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The Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling
March, 1995 [Etext #236]
**The Project Gutenberg Etext of Daisy Miller, by Henry James**
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THE JUNGLE BOOK
Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack
Road-Song of the Bandar-Log
The White Seal
Toomai of the Elephants
Shiv and the Grasshopper
Her Majesty's Servants
Parade Song of the Camp Animals
Now Rann the Kite brings home the night
That Mang the Bat sets free--
The herds are shut in byre and hut
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Talon and tush and claw.
Oh, hear the call!--Good hunting all
That keep the Jungle Law!
Night-Song in the Jungle
It was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee
hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself, yawned,
and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in
their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big
gray nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and
the moon shone into the
mouth of the cave where they all lived. "Augrh!" said Father Wolf. "It is time
to hunt again." He was going to spring down hill when a little shadow with a
bushy tail crossed the threshold and whined: "Good luck go with you, O Chief of
the Wolves. And good luck and strong white teeth go with noble
children that they may never forget the hungry in this world."
was the jackal--Tabaqui, the Dish-licker--and the wolves of India despise
Tabaqui because he runs about making mischief, and telling tales, and eating
rags and pieces of leather from the village rubbish-heaps. But they are afraid
of him too, because Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt to go
mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through the
forest biting everything in his way. Even the tiger runs and hides when little
Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is
the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We
call it hydrophobia, but they call it
"Enter, then, and look," said Father Wolf stiffly, "but
is no food here."
wolf, no," said Tabaqui, "but for so mean a person as myself a dry bone is a
good feast. Who are we, the Gidur-log [the jackal people], to pick and choose?"
He scuttled to the back of the cave, where he found the bone of a buck with some
meat on it,
and sat cracking the end merrily.
"All thanks for this good meal," he said, licking his lips.
"How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so
young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that
the children of kings are men from the beginning."
Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is
nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces. It pleased
him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.
Tabaqui sat still, rejoicing in the mischief that he had
and then he said spitefully:
"Shere Khan, the Big One, has shifted his hunting grounds.
will hunt among these hills for the next moon, so he has told me."
Shere Khan was the tiger who lived
near the Waingunga River,
twenty miles away.
"He has no right!" Father Wolf began angrily--"By the Law
of the Jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due warning. He
will frighten every head of game within ten miles,
and I--I have to kill for two, these days."
did not call him Lungri [the Lame One] for nothing," said Mother Wolf quietly.
"He has been lame in one foot from his birth. That is why he has only killed
cattle. Now the
villagers of the Waingunga are angry with him, and he has come
here to make our villagers angry. They will scour
the jungle for him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when
grass is set alight. Indeed, we are very grateful to Shere Khan!"
"Shall I tell him of your gratitude?" said Tabaqui.
"Out!" snapped Father Wolf. "Out and hunt with thy master.
Thou hast done harm enough for one night."
"I go," said Tabaqui quietly. "Ye can hear Shere Khan below
in the thickets. I might have saved myself the message."
Father Wolf listened, and below in
the valley that ran down to a little river he heard the dry, angry, snarly,
singsong whine of a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the
said Father Wolf. "To begin a night's work with that noise! Does he think that
our buck are like his fat
"H'sh. It is neither bullock nor buck he hunts to-night,"
said Mother Wolf. "It is Man."
The whine had changed to a sort of
humming purr that seemed to come from every quarter of the compass. It was the
noise that bewilders woodcutters and gypsies sleeping in the open, and makes
them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.
"Man!" said Father Wolf, showing all his white teeth.
"Faugh! Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must
eat Man, and on our ground too!"
The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without
a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his
children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside
the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for
this is that
man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with
guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then
everybody in the jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is
that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is
unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too--and it is true
--that man-eaters become mangy, and lose their teeth.
The purr grew louder, and ended in the full-throated "Aaarh!"
of the tiger's charge.
Then there was a howl--an
untigerish howl--from Shere
Khan. "He has missed," said Mother Wolf. "What is it?"
Father Wolf ran out a few
paces and heard Shere Khan muttering
and mumbling savagely as he tumbled about in the scrub.
"The fool has had
no more sense than to jump at a woodcutter's
campfire, and has burned his feet," said Father Wolf with a grunt.
"Tabaqui is with him."
"Something is coming
uphill," said Mother Wolf, twitching one
ear. "Get ready."
The bushes rustled a little in the
thicket, and Father Wolf dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his
leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful
thing in the world--the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his
bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then he
stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or
five feet, landing almost where he left
"Man!" he snapped. "A man's cub. Look!"
Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a
naked brown baby who could just walk--as soft and as dimpled a
little atom as ever came to a wolf's cave at night. He looked up
into Father Wolf's face, and laughed.
"Is that a man's cub?" said Mother Wolf. "I have never seen
one. Bring it here."
A Wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary,
mouth an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf's jaws
closed right on the child's back not a tooth even scratched the
skin as he laid it down among the cubs.
"How little! How naked, and--how bold!" said Mother Wolf
softly. The baby was pushing his way between the cubs to get
close to the warm hide. "Ahai! He is taking his meal with the
others. And so this is a man's cub. Now, was there ever a wolf
that could boast of a man's cub among her children?"
"I have heard now and again of such a thing, but never in our
Pack or in my time," said Father Wolf. "He is altogether without
hair, and I could kill him with a touch of my foot. But see, he
looks up and is not afraid."
The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cave, for
Shere Khan's great square head and shoulders were thrust into the
entrance. Tabaqui, behind him, was squeaking: "My lord, my lord,
it went in here!"
"Shere Khan does us great honor," said Father Wolf, but his
eyes were very angry. "What does Shere Khan need?"
"My quarry. A man's cub went this way," said Shere Khan.
"Its parents have run off. Give it to me."
Shere Khan had jumped at a woodcutter's campfire, as Father
Wolf had said, and was furious from the pain of his burned feet.
But Father Wolf knew that the mouth of the cave was too narrow for
a tiger to come in by. Even where he was, Shere Khan's shoulders
and forepaws were cramped for want of room, as a man's would be if
he tried to fight in a barrel.
"The Wolves are a free people," said Father Wolf. "They take
orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped
cattle-killer. The man's cub is ours--to kill if we choose."
"Ye choose and ye do not choose! What talk is this of
choosing? By the bull that I killed, am I to stand nosing into
your dog's den for my fair dues? It is I, Shere Khan, who speak!"
The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf
shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like
two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere
"And it is I, Raksha [The Demon], who answers. The man's cub
is mine, Lungri--mine to me! He shall not be killed. He shall
live to run with the Pack and to hunt with the Pack; and in the
end, look you, hunter of little naked cubs--frog-eater--
fish-killer--he shall hunt thee! Now get hence, or by the
Sambhur that I killed (I eat no starved cattle), back thou goest
to thy mother, burned beast of the jungle, lamer than ever thou
camest into the world! Go!"
Father Wolf looked on amazed. He had almost forgotten the
days when he won Mother Wolf in fair fight from five other wolves,
when she ran in the Pack and was not called The Demon for
compliment's sake. Shere Khan might have faced Father Wolf, but
he could not stand up against Mother Wolf, for he knew that where
he was she had all the advantage of the ground, and would fight to
the death. So he backed out of the cave mouth growling, and when
he was clear he shouted:
"Each dog barks in his own yard! We will see what the Pack
will say to this fostering of man-cubs. The cub is mine, and to
my teeth he will come in the end, O bush-tailed thieves!"
Mother Wolf threw herself down panting among the cubs, and
Father Wolf said to her gravely:
"Shere Khan speaks this much truth. The cub must be shown to
the Pack. Wilt thou still keep him, Mother?"
"Keep him!" she gasped. "He came naked, by night, alone and
very hungry; yet he was not afraid! Look, he has pushed one of my
babes to one side already. And that lame butcher would have
killed him and
would have run off to the Waingunga while the
here hunted through all our lairs in revenge! Keep him?
Assuredly I will keep him. Lie still, little frog. O thou
--for Mowgli the Frog I will call thee--the time
will come when
thou wilt hunt Shere Khan as he has
"But what will
our Pack say?" said Father Wolf.
The Law of the Jungle lays down very clearly that any
may, when he marries, withdraw from the Pack he
belongs to. But
as soon as his cubs are old enough to
stand on their feet he must
bring them to the Pack
Council, which is generally held once a
month at full
moon, in order that the other wolves may identify
After that inspection the cubs are free to run where they
please, and until they have killed their first buck no
accepted if a grown wolf of the Pack kills one
of them. The
punishment is death where the murderer can
be found; and if you
think for a minute you will see
that this must be so.
Wolf waited till his cubs could run a little, and then
on the night of the Pack Meeting took them and Mowgli and
Wolf to the Council Rock--a hilltop covered with
boulders where a hundred wolves could hide.
Akela, the great gray
Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by
strength and cunning, lay out
at full length on his
rock, and below him sat forty or more wolves
size and color, from badger-colored veterans who could
handle a buck alone to young black three-year-olds who
they could. The Lone Wolf had led them for a
year now. He had
fallen twice into a wolf trap in his
youth, and once he had been
beaten and left for dead; so
he knew the manners and customs of
men. There was very
little talking at the Rock. The cubs tumbled
other in the center of the circle where their mothers
and fathers sat, and now and again a senior wolf would go
up to a cub, look at him carefully, and return
to his place on
noiseless feet. Sometimes a mother would
push her cub far out
into the moonlight to be sure that
he had not been overlooked.
Akela from his rock would
cry: "Ye know the Law--ye know the
Law. Look well, O
Wolves!" And the anxious mothers would take up
"Look--look well, O Wolves!"
last--and Mother Wolf's neck bristles lifted as the time
came--Father Wolf pushed "Mowgli the Frog," as they called
into the center, where he sat laughing and playing
pebbles that glistened in the moonlight.
Akela never raised his head from
his paws, but went on with
the monotonous cry: "Look
well!" A muffled roar came up from
behind the rocks--the
voice of Shere Khan crying: "The cub is
mine. Give him
to me. What have the Free People to do with a
cub?" Akela never even twitched his ears. All he said was:
"Look well, O Wolves! What have the Free People to do with
orders of any save the Free People? Look well!"
There was a chorus of deep growls,
and a young wolf in his
fourth year flung back Shere
Khan's question to Akela: "What have
the Free People to
do with a man's cub?" Now, the Law of the
down that if there is any dispute as to the right of a
cub to be accepted by the Pack, he must be spoken for by at
two members of the Pack who are not his father and
"Who speaks for this
cub?" said Akela. "Among the Free People
There was no answer and Mother Wolf got ready for
she knew would be her last fight, if things came to fighting.
Then the only other creature who
is allowed at the Pack
Council--Baloo, the sleepy brown
bear who teaches the wolf cubs
the Law of the Jungle:
old Baloo, who can come and go where he
he eats only nuts and roots and honey--rose upon
hind quarters and grunted.
man's cub--the man's cub?" he said. "I speak for the
man's cub. There is no harm in a man's cub. I have no gift
words, but I speak the truth. Let him run with the
Pack, and be
entered with the others. I myself will
"We need yet
another," said Akela. "Baloo has spoken, and he
teacher for the young cubs. Who speaks besides Baloo?"
A black shadow dropped down into
the circle. It was Bagheera
the Black Panther, inky
black all over, but with the panther
markings showing up
in certain lights like the pattern of watered
Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his
path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the
buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant.
But he had a
voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a
tree, and a skin
softer than down.
"O Akela, and ye the Free People,"
he purred, "I have no right
in your assembly, but the
Law of the Jungle says that if there is
a doubt which is
not a killing matter in regard to a new cub, the
that cub may be bought at a price. And the Law does not
say who may or may not pay that price. Am I right?"
"Good! Good!" said the young
wolves, who are always hungry.
"Listen to Bagheera. The
cub can be bought for a price. It is
"Knowing that I have no right to
speak here, I ask your
"Speak then," cried twenty
"To kill a naked cub is
shame. Besides, he may make better
sport for you when he
is grown. Baloo has spoken in his behalf.
Now to Baloo's
word I will add one bull, and a fat one, newly
not half a mile from here, if ye will accept the man's cub
according to the Law. Is it difficult?"
There was a clamor of scores of
voices, saying: "What matter?
He will die in the winter
rains. He will scorch in the sun. What
harm can a naked
frog do us? Let him run with the Pack. Where is
bull, Bagheera? Let him be accepted." And then came Akela's
deep bay, crying: "Look well--look well, O Wolves!"
Mowgli was still deeply interested
in the pebbles, and he did
not notice when the wolves
came and looked at him one by one. At
last they all went
down the hill for the dead bull, and only
Bagheera, Baloo, and Mowgli's own wolves were left. Shere
Khan roared still in the night, for he was very angry that
had not been handed over to him.
"Ay, roar well," said Bagheera,
under his whiskers, "for the
time will come when this
naked thing will make thee roar to
another tune, or I
know nothing of man."
well done," said Akela. "Men and their cubs are very
wise. He may be a help in time."
"Truly, a help in time of need;
for none can hope to lead the
Pack forever," said
Akela said nothing.
He was thinking of the time that comes to
of every pack when his strength goes from him and he
gets feebler and feebler, till at last he is killed by the
and a new leader comes up--to be killed in his
"Take him away," he said
to Father Wolf, "and train him as
befits one of the Free
And that is how Mowgli
was entered into the Seeonee Wolf Pack
for the price of
a bull and on Baloo's good word.
Now you must be content to skip
ten or eleven whole years, and
only guess at all the
wonderful life that Mowgli led among the
if it were written out it would fill ever so many
He grew up with the cubs, though they, of course, were
grown wolves almost before he was a child. And Father Wolf
him his business, and the meaning of things in
the jungle, till
every rustle in the grass, every breath
of the warm night air,
every note of the owls above his
head, every scratch of a bat's
claws as it roosted for a
while in a tree, and every splash of
every little fish
jumping in a pool meant just as much to him as
of his office means to a business man. When he was not
learning he sat out in the sun and slept, and ate and went
sleep again. When he felt dirty or hot he swam in the
pools; and when he wanted honey (Baloo told him
that honey and
nuts were just as pleasant to eat as raw
meat) he climbed up for
it, and that Bagheera showed him
how to do. Bagheera would lie
out on a branch and call,
"Come along, Little Brother," and at
first Mowgli would
cling like the sloth, but afterward he would
himself through the branches almost as boldly as the gray
ape. He took his place at the Council Rock, too, when the
met, and there he discovered that if he stared hard
at any wolf,
the wolf would be forced to drop his eyes,
and so he used to stare
for fun. At other times he would
pick the long thorns out of the
pads of his friends, for
wolves suffer terribly from thorns and
burs in their
coats. He would go down the hillside into the
lands by night, and look very curiously at the
in their huts, but he had a mistrust of men because
Bagheera showed him a square box with a drop gate so
hidden in the jungle that he nearly walked
into it, and told him
that it was a trap. He loved
better than anything else to go with
Bagheera into the
dark warm heart of the forest, to sleep all
drowsy day, and at night see how Bagheera did his
killing. Bagheera killed right and left as he felt hungry,
did Mowgli--with one exception. As soon as he was
old enough to
understand things, Bagheera told him that
he must never touch
cattle because he had been bought
into the Pack at the price of a
bull's life. "All the
jungle is thine," said Bagheera, "and thou
everything that thou art strong enough to kill; but for
the sake of the bull that bought thee thou must never kill
any cattle young or old. That is the Law of the
And he grew and grew strong as a
boy must grow who does not
know that he is learning any
lessons, and who has nothing in the
world to think of
except things to eat.
