that Maxwell had bought from the marshes.
Mijbil Plays Outside the House
Maxwell exercised Mij on a lead on the streets. Mij quickly developed certain habits during the walks on London streets. There was a primary school opposite to Maxwell’s house. He would take Maxwell near the outer wall of it which was some two feet high. He would then gallop on to this. This distracted the students and the staff. The people in London were not able to recognise the otter and made wild guesses.
In this story, the author Gavin Maxwell tells us about his unusual pet ‘Mijbil’, on otter. He tells that when his dog died , he decided to have another pet. Soon, he shifted to Iraq where he saw people were keeping otters as pets. He also decided to have an otter as pet. He describes , while he had to shift to England, how much problems were faced by him in taking Majbil with him. On reaching London, people did not recognise the otter. They used to make guesses about the animal. The author thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with the otter.
About the Characters
Gavin Maxwell : He is a very caring and polite person. He takes complete care of his pet.
Mijbil the Otter : He is the pet of Maxwell. He is a very friendly, intelligent and a fun-loving creature. He plays with water and other objects like a rubber ball.
- After the death of his dog, maxwell, decides to keep an otter as his pet.
- As per his friend’s suggestion, he got an otter from Tigris marshes.
- Maxwell felt that coming of the otter stared a new phase of his life.
- The otter first appeared as a small dragon. He was coated with mud. It took a lot of time and effort for Maxwell to remove the dust.
- the otter loved to play with water, and could not stand still in front of it.
- He also loved to play with the rubber ball. Marble toys were his favourite.
- After some days, Maxwell had to come back to London.
- The transportation of Mijib to London became a problem, because British airline did not permit animals on its flights.
- Another airline agreed to take the animal if packed in a box.
- Maxwell made a small box for the otter.
- While in the plane, the otter escaped from the box. Some passengers shouted and stood on their seats on seeing the otter in the plane. At last, the otter came back and settled on Maxwell’s knees.
- On reaching London, people did not recognise the otter. They just made random guesses.
- Mijbil played with ping-pong ball and developed certain playing habits in London.
eminently : very, extremely
marsh : an area of soft wet land
tamed : domesticated
breakdown : fault
sack : any large bag
squirmed : twisted about
thralldom : being under the control of
emerged : came out
spacious : wide and open
resembled : looked like
medievally-conceived : an imagination of the middle-ages
dragon : monster
coated with : covered with
symmetrical : well proportioned
pointed scales : sharp thin pieces of hard skin
mud armour : shield of mud
velvet : soft cloth
mole : an animal
previously : earlier
at length : at last
hostile : unfriendly
aloof : alone
indifferent : taking no interest
crook : bend
apathy : absence of interest
plunging : diving
slosh : splash of liquid
disappearing : vanishing
corridor : verandah
fumbling : trying to do something in a clumsy way
chitter : to make a twittering or chattering sound
paws : an animal’s foot having claws and pads
amazed : surprised
trickle : small flow
disappointment : sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one’s hopes
lead : a string
shuffling : to move things into different positions
belly : stomach
dribble the ball : take the ball forward with slight touches of the feet.
flick : a light, quick movement
juggle : to keep several objects in motion in the air
pastime : hobby
dreaded the prospect : feared something that would happen in the future
transporting : taking
insisted : stressed
packed : put into
accustomed : get used to
hurried : done very or too quickly
appalling spectacle : a shocking scene
lid : cover
whipped off : quickly took off
exhausted : tired
shreds : small pieces
flight : an aeroplane journey
chink : a small narrow crack or opening
retained : kept
gratitude : thankfulness
in a flash : very quickly
squawks and shrieks : cries and high pitched sounds
screaming out : crying out
portly : stout
curry : a dish
charming : attractive
resumed : took
craning my neck : raising my neck
distressed chitter of recognition : a known troubled sound
bounded on to : climbed up quickly
nuzzle : to rub gently with nose
eventful journey : journey full of happenings
marbles : glass balls
terrapin shell : shell of small turtle found in North America
Questions and Answers
Oral Comprehension Check (Page 106)
Question 1 : What ‘experiment’ did Maxwell think Camusfearna would be suitable for?
Answer : Maxwell, the narrator, had gone to Southern Iraq in the year 1956. He took a fancy to the idea that instead of keeping a dog as a pet, he would go for an otter. Camusfearna was surrounded by water, so it would be an eminently suitable spot for this experiment.
Question 2 : Why does he go to Basra? How long does he wait there, and why?
Answer : Maxwell went to Basra to collect and answer his mail from Europe. He had to wait there for five days as his mail had not arrived.
Question 3 : How does he get the otter? Does he like like it? Pick out the words that tell you this.
Answer : His friend bought the otter for him and sent it to the place where he was staying.
Maxwell liked it. This is seen in “The second night Mijbil came on to my bed in the small hours and remained asleep in the crook of my knees…….”,”I made a body-belt for him…”.
