How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin

First published in February 1898 in St Nicholas Magazine with different illustrations. The story was also introduced: “Now this is the last tale and it tells how the Rhinoceros got his wrinkly skin.” By the time it was collected with other “Just So Stories” in 1902 Kipling had provided his own illustrations (though the coloured ones from the US edition are by Joseph M. Gleeson.

The story pits a clever and resourceful Parsee against a grumpy and powerful rhinoceros on “uninhabited island” on the shores of the Red Sea, complete with one of Pharaoh’s chariot wheels. (The biblical scholar in me notes that this means that the “Red Sea” of the story is not the “Reed Sea” of Exodus, but the one that inhabits most of our imaginations, which is only right and proper for a Just So Story!)

Please enjoy the story, but whatever you do do not ask anpout the stove, though you may (in your imagination) admire the Parsee’s hat from which the suns rays do indeed reflect a more than oriental splendour!

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