Wolf told him once or twice that Shere Khan was not a
creature to be trusted, and that some day he must kill
But though a young wolf would have
remembered that advice every
hour, Mowgli forgot it
because he was only a boy--though he
would have called
himself a wolf if he had been able to speak in
Shere Khan was always
crossing his path in the jungle, for as
Akela grew older
and feebler the lame tiger had come to be great
with the younger wolves of the Pack, who followed him for
scraps, a thing Akela would never have allowed if he had
push his authority to the proper bounds. Then
Shere Khan would
flatter them and wonder that such fine
young hunters were content
to be led by a dying wolf and
a man's cub. "They tell me," Shere
Khan would say, "that
at Council ye dare not look him between the
the young wolves would growl and bristle.
Bagheera, who had eyes and ears everywhere, knew something
this, and once or twice he told Mowgli in so many
words that Shere
Khan would kill him some day. Mowgli
would laugh and answer: "I
have the Pack and I have
thee; and Baloo, though he is so lazy,
might strike a
blow or two for my sake. Why should I be afraid?"
It was one very warm day that a new notion came to
born of something that he had heard. Perhaps
Ikki the Porcupine
had told him; but he said to Mowgli
when they were deep in the
jungle, as the boy lay with
his head on Bagheera's beautiful black
Brother, how often have I told thee that Shere Khan
"As many times as
there are nuts on that palm," said Mowgli,
naturally, could not count. "What of it? I am sleepy,
Bagheera, and Shere Khan is all long tail and loud
Mao, the Peacock."
"But this is no time for sleeping.
Baloo knows it; I know it;
the Pack know it; and even
the foolish, foolish deer know.
Tabaqui has told thee
"Ho! ho!" said Mowgli.
"Tabaqui came to me not long ago with
some rude talk
that I was a naked man's cub and not fit to dig
pig-nuts. But I caught Tabaqui by the tail and swung him
against a palm-tree to teach him better
foolishness, for though Tabaqui is a mischief-maker,
would have told thee of something that concerned thee closely.
Open those eyes, Little Brother. Shere Khan dare not kill
the jungle. But remember, Akela is very old, and
soon the day
comes when he cannot kill his buck, and
then he will be leader no
more. Many of the wolves that
looked thee over when thou wast
brought to the Council
first are old too, and the young wolves
Shere Khan has taught them, that a man-cub has no
with the Pack. In a little time thou wilt be a man."
"And what is a man that he should not run with his
said Mowgli. "I was born in the jungle. I
have obeyed the Law of
the Jungle, and there is no wolf
of ours from whose paws I have
not pulled a thorn.
Surely they are my brothers!"
Bagheera stretched himself at full length and half shut
eyes. "Little Brother," said he, "feel under my
Mowgli put up his strong
brown hand, and just under Bagheera's
silky chin, where
the giant rolling muscles were all hid by the
hair, he came upon a little bald spot.
"There is no one in the jungle that knows that I,
carry that mark--the mark of the collar; and
Brother, I was born among men, and it was
among men that my mother
died--in the cages of the
king's palace at Oodeypore. It was
because of this that
I paid the price for thee at the Council when
a little naked cub. Yes, I too was born among men. I
never seen the jungle. They fed me behind bars from an iron
pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera--the
and no man's plaything, and I broke the silly
lock with one blow
of my paw and came away. And because
I had learned the ways of
men, I became more terrible in
the jungle than Shere Khan. Is it
"Yes," said Mowgli, "all the
jungle fear Bagheera--all
"Oh, thou art a man's cub," said
the Black Panther very
tenderly. "And even as I returned
to my jungle, so thou must go
back to men at last--to
the men who are thy brothers--if thou
art not killed in
"But why--but why
should any wish to kill me?" said Mowgli.
"Look at me," said Bagheera. And Mowgli looked at him
steadily between the eyes. The big panther turned his head
in half a minute.
"That is why," he said, shifting his paw on the leaves.
even I can look thee between the eyes, and I was
born among men,
and I love thee, Little Brother. The
others they hate thee
because their eyes cannot meet
thine; because thou art wise;
because thou hast pulled
out thorns from their feet--because
thou art a man."
"I did not know these things,"
said Mowgli sullenly, and he
frowned under his heavy
"What is the
Law of the Jungle? Strike first and then give
thy very carelessness they know that thou art a man.
be wise. It is in my heart that when Akela misses his next
kill--and at each hunt it costs him more to pin the
Pack will turn against him and against thee.
They will hold a
jungle Council at the Rock, and
then--and then--I have it!"
said Bagheera, leaping up.
"Go thou down quickly to the men's
huts in the valley,
and take some of the Red Flower which they
so that when the time comes thou mayest have even a
stronger friend than I or Baloo or those of the Pack that
thee. Get the Red Flower."
By Red Flower Bagheera meant fire,
only no creature in the
jungle will call fire by its
proper name. Every beast lives in
deadly fear of it, and
invents a hundred ways of describing it.
"The Red Flower?" said Mowgli. "That grows outside their
in the twilight. I will get some."
"There speaks the man's cub," said
"Remember that it grows in little
pots. Get one swiftly, and keep
it by thee for time of
"Good!" said Mowgli. "I
go. But art thou sure, O my
Bagheera"--he slipped his
arm around the splendid neck and
looked deep into the
big eyes--"art thou sure that all this is
"By the Broken Lock
that freed me, I am sure, Little Brother."
"Then, by the Bull that bought me, I will pay Shere Khan
tale for this, and it may be a little over," said
Mowgli, and he
"That is a man. That is all a man," said Bagheera to
lying down again. "Oh, Shere Khan, never was a
than that frog-hunt of thine ten years
Mowgli was far and far
through the forest, running hard, and
his heart was hot
in him. He came to the cave as the evening mist
and drew breath, and looked down the valley. The cubs were
out, but Mother Wolf, at the back of the cave, knew by
breathing that something was troubling her frog.
"What is it, Son?" she said.
"Some bat's chatter of Shere
Khan," he called back. "I hunt
among the plowed fields
tonight," and he plunged downward through
the bushes, to
the stream at the bottom of the valley. There he
checked, for he heard the yell of the Pack hunting, heard
bellow of a hunted Sambhur, and the snort as the
buck turned at
bay. Then there were wicked, bitter howls
from the young wolves:
"Akela! Akela! Let the Lone Wolf
show his strength. Room for
the leader of the Pack!
The Lone Wolf
must have sprung and missed his hold, for Mowgli
the snap of his teeth and then a yelp as the Sambhur knocked
him over with his forefoot.
He did not wait for anything more, but dashed on; and
yells grew fainter behind him as he ran into the
the villagers lived.
"Bagheera spoke truth," he panted,
as he nestled down in some
cattle fodder by the window
of a hut. "To-morrow is one day both
for Akela and for
Then he pressed his face
close to the window and watched the
fire on the hearth.
He saw the husbandman's wife get up and feed
it in the
night with black lumps. And when the morning came and
the mists were all white and cold, he saw the man's child
a wicker pot plastered inside with earth, fill
it with lumps of
red-hot charcoal, put it under his
blanket, and go out to tend the
cows in the byre.
"Is that all?" said Mowgli. "If a
cub can do it, there is
nothing to fear." So he strode
round the corner and met the boy,
took the pot from his
hand, and disappeared into the mist while
the boy howled
"They are very like
me," said Mowgli, blowing into the pot as
he had seen
the woman do. "This thing will die if I do not give
things to eat"; and he dropped twigs and dried bark on the red
stuff. Halfway up the hill he met Bagheera with the morning
shining like moonstones on his coat.
"Akela has missed," said the
Panther. "They would have killed
him last night, but
they needed thee also. They were looking for
thee on the
"I was among the plowed
lands. I am ready. See!" Mowgli
held up the fire-pot.
"Good! Now, I have seen men thrust
a dry branch into that
stuff, and presently the Red
Flower blossomed at the end of it.
Art thou not
"No. Why should I
fear? I remember now--if it is not a
I was a Wolf, I lay beside the Red Flower,
and it was
warm and pleasant."
day Mowgli sat in the cave tending his fire pot and
dipping dry branches into it to see how they looked. He
branch that satisfied him, and in the evening
when Tabaqui came to
the cave and told him rudely enough
that he was wanted at the
Council Rock, he laughed till
Tabaqui ran away. Then Mowgli went
to the Council, still
Akela the Lone Wolf
lay by the side of his rock as a sign that
leadership of the Pack was open, and Shere Khan with his
following of scrap-fed wolves walked to and fro openly
flattered. Bagheera lay close to Mowgli, and the
fire pot was
between Mowgli's knees. When they were all
Shere Khan began to speak--a thing he
would never have dared to
do when Akela was in his
"He has no right,"
whispered Bagheera. "Say so. He is a
dog's son. He will
to his feet. "Free People," he cried, "does
lead the Pack? What has a tiger to do with our
"Seeing that the leadership is yet open, and being asked
speak--" Shere Khan began.
"By whom?" said Mowgli. "Are we
all jackals, to fawn on this
cattle butcher? The
leadership of the Pack is with the Pack
There were yells of "Silence, thou
man's cub!" "Let him
speak. He has kept our Law"; and at
last the seniors of the Pack
thundered: "Let the Dead
Wolf speak." When a leader of the Pack
has missed his
kill, he is called the Dead Wolf as long as he
which is not long.
his old head wearily:--
People, and ye too, jackals of Shere Khan, for twelve
seasons I have led ye to and from the kill, and in all that
not one has been trapped or maimed. Now I have
missed my kill.
Ye know how that plot was made. Ye know
how ye brought me up to
an untried buck to make my
weakness known. It was cleverly done.
Your right is to
kill me here on the Council Rock, now.
Therefore, I ask,
who comes to make an end of the Lone Wolf? For
it is my
right, by the Law of the Jungle, that ye come one by
There was a long hush, for no single wolf cared to fight
to the death. Then Shere Khan roared: "Bah! What
have we to do
with this toothless fool? He is doomed to
die! It is the man-cub
who has lived too long. Free
People, he was my meat from the
first. Give him to me. I
am weary of this man-wolf folly. He
has troubled the
jungle for ten seasons. Give me the man-cub, or
hunt here always, and not give you one bone. He is a man,
a man's child, and from the marrow of my bones I hate
Then more than half the
Pack yelled: "A man! A man! What has
a man to do with
us? Let him go to his own place."
"And turn all the people of the villages against us?"
Shere Khan. "No, give him to me. He is a man,
and none of us can
look him between the eyes."
Akela lifted his head again and
said, "He has eaten our food.
He has slept with us. He
has driven game for us. He has broken
no word of the Law
of the Jungle."
"Also, I paid
for him with a bull when he was accepted. The
worth of a
bull is little, but Bagheera's honor is something that
he will perhaps fight for," said Bagheera in his gentlest
"A bull paid ten years
ago!" the Pack snarled. "What do we
care for bones ten
"Or for a pledge?"
said Bagheera, his white teeth bared under
"Well are ye called the Free People!"
"No man's cub can run with the people of the jungle,"
Shere Khan. "Give him to me!"
"He is our brother in all but
blood," Akela went on, "and ye
would kill him here! In
truth, I have lived too long. Some of ye
are eaters of
cattle, and of others I have heard that, under Shere
Khan's teaching, ye go by dark night and snatch children
villager's doorstep. Therefore I know ye to be
cowards, and it is
to cowards I speak. It is certain
that I must die, and my life is
of no worth, or I would
offer that in the man-cub's place. But
for the sake of
the Honor of the Pack,--a little matter that by
without a leader ye have forgotten,--I promise that if ye
let the man-cub go to his own place, I will not, when my
comes to die, bare one tooth against ye. I will die
fighting. That will at least save the Pack three
lives. More I
cannot do; but if ye will, I can save ye
the shame that comes of
killing a brother against whom
there is no fault--a brother
spoken for and bought into
the Pack according to the Law of the
"He is a man--a man--a man!"
snarled the Pack. And most
of the wolves began to gather
round Shere Khan, whose tail was
beginning to switch.
"Now the business is in thy
hands," said Bagheera to Mowgli.
"We can do no more
upright--the fire pot in his hands. Then he
out his arms, and yawned in the face of the Council; but
he was furious with rage and sorrow, for, wolflike, the
never told him how they hated him. "Listen
you!" he cried.
"There is no need for this dog's jabber.
Ye have told me so often
tonight that I am a man (and
indeed I would have been a wolf with
you to my life's
end) that I feel your words are true. So I do
ye my brothers any more, but sag [dogs], as a man should.
What ye will do, and what ye will not do, is not yours to
That matter is with me; and that we may see the
plainly, I, the man, have brought here a
little of the Red Flower
which ye, dogs, fear."
He flung the fire pot on the
ground, and some of the red coals
lit a tuft of dried
moss that flared up, as all the Council drew
terror before the leaping flames.
Mowgli thrust his dead branch into the fire till the twigs
and crackled, and whirled it above his head among
"Thou art the master," said Bagheera in an undertone.
Akela from the death. He was ever thy friend."
Akela, the grim old wolf who had
never asked for mercy in his
life, gave one piteous look
at Mowgli as the boy stood all naked,
his long black
hair tossing over his shoulders in the light of the
blazing branch that made the shadows jump and quiver.
"Good!" said Mowgli, staring round
slowly. "I see that ye are
dogs. I go from you to my own
people--if they be my own people.
