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Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger – Hector Hugh Munro (Saki)

Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger is the story of two rich women who had been engaged in a cold war with each other for fame. Mrs. Packletide and Mrs. Loona. Once Loona flew eleven miles in an airplane piloted by an Algerian pilot and this became news and Mrs. Loona was discussed and admired by all. With her patience burning and revenge planned, Mrs. Packletide made news by killing a tiger.

Starting – Mrs. Packletide Decides to Hunt

Mrs. Packletide and Mrs. Loona Bimberton were two rivals. They were fighting for fame and name. When one of them did something unusual and became famous, the other did something more unusual and became more popular.

  • We are not very much told where the story happened or when it happened yet you can conclude that this story happened in India when the British government still ruled India.
  • Mrs. Loona Bimberton was adventurous. Suddenly, unexpectedly, she made news by flying in an airplane. During those days it was big news especially when it was a woman who flew in the plane (The pilot was an Algerian)
  • Since then Mrs. Loona was in the news, in magazines, in folk-talks.
Questions & Answers
  1. Why did Mrs. Packletide decide to shoot a tiger?
    Mrs. Packletide’s arch rival Mrs. Loona Bimberton had flown in an airplane for eleven miles and this was the talk of the town. In order to achieve something else and thereby to enhance her glory, Mrs. Packletide decided to shoot a tiger which was a very rare act by a woman at that time.
  2. Who was Nimrod? Or Explain, “her sudden deviation towards the footsteps of Nimrod.”
    A character in the Old testament of the Bible, Nimrod was a hunter. Mrs. Packletide’s deviation towards Nimrod’s footsteps refers to her thinking of killing a tiger.
  3. How was Mrs. Packletide an exception in her world?
    Mrs. Packletide was always in a struggle to defeat her society rivals such as Mrs. Loona Bimberton. She risked anything to achieve this. Her ways to bag fame in the society too were exceptional. She thought of hunting a tiger that is unusual even in these days. Her world was one in which women like Loona Bimberton attempted to gain fame by exceptional ways but she remained extremely exceptional by hunting a tiger.
  4. How did Mrs. Packletide make circumstances propitious/favorable?
    Mrs. Packletide was very much smart in her decision to kill the tiger. She made her tiger hunt propitious by choosing an infirm, too aged tiger to hunt. She paid a big amount of money to the village headman to get his people to assist her till the end of the much publicized hunt. Besides, she got the help of Miss Louisa Mebbin to assist her for the tiger hunt and be a witness of her brave act.
  5. What qualities qualified the tiger in the story to be the most suited one for Mrs. Packletide’s plan?
    The tiger that Mrs. Packletide chose to hunt was an infirm one. It was extremely aged and therefore unable to move easily. It could not chase and kill a even a deer. Its only preys were small animals such as rabbits and sheep. (Infirm – ill; chase – run after; prey – victim)
  6. What were the two instincts that rendered the villagers to accept Mrs. Packletide’s offer of a thousand rupees
    Most of the villagers readily helped Mrs. Packletide for money while some of them liked this idea for the fun and adventure of hunting.
  7. Why were children posted on the outskirts of the jungle?
    There were chances that the tiger could have run away from the jungle where Mrs. Packletide had decided to hunt it down. If it ran away, then the villagers would miss their chance to assist Mrs. Packletide to hunt it and thereby their reward. To keep the tiger in the same forest, children were posted on the outskirts of the jungle.
  8. Why were cheaper kinds of goats left about with elaborate carelessness near the infirm tiger?
    The tiger that Mrs. Packletide decided to hunt was aged and infirm. It was not able to hunt anything that was bigger than a hare. To keep the tiger in the same jungle and to stop it from running away, goats that bleated at all times were left near the tiger to.
  9. Why is the goat’s bleat said to have been a gift?
    The goat’s bleat was persistent. It was a gift that the goat possessed such a bleat because it could easily attract the tiger to the tree on which Mrs. Packletide was waiting to kill it.
  10. Why did mothers carrying their babies home through the jungle after the day’s work in the fields hush their singing?
    The tiger that Mrs. Packletide chose to hunt was extremely aged and infirm. Mothers carrying their babies back home were asked not to sing songs for their babies because it was believed that the tiger could be scared away if it heard them sing.