Question 4 : Why was the otter named ‘Maxwell’s otter’?
Answer : The otter was named by zoologists as Lutrogale Perspicillata Maxwelli. Hence, it was called Maxwell’s otter in short.
Question 5 : Tick the right answer. In the beginning, the otter was
i) aloof and indifferent
Answer : In the beginning, the otter was aloof and indifferent.
Question 6 : What happened when Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom? What did it do two days after that?
Answer : When Maxwell first took Mijbil to the bathroom, the otter first went wild with joy in the water. He plunged and rolled in it. He jumped up and down the length of the bathtub. He made enough slosh and splash.
After two days, the otter suddenly disappeared and went to the bathroom to play in the water and opened the tap on his own.
Oral Comprehension Check (Page 108)
Question 1 : What game had Mij invented?
Answer : Mij invented a game of playing with the ball in a unique way. One of Maxwell’s suitcases was damaged and had a slope on the top part. Mij would put the ball on the high end and run to catch it as it slided to the lower end.
Question 2 : What are ‘compulsive habits’? What does Maxwell say are the compulsive habits of i) school children ii) Mij?
Answer : Compulsive habits are usually strange act or behaviour which a person does without clear reason. For example, a cricket player may put on his right shoes first as he believed it would bring him good luck or a kid jumping over a fence, instead of going through the passage way. Usually compulsive behaviour of children are of full of childhood mischief and those of adults are of incorrigible type.
i) As per this story, children must place their feet squarely on the centre of each paving block; must touch every seventh upright of the iron railings, or pass to the outside of every second lamp post.
ii) Mijbil while on its way to home would jump over the boundary wall railing and run at full speed throughout its length.
Question 3 : What group of animals do otters belong to?
Answer : Otters belong to a comparatively small group of animals called Mustellines. The other animals of this group are badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink etc.
Question 4 : What guesses did the Londoners make about what Mij was?
Answer : As otters are not found in England, so Londoners made the wildest possible guesses about Mij. Their guesses ranged from a baby sea, a squirrel, a hippo to a brontosaurus.
Thinking about the Text (page 110, 111)
Question 1 : How was Mijbil transported to England?
Answer : Mijbil was packed in a box as the airlines had directed Maxwell. As British airlines did not allow pets on board, Maxwell had to book a ticket on a different airline from Iraq to Paris and then from Paris to London.
Question 2 : What did Mij do to the box?
Answer : The box was lined with a metal sheet. Mij didn’t feel comfortable in the box and tried to escape. In his attempt to escape, Mij tore into the metal lining of the box and in the process hurt himself.
Question 3 : Why did Maxwell put the otter back in the box? How do you think he felt when he did this?
Answer : As there was no other way to carry Mij to London, Maxwell put him in the box again. He must have felt pity on the way the otter hurt himself. Moreover, he must be worried as well.
Question 4 : Why does Maxwell say the airhostess was “the very queen of her kind”?
Answer : The airhostess was very sympathetic after listening to Maxwell’s story. She understood how he might be feeling and then gave him permission to take the otter out of the box. Due to all this, Maxwell referred her as “the very queen of her kind”.
Question 5 : What happened when the box was opened?
Answer : As soon as the box was opened, Mij ran out. Then it ran all over the place scaring all the passengers. It created a chaos and most of the people in the plane got scared.
Oral Comprehension Check (Page 110)
Question 1 : What things does Mij do which tell you that he is an intelligent, friendly and fun-loving animal who needs love?
Answer : Mij invented his own game out of ping-pong ball and a worn down suitcase. He loved water, and once he understood that on opening the tap water came out of it, he would get into the tub and play with water.
He gradually formed a special attachment with Maxwell. It grew desperate when Maxewll left him in a box and wanted to come out as soon as possible.
Question 2 : What are some of the things we come to know about otters from this text?
Answer : Otters belong to a comparatively small group of animals called Mustellines, shared by badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink and others. They are found in large numbers in marshes. Arabs keep them as pets and tame them. Otters love to spread water and splash in it. Maxwell’s otter was of a race previously unknown to science and was at length named by zoologists as Lutrogale Perspicillata Maxwelli .
Question 3 : Why is Mij’s species now known to the world as Maxwell’s otter?
Answer : Maxwell’s otter was of a race previously unknown to science and was at length named by zoologists as Lutrogale Perspicillata Maxwelli, hence, it is known as Maxwell’s otter in short.