The jungle is shut to
me, and I must forget your talk and your
But I will be more merciful than ye are. Because
all but your brother in blood, I promise that when I am a
man among men I will not betray ye to men as ye have
He kicked the fire with his foot, and the
sparks flew up. "There
shall be no war between any of us
in the Pack. But here is a debt
to pay before I go." He
strode forward to where Shere Khan sat
at the flames, and caught him by the tuft on his
Bagheera followed in case of accidents. "Up, dog!" Mowgli
cried. "Up, when a man speaks, or I will set that coat
Shere Khan's ears lay
flat back on his head, and he shut his
eyes, for the
blazing branch was very near.
"This cattle-killer said he would kill me in the Council
because he had not killed me when I was a cub. Thus and
then, do we beat dogs when we are men. Stir a
and I ram the Red Flower down thy
gullet!" He beat Shere Khan
over the head with the
branch, and the tiger whimpered and whined
in an agony
"Pah! Singed jungle
cat--go now! But remember when next I
come to the
Council Rock, as a man should come, it will be with
Shere Khan's hide on my head. For the rest, Akela goes free
live as he pleases. Ye will not kill him, because
that is not my
will. Nor do I think that ye will sit
here any longer, lolling
out your tongues as though ye
were somebodies, instead of dogs
whom I drive out--thus!
Go!" The fire was burning furiously at
the end of the
branch, and Mowgli struck right and left round the
circle, and the wolves ran howling with the sparks burning
fur. At last there were only Akela, Bagheera, and
wolves that had taken Mowgli's part. Then
something began to hurt
Mowgli inside him, as he had
never been hurt in his life before,
and he caught his
breath and sobbed, and the tears ran down his
"What is it? What is it?" he said.
"I do not wish to leave
the jungle, and I do not know
what this is. Am I dying,
"No, Little Brother. That is only
tears such as men use,"
said Bagheera. "Now I know thou
art a man, and a man's cub no
longer. The jungle is shut
indeed to thee henceforward. Let them
fall, Mowgli. They
are only tears." So Mowgli sat and cried as
heart would break; and he had never cried in all his
"Now," he said, "I will go to men. But first I must say
farewell to my mother." And he went to the cave where she
with Father Wolf, and he cried on her coat, while
the four cubs
"Ye will not forget me?" said
"Never while we can
follow a trail," said the cubs. "Come to
the foot of the
hill when thou art a man, and we will talk to
we will come into the croplands to play with thee by
"Come soon!" said Father Wolf. "Oh, wise little frog,
again soon; for we be old, thy mother and I."
"Come soon," said Mother Wolf,
"little naked son of mine.
For, listen, child of man, I
loved thee more than ever I loved my
"I will surely come," said Mowgli.
"And when I come it will
be to lay out Shere Khan's hide
upon the Council Rock. Do not
forget me! Tell them in
the jungle never to forget me!"
The dawn was beginning to break when Mowgli went down
the hillside alone, to meet those mysterious things that
are called men.
Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack
As the dawn was breaking
the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a doe leaped up, and a doe leaped up
From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.
This I, scouting alone, beheld,
Once, twice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a wolf
stole back, and a wolf stole back
To carry the word to
the waiting pack,
And we sought and we found and we
bayed on his track
Once, twice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Wolf
Once, twice and again!
Feet in the jungle that leave no mark!
Eyes that can see in the dark--the
Tongue--give tongue to it! Hark! O hark!
Once, twice and again!
His spots are the joy of the
Leopard: his horns are the Buffalo's pride.
Be clean, for the strength of the hunter is known by the gloss of his hide.
If ye find that the Bullock can toss you, or the heavy-browed Sambhur can gore;
Ye need not stop work to inform us: we knew it ten seasons before.
Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister and Brother,
For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is their mother.
"There is none like to me!" says the Cub in the pride of his earliest kill;
But the jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still.
Maxims of Baloo
All that is told here happened some time before Mowgli was
turned out of the Seeonee Wolf Pack, or revenged himself
on Shere Khan the tiger. It was in the days when Baloo
was teaching him the Law of the Jungle. The big,
serious, old brown bear was delighted to have so quick a
pupil, for the young wolves will only learn as much of
the Law of the Jungle as applies to their own pack and tribe, and run away as soon as they can repeat the Hunting
--"Feet that make no noise; eyes that can see in
the dark; ears that can hear the winds in their lairs,
and sharp white teeth, all these things are the marks of
our brothers except Tabaqui the Jackal and the Hyaena
whom we hate." But Mowgli, as a man-cub, had to learn a
great deal more than this. Sometimes Bagheera the Black
Panther would come lounging through the jungle to see how his pet was getting on, and would purr with his head
against a tree while Mowgli recited the day's lesson to
Baloo. The boy could climb almost as well as he could
swim, and swim almost as well as he could run. So Baloo,
the Teacher of the Law, taught him the Wood and Water
Laws: how to tell a rotten branch from a sound one; how
to speak politely to the wild bees when he came upon a
hive of them fifty feet above ground; what to say to Mang the Bat when he disturbed him in the branches at midday;
and how to warn the water-snakes in the pools before he
splashed down among them. None of the Jungle People like
being disturbed, and all are very ready to fly at an
intruder. Then, too, Mowgli was taught the Strangers'
Hunting Call, which must be repeated aloud
till it is
answered, whenever one of the Jungle-People hunts
outside his own grounds. It means, translated, "Give me
hunt here because I am hungry." And the answer
is, "Hunt then for
food, but not for pleasure."
All this will show you how much
Mowgli had to learn by heart,
and he grew very tired of
saying the same thing over a hundred
times. But, as
Baloo said to Bagheera, one day when Mowgli had
cuffed and run off in a temper, "A man's cub is a man's cub,
and he must learn all the Law of the Jungle."
"But think how small he is," said
the Black Panther, who would
have spoiled Mowgli if he
had had his own way. "How can his
little head carry all
thy long talk?"
anything in the jungle too little to be killed? No.
is why I teach him these things, and that is why I hit him,
very softly, when he forgets."
"Softly! What dost thou know of softness, old
Bagheera grunted. "His face is all bruised
today by thy--
"Better he should be bruised from
head to foot by me who love
him than that he should come
to harm through ignorance," Baloo
earnestly. "I am now teaching him the Master Words
the Jungle that shall protect him with the birds and the Snake
People, and all that hunt on four feet, except his own
can now claim protection, if he will only
remember the words, from
all in the jungle. Is not that
worth a little beating?"
look to it then that thou dost not kill the man-cub.
is no tree trunk to sharpen thy blunt claws upon. But what are
those Master Words? I am more likely to give help than to
--Bagheera stretched out one paw and admired the
ripping-chisel talons at the end of
it--"still I should like to
"I will call Mowgli and he shall
say them--if he will.
Come, Little Brother!"
"My head is ringing like a bee
tree," said a sullen little
voice over their heads, and
Mowgli slid down a tree trunk very
angry and indignant,
adding as he reached the ground: "I come for
and not for thee, fat old Baloo!"
"That is all one to me," said Baloo, though he was hurt
grieved. "Tell Bagheera, then, the Master Words of
that I have taught thee this day."
"Master Words for which people?"
said Mowgli, delighted to
show off. "The jungle has many
tongues. I know them all."
little thou knowest, but not much. See, O Bagheera, they
never thank their teacher. Not one small wolfling has ever
back to thank old Baloo for his teachings. Say the
word for the
Hunting-People, then--great scholar."
"We be of one blood, ye and I,"
said Mowgli, giving the words
the Bear accent which all
the Hunting People use.
Now for the birds."
repeated, with the Kite's whistle at the end of the
"Now for the Snake-People," said Bagheera.
The answer was a perfectly
indescribable hiss, and Mowgli
kicked up his feet
behind, clapped his hands together to applaud
and jumped on to Bagheera's back, where he sat sideways,
drumming with his heels on the glossy skin and making the
faces he could think of at Baloo.
"There--there! That was worth a
little bruise," said the
brown bear tenderly. "Some day
thou wilt remember me." Then he
turned aside to tell
Bagheera how he had begged the Master Words
the Wild Elephant, who knows all about these things,
how Hathi had taken Mowgli down to a pool to get the Snake
Word from a water-snake, because Baloo could not pronounce
how Mowgli was now reasonably safe against all
accidents in the
jungle, because neither snake, bird,
nor beast would hurt him.
one then is to be feared," Baloo wound up, patting his big
furry stomach with pride.
"Except his own tribe," said Bagheera, under his breath;
then aloud to Mowgli, "Have a care for my ribs,
What is all this dancing up and
Mowgli had been trying
to make himself heard by pulling at
fur and kicking hard. When the two listened
to him he
was shouting at the top of his voice, "And so I shall
have a tribe of my own, and lead them through the branches
"What is this new folly, little dreamer of dreams?" said
"Yes, and throw branches and dirt at old Baloo," Mowgli
on. "They have promised me this. Ah!"
"Whoof!" Baloo's big paw scooped
Mowgli off Bagheera's back,
and as the boy lay between
the big fore-paws he could see the Bear
"Mowgli," said Baloo, "thou hast
been talking with the
Bandar-log--the Monkey People."
Mowgli looked at Bagheera to see
if the Panther was angry too,
and Bagheera's eyes were
as hard as jade stones.
hast been with the Monkey People--the gray apes--the
people without a law--the eaters of everything. That is
"When Baloo hurt my head," said Mowgli (he was still on
back), "I went away, and the gray apes came down
from the trees
and had pity on me. No one else cared."
He snuffled a little.
of the Monkey People!" Baloo snorted. "The
the mountain stream! The cool of the summer sun!
"And then, and
then, they gave me nuts and pleasant things to
they--they carried me in their arms up to the top of
trees and said I was their blood brother except that I had no
tail, and should be their leader some day."
"They have no leader," said
Bagheera. "They lie. They have
"They were very kind and bade me
come again. Why have I never
been taken among the Monkey
People? They stand on their feet as I
do. They do not
hit me with their hard paws. They play all day.
get up! Bad Baloo, let me up! I will play with them
"Listen, man-cub," said the Bear, and his voice rumbled
thunder on a hot night. "I have taught thee all the
Law of the
Jungle for all the peoples of the
jungle--except the Monkey-Folk
who live in the trees.
They have no law. They are outcasts.
They have no speech
of their own, but use the stolen words which
overhear when they listen, and peep, and wait up above in
the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without
leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter
pretend that they are a great people about to do
great affairs in
the jungle, but the falling of a nut
turns their minds to laughter
and all is forgotten. We
of the jungle have no dealings with
them. We do not
drink where the monkeys drink; we do not go where
monkeys go; we do not hunt where they hunt; we do not die
where they die. Hast thou ever heard me speak of the
"No," said Mowgli in a whisper, for the forest was very
now Baloo had finished.
"The Jungle-People put them out of
their mouths and out of
their minds. They are very many,
evil, dirty, shameless, and they
desire, if they have
any fixed desire, to be noticed by the Jungle
But we do not notice them even when they throw nuts and
filth on our heads."
He had hardly spoken when a shower of nuts and twigs
down through the branches; and they could hear
howlings and angry jumpings high up in the
air among the thin
"The Monkey-People are forbidden," said Baloo, "forbidden
the Jungle-People. Remember."
"Forbidden," said Bagheera, "but I
still think Baloo should
have warned thee against
"I--I? How was I to
guess he would play with such dirt.
The Monkey People!
A fresh shower came
down on their heads and the two trotted
Mowgli with them. What Baloo had said about the
was perfectly true. They belonged to the tree-tops, and as
beasts very seldom look up, there was no occasion for the
and the Jungle-People to cross each other's
path. But whenever
they found a sick wolf, or a wounded
tiger, or bear, the monkeys
would torment him, and would
throw sticks and nuts at any beast
for fun and in the
hope of being noticed. Then they would howl
senseless songs, and invite the Jungle-People to climb
up their trees and fight them, or would start furious
nothing among themselves, and leave the
dead monkeys where the
Jungle-People could see them.
They were always just going to have
a leader, and laws
and customs of their own, but they never did,
their memories would not hold over from day to day, and so
they compromised things by making up a saying, "What the
Bandar-log think now the jungle will think later," and
comforted them a great deal. None of the beasts
could reach them,
but on the other hand none of the
beasts would notice them, and
that was why they were so
pleased when Mowgli came to play with
them, and they
heard how angry Baloo was.
never meant to do any more--the Bandar-log never mean
anything at all; but one of them invented what seemed to
brilliant idea, and he told all the others that
Mowgli would be a
useful person to keep in the tribe,
because he could weave sticks
together for protection
from the wind; so, if they caught him,
they could make
him teach them. Of course Mowgli, as a
child, inherited all sorts of instincts, and used to
make little huts of fallen branches without thinking how he
to do it. The Monkey-People, watching in the trees,
his play most wonderful. This time, they
said, they were really
going to have a leader and become
the wisest people in the jungle
--so wise that everyone
else would notice and envy them.
Therefore they followed
Baloo and Bagheera and Mowgli through the
quietly till it was time for the midday nap, and
who was very much ashamed of himself, slept between the
Panther and the Bear, resolving to have no more to do with
The next thing he remembered was feeling hands on his legs
arms--hard, strong, little hands--and then a swash
in his face, and then he was staring down
through the swaying
boughs as Baloo woke the jungle with
his deep cries and Bagheera
bounded up the trunk with
every tooth bared. The Bandar-log
howled with triumph
and scuffled away to the upper branches where
dared not follow, shouting: "He has noticed us! Bagheera
has noticed us. All the Jungle-People admire us for our
our cunning." Then they began their flight;
and the flight of the
Monkey-People through tree-land is
one of the things nobody can
describe. They have their
regular roads and crossroads, up hills
and down hills,
all laid out from fifty to seventy or a hundred
above ground, and by these they can travel even at night if
necessary. Two of the strongest monkeys caught Mowgli under
arms and swung off with him through the treetops,
twenty feet at a
bound. Had they been alone they could
have gone twice as fast,
but the boy's weight held them
back. Sick and giddy as Mowgli was
he could not help
enjoying the wild rush, though the glimpses of
down below frightened him, and the terrible check and
jerk at the end of the swing over nothing but empty air
his heart between his teeth. His escort would
rush him up a tree
till he felt the thinnest topmost
branches crackle and bend under
them, and then with a
cough and a whoop would fling themselves
into the air
outward and downward, and bring up, hanging by their
hands or their feet to the lower limbs of the next tree.