Reference to Context

“Not that the lust to kill had suddenly descended on her, or that she felt that she would leave India safer and more wholesome than she had found it, with one fraction less of wild beast per million of inhabitants.”

  1. What does lust to kill mean?
    Lust to kill means one’s desire and love to enjoy the sport of hunting.
  2. What was supposedly posing a threat to India as per the statement?
    As per the statement, the extinction of tiger population was not posing a threat at that time but the over population of tigers in India.
  3. What light does this statement shed on India’s wild population in the context?
    The statement sheds light on the statistical data that India’s tiger population was pretty high once upon a time.

“The compelling motive for her sudden deviation towards the footsteps of Nimrod was the fact that Loona Bimberton had recently been carried eleven miles in an air plane by an Algerian aviator, and talked of nothing else. Only a personally procured tiger-skin and a heavy harvest of press photographs could successfully counter that sort of thing.”

  1. Who is Nimrod? How did Mrs. Packletide follow the footsteps of Nimrod?
    Nimrod is a great hunter in the Bible. By hunting a tiger, Mrs. Packletide followed the footsteps of Nimrod.
  2. Who was Loona Bimberton? Why were Mrs. Packletide’s actions influenced by Loona Bimberton? OR What did Loona Bimberton so bravely do to outdo Mrs. Packletide’s social status?
  3. What did Loona Bimberton do to thwart (overtake) Mrs. Packletide’s reputation?
  4. What was the motive behind Mrs. Packletide’s tiger hunt? OR Why did Mrs. Packletide think of personally procuring a tiger-skin and a heavy harvest of press photographs?
  5. How was Mrs. Packletide sure that her tiger-hunt would do her good?
The Hunt is Planned

Mrs. Packletide felt defeated and wanted a unique way to outshine Mrs. Loona’s popularity so she got the idea of shooting a tiger. Yes, that would do because women were not heard to have hunted tigers.

But how will she hunt a tiger? She was not a hunter. She had great dread of going into a forest at night and hunt a tiger! Finally she made her plan as follows:

  • She invited all her neighbors including Loona to a dinner at her residence on Sunday. She said the dinner was to honor Loona.
  • Next, she met the village headman and offered him thousand rupees (today’s 20 – 30,000 in Indian rupees). The village headman and his men had to do a number of work for her.
    • Get a very old and infirm/ill tiger for a hunt.
    • Let it wander/roam in the forest.
    • Feed it goats.
    • If it tries to move away from the forest, bring it back.
    • Villagers should be careful about talking and singing. The tiger should not wander away from the forest.
    • Make a platform on a tree so that Mrs. Packletide and her assistant could sit on it and shoot the tiger.
    • (Saturday night) Attract the tiger to this tree by tethering/tying a goat under the tree.
    • Stand ambush (hide in the bush) around the tree while she shoots the tiger. If the tiger is not hurt and if it makes an attempt to run away, chase it back so that she could fire again.
  • She then met Miss Louisa Mebbin, a woman who was a paid companion – she helped people for money. She had to sit with Packletide during the hunt and give her instructions.
  • Miss Louisa Mebbin was a shrewd/over-smart woman. She used to assist people for money and traveled abroad with them for any amount of time. She pretended to be a well-wisher to anyone she assisted but in fact she exploited/cheat them in all possible ways.
Questions & Answers
  1. What kind of a party was Mrs. Packletide planning?
  2. What was the real purpose of arranging this party?
    Although Mrs. Packletide invited all her neighbors to honor the achievement of Loona Bimberton, she had in fact arranged the luncheon party for her own benefit. As per her secret plan, the invited guests would be talking about her tiger hunt in the presence of Loona Bimberton.
  3. Why is the party said to be ostensibly in honor of Bimberton?
  4. “There are limits beyond which repressed emotions become dangerous.” Whose repression of emotions has been referred to? What emotions did she repress?
    Loona Bimberton’s repressed emotions are referred to in this context. Her repressed emotions were defeat and betrayal. She had been invited by her rival Mrs. Packletide to a special luncheon party at her residence. Loona had been thrilled to accept the invitation but hours before the party she learnt how terribly she had been fooled and betrayed by Mrs. Packletide. This feeling of defeat and betrayal affected Mrs. Bimberton’s mind that she felt her emotions extremely repressed.
Mrs. Packletide Shot a TigerRRRR!!
Bit/Bits
  • Saturday night. The two ladies sat on the tree.
  • The aged and infirm tiger didn’t attack the goat instantly when it sighted/saw it tied to a tree. Instead, the tiger lay down as if to take a brief rest before eating the goat.
  • The natives had been offered an amount of rupees one thousand for helping Mrs. Packletide kill the tiger and because of this they were excited to hear the news of the tiger being shot.
  • Miss Louisa Mebbin discovered that the tiger had died of heart failure. This discovery annoyed Mrs. Packletide because she feared that people would soon come to know the truth about real hunting story if Louisa Mebbin opened her mouth. Her sudden annoyance is pardonable because she had all the reasons to feel annoyed about such an unpleasant and disturbing discovery which threatened her hard earned fame.
  • The villagers were ready to connive (hide a truth) at the fiction that the tiger had not been shot by Mrs. Packletide because they had been offered an amount of rupees one thousand for helping her to hunt the tiger and later to take the news out of the forest to Loona Bimberton and to the rest of people.
  • The next day. The news of the tiger hunt was flashed in all news. While facing the press cameras, Mrs. Packletide had a light heart.
  • With the news of Mrs. Packletide shooting a tiger published in illustrated magazines Loona Bimberton received the biggest shock in her life. To avoid being reminded of Packletide’s fame and victory over her, Mrs. Bimberton refused to look at any illustrated papers.
  • Mrs. Bimberton thanked Mrs. Packletide for the tiger claw brooch that the latter sent to her with a lot of repressed emotions.
  • It was with great difficulty that Mrs. Loona Bimberton thanked her rival Packletide for the tiger claw brooch. Her helplessness and anger were beyond limits. If she went on repressing her emotions any further, Mrs. Loona would have burst her heart and gone insane/mad.
Questions & Answers
  1. What was Mebbin thinking of when the tiger just appeared?
    When the tiger appeared, Mebbin was thinking about selling the left-over of the tiger when it was killed by Mrs. Packletide. She had come to the sad conclusion that there could be no profit out of selling the remnants of the dead tiger.
  2. What did the tiger do when it sighted/saw the tethered/bound goat? Why did it do so?
    The aged and infirm tiger didn’t attack the goat instantly when it sighted it tied to a tree. Instead, the tiger lay down as if to take a brief rest before eating the goat.
  3. Why did Miss Mebbin want the goat unhurt?
    Miss Mebbin always exhibited such an attitude in front of the people she served that they felt that she was their well-wisher.  To give Mrs. Packletide a similar impression, she suggested that the goat should not be killed so as to save Mrs. Packletide’s money.
  4. Why were the natives excited about the news of the tiger’s death? T
    he natives had been offered an amount of rupees one thousand for helping Mrs. Packletide to kill the tiger and because of this they were excited to hear the news of the tiger being shot.
  5. Who discovered that the tiger had died of a heart failure? Why did it annoy Mrs. Packletide? Why was it ‘pardonable?’
    Miss Louisa Mebbin discovered that the tiger had died of heart failure. This discovery annoyed Mrs. Packletide because she feared that people would soon come to know the truth about the real hunting story if Louisa Mebbin opened her mouth. Her sudden annoyance is pardonable because she had all the reasons to feel annoyed about such an unpleasant and disturbing discovery which threatened her hard earned fame.
  6. Why were the villagers ready to connive at the fiction that the tiger had been shot dead?
    The villager were ready to connive at the fiction that the tiger had not been shot by Mrs. Packletide because they had been offered an amount of rupees one thousand for helping her to hunt the tiger and later to take the news out of the forest to Loona Bimberton and to the rest of people.
  7. Why did Mrs. Packletide face the press cameras with a light heart?
    While facing the press cameras, Mrs. Packletide had a light heart because she was not worried about the possibility of Miss Louisa Mebbin’s revealing the truth about the real tiger story to the public.
Poor, poor Loona Bimberton!