Question 4 : Maxwell in the story speaks for the otter, Mij. He tells us what the otter feels and thinks on different occasions. Given below are some tings the otter does. Complete the column on the right to say what Maxwell says about what Mij feels and thinks.
|What Mij Does||How Mij feels or Thinks|
|Plunges, rolls in the water and makes the water slosh and splash|
|Screws the tap in the wrong way.|
|Nuzzles Maxwell’s face and neck in the aeroplane|
|What Mij Does||How Mij feels or Thinks|
|Plunges, rolls in the water and makes the water slosh and splash||He thinks it is a hippo and is very happy.|
|Screws the tap in the wrong way.||He chitters with irritation and disappointment,|
|Nuzzles Maxwell’s face and neck in the aeroplane||He eels much comfort and content after its distressed chitter.|
Question 5 : Read the story and find the sentences where Maxwell describes his pet otter. Then choose and arrange your sentences to illustrate those statements below that you think are true.
i) makes Mij seem almost human, like a small boy.
ii) shows that he is often irritated with what Mij does.
iii) shows that he is often surprised by what Mij does.
iv) of Mij’s antics is comical.
v) shows that he observes the antics of Mij’s very carefully.
vi) shows that he think Mij is a very ordinary otter.
vii) shows that he thinks the otter is very unusual.
Answer : i) Ture
Thinking about Language (Page 111)
I. Noun Modifiers
Question 1 : Look at these examples from the text, and say whether the modifiers (in italics) ar enouncs, proper nouns or adjective plus noun.
i) An otter fixation
ii) The iron railings
iii) The Tigris marshes
iv) The London streets
v) Soft velvet fur
vi) A four– footed soccer player
Answer : Do it yourself.
Question 4 : Given below are some nouns and a set of modifiers (in the box). Combine the nouns and modifiers to make as many appropriate phrases as you can . (Hint: The nouns and modifiers are all from the texts in this book.)
Answer : Do it yourself.
Question 1 : Match the words on the left with a word on the right. Some words on the left can go with more than one word on the right.
i) A portion of – blood
ii) A pool of – cotton
iii) Flakes of – stones
iv) A huge heap of – gold
v) A gust of – fried fish
vi) Little drops of – snow
vii) A piece of – water
viii) A pot of – wind
Answer : i) A portion of friend fish
ii) A pool of water
iii) Flakes of snow
iv) A huge heap of stones, A huge heap of cotton
v) A gust of wind
vi) Little drops of blood, Little drops of water
vii) A piece of cotton. A piece of fried fish
viii) A pot of gold
Question 2 : Use a bit of / a piece of / a bunch of / a lump of / a cloud of with the italicised nouns in the following sentences. The first has been done for you as an example.
i) My teacher gave me some advice.
ii) Can you give me some clay please?
iii) The information you gave was very useful.
iv) Because of these factories, smoke hangs over the city.
v) Two stones rubbed together can produce sparks of fire.
vi) He gave me some flowers on my birthday.
Answer : Do it yourself.
Extract Based Questions
Read the following extracts carefully and choose the correct option.
Question 1 : When I casually mentioned this to a friend, he as casually replied that I had better get on in the Tigris marshes, for there they were as common as mosquitoes, and were often tames by the Arabs. We were going to Basra to the Consulate-General to collect and answer our mail from Europe. At the Consulate-General we found that my friend’s mail had arrived but that mine had not.
i) What does ‘they’ refer to in the extract?
a) The otters
c) Consulate General
ii) Where were they going to get the otter?
b) Tigris Marshes
iii) What did the author find at the Consulate General?
a) That they were often tamed by Arabs
b) That his friend’s mail had not arrives
c) That his mail had not arrives
d) That they were as common as mosquitoes
iv) …….in the extract means ‘domesticated’.
Answer : i) a) The otters
ii) b) Found
Question 2 : Mijbil, as I called the otter, was , in fact, of a race previously unknown to science, and was at length christened by zoologists Lutrogale Perspicillata Maxwelli, or Maxwell’s otter. For the first twenty-four hours Mijbil was neither hostile nor friendly; he was simply aloof and indifferent, choosing to sleep on the floor as far from my bed as possible.
i) Who was Mijbil?
a) Name of the otter brought by Maxwell
c) A hostile creature
d) A friend of Maxwell
ii) How did the author behave for the first twenty four hours?
c) Neither hostile nor friendly
d) Both hostile and friendly
iii) Why is the otter called Maxwell’s otter?
a) Maxwell had designed it
b) He was christened by zoologist LP Maxwelli
c) Maxwell had produced it
d) Maxwell had created it
iv)…….in the extract means ‘having no particular interest’.
Answer : i) a) Name of the otter brought by Maxwell
ii) c) Neither hostile nor friendly
iii) b) He was christened by zoologist LP Maxwelli
iv) d) Indifferent
Short Questions and Answers
Question 1 : How was Mij to be transported to England?
Answer : The British airline to England would not fly animals. So, Maxwell booked a flight to Paris on another airline and from there to London. The airline insisted that Mij should be packed into a box not more than eighteen inches square. Thus, Mij was transported to England in that box, which was kept on the floor at his feet.