Sometimes he could see for miles and miles across the still
jungle, as a man on the top of a mast can see for
miles across the
sea, and then the branches and leaves
would lash him across the
face, and he and his two
guards would be almost down to earth
again. So, bounding
and crashing and whooping and yelling, the
of Bandar-log swept along the tree-roads with Mowgli
For a time he was afraid of being dropped. Then he grew
but knew better than to struggle, and then he
began to think. The
first thing was to send back word to
Baloo and Bagheera, for, at
the pace the monkeys were
going, he knew his friends would be left
far behind. It
was useless to look down, for he could only see
topsides of the branches, so he stared upward and saw, far
away in the blue, Rann the Kite balancing and wheeling as
watch over the jungle waiting for things to die.
Rann saw that
the monkeys were carrying something, and
dropped a few hundred
yards to find out whether their
load was good to eat. He whistled
with surprise when he
saw Mowgli being dragged up to a treetop and
give the Kite call for--"We be of one blood, thou and
I." The waves of the branches closed over the boy, but
balanced away to the next tree in time to see the
face come up again. "Mark my trail!" Mowgli
Baloo of the Seeonee Pack and Bagheera of
the Council Rock."
name, Brother?" Rann had never seen Mowgli before,
though of course he had heard of him.
"Mowgli, the Frog. Man-cub they
call me! Mark my tra-il!"
last words were shrieked as he was being swung through the
air, but Rann nodded and rose up till he looked no bigger
speck of dust, and there he hung, watching with
his telescope eyes
the swaying of the treetops as
Mowgli's escort whirled along.
"They never go far," he said with a chuckle. "They never
what they set out to do. Always pecking at new things
Bandar-log. This time, if I have any eye-sight,
they have pecked
down trouble for themselves, for Baloo
is no fledgling and
Bagheera can, as I know, kill more
So he rocked on
his wings, his feet gathered up under him, and
Meantime, Baloo and Bagheera were furious with rage and
Bagheera climbed as he had never climbed before,
but the thin
branches broke beneath his weight, and he
slipped down, his claws
full of bark.
"Why didst thou not warn the
man-cub?" he roared to poor
Baloo, who had set off at a
clumsy trot in the hope of overtaking
the monkeys. "What
was the use of half slaying him with blows if
not warn him?"
"Haste! O haste!
We--we may catch them yet!" Baloo
"At that speed! It would not tire
a wounded cow. Teacher of
the Law--cub-beater--a mile of
that rolling to and fro would
burst thee open. Sit still
and think! Make a plan. This is no
time for chasing.
They may drop him if we follow too close."
"Arrula! Whoo! They may have dropped him already, being
tired of carrying him. Who can trust the Bandar-log? Put
bats on my head! Give me black bones to eat! Roll
me into the
hives of the wild bees that I may be stung
to death, and bury me
with the Hyaena, for I am most
miserable of bears! Arulala!
Wahooa! O Mowgli, Mowgli!
Why did I not warn thee against the
of breaking thy head? Now perhaps I may have
day's lesson out of his mind, and he will be alone in
the jungle without the Master Words."
Baloo clasped his paws over his
ears and rolled to and fro
"At least he gave me all the Words
correctly a little time
ago," said Bagheera impatiently.
"Baloo, thou hast neither memory
nor respect. What would
the jungle think if I, the Black Panther,
up like Ikki the Porcupine, and howled?"
"What do I care what the jungle thinks? He may be dead
"Unless and until they drop him from the branches in sport,
kill him out of idleness, I have no fear for the
man-cub. He is
wise and well taught, and above all he
has the eyes that make the
Jungle-People afraid. But
(and it is a great evil) he is in the
power of the
Bandar-log, and they, because they live in trees,
no fear of any of our people." Bagheera licked one forepaw
"Fool that I am! Oh, fat, brown, root-digging fool that
am," said Baloo, uncoiling himself with a jerk, "it is
Hathi the Wild Elephant says: `To each his own
fear'; and they,
the Bandar-log, fear Kaa the Rock
Snake. He can climb as well as
they can. He steals the
young monkeys in the night. The whisper
of his name
makes their wicked tails cold. Let us go to Kaa."
"What will he do for us? He is not of our tribe, being
footless--and with most evil eyes," said Bagheera.
"He is very old and very cunning.
Above all, he is always
hungry," said Baloo hopefully.
"Promise him many goats."
sleeps for a full month after he has once eaten. He may
be asleep now, and even were he awake what if he would
his own goats?" Bagheera, who did not know
much about Kaa, was
"Then in that case, thou and I
together, old hunter, might
make him see reason." Here
Baloo rubbed his faded brown shoulder
Panther, and they went off to look for Kaa the Rock
They found him stretched out on a warm ledge in the
sun, admiring his beautiful new coat, for he
had been in
retirement for the last ten days changing
his skin, and now he was
very splendid--darting his big
blunt-nosed head along the
ground, and twisting the
thirty feet of his body into fantastic
knots and curves,
and licking his lips as he thought of his dinner
"He has not eaten," said
Baloo, with a grunt of relief, as
soon as he saw the
beautifully mottled brown and yellow jacket.
careful, Bagheera! He is always a little blind after he has
changed his skin, and very quick to strike."
Kaa was not a poison snake--in
fact he rather despised the
poison snakes as
cowards--but his strength lay in his hug, and
had once lapped his huge coils round anybody there was no
more to be said. "Good hunting!" cried Baloo, sitting up on
haunches. Like all snakes of his breed Kaa was
rather deaf, and
did not hear the call at first. Then he
curled up ready for any
accident, his head lowered.
"Good hunting for us all," he
answered. "Oho, Baloo, what
dost thou do here? Good
hunting, Bagheera. One of us at least
needs food. Is
there any news of game afoot? A doe now, or even
buck? I am as empty as a dried well."
"We are hunting," said Baloo carelessly. He knew that
must not hurry Kaa. He is too big.
"Give me permission to come with
you," said Kaa. "A blow more
or less is nothing to thee,
Bagheera or Baloo, but I--I have to
wait and wait for
days in a wood-path and climb half a night on
chance of a young ape. Psshaw! The branches are not
they were when I was young. Rotten twigs and dry boughs are
"Maybe thy great weight has something to do with the
"I am a fair length--a fair length," said Kaa with a
pride. "But for all that, it is the fault of this
timber. I came very near to falling on my last
indeed--and the noise of my slipping,
for my tail was not tight
wrapped around the tree, waked
the Bandar-log, and they called me
most evil names."
"Footless, yellow earth-worm,"
said Bagheera under his
whiskers, as though he were
trying to remember something.
"Sssss! Have they ever called me that?" said Kaa.
"Something of that kind it was
that they shouted to us last
moon, but we never noticed
them. They will say anything--even
that thou hast lost
all thy teeth, and wilt not face anything
bigger than a
kid, because (they are indeed shameless, these
Bandar-log)--because thou art afraid of the he-goat's
Bagheera went on sweetly.
Now a snake, especially a wary old
python like Kaa, very
seldom shows that he is angry, but
Baloo and Bagheera could see
the big swallowing muscles
on either side of Kaa's throat ripple
"The Bandar-log have shifted their
grounds," he said quietly.
"When I came up into the sun
today I heard them whooping among the
"It--it is the Bandar-log that we
follow now," said Baloo,
but the words stuck in his
throat, for that was the first time in
his memory that
one of the Jungle-People had owned to being
in the doings of the monkeys.
"Beyond doubt then it is no small thing that takes two
hunters--leaders in their own jungle I am
trail of the Bandar-log," Kaa replied
courteously, as he swelled
"Indeed," Baloo began, "I am no
more than the old and
sometimes very foolish Teacher of
the Law to the Seeonee
wolf-cubs, and Bagheera
"Is Bagheera," said the
Black Panther, and his jaws shut with
a snap, for he did
not believe in being humble. "The trouble is
Those nut-stealers and pickers of palm leaves have
stolen away our man-cub of whom thou hast perhaps
"I heard some news from
Ikki (his quills make him
presumptuous) of a man-thing
that was entered into a wolf pack,
but I did not
believe. Ikki is full of stories half heard and
"But it is true.
He is such a man-cub as never was," said
best and wisest and boldest of man-cubs--my own
who shall make the name of Baloo famous through all the
jungles; and besides, I--we--love him, Kaa."
"Ts! Ts!" said Kaa, weaving his
head to and fro. "I also
have known what love is. There
are tales I could tell that--"
"That need a clear night when we are all well fed to
properly," said Bagheera quickly. "Our man-cub is
in the hands of
the Bandar-log now, and we know that of
all the Jungle-People they
fear Kaa alone."
"They fear me alone. They have
good reason," said Kaa.
vain--vain, foolish, and chattering, are
But a man-thing in their hands is in no good luck.
grow tired of the nuts they pick, and throw them down. They
carry a branch half a day, meaning to do great things with
then they snap it in two. That man-thing is not
to be envied.
They called me also--`yellow fish' was it
said Bagheera, "as well as other
things which I cannot
now say for shame."
remind them to speak well of their master. Aaa-ssp!
must help their wandering memories. Now, whither went they
with the cub?"
"The jungle alone knows. Toward the sunset, I believe,"
Baloo. "We had thought that thou wouldst know,
"I? How? I take them when
they come in my way, but I do not
hunt the Bandar-log,
or frogs--or green scum on a water-hole,
"Up, Up! Up, Up!
Hillo! Illo! Illo, look up, Baloo of the
Baloo looked up to see
where the voice came from, and there
was Rann the Kite,
sweeping down with the sun shining on the
flanges of his wings. It was near Rann's bedtime, but he
had ranged all over the jungle looking for the Bear and had
him in the thick foliage.
"What is it?" said Baloo.
"I have seen Mowgli among the
Bandar-log. He bade me tell
you. I watched. The
Bandar-log have taken him beyond the river
to the monkey
city--to the Cold Lairs. They may stay there for
night, or ten nights, or an hour. I have told the bats to watch
through the dark time. That is my message. Good hunting,
"Full gorge and a deep sleep to you, Rann," cried
"I will remember thee in my next kill, and put
aside the head for
thee alone, O best of kites!"
"It is nothing. It is nothing. The
boy held the Master Word.
I could have done no less,"
and Rann circled up again to his
"He has not forgotten to use his
tongue," said Baloo with a
chuckle of pride. "To think
of one so young remembering the
Master Word for the
birds too while he was being pulled across
"It was most firmly driven into
him," said Bagheera. "But I
am proud of him, and now we
must go to the Cold Lairs."
They all knew where that place was, but few of the
People ever went there, because what they called
the Cold Lairs
was an old deserted city, lost and buried
in the jungle, and
beasts seldom use a place that men
have once used. The wild boar
will, but the hunting
tribes do not. Besides, the monkeys lived
there as much
as they could be said to live anywhere, and no
self-respecting animal would come within eyeshot of it
times of drought, when the half-ruined tanks
and reservoirs held a
"It is half a night's journey--at
full speed," said
Bagheera, and Baloo looked very
serious. "I will go as fast as I
can," he said
"We dare not wait
for thee. Follow, Baloo. We must go on the
quick-foot--Kaa and I."
"Feet or no feet, I can keep abreast of all thy four,"
Kaa shortly. Baloo made one effort to hurry, but
had to sit down
panting, and so they left him to come on
later, while Bagheera
hurried forward, at the quick
panther-canter. Kaa said nothing,
but, strive as
Bagheera might, the huge Rock-python held level
him. When they came to a hill stream, Bagheera gained,
because he bounded across while Kaa swam, his head and two
his neck clearing the water, but on level ground
Kaa made up the
"By the Broken Lock that freed me," said Bagheera, when
twilight had fallen, "thou art no slow goer!"
"I am hungry," said Kaa. "Besides,
they called me speckled
"Worm--earth-worm, and yellow to
"All one. Let us go on,"
and Kaa seemed to pour himself along
the ground, finding
the shortest road with his steady eyes, and
In the Cold Lairs the
Monkey-People were not thinking of
Mowgli's friends at
all. They had brought the boy to the Lost
City, and were
very much pleased with themselves for the time.
had never seen an Indian city before, and though this was
almost a heap of ruins it seemed very wonderful and
Some king had built it long ago on a little
hill. You could still
trace the stone causeways that led
up to the ruined gates where
the last splinters of wood
hung to the worn, rusted hinges. Trees
had grown into
and out of the walls; the battlements were tumbled
and decayed, and wild creepers hung out of the windows of the
towers on the walls in bushy hanging clumps.
A great roofless palace crowned
the hill, and the marble of
the courtyards and the
fountains was split, and stained with red
and green, and
the very cobblestones in the courtyard where the
elephants used to live had been thrust up and apart by
grasses and young trees. From the palace you could see the
and rows of roofless houses that made up the city
empty honeycombs filled with blackness; the
shapeless block of
stone that had been an idol in the
square where four roads met;
the pits and dimples at
street corners where the public wells once
the shattered domes of temples with wild figs sprouting
on their sides. The monkeys called the place their city,
pretended to despise the Jungle-People because they
lived in the
forest. And yet they never knew what the
buildings were made for
nor how to use them. They would
sit in circles on the hall of the
chamber, and scratch for fleas and pretend to be
they would run in and out of the roofless houses and
collect pieces of plaster and old bricks in a corner, and
where they had hidden them, and fight and cry in
and then break off to play up and down
the terraces of the king's
garden, where they would
shake the rose trees and the oranges in
sport to see the
fruit and flowers fall. They explored all the
and dark tunnels in the palace and the hundreds of little
dark rooms, but they never remembered what they had seen
they had not; and so drifted about in ones and
twos or crowds
telling each other that they were doing
as men did. They drank at
the tanks and made the water
all muddy, and then they fought over
it, and then they
would all rush together in mobs and shout:
"There is no
one in the jungle so wise and good and clever and
and gentle as the Bandar-log." Then all would begin again
till they grew tired of the city and went back to the
hoping the Jungle-People would notice
Mowgli, who had been
trained under the Law of the Jungle, did
not like or
understand this kind of life. The monkeys dragged him
into the Cold Lairs late in the afternoon, and instead of
sleep, as Mowgli would have done after a long
journey, they joined
hands and danced about and sang
their foolish songs. One of the
monkeys made a speech
and told his companions that Mowgli's
capture marked a
new thing in the history of the Bandar-log, for
was going to show them how to weave sticks and canes
together as a protection against rain and cold. Mowgli
some creepers and began to work them in and
out, and the monkeys
tried to imitate; but in a very few
minutes they lost interest and
began to pull their
friends' tails or jump up and down on all
"I wish to eat," said
Mowgli. "I am a stranger in this part
of the jungle.
Bring me food, or give me leave to hunt here."
Twenty or thirty monkeys bounded away to bring him nuts
wild pawpaws. But they fell to fighting on the road,
and it was
too much trouble to go back with what was
left of the fruit.