Questions & Answers

  1. Why did Loona Bimberton refuse to look at an illustrated paper for weeks?
    With the news of Mrs. Packletide shooting a tiger published in illustrated magazines Loona Bimberton received the biggest shock in her life. To avoid being reminded of Packletide’s fame and victory over her, Mrs. Bimberton refused to look at any illustrated papers.
  2. How did Bimberton thank Mrs. Packletide for the tiger claw brooch?
    Mrs. Bimberton thanked Mrs. Packletide for the tiger claw brooch that the latter sent to her with a lot of repressed emotions.
  3. “There are limits beyond which repressed emotions become dangerous.” Explain with reference.
    It was with great difficulty that Mrs. Loona Bimberton thanked her rival Packletide for the tiger claw brooch. Her helplessness and anger were beyond limits. If she went on repressing her emotions any further, Mrs. Loona would have burst her heart and gone insane.
  4. Why did Miss Louisa Mebbin say that everyone would be amused if they knew the tiger had not really been shot dead?
    Louisa Mebbin was the master player in the Packletide episode. Whether she had in her mind this blackmail plan or not, she was aware of the big disgrace the pompous woman was going to suffer if the truth was out. Later, with a view to make Packletide pay for her dream villa, she told her that everyone would be amused if they knew the tiger had not really been shot dead. It was intended to make the lady know that she was prepared to break the truth to the public.
  5. Was Miss Mebbin trying to give Mrs. Packletide away? How? (Give away – Cheat)
    Doubtlessly Miss Mebbin intended to betray Mrs. Packletide if the latter had refused to pay for the villa. By announcing to the public that she had been Mrs. Packletide’ paid companion during the tiger hunt and that she had witnessed the tiger faking unhurt by the gun and that the tiger died of a heart failure, she could bring Packletide to a great disgrace.
Reference to Context
  1. “No one would believe it,” said Mrs. Packletide, her face changing colour as rapidly as though it were going through a book of patterns before post-time. “Loona Bimberton would,” said Miss Mebbin. Mrs. Packletide’s face settled on an unbecoming shade of greenish white.”
    1. What wouldn’t anyone believe in Mrs. Packletide’s opinion?
    2. Why did her face change its color?
    3. Why is the rapidity of Mrs. Packletide’s changing color compared to that of going through a book of patterns before post time?
      While going through a book of patterns before post time, betters are very quick and their expressions change. Similarly, Pacletide’s expressions underwent unusual change as she suddenly realized that Louisa Mebbin was determined to blackmail her.
    4. What hidden threat lay in Miss Mebbin’s mentioning Loona Bimberton’s name?
  2. Miss Mebbin was the villain who ultimately drew benefit out of a rivalry that existed between Loona and Packletide. Discuss.
    It has been rightly said that the ultimate victory goes to the deserving.
  3. Why did Miss Louisa Mebbin give out a loud shout in Hindustani that the tiger was not hurt by the bullet?
    Miss Louisa Mebbin had a plan to blackmail Packletide. Her plan was to blackmail Packletide by threatening her that she would tell Loona Bimberton that Packletide had failed to shoot the tiger. By shouting in Hindustani, she was in fact informing the villagers the truth so that they could be witnesses.
Louisa Mebbin – The Silent Blackmailer

Questions & Answers

  1. Who was Miss Mebbin?
    Miss Louisa Mebbin was a shrewd woman. She used to assist people for money and traveled abroad with them for any amount of time. She pretended to be a well-wisher to anyone she assisted but in fact she exploited them in all possible ways.
  2. Explain Louisa Mebbin’s elder sister attitude towards money in general. Why did she adopt such an attitude? Give an example for this while she served Mrs. Packletide.
    Miss Louisa Mebbin was a shrewd woman who pretended to be a protective elder sister. She behaved with the people she assisted in their tasks as if she didn’t want them incur/suffer loss of any kind as long as she served them. Her asking Mrs. Packletide not to shoot the goat in case it is not eaten by the tiger is an instance of this.
  3. What do you know about Louisa Mebbin’s elder-sister attitude? Provide examples. (2 marks)
    Miss Louisa Mebbin had developed a showy attitude towards those whom she assisted. She pretended to be extremely honest and greatly concerned about them. When she traveled with people as escort and dined at restaurants abroad, Mebbin advised them not to pay tips. This way she made a fake impression that she was hell-bound to assist people who paid her.
  4. How did Louisa Mebbin make good use of her elder sisterly attitude in Mrs. Packletide’s case? (2 marks)
  5. “I have seen a weekend cottage near Darking that I should rather like to buy,” said Miss Mebbin with seeming irreverence. “Six hundred and eighty, freehold. Quite a bargain, only I don’t happen to have the money.”
    1. Why is Miss Mebbin talking about the weekend cottage? (1 mark)
    2. What was Mrs. Packletide to do for Miss Mebbin? (1 mark)
Reference to Context

“Her energetic intervention had saved many a Rouble from dissipating itself in tips in some Moscow hotel, and Francs and Centimes clung to her instinctively under circumstances which would have driven them headlong from less sympathetic hands.”