Question 2 : What happened when the box was opened?
Answer : When the box was opened, Mij went out of the box. He disappeared at a high speed down the aircraft. Therefore were cried all around. A woman stood up on her seat crying, “A rat! A rat!”. It created a chaos and most of the passengers in the plane started playing for their lives.
Question 3 : Why did Maxwell get his mail after five days and what did he do to get it?
Answer : Maxwell sent a telegram to England as he had not received his mail. For three days, there was no reply. He tried to telephone but due to some problem he was not able to get through.
Question 4 : What did the otter look like?
Answer : The otter looked like a small dragon belonging to the middle ages. It was covered with symmetrical pointed scales of mud. One could see between the scales a soft velvet fur like that of a chocolate-brown mole. There was a lot of dust on his body.
Question 5 : What did Mijbil do during the second night?
Answer : As Mijbil was aloof and indifferent and slept far from the bed in first night but came on to Maxwell’s bed soon after midnight. He remained asleep in the crook of his knees until the morning.
Question 6 : What according to the writer, is the ‘real play’ of the otter?
Answer : The real play of an otter is lying on his back and juggling with small objects between his paws. Mijbil would roll two or more marbles up and down on his wide, fat belly. He never dropped one to the floor.
Question 7 : Why was the narrator not able to communicate when there was delay in the arrival of the mail?
Answer : The narrator was not able to contact because the telephone lines had to be booked twenty-four hours in advance. On the first day, the line was out of order, on the second day, the exchange was closed for a religious reason; and on the third day, there was a breakdown.
Question 8 : What was the first characteristic of the otter discovered by the narrator?
Answer : The first thing that the narrator observed about the otter was that he liked to play with water. When he was taken to the bathroom, for half an hour he went wild in the water with joy. He was plunging , jumping and rolling in the water.
Question 9 : How did Mij spend his time?
Answer : Mij spent most of his time in play. He spent hours shuffling the rubber ball round the room like a four-footed soccer player. His real play was when he used to juggle small objects between his paws. Marbles were his favourite toy for his pastime.
Question 10 : Why was Mij packed inside the box?
Answer : Mij was to be transported to England and the airlines insisted the narrator to pack him in a box because the British airlines would not fly animals. The another also wanted Mijbil to be packed in a box. So Mijbil was packed inside the box.
Question 11 : While staying in London, what was the pastime of Mij?
Answer : While staying in London, Mijbil would play for hours with his own selection of toys. His favourite toys were ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit and a terrapin shell that Maxwell had bought from his native marshes.
Question 12 : How did Mij behave outside the house in London?
Answer : Mij used to follow Maxwell while walking on the streets. He developed certain habits during those walks. He wen with him like children playing, running and touching things in the street. He would take Maxwell near the wall of a primary school and then gallop on it.
Long Questions and Answers
Question 1 : In the name of rules and regulations, basic values are ignored but people like the airhostess in ‘Mijbil the Otter ‘ are a ray of hope. What virtues do we find in the airhostess?
Answer : The airhostess was somewhat friendly, and she allowed Maxwell to place the otter on his lap. she could relate and empathise with the situation faced by Maxwell. This shows that apart from being professional, she was a caring lady. She not only wanted to do her job but was also responsible as she helped Maxwell in finding the otter back.
She did all that she could do for Maxwell and the otter. She was hardworking and was ready to help as she did not say ‘no’ to help Maxwell. Being a dutiful and full of humanity, she kept balance in her professional and personal life. Such an attitude makes a person respectable and successful in life.
Question 2 : Maxwell, the narrator, called the airhostess the queen of her kind. This shows how caring and supporting she was. Do you find such people these days? Are people having a change in their values?
Answer : In today’s world, it is getting difficult to find people who show their care and support. Rather than helping others, they start giving excuses and quote rules and regulations. Earlier, people used to think about the situation faced by others and helped them in all possible ways.
This is changing because of the change in the values of the people. People give first priority to their own safety and security. They care for themselves first and think about others or if somebody does the same, people do not believe or think about his motive or personal interest in his actions. People are trying to achieve and fulfil their needs which leads them to a wrong path. They ignore others while attempting their tasks. But this is not an attitude to be carried on in our life.
Question 3 : Why do you think the otter was not friendly at first with the narrator? Can you relate this to the human nature as well?
Answer : At first, the otter was not very friendly with the narrator as he had seen him for the first time. He was brought to a new place and new surroundings. He neither knew the narrator nor the place which made him stay away from the narrator. But, as soon as he started becoming comfortable with the surroundings, he became friendly and came close to the narrator.
This is very similar to the human nature, as it is not easy to mix with others easily because you have to know their nature first.
Even, the human beings first take time to understand others and then only become friendly with them. Unless they are comfortable in being with somebody, they try to stay away from that person. So it can be said that the otter almost behaves like humans.