Mowgli was sore and angry as well as
hungry, and he roamed through
the empty city giving the
Strangers' Hunting Call from time to
time, but no one
answered him, and Mowgli felt that he had reached
bad place indeed. "All that Baloo has said about the
Bandar-log is true," he thought to himself. "They have no
Hunting Call, and no leaders--nothing but
foolish words and
little picking thievish hands. So if I
am starved or killed here,
it will be all my own fault.
But I must try to return to my own
jungle. Baloo will
surely beat me, but that is better than
rose leaves with the Bandar-log."
No sooner had he walked to the city wall than the
pulled him back, telling him that he did not
know how happy he
was, and pinching him to make him
grateful. He set his teeth and
said nothing, but went
with the shouting monkeys to a terrace
above the red
sandstone reservoirs that were half-full of rain
There was a ruined summer-house of white marble in the
center of the terrace, built for queens dead a hundred
The domed roof had half fallen in and blocked
up the underground
passage from the palace by which the
queens used to enter. But
the walls were made of screens
of marble tracery--beautiful
milk-white fretwork, set
with agates and cornelians and jasper and
and as the moon came up behind the hill it shone
the open work, casting shadows on the ground like black
velvet embroidery. Sore, sleepy, and hungry as he was,
could not help laughing when the Bandar-log
began, twenty at a
time, to tell him how great and wise
and strong and gentle they
were, and how foolish he was
to wish to leave them. "We are
great. We are free. We
are wonderful. We are the most wonderful
people in all
the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true,"
shouted. "Now as you are a new listener and can carry our
words back to the Jungle-People so that they may notice us
future, we will tell you all about our most excellent
Mowgli made no objection, and the monkeys
gathered by hundreds and
hundreds on the terrace to
listen to their own speakers singing
the praises of the
Bandar-log, and whenever a speaker stopped for
breath they would all shout together: "This is true; we
all say so." Mowgli nodded and blinked, and said "Yes" when
asked him a question, and his head spun with the
the Jackal must have bitten all these
people," he said to himself,
"and now they have madness.
Certainly this is dewanee, the
madness. Do they never go
to sleep? Now there is a cloud coming
to cover that
moon. If it were only a big enough cloud I might
run away in the darkness. But I am tired."
That same cloud was being watched by two good friends in
ruined ditch below the city wall, for Bagheera and
well how dangerous the Monkey-People were
in large numbers, did
not wish to run any risks. The
monkeys never fight unless they
are a hundred to one,
and few in the jungle care for those odds.
"I will go to the west wall," Kaa whispered, "and come
swiftly with the slope of the ground in my favor.
They will not
throw themselves upon my back in their
"I know it,"
said Bagheera. "Would that Baloo were here, but
do what we can. When that cloud covers the moon I shall
go to the terrace. They hold some sort of council there
"Good hunting," said Kaa grimly, and glided away to the
wall. That happened to be the least ruined of any,
and the big
snake was delayed awhile before he could
find a way up the stones.
The cloud hid the moon, and as
Mowgli wondered what would come
next he heard Bagheera's
light feet on the terrace. The Black
Panther had raced
up the slope almost without a sound and was
knew better than to waste time in biting--right
among the monkeys, who were seated round Mowgli in
circles fifty and sixty deep. There was a howl of fright
rage, and then as Bagheera tripped on the rolling
beneath him, a monkey shouted: "There is
only one here! Kill him!
Kill." A scuffling mass of
monkeys, biting, scratching, tearing,
closed over Bagheera, while five or six laid hold of
Mowgli, dragged him up the wall of the summerhouse and
through the hole of the broken dome. A
man-trained boy would have
been badly bruised, for the
fall was a good fifteen feet, but
Mowgli fell as Baloo
had taught him to fall, and landed on his
"Stay there," shouted the monkeys,
"till we have killed thy
friends, and later we will play
with thee--if the Poison-People
leave thee alive."
"We be of one blood, ye and I,"
said Mowgli, quickly giving
the Snake's Call. He could
hear rustling and hissing in the
rubbish all round him
and gave the Call a second time, to make
"Even ssso! Down hoods all!" said
half a dozen low voices
(every ruin in India becomes
sooner or later a dwelling place of
snakes, and the old
summerhouse was alive with cobras). "Stand
Brother, for thy feet may do us harm."
Mowgli stood as quietly as he could, peering through the
work and listening to the furious din of the fight
round the Black
Panther--the yells and chatterings and
Bagheera's deep, hoarse cough as he
backed and bucked and twisted
and plunged under the
heaps of his enemies. For the first time
since he was
born, Bagheera was fighting for his life.
"Baloo must be at hand; Bagheera would not have come
Mowgli thought. And then he called aloud: "To
the tank, Bagheera.
Roll to the water tanks. Roll and
plunge! Get to the water!"
Bagheera heard, and the cry that told him Mowgli was safe
him new courage. He worked his way desperately,
inch by inch,
straight for the reservoirs, halting in
silence. Then from the
ruined wall nearest the jungle
rose up the rumbling war-shout of
Baloo. The old Bear
had done his best, but he could not come
"Bagheera," he shouted, "I am here. I climb! I haste!
Ahuwora! The stones slip under my feet! Wait my coming, O
infamous Bandar-log!" He panted up the terrace only
to the head in a wave of monkeys, but he
threw himself squarely on
his haunches, and, spreading
out his forepaws, hugged as many as
he could hold, and
then began to hit with a regular bat-bat-bat,
flipping strokes of a paddle wheel. A crash and a splash
told Mowgli that Bagheera had fought his way to the tank
monkeys could not follow. The Panther lay
gasping for breath, his
head just out of the water,
while the monkeys stood three deep on
the red steps,
dancing up and down with rage, ready to spring upon
from all sides if he came out to help Baloo. It was then that
Bagheera lifted up his dripping chin, and in despair gave
Snake's Call for protection--"We be of one blood, ye
for he believed that Kaa had turned tail at the
last minute. Even
Baloo, half smothered under the
monkeys on the edge of the
terrace, could not help
chuckling as he heard the Black Panther
Kaa had only just worked
his way over the west wall, landing
with a wrench that
dislodged a coping stone into the ditch. He
intention of losing any advantage of the ground, and coiled
and uncoiled himself once or twice, to be sure that every
his long body was in working order. All that
while the fight with
Baloo went on, and the monkeys
yelled in the tank round Bagheera,
and Mang the Bat,
flying to and fro, carried the news of the great
over the jungle, till even Hathi the Wild Elephant
trumpeted, and, far away, scattered bands of the
and came leaping along the tree-roads
to help their comrades in
the Cold Lairs, and the noise
of the fight roused all the day
birds for miles round.
Then Kaa came straight, quickly, and
anxious to kill.
The fighting strength of a python is in the
of his head backed by all the strength and weight of
body. If you can imagine a lance, or a battering ram, or a
hammer weighing nearly half a ton driven by a cool, quiet
living in the handle of it, you can roughly imagine
what Kaa was
like when he fought. A python four or five
feet long can knock a
man down if he hits him fairly in
the chest, and Kaa was thirty
feet long, as you know.
His first stroke was delivered into the
heart of the
crowd round Baloo. It was sent home with shut mouth
silence, and there was no need of a second. The monkeys
scattered with cries of--"Kaa! It is Kaa! Run! Run!"
Generations of monkeys had been
scared into good behavior by
the stories their elders
told them of Kaa, the night thief, who
could slip along
the branches as quietly as moss grows, and steal
the strongest monkey that ever lived; of old Kaa, who could
make himself look so like a dead branch or a rotten stump
wisest were deceived, till the branch caught
them. Kaa was
everything that the monkeys feared in the
jungle, for none of them
knew the limits of his power,
none of them could look him in the
face, and none had
ever come alive out of his hug. And so they
stammering with terror, to the walls and the roofs of the
houses, and Baloo drew a deep breath of relief. His fur was
thicker than Bagheera's, but he had suffered sorely
in the fight.
Then Kaa opened his mouth for the first
time and spoke one long
hissing word, and the far-away
monkeys, hurrying to the defense of
the Cold Lairs,
stayed where they were, cowering, till the loaded
branches bent and crackled under them. The monkeys on the
and the empty houses stopped their cries, and in
that fell upon the city Mowgli heard
Bagheera shaking his wet
sides as he came up from the
tank. Then the clamor broke out
again. The monkeys
leaped higher up the walls. They clung around
of the big stone idols and shrieked as they skipped
along the battlements, while Mowgli, dancing in the
put his eye to the screenwork and hooted
owl-fashion between his
front teeth, to show his
derision and contempt.
man-cub out of that trap; I can do no more," Bagheera
gasped. "Let us take the man-cub and go. They may attack
"They will not move
till I order them. Stay you sssso!" Kaa
hissed, and the
city was silent once more. "I could not come
Brother, but I think I heard thee call"--this was to
"I--I may have cried out in the battle," Bagheera
"Baloo, art thou hurt?
"I am not sure that they did not
pull me into a hundred little
bearlings," said Baloo,
gravely shaking one leg after the other.
"Wow! I am
sore. Kaa, we owe thee, I think, our lives--Bagheera
"No matter. Where is the
"Here, in a trap. I
cannot climb out," cried Mowgli. The
curve of the broken
dome was above his head.
him away. He dances like Mao the Peacock. He will
our young," said the cobras inside.
"Hah!" said Kaa with a chuckle, "he has friends
this manling. Stand back, manling. And hide
you, O Poison
People. I break down the wall."
Kaa looked carefully till he found
a discolored crack in the
marble tracery showing a weak
spot, made two or three light taps
with his head to get
the distance, and then lifting up six feet of
clear of the ground, sent home half a dozen full-power
smashing blows, nose-first. The screen-work broke and fell
in a cloud of dust and rubbish, and Mowgli leaped
opening and flung himself between Baloo and
around each big neck.
"Art thou hurt?" said Baloo,
hugging him softly.
"I am sore,
hungry, and not a little bruised. But, oh, they
handled ye grievously, my Brothers! Ye bleed."
"Others also," said Bagheera, licking his lips and looking
the monkey-dead on the terrace and round the tank.
"It is nothing, it is nothing, if
thou art safe, oh, my pride
of all little frogs!"
"Of that we
shall judge later," said Bagheera, in a dry voice
Mowgli did not at all like. "But here is Kaa to whom we owe
the battle and thou owest thy life. Thank him according to
Mowgli turned and saw the great Python's head swaying a
above his own.
"So this is the manling," said Kaa. "Very soft is his
and he is not unlike the Bandar-log. Have a care,
manling, that I
do not mistake thee for a monkey some
twilight when I have newly
changed my coat."
"We be one blood, thou and I,"
Mowgli answered. "I take my
life from thee tonight. My
kill shall be thy kill if ever thou
art hungry, O
"All thanks, Little
Brother," said Kaa, though his eyes
twinkled. "And what
may so bold a hunter kill? I ask that I may
next he goes abroad."
nothing,--I am too little,--but I drive goats
such as can use them. When thou art empty come to me and
see if I speak the truth. I have some skill in these [he
his hands], and if ever thou art in a trap, I
may pay the debt
which I owe to thee, to Bagheera, and
to Baloo, here. Good
hunting to ye all, my masters."
"Well said," growled Baloo, for
Mowgli had returned thanks
very prettily. The Python
dropped his head lightly for a minute
shoulder. "A brave heart and a courteous tongue,"
he. "They shall carry thee far through the jungle, manling.
But now go hence quickly with thy friends. Go and sleep,
moon sets, and what follows it is not well that
The moon was sinking behind the hills and the lines of
trembling monkeys huddled together on the walls and
looked like ragged shaky fringes of things.
Baloo went down to
the tank for a drink and Bagheera
began to put his fur in order,
as Kaa glided out into
the center of the terrace and brought his
with a ringing snap that drew all the monkeys' eyes
"The moon sets," he said.
"Is there yet light enough to see?"
From the walls came a moan like the wind in the
"We see, O Kaa."
"Good. Begins now the dance--the Dance of the Hunger of
Kaa. Sit still and watch."
He turned twice or thrice in a big circle, weaving his
from right to left. Then he began making loops and
eight with his body, and soft, oozy triangles
that melted into
squares and five-sided figures, and
coiled mounds, never resting,
never hurrying, and never
stopping his low humming song. It grew
darker, till at last the dragging, shifting coils
disappeared, but they could hear the rustle of the
Baloo and Bagheera
stood still as stone, growling in their
neck hair bristling, and Mowgli watched and
"Bandar-log," said the voice of
Kaa at last, "can ye stir foot
or hand without my order?
"Without thy order we
cannot stir foot or hand, O Kaa!"
"Good! Come all one pace nearer to me."
The lines of the monkeys swayed
forward helplessly, and Baloo
and Bagheera took one
stiff step forward with them.
"Nearer!" hissed Kaa, and they all moved again.
Mowgli laid his hands on Baloo and
Bagheera to get them away,
and the two great beasts
started as though they had been waked
from a dream.
"Keep thy hand on my shoulder,"
Bagheera whispered. "Keep it
there, or I must go
back--must go back to Kaa. Aah!"
"It is only old Kaa making circles on the dust," said
"Let us go." And the three slipped off through a
gap in the walls
to the jungle.
"Whoof!" said Baloo, when he stood
under the still trees
again. "Never more will I make an
ally of Kaa," and he shook
himself all over.
"He knows more than we," said
Bagheera, trembling. "In a
little time, had I stayed, I
should have walked down his throat."
"Many will walk by that road before the moon rises
said Baloo. "He will have good hunting--after
his own fashion."
"But what was
the meaning of it all?" said Mowgli, who did not
anything of a python's powers of fascination. "I saw no more
than a big snake making foolish circles till the dark came.
his nose was all sore. Ho! Ho!"
"Mowgli," said Bagheera angrily,
"his nose was sore on thy
account, as my ears and sides
and paws, and Baloo's neck and
shoulders are bitten on
thy account. Neither Baloo nor Bagheera
will be able to
hunt with pleasure for many days."
"It is nothing," said Baloo; "we have the man-cub
"True, but he has cost
us heavily in time which might have
been spent in good
hunting, in wounds, in hair--I am half
plucked along my
back--and last of all, in honor. For,
I, who am the Black Panther, was forced to call
for protection, and Baloo and I were both made stupid as
little birds by the Hunger Dance. All this, man-cub, came
playing with the Bandar-log."
"True, it is true," said Mowgli
sorrowfully. "I am an evil
man-cub, and my stomach is
sad in me."
"Mf! What says the
Law of the Jungle, Baloo?"