Meaning

  • Her – Louisa Mebbin’s
  • Energetic – Enthusiastic
  • Intervention – Involvement
  • Rouble, Francs, Centimes – Russian and French currencies
  • Dissipating – Disappearing
  • Clung to her instinctively – She saved them from being given away as tips.
  • From more sympathetic hands – From the kind/sympathetic people whom she (Louisa) had served
Paraphrase

Because Miss Louisa Mebbin was ‘concerned’ with the money rich people spent while dining at restaurants, she used to strictly ask them not to pay high amounts as tips to waiters.

Questions
  1. What had Louisa Mebbin’s interventions saved? How? (2 marks)
  2. Who are referred to as ‘more sympathetic hands?’ (1 mark)
  3. Which character trait of Miss Mebbin does this statement reveal? Explain. (2 mark)

 

The End of Packletide’s Hunting Instincts

Bit/Bits

  • Louisa Mebbin was the master-player in the Packletide episode. Whether she had in her mind this blackmail plan or not, she was aware of the big disgrace for Mrs. Packletide was going to suffer if the truth was out. Later, with a view to make Packletide pay for her dream villa, she told her that everyone would be amused/excited if they knew the tiger had not really been shot dead. It was intended to make the lady know that she was prepared to break the truth to the public.
  • Doubtlessly Miss Mebbin intended to betray Mrs. Packletide if the latter had refused to pay for the villa. By announcing to the public that she had been Mrs. Packletide’ paid companion during the tiger hunt and that she had witnessed the tiger falling unhurt by the gun and that the tiger died of a heart failure, she could bring Packletide to a great disgrace.
  • Mrs. Packletide was never heard in connection with another tiger hunt. What cost her for the tiger hunt with Louisa Mebbin was more than she could bear. The shock it gave her and the loss of a big amount of money to save her face drew her life out.
  • It is nowhere hinted that Louisa Mebbin had planned the idea of blackmailing Packletide. This idea struck her somewhere in the course of her assisting the pompous lady.
Questions & Answers
  1. What happened to Mrs. Packletide’s tiger hunt?
    Mrs. Packletide was never heard in connection with another tiger hunt. What cost her for the tiger hunt with Louisa Mebbin was more than she could bear. The shock it gave her and the loss of a big amount of money to save her face drew her life out.
  2. Why did Mrs. Packletide face the media cameras with a light heart?
    Though the tiger hunt had brought enormous name to Mrs. Packletide, yet when she faced the media cameras, she felt her heart very light, frightened by the anxiety about the fact that Miss Louisa Mabbin was aware of the nature of the tiger’s death. If Miss Mebbin told the truth, the fat would be in the fire.
  3. What did the villagers do for Mrs. Packletide for an amount of one thousand rupees? Do you think they did their best? Explain.
    The villagers were offered and later paid an amount of Rupees one thousand for helping Mrs. Packletide shoot a tiger. They were to get the oldest of the tigers, they were to make sure that the tiger didn’t run away, they had to provide the tiger’s food in time and they had to hide in ambush in case the tiger escaped while being hunted. For this enormous reward, the villagers did everything as expected and more. (Ambush – Hidden among bushes)
  4. Why did Miss Louisa Mebbin loudly comment in the local language that the tiger hadn’t been hit by the bullet from Mrs. Packletide’s gun?
    Miss Louisa Mebbin had in her mind a plan to make Mrs. Packletide pay for a villa that she longed to buy. She could do that only if the neighborhood learnt that Mrs. Packletide’s bullet had missed the tiger and that it had been a lie. Once the news of the tiger hunt spread out, she could easily threaten Mrs. Packletide to buy the villa for her. By declaring in the local language that the tiger hadn’t been killed by the gun, Miss Mebbin was securing a large number of witnesses for her to stand against Mrs. Packletide.
  5. Do you think Miss Louisa Mebbin had been well prepared for blackmailing Packletide since the beginning? Give two reasons.