Baloo did not wish to bring Mowgli into any more trouble,
he could not tamper with the Law, so he mumbled:
stays punishment. But remember, Bagheera,
he is very little."
remember. But he has done mischief, and blows must be
dealt now. Mowgli, hast thou anything to say?"
"Nothing. I did wrong. Baloo and
thou are wounded. It is
Bagheera gave him half a dozen
love-taps from a panther's
point of view (they would
hardly have waked one of his own cubs),
but for a
seven-year-old boy they amounted to as severe a beating
as you could wish to avoid. When it was all over Mowgli
and picked himself up without a word.
"Now," said Bagheera, "jump on my
back, Little Brother, and we
will go home."
One of the beauties of Jungle Law
is that punishment settles
all scores. There is no
his head down on Bagheera's back and slept so
that he never waked when he was put down in the home-cave.
Here we go in
a flung festoon,
Half-way up to the jealous moon!
Don't you envy our pranceful bands?
Don't you wish you had extra hands?
Wouldn't you like if your tails were--so--
Curved in the shape of a Cupid's bow?
Now you're angry, but--never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
Here we sit in a branchy row,
Thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do,
All complete, in a minute or two--
Something noble and wise and good,
Done by merely wishing we could.
We've forgotten, but--never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
All the talk we ever have heard
Uttered by bat or beast or bird--
Hide or fin or scale or feather--
Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent! Wonderful! Once again!
Now we are talking just like
Let's pretend we are ... never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
This is the way of the Monkey-kind.
Then join our leaping lines that
scumfish through the pines,
That rocket by where, light
and high, the wild grape swings.
By the rubbish in our
wake, and the noble noise we make,
Be sure, be sure,
we're going to do some splendid things!
What of the hunting, hunter
Brother, the watch was long and cold.
What of the quarry ye went to kill?
Brother, he crops in the jungle still.
Where is the power that made your pride?
Brother, it ebbs from my flank and side.
Where is the haste that ye hurry by?
Brother, I go to my lair--to die.
Now we must go back to the first
tale. When Mowgli left the
wolf's cave after the fight
with the Pack at the Council Rock, he
went down to the
plowed lands where the villagers lived, but he
stop there because it was too near to the jungle, and he
knew that he had made at least one bad enemy at the
he hurried on, keeping to the rough road
that ran down the valley,
and followed it at a steady
jog-trot for nearly twenty miles, till
he came to a
country that he did not know. The valley opened out
a great plain dotted over with rocks and cut up by ravines.
At one end stood a little village, and at the other the
jungle came down in a sweep to the
grazing-grounds, and stopped
there as though it had been
cut off with a hoe. All over the
plain, cattle and
buffaloes were grazing, and when the little boys
charge of the herds saw Mowgli they shouted and ran away, and
the yellow pariah dogs that hang about every Indian
barked. Mowgli walked on, for he was feeling
hungry, and when he
came to the village gate he saw the
big thorn-bush that was drawn
up before the gate at
twilight, pushed to one side.
"Umph!" he said, for he had come across more than one
barricade in his night rambles after things to eat.
"So men are
afraid of the People of the Jungle here
also." He sat down by the
gate, and when a man came out
he stood up, opened his mouth, and
pointed down it to
show that he wanted food. The man stared, and
up the one street of the village shouting for the priest,
who was a big, fat man dressed in white, with a red and
mark on his forehead. The priest came to the
gate, and with him
at least a hundred people, who stared
and talked and shouted and
pointed at Mowgli.
"They have no manners, these Men
Folk," said Mowgli to
himself. "Only the gray ape would
behave as they do." So he
threw back his long hair and
frowned at the crowd.
there to be afraid of?" said the priest. "Look at
marks on his arms and legs. They are the bites of wolves. He
is but a wolf-child run away from the jungle."
Of course, in playing together,
the cubs had often nipped
Mowgli harder than they
intended, and there were white scars all
over his arms
and legs. But he would have been the last person in
world to call these bites, for he knew what real biting meant.
"Arre! Arre!" said two or three
women together. "To be bitten
by wolves, poor child! He
is a handsome boy. He has eyes like
red fire. By my
honor, Messua, he is not unlike thy boy that was
by the tiger."
"Let me look,"
said a woman with heavy copper rings on her
ankles, and she peered at Mowgli under the palm of her
hand. "Indeed he is not. He is thinner, but he has the very
of my boy."
The priest was a clever man, and he knew that Messua was
to the richest villager in the place. So he looked
up at the sky
for a minute and said solemnly: "What the
jungle has taken the
jungle has restored. Take the boy
into thy house, my sister, and
forget not to honor the
priest who sees so far into the lives of
"By the Bull that bought me," said
Mowgli to himself, "but all
this talking is like another
looking-over by the Pack! Well, if I
am a man, a man I
The crowd parted
as the woman beckoned Mowgli to her hut,
where there was
a red lacquered bedstead, a great earthen grain
with funny raised patterns on it, half a dozen copper
cooking pots, an image of a Hindu god in a little alcove,
the wall a real looking glass, such as they sell
at the country
She gave him a long drink of milk and some bread, and then
laid her hand on his head and looked into his eyes;
thought perhaps that he might be her real son
come back from the
jungle where the tiger had taken him.
So she said, "Nathoo, O
Nathoo!" Mowgli did not show
that he knew the name. "Dost thou
not remember the day
when I gave thee thy new shoes?" She touched
and it was almost as hard as horn. "No," she said
sorrowfully, "those feet have never worn shoes, but thou
like my Nathoo, and thou shalt be my son."
Mowgli was uneasy, because he had
never been under a roof
before. But as he looked at the
thatch, he saw that he could tear
it out any time if he
wanted to get away, and that the window had
fastenings. "What is the good of a man," he said to himself at
last, "if he does not understand man's talk? Now I am as
and dumb as a man would be with us in the jungle.
I must speak
It was not for fun that he had learned while he was with
wolves to imitate the challenge of bucks in the
jungle and the
grunt of the little wild pig. So, as soon
as Messua pronounced a
word Mowgli would imitate it
almost perfectly, and before dark he
had learned the
names of many things in the hut.
There was a difficulty at bedtime, because Mowgli would
sleep under anything that looked so like a panther
trap as that
hut, and when they shut the door he went
through the window.
"Give him his will," said Messua's
husband. "Remember he can
never till now have slept on a
bed. If he is indeed sent in the
place of our son he
will not run away."
stretched himself in some long, clean grass at the
of the field, but before he had closed his eyes a soft gray
nose poked him under the chin.
"Phew!" said Gray Brother (he was the eldest of Mother
cubs). "This is a poor reward for following thee
Thou smellest of wood smoke and
cattle--altogether like a man
already. Wake, Little
Brother; I bring news."
all well in the jungle?" said Mowgli, hugging him.
"All except the wolves that were burned with the Red
Now, listen. Shere Khan has gone away to hunt
far off till his
coat grows again, for he is badly
singed. When he returns he
swears that he will lay thy
bones in the Waingunga."
are two words to that. I also have made a little
promise. But news is always good. I am tired
tired with new things, Gray
Brother,--but bring me the news
"Thou wilt not forget that thou
art a wolf? Men will not make
thee forget?" said Gray
will always remember that I love thee and all in
cave. But also I will always remember that I have been cast
out of the Pack."
"And that thou mayest be cast out of another pack. Men
only men, Little Brother, and their talk is like the
talk of frogs
in a pond. When I come down here again, I
will wait for thee in
the bamboos at the edge of the
months after that night Mowgli hardly ever left the
village gate, he was so busy learning the ways and customs
First he had to wear a cloth round him, which
horribly; and then he had to learn about
money, which he did not
in the least understand, and
about plowing, of which he did not
see the use. Then the
little children in the village made him
Luckily, the Law of the Jungle had taught him to keep
his temper, for in the jungle life and food depend on
temper; but when they made fun of him
because he would not play
games or fly kites, or because
he mispronounced some word, only
the knowledge that it
was unsportsmanlike to kill little naked
cubs kept him
from picking them up and breaking them in two.
He did not know his own strength in the least. In the
he knew he was weak compared with the beasts, but
in the village
people said that he was as strong as a
And Mowgli had not the
faintest idea of the difference that
caste makes between
man and man. When the potter's donkey slipped
clay pit, Mowgli hauled it out by the tail, and helped to
stack the pots for their journey to the market at
That was very shocking, too, for the potter
is a low-caste man,
and his donkey is worse. When the
priest scolded him, Mowgli
threatened to put him on the
donkey too, and the priest told
Messua's husband that
Mowgli had better be set to work as soon as
and the village head-man told Mowgli that he would have
to go out with the buffaloes next day, and herd them while
grazed. No one was more pleased than Mowgli; and
because he had been appointed a servant of
the village, as it
were, he went off to a circle that
met every evening on a masonry
platform under a great
fig-tree. It was the village club, and the
the watchman and the barber, who knew all the gossip
the village, and old Buldeo, the village hunter, who had a
Tower musket, met and smoked. The monkeys sat and talked in
upper branches, and there was a hole under the
platform where a
cobra lived, and he had his little
platter of milk every night
because he was sacred; and
the old men sat around the tree and
talked, and pulled
at the big huqas (the water-pipes) till far
night. They told wonderful tales of gods and men and
ghosts; and Buldeo told even more wonderful ones of the
beasts in the jungle, till the eyes of the
outside the circle bulged out of their
heads. Most of the tales
were about animals, for the
jungle was always at their door. The
deer and the wild
pig grubbed up their crops, and now and again
carried off a man at twilight, within sight of the
Mowgli, who naturally knew something about what they
talking of, had to cover his face not to show that
laughing, while Buldeo, the Tower musket across
his knees, climbed
on from one wonderful story to
another, and Mowgli's shoulders
Buldeo was explaining how the
tiger that had carried away
Messua's son was a
ghost-tiger, and his body was inhabited by the
a wicked, old money-lender, who had died some years ago.
"And I know that this is true," he said, "because Purun
always limped from the blow that he got in a riot
when his account
books were burned, and the tiger that I
speak of he limps, too,
for the tracks of his pads are
"True, true, that
must be the truth," said the gray-beards,
"Are all these tales
such cobwebs and moon talk?" said Mowgli.
limps because he was born lame, as everyone knows. To
talk of the soul of a money-lender in a beast that never
courage of a jackal is child's talk."
Buldeo was speechless with
surprise for a moment, and the
"Oho! It is the jungle brat, is
it?" said Buldeo. "If thou
art so wise, better bring his
hide to Khanhiwara, for the
Government has set a hundred
rupees on his life. Better still,
talk not when thy
Mowgli rose to
go. "All the evening I have lain here
called back over his shoulder, "and, except once or
twice, Buldeo has not said one word of truth concerning
jungle, which is at his very doors. How, then, shall
the tales of ghosts and gods and goblins which
he says he has
"It is full time that boy went to herding," said the
while Buldeo puffed and snorted at Mowgli's
The custom of
most Indian villages is for a few boys to take
cattle and buffaloes out to graze in the early morning, and
bring them back at night. The very cattle that would
white man to death allow themselves to be
banged and bullied and
shouted at by children that
hardly come up to their noses. So
long as the boys keep
with the herds they are safe, for not even
will charge a mob of cattle. But if they straggle to
pick flowers or hunt lizards, they are sometimes carried
Mowgli went through the village street in the dawn,
sitting on the
back of Rama, the great herd bull. The
slaty-blue buffaloes, with
their long, backward-sweeping
horns and savage eyes, rose out
their byres, one by one,
and followed him, and Mowgli made it very
clear to the
children with him that he was the master. He beat
buffaloes with a long, polished bamboo, and told Kamya, one of
the boys, to graze the cattle by themselves, while he went
the buffaloes, and to be very careful not to
stray away from the
An Indian grazing ground is all rocks and scrub and
and little ravines, among which the herds
scatter and disappear.
The buffaloes generally keep to
the pools and muddy places, where
they lie wallowing or
basking in the warm mud for hours. Mowgli
drove them on
to the edge of the plain where the Waingunga came
the jungle; then he dropped from Rama's neck, trotted off
to a bamboo clump, and found Gray Brother. "Ah," said
Brother, "I have waited here very many days. What
is the meaning
of this cattle-herding work?"
"It is an order," said Mowgli. "I
am a village herd for a
while. What news of Shere
"He has come back to
this country, and has waited here a long
time for thee.
Now he has gone off again, for the game is scarce.
he means to kill thee."
good," said Mowgli. "So long as he is away do thou or
one of the four brothers sit on that rock, so that I can
as I come out of the village. When he comes
back wait for me in
the ravine by the dhak tree in the
center of the plain. We need
not walk into Shere Khan's
Then Mowgli picked out
a shady place, and lay down and slept
buffaloes grazed round him. Herding in India is one of
the laziest things in the world. The cattle move and
lie down, and move on again, and they do not
even low. They only
grunt, and the buffaloes very seldom
say anything, but get down
into the muddy pools one
after another, and work their way into
the mud till only
their noses and staring china-blue eyes show
surface, and then they lie like logs. The sun makes the
rocks dance in the heat, and the herd children hear one
(never any more) whistling almost out of sight
overhead, and they
know that if they died, or a cow
died, that kite would sweep down,
and the next kite
miles away would see him drop and follow, and
and the next, and almost before they were dead there
would be a score of hungry kites come out of nowhere. Then
sleep and wake and sleep again, and weave little
baskets of dried
grass and put grasshoppers in them; or
catch two praying mantises
and make them fight; or
string a necklace of red and black jungle
nuts; or watch
a lizard basking on a rock, or a snake hunting a
near the wallows. Then they sing long, long songs with odd
native quavers at the end of them, and the day seems longer
most people's whole lives, and perhaps they make a
mud castle with
mud figures of men and horses and
buffaloes, and put reeds into
the men's hands, and
pretend that they are kings and the figures
armies, or that they are gods to be worshiped. Then
evening comes and the children call, and the buffaloes
out of the sticky mud with noises like
gunshots going off one
after the other, and they all
string across the gray plain back to
Day after day
Mowgli would lead the buffaloes out to their
and day after day he would see Gray Brother's back a mile
and a half away across the plain (so he knew that Shere
not come back), and day after day he would lie
on the grass
listening to the noises round him, and
dreaming of old days in the
jungle. If Shere Khan had
made a false step with his lame paw up
in the jungles by
the Waingunga, Mowgli would have heard him in
long, still mornings.
At last a
day came when he did not see Gray Brother at the
place, and he laughed and headed the buffaloes for the
ravine by the dhk tree, which was all covered with
flowers. There sat Gray Brother, every
bristle on his back
"He has hidden for a month to throw thee off thy guard.
crossed the ranges last night with Tabaqui, hot-foot
trail," said the Wolf, panting.
Mowgli frowned. "I am not afraid
of Shere Khan, but Tabaqui
is very cunning."
"Have no fear," said Gray Brother,
licking his lips a little.
"I met Tabaqui in the dawn.
Now he is telling all his wisdom to
the kites, but he
told me everything before I broke his back.
plan is to wait for thee at the village gate this
evening--for thee and for no one else. He is lying up now,
the big dry ravine of the Waingunga."
"Has he eaten today, or does he
hunt empty?" said Mowgli, for
the answer meant life and
death to him.
"He killed at
dawn,--a pig,--and he has drunk too.
Khan could never fast, even for the sake of
"Oh! Fool, fool! What a cub's cub
it is! Eaten and drunk
too, and he thinks that I shall
wait till he has slept! Now,
where does he lie up? If
there were but ten of us we might pull
him down as he
lies. These buffaloes will not charge unless they
him, and I cannot speak their language. Can we get behind
his track so that they may smell it?"
"He swam far down the Waingunga to
cut that off," said Gray
"Tabaqui told him that, I know. He
would never have thought
of it alone." Mowgli stood with
his finger in his mouth,
thinking. "The big ravine of
the Waingunga. That opens out on
the plain not half a
mile from here. I can take the herd round
jungle to the head of the ravine and then sweep down
--but he would slink out at the foot. We must block that
Gray Brother, canst thou cut the herd in two for
"Not I, perhaps--but I
have brought a wise helper." Gray
Brother trotted off
and dropped into a hole. Then there lifted up
gray head that Mowgli knew well, and the hot air was filled
with the most desolate cry of all the jungle--the hunting
of a wolf at midday.
"Akela! Akela!" said Mowgli, clapping his hands. "I
have known that thou wouldst not forget me. We
have a big work in
hand. Cut the herd in two, Akela.
Keep the cows and calves
together, and the bulls and the
plow buffaloes by themselves."
The two wolves ran, ladies'-chain fashion, in and out of
herd, which snorted and threw up its head, and
separated into two
clumps. In one, the cow-buffaloes
stood with their calves in the
center, and glared and
pawed, ready, if a wolf would only stay
still, to charge
down and trample the life out of him. In the
bulls and the young bulls snorted and stamped, but
though they looked more imposing they were much less
for they had no calves to protect. No six men
could have divided
the herd so neatly.
"What orders!" panted Akela. "They
are trying to join again."
Mowgli slipped on to Rama's back. "Drive the bulls away
the left, Akela. Gray Brother, when we are gone, hold
together, and drive them into the foot of the
"How far?" said Gray
Brother, panting and snapping.
"Till the sides are higher than Shere Khan can jump,"
Mowgli. "Keep them there till we come down." The
bulls swept off
as Akela bayed, and Gray Brother stopped
in front of the cows.
They charged down on him, and he
ran just before them to the foot
of the ravine, as Akela
drove the bulls far to the left.
"Well done! Another charge and they are fairly started.
Careful, now--careful, Akela. A snap too much and the
will charge. Hujah! This is wilder work than
Didst thou think these creatures
could move so swiftly?" Mowgli
"I have--have hunted these too in
my time," gasped Akela in
the dust. "Shall I turn them
into the jungle?"
Swiftly turn them! Rama is mad with rage. Oh,
if I could
only tell him what I need of him to-day."
The bulls were turned, to the right this time, and
into the standing thicket. The other herd
children, watching with
the cattle half a mile away,
hurried to the village as fast as
their legs could carry
them, crying that the buffaloes had gone
mad and run
But Mowgli's plan was
simple enough. All he wanted to do was
to make a big
circle uphill and get at the head of the ravine, and
then take the bulls down it and catch Shere Khan between
and the cows; for he knew that after a meal
and a full drink Shere
Khan would not be in any
condition to fight or to clamber up the
sides of the
ravine. He was soothing the buffaloes now by voice,
Akela had dropped far to the rear, only whimpering once or
twice to hurry the rear-guard. It was a long, long circle,
they did not wish to get too near the ravine and
give Shere Khan
warning. At last Mowgli rounded up the
bewildered herd at the
head of the ravine on a grassy
patch that sloped steeply down to
the ravine itself.
From that height you could see across the tops
trees down to the plain below; but what Mowgli looked at
was the sides of the ravine, and he saw with a great deal
satisfaction that they ran nearly straight up and
down, while the
vines and creepers that hung over them
would give no foothold to a
tiger who wanted to get
"Let them breathe, Akela,"
he said, holding up his hand.
"They have not winded him
yet. Let them breathe. I must tell
Shere Khan who comes.
We have him in the trap."
put his hands to his mouth and shouted down the ravine--
it was almost like shouting down a tunnel--and the echoes
from rock to rock.
After a long time there came back the drawling, sleepy
of a full-fed tiger just wakened.
"Who calls?" said Shere Khan, and
a splendid peacock fluttered
up out of the ravine
"I, Mowgli. Cattle
thief, it is time to come to the Council
Down--hurry them down, Akela! Down, Rama, down!"
The herd paused for an instant at the edge of the slope,
Akela gave tongue in the full hunting-yell, and they
one after the other, just as steamers shoot
rapids, the sand and
stones spurting up round them. Once
started, there was no chance
of stopping, and before
they were fairly in the bed of the ravine
Shere Khan and bellowed.
Ha!" said Mowgli, on his back. "Now thou knowest!" and
the torrent of black horns, foaming muzzles, and staring
whirled down the ravine just as boulders go down in
weaker buffaloes being shouldered out to
the sides of the ravine
where they tore through the
creepers. They knew what the business
them--the terrible charge of the buffalo herd against
which no tiger can hope to stand. Shere Khan heard the
their hoofs, picked himself up, and lumbered
down the ravine,
looking from side to side for some way
of escape, but the walls of
the ravine were straight and
he had to hold on, heavy with his
dinner and his drink,
willing to do anything rather than fight.
splashed through the pool he had just left, bellowing
till the narrow cut rang. Mowgli heard an answering bellow
the foot of the ravine, saw Shere Khan turn (the
tiger knew if the
worst came to the worst it was better
to meet the bulls than the
cows with their calves), and
then Rama tripped, stumbled, and went
on again over
something soft, and, with the bulls at his heels,
crashed full into the other herd, while the weaker
lifted clean off their feet by the shock
of the meeting. That
charge carried both herds out into
the plain, goring and stamping
and snorting. Mowgli
watched his time, and slipped off Rama's
about him right and left with his stick.
"Quick, Akela! Break them up. Scatter them, or they will
fighting one another. Drive them away, Akela. Hai,
hai, hai! my children. Softly now, softly! It
is all over."
Akela and Gray
Brother ran to and fro nipping the buffaloes'
though the herd wheeled once to charge up the ravine
again, Mowgli managed to turn Rama, and the others followed
Shere Khan needed no more trampling. He was dead, and
kites were coming for him already.
"Brothers, that was a dog's
death," said Mowgli, feeling for
the knife he always
carried in a sheath round his neck now that he
with men. "But he would never have shown fight. His hide
will look well on the Council Rock. We must get to work
A boy trained among
men would never have dreamed of skinning a
tiger alone, but Mowgli knew better than anyone else how
an animal's skin is fitted on, and how it can be taken off.
it was hard work, and Mowgli slashed and tore and
grunted for an
hour, while the wolves lolled out their
tongues, or came forward
and tugged as he ordered them.
Presently a hand fell on his
shoulder, and looking up he
saw Buldeo with the Tower musket. The
children had told
the village about the buffalo stampede, and
out angrily, only too anxious to correct Mowgli for
taking better care of the herd. The wolves dropped out of
sight as soon as they saw the man coming.
"What is this folly?" said Buldeo
angrily. "To think that
thou canst skin a tiger! Where
did the buffaloes kill him? It is
the Lame Tiger too,
and there is a hundred rupees on his head.
we will overlook thy letting the herd run off, and
perhaps I will give thee one of the rupees of the reward
have taken the skin to Khanhiwara." He fumbled in
his waist cloth
for flint and steel, and stooped down to
singe Shere Khan's
whiskers. Most native hunters always
singe a tiger's whiskers to
prevent his ghost from
Mowgli, half to himself as he ripped back the skin
forepaw. "So thou wilt take the hide to Khanhiwara for the
reward, and perhaps give me one rupee? Now it is in my mind
I need the skin for my own use. Heh! Old man, take
"What talk is this to the chief hunter of the village?
luck and the stupidity of thy buffaloes have helped
thee to this
kill. The tiger has just fed, or he would
have gone twenty miles
by this time. Thou canst not even
skin him properly, little
beggar brat, and forsooth I,
Buldeo, must be told not to singe his
I will not give thee one anna of the reward,
but only a
very big beating. Leave the carcass!"
"By the Bull that bought me," said Mowgli, who was trying
get at the shoulder, "must I stay babbling to an old
ape all noon?
Here, Akela, this man plagues me."
Buldeo, who was still stooping
over Shere Khan's head, found
himself sprawling on the
grass, with a gray wolf standing over
him, while Mowgli
went on skinning as though he were alone in all
"Ye-es," he said, between his teeth. "Thou art
right, Buldeo. Thou wilt never give me one
anna of the reward.
There is an old war between this
lame tiger and myself--a very
old war, and--I have
To do Buldeo justice, if
he had been ten years younger he
would have taken his
chance with Akela had he met the wolf in the
a wolf who obeyed the orders of this boy who had
wars with man-eating tigers was not a common animal. It
was sorcery, magic of the worst kind, thought Buldeo, and
wondered whether the amulet round his neck would
protect him. He
lay as still as still, expecting every
minute to see Mowgli turn
into a tiger too.
"Maharaj! Great King," he said at
last in a husky whisper.
said Mowgli, without turning his head, chuckling a
am an old man. I did not know that thou wast anything more
than a herdsboy. May I rise up and go away, or will thy
tear me to pieces?"
"Go, and peace go with thee. Only, another time do not
with my game. Let him go, Akela."
Buldeo hobbled away to the village
as fast as he could,
looking back over his shoulder in
case Mowgli should change into
something terrible. When
he got to the village he told a tale of
enchantment and sorcery that made the priest look very
Mowgli went on with his work, but it was nearly twilight
before he and the wolves had drawn the great gay skin clear
"Now we must hide this and take the buffaloes home! Help
to herd them, Akela."
The herd rounded up in the misty twilight, and when they
near the village Mowgli saw lights, and heard the
bells in the temple blowing and banging.
Half the village seemed
to be waiting for him by the
gate. "That is because I have killed
Shere Khan," he
said to himself. But a shower of stones whistled
his ears, and the villagers shouted: "Sorcerer! Wolf's
brat! Jungle demon! Go away! Get hence quickly or the
will turn thee into a wolf again. Shoot, Buldeo,
The old Tower musket
went off with a bang, and a young buffalo
"More sorcery!" shouted
the villagers. "He can turn bullets.
Buldeo, that was
"Now what is
this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones
"They are not unlike
the Pack, these brothers of thine," said
down composedly. "It is in my head that, if
anything, they would cast thee out."
"Wolf! Wolf's cub! Go away!" shouted the priest, waving
sprig of the sacred tulsi plant.
"Again? Last time it was because I
was a man. This time it
is because I am a wolf. Let us
A woman--it was
Messua--ran across to the herd, and cried:
"Oh, my son,
my son! They say thou art a sorcerer who can turn
himself into a beast at will. I do not believe, but go away
they will kill thee. Buldeo says thou art a wizard,
but I know
thou hast avenged Nathoo's death."
"Come back, Messua!" shouted the
crowd. "Come back, or we
will stone thee."
Mowgli laughed a little short ugly
laugh, for a stone had hit
him in the mouth. "Run back,
Messua. This is one of the foolish
tales they tell under
the big tree at dusk. I have at least paid
for thy son's
life. Farewell; and run quickly, for I shall send
herd in more swiftly than their brickbats. I am no wizard,
"Now, once more, Akela," he cried. "Bring the herd in."
The buffaloes were anxious enough
to get to the village. They
hardly needed Akela's yell,
but charged through the gate like a
scattering the crowd right and left.
"Keep count!" shouted Mowgli scornfully. "It may be that
have stolen one of them. Keep count, for I will do
no more. Fare you well, children of men,
and thank Messua that I
do not come in with my wolves
and hunt you up and down your
He turned on his heel and walked
away with the Lone Wolf, and
as he looked up at the
stars he felt happy. "No more sleeping in
traps for me,
Akela. Let us get Shere Khan's skin and go away.
will not hurt the village, for Messua was kind to me."
When the moon rose over the plain,
making it look all milky,
the horrified villagers saw
Mowgli, with two wolves at his heels
and a bundle on his
head, trotting across at the steady wolf's
eats up the long miles like fire. Then they banged the
temple bells and blew the conches louder than ever. And
cried, and Buldeo embroidered the story of his
adventures in the
jungle, till he ended by saying that
Akela stood up on his hind
legs and talked like a
The moon was just going
down when Mowgli and the two wolves
came to the hill of
the Council Rock, and they stopped at Mother
"They have cast me out
from the Man-Pack, Mother," shouted
Mowgli, "but I come
with the hide of Shere Khan to keep my word."
Mother Wolf walked stiffly from the cave with the cubs
her, and her eyes glowed as she saw the skin.
"I told him on that day, when he
crammed his head and
shoulders into this cave, hunting
for thy life, Little Frog--I
told him that the hunter
would be the hunted. It is well done."
"Little Brother, it is well done," said a deep voice in
thicket. "We were lonely in the jungle without thee,
came running to Mowgli's bare feet. They
clambered up the Council
Rock together, and Mowgli
spread the skin out on the flat stone
where Akela used
to sit, and pegged it down with four slivers of
and Akela lay down upon it, and called the old call to the
Council, "Look--look well, O Wolves," exactly as he had
when Mowgli was first brought there.