    It is nowhere hinted that Louisa Mebbin had pre-planned the idea of blackmailing Packletide. This idea struck her somewhere in the course of her assisting the pompous lady. Knowing that, well, Louisa Mebbin was an opportunist, the lady could sacrifice anything for a name, Louisa devised this idea of profiting something for herself – a villa as it turned out at the end. Yes, Miss Mebbin had devised the idea of blackmailing Packletide from the very beginning. She was such a character who drew the goodwill of the rich people for whom she was a paid companion. By pretending to be angered at the mere loss of money that her employers used to spent and by advising them to avoid such extravagance, she won their trust. This showy attitude is a primary evidence against her. Her loudly declaring to the local village-men that the tiger was not shot dead, supports the suspicion that she was convincing the local witnesses the truth for a later benefit. If she didn’t have this betraying plan in mind, she would have threatened Mrs. Packletide before the luncheon party. Having waited for the party to pass, she got a better stand to threaten her prey.
  6. What does Mrs. Packletide mean by incidental expenses of hunting being very heavy?
  7. How did Miss Louisa Mebbin own the weekend cottage near Darking?
  8. Why did the villagers connive at the fact that the tiger had not been killed by Packletide? (Connive at – intentionally cover a secret)
  9. Why did Miss Mebbin want Mrs. Packletide pay for the villa at Darking? (1 mark)
  10. “As for Loona Bimberton, she refused to look at an illustrated paper for weeks, and her letter of thanks for the gift of a tiger claw brooch was a model of repressed emotions.”
    1. Why did Loona Bimberton refuse to look at an illustrated paper? (1 mark)
    2. Who had gifted the tiger-claw brooch to Loona Bimberton? (1 mark)
    3. What does repressed emotions mean? How was Mrs. Packletide responsible for Loona Bimberton’s repressed emotions? (2 marks)
  11. Why did Mrs. Packletide altogether stop tiger hunting?
    After the tiger hunt, Packletide lost her peace of mind and a huge amount of six hundred and eighty thousand pounds to buy the weekend cottage for Louisa Mebbin. This huge amount was in addition to the money she had paid to the villagers and to Louisa for assisting her to hunt the tiger. Having learnt a bitter lesson from this, Mrs. Packletide stopped indulging in hunting.
  12. Peer rivalry only leads to disappointment and loss. How did Mrs. Packletide learn this lesson from the tiger hunt and from its aftermath? (100 words)
  13. How did Loona Bimberton become the talk of the town? (2 marks)
  14. How did Loona Bimberton’s fame affect Packletide? (2 marks)
  15. Who were Packletide’s aides in hunting the tiger? How did she reward them? (2 marks)
  16. Why did Packletide choose to kill an aged tiger? (2 marks)
  17. As Mrs. Packletide, write a letter of confession to Loona Bimberton telling her about your tiger hunt that turned out to be a disaster. (150 words | 4 marks)
Assumptions | Not mentioned explicitly in the story.
  • Packletide and Loona Bimberton were neighbours somewhere in the British India.
  • From all that we can infer from the story, this happened in Bengal and the time was 1900 AD.
  • Well, Mrs. Packletide and Loona were rivals. Each of them was in a war to achieve superiority over the other.
  • Packletide had been in the news for a long time when suddenly Mrs. Loona did something to overthrow her rival. She flew 11 miles in an airplane piloted by an Algerian aviator!
  • Loona’s flight was ground-breaking and for Packletide, it broke her heart! A woman flying in an airplane, that too, in India, amazing!
  • Everyone was talking about Loona Bimberton and Packletide was eventually forgotten.
  • Something should be done, Packletide thought and thought and finally came up with a rare, risky idea – hunt a tiger!
  • Packletide was not a fool to walk into the forest with a long barrelled gun and get eaten by a tiger. She made plans. Smart plans.
  • Invited her neighbours and Loona Bimberton to attend a party at her home on Sunday. She said that she was celebrating Loona’s bravery.
  • On Saturday she hunted a very old tiger with the help of a group of paid assistants (mostly villagers and a woman called Louisa Mebbin)

What do you think?

Po – Abraham Tzou

The Tempest – William Shakespeare