Ever since Akela had been deposed,
the Pack had been without a
leader, hunting and fighting
at their own pleasure. But they
answered the call from
habit; and some of them were lame from the
had fallen into, and some limped from shot wounds, and
some were mangy from eating bad food, and many were
they came to the Council Rock, all that
were left of them, and saw
Shere Khan's striped hide on
the rock, and the huge claws dangling
at the end of the
empty dangling feet. It was then that Mowgli
made up a
song that came up into his throat all by itself, and he
shouted it aloud, leaping up and down on the rattling skin,
beating time with his heels till he had no more
breath left, while
Gray Brother and Akela howled between
"Look well, O
Wolves. Have I kept my word?" said Mowgli. And
wolves bayed "Yes," and one tattered wolf howled:
"Lead us again, O Akela. Lead us again, O Man-cub, for we
sick of this lawlessness, and we would be the Free
"Nay," purred Bagheera, "that may not be. When ye are
full-fed, the madness may come upon you again. Not for
are ye called the Free People. Ye fought for
freedom, and it is
yours. Eat it, O Wolves."
"Man-Pack and Wolf-Pack have cast
me out," said Mowgli. "Now
I will hunt alone in the
"And we will hunt with
thee," said the four cubs.
Mowgli went away and hunted with the four cubs in the
jungle from that day on. But he was not always alone,
years afterward, he became a man and
But that is a story
THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE
DANCED ON SHERE KHAN'S HIDE
The Song of Mowgli--I, Mowgli, am singing. Let the
listen to the things I have done.
Shere Khan said he would
kill--would kill! At the gates in the
twilight he would
kill Mowgli, the Frog!
and he drank. Drink deep, Shere Khan, for when wilt thou
drink again? Sleep and dream of the kill.
I am alone on the grazing-grounds.
Gray Brother, come to me!
Come to me, Lone Wolf, for
there is big game afoot!
up the great bull buffaloes, the blue-skinned herd bulls
with the angry eyes. Drive them to and fro as I order.
Sleepest thou still, Shere Khan?
Wake, oh, wake! Here come I,
and the bulls are
Rama, the King of the
Buffaloes, stamped with his foot. Waters of
Waingunga, whither went Shere Khan?
He is not Ikki to dig holes, nor Mao, the Peacock, that he
fly. He is not Mang the Bat, to hang in the
bamboos that creak together, tell me
where he ran?
Ow! He is there.
Ahoo! He is there. Under the feet of Rama
lies the Lame
One! Up, Shere Khan!
kill! Here is meat; break the necks of the bulls!
Hsh! He is asleep. We will not wake him, for his strength
very great. The kites have come down to see it. The
ants have come up to know it. There is a great
assembly in his
Alala! I have no cloth to wrap me. The kites will see that
naked. I am ashamed to meet all these people.
Lend me thy coat, Shere Khan. Lend
me thy gay striped coat that I
may go to the Council
By the Bull that bought
me I made a promise--a little promise.
Only thy coat is
lacking before I keep my word.
With the knife, with the knife that men use, with the knife
hunter, I will stoop down for my gift.
Waters of the Waingunga, Shere
Khan gives me his coat for the love
that he bears me.
Pull, Gray Brother! Pull, Akela! Heavy is
the hide of
The Man Pack are
angry. They throw stones and talk child's talk.
is bleeding. Let me run away.
Through the night, through the hot night, run swiftly with
brothers. We will leave the lights of the village
and go to
the low moon.
Waters of the Waingunga, the Man-Pack have cast me out. I
them no harm, but they were afraid of me. Why?
Wolf Pack, ye have cast me out
too. The jungle is shut to me and
the village gates are
As Mang flies
between the beasts and birds, so fly I between the
village and the jungle. Why?
I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is very
mouth is cut and wounded with the stones from
the village, but
my heart is very light, because I have
come back to the jungle.
These two things fight together in
me as the snakes fight in the
spring. The water comes
out of my eyes; yet I laugh while it
I am two Mowglis, but the hide of
Shere Khan is under my feet.
All the jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan.
well, O Wolves!
Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do not
The White Seal
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!
All these things happened several years ago at a place
Novastoshnah, or North East Point, on the Island
of St. Paul, away
and away in the Bering Sea.
Limmershin, the Winter Wren, told me
the tale when he
was blown on to the rigging of a steamer going to
and I took him down into my cabin and warmed and fed him
for a couple of days till he was fit to fly back to St.
again. Limmershin is a very quaint little bird,
but he knows how
to tell the truth.
Nobody comes to Novastoshnah
except on business, and the only
people who have regular
business there are the seals. They come
in the summer
months by hundreds and hundreds of thousands out of
cold gray sea. For Novastoshnah Beach has the finest
accommodation for seals of any place in all the world.
Sea Catch knew that, and every
spring would swim from whatever
place he happened to be
in--would swim like a torpedo-boat
Novastoshnah and spend a month fighting with his
companions for a good place on the rocks, as close to the
possible. Sea Catch was fifteen years old, a huge
gray fur seal
with almost a mane on his shoulders, and
long, wicked dog teeth.
When he heaved himself up on his
front flippers he stood more than
four feet clear of the
ground, and his weight, if anyone had been
to weigh him, was nearly seven hundred pounds. He was
scarred all over with the marks of savage fights, but he
always ready for just one fight more. He would put
his head on
one side, as though he were afraid to look
his enemy in the face;
then he would shoot it out like
lightning, and when the big teeth
were firmly fixed on
the other seal's neck, the other seal might
get away if
he could, but Sea Catch would not help him.
Yet Sea Catch never chased a beaten seal, for that was
the Rules of the Beach. He only wanted room by
the sea for his
nursery. But as there were forty or
fifty thousand other seals
hunting for the same thing
each spring, the whistling, bellowing,
blowing on the beach was something frightful.
From a little hill called Hutchinson's Hill, you could
over three and a half miles of ground covered with
and the surf was dotted all over with
the heads of seals hurrying
to land and begin their
share of the fighting. They fought in the
fought in the sand, and they fought on the
basalt rocks of the nurseries, for they were just as
stupid and unaccommodating as men. Their wives never came
island until late in May or early in June, for
they did not care
to be torn to pieces; and the young
two-, three-, and
four-year-old seals who had not begun
housekeeping went inland
about half a mile through the
ranks of the fighters and played
about on the sand dunes
in droves and legions, and rubbed off
every single green
thing that grew. They were called the
bachelors--and there were perhaps two or
thousand of them at Novastoshnah alone.
Sea Catch had just finished his forty-fifth fight one
when Matkah, his soft, sleek, gentle-eyed wife,
came up out of the
sea, and he caught her by the scruff
of the neck and dumped her
down on his reservation,
saying gruffly: "Late as usual. Where
have you been?"
It was not the fashion for Sea
Catch to eat anything during
the four months he stayed
on the beaches, and so his temper was
Matkah knew better than to answer back. She
and cooed: "How thoughtful of you. You've taken the
"I should think I
had," said Sea Catch. "Look at me!"
He was scratched and bleeding in twenty places; one eye
almost out, and his sides were torn to ribbons.
"Oh, you men, you men!" Matkah
said, fanning herself with her
hind flipper. "Why can't
you be sensible and settle your places
quietly? You look
as though you had been fighting with the Killer
haven't been doing anything but fight since the middle of
May. The beach is disgracefully crowded this season. I've
least a hundred seals from Lukannon Beach, house
can't people stay where they belong?"
"I've often thought we should be
much happier if we hauled out
at Otter Island instead of
this crowded place," said Matkah.
"Bah! Only the holluschickie go to Otter Island. If we
there they would say we were afraid. We must
appearances, my dear."
Sea Catch sunk his head proudly
between his fat shoulders and
pretended to go to sleep
for a few minutes, but all the time he
was keeping a
sharp lookout for a fight. Now that all the seals
their wives were on the land, you could hear their clamor
miles out to sea above the loudest gales. At the lowest
there were over a million seals on the
beach--old seals, mother
seals, tiny babies, and
holluschickie, fighting, scuffling,
and playing together--going down to the sea
up from it in gangs and regiments, lying over every
of ground as far as the eye could reach, and skirmishing
about in brigades through the fog. It is nearly always
Novastoshnah, except when the sun comes out and
look all pearly and rainbow-colored for
a little while.
Matkah's baby, was born in the middle of that
and he was all head and shoulders, with pale, watery
blue eyes, as tiny seals must be, but there was something
his coat that made his mother look at him very
"Sea Catch," she said,
at last, "our baby's going to be
"Empty clam-shells and dry
seaweed!" snorted Sea Catch.
"There never has been such
a thing in the world as a white seal."
"I can't help that," said Matkah; "there's going to be
And she sang the low, crooning seal song that all
the mother seals
sing to their babies:
You mustn't swim till you're six
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
and grow strong,
And you can't be wrong.
Child of the Open Sea!
Of course the little fellow did
not understand the words at
first. He paddled and
scrambled about by his mother's side, and
scuffle out of the way when his father was fighting
another seal, and the two rolled and roared up and down the
slippery rocks. Matkah used to go to sea to get things to
and the baby was fed only once in two days, but
then he ate all he
could and throve upon it.
The first thing he did was to
crawl inland, and there he met
tens of thousands of
babies of his own age, and they played
puppies, went to sleep on the clean sand, and played
again. The old people in the nurseries took no notice of
and the holluschickie kept to their own grounds,
and the babies
had a beautiful playtime.
When Matkah came back from her
deep-sea fishing she would go
straight to their
playground and call as a sheep calls for a lamb,
wait until she heard Kotick bleat. Then she would take the
straightest of straight lines in his direction, striking
her fore flippers and knocking the youngsters
head over heels
right and left. There were always a few
hundred mothers hunting
for their children through the
playgrounds, and the babies were
kept lively. But, as
Matkah told Kotick, "So long as you don't
lie in muddy
water and get mange, or rub the hard sand into a cut
scratch, and so long as you never go swimming when there is a
heavy sea, nothing will hurt you here."
Little seals can no more swim than
little children, but they
are unhappy till they learn.
The first time that Kotick went down
to the sea a wave
carried him out beyond his depth, and his big
and his little hind flippers flew up exactly as his
mother had told him in the song, and if the next wave had
thrown him back again he would have drowned.
After that, he learned to lie in a
beach pool and let the wash
of the waves just cover him
and lift him up while he paddled, but
he always kept his
eye open for big waves that might hurt. He was
learning to use his flippers; and all that while he
floundered in and out of the water, and coughed and grunted
crawled up the beach and took catnaps on the sand,
and went back
again, until at last he found that he
truly belonged to the water.
Then you can imagine the times that he had with his
companions, ducking under the rollers; or coming in on top
comber and landing with a swash and a splutter as
the big wave
went whirling far up the beach; or standing
up on his tail and
scratching his head as the old people
did; or playing "I'm the
King of the Castle" on
slippery, weedy rocks that just stuck out
of the wash.
Now and then he would see a thin fin, like a big
fin, drifting along close to shore, and he knew that that
was the Killer Whale, the Grampus, who eats young seals
can get them; and Kotick would head for the
beach like an arrow,
and the fin would jig off slowly,
as if it were looking for
nothing at all.
Late in October the seals began to
leave St. Paul's for the
deep sea, by families and
tribes, and there was no more fighting
nurseries, and the holluschickie played anywhere they
liked. "Next year," said Matkah to Kotick, "you will be
holluschickie; but this year you must learn how to
They set out
together across the Pacific, and Matkah showed
how to sleep on his back with his flippers tucked down by
his side and his little nose just out of the water. No
so comfortable as the long, rocking swell of
the Pacific. When
Kotick felt his skin tingle all over,
Matkah told him he was
learning the "feel of the water,"
and that tingly, prickly
feelings meant bad weather
coming, and he must swim hard and get
"In a little time," she said,
"you'll know where to swim to,
but just now we'll follow
Sea Pig, the Porpoise, for he is very
wise." A school of
porpoises were ducking and tearing through the
and little Kotick followed them as fast as he could. "How
do you know where to go to?" he panted. The leader of the
rolled his white eye and ducked under. "My tail
youngster," he said. "That means there's a gale
behind me. Come
along! When you're south of the Sticky
Water [he meant the
Equator] and your tail tingles, that
means there's a gale in front
of you and you must head
north. Come along! The water feels bad
This was one of very many things
that Kotick learned, and he
was always learning. Matkah
taught him to follow the cod and the
halibut along the
under-sea banks and wrench the rockling out of
among the weeds; how to skirt the wrecks lying a hundred
fathoms below water and dart like a rifle bullet in at
porthole and out at another as the fishes ran; how
to dance on the
top of the waves when the lightning was
racing all over the sky,
and wave his flipper politely
to the stumpy-tailed Albatross and
the Man-of-war Hawk
as they went down the wind; how to jump three
feet clear of the water like a dolphin, flippers close to
the side and tail curved; to leave the flying fish alone
they are all bony; to take the shoulder-piece
out of a cod at full
speed ten fathoms deep, and never
to stop and look at a boat or a
ship, but particularly a
row-boat. At the end of six months what
Kotick did not
know about deep-sea fishing was not worth the
And all that time he never set flipper on dry ground.
One day, however, as he was lying
half asleep in the warm
water somewhere off the Island
of Juan Fernandez, he felt faint
and lazy all over, just
as human people do when the spring is in
their legs, and
he remembered the good firm beaches of
seven thousand miles away, the games his companions
played, the smell of the seaweed, the seal roar, and the
That very minute he turned north, swimming
steadily, and as he
went on he met scores of his mates,
all bound for the same place,
and they said: "Greeting,
Kotick! This year we are all
holluschickie, and we can
dance the Fire-dance in the breakers off
play on the new grass. But where did you get that
Kotick's fur was almost pure white now, and though he
very proud of it, he only said, "Swim quickly! My
aching for the land." And so they all came to
the beaches where
they had been born, and heard the old
seals, their fathers,
fighting in the rolling mist.
That night Kotick danced the
Fire-dance with the yearling
seals. The sea is full of
fire on summer nights all the way down
to Lukannon, and each seal leaves a wake like
oil behind him and a flaming flash when he jumps, and the
waves break in great phosphorescent streaks and swirls.
went inland to the holluschickie grounds and
rolled up and down in
the new wild wheat and told
stories of what they had done while
they had been at
sea. They talked about the Pacific as boys would
about a wood that they had been nutting in, and if anyone had
understood them he could have gone away and made such a
that ocean as never was. The three- and
holluschickie romped down from
Hutchinson's Hill crying: "Out of
the way, youngsters!
The sea is deep and you don't know all
that's in it yet.
Wait till you've rounded the Horn. Hi, you
where did you get that white coat?"
"I didn't get it," said Kotick. "It grew." And just as
was going to roll the speaker over, a couple of
with flat red faces came from behind a
sand dune, and Kotick, who
had never seen a man before,
coughed and lowered his head. The
bundled off a few yards and sat staring
men were no less than Kerick Booterin, the chief of
seal-hunters on the island, and Patalamon, his son. They came
from the little village not half a mile from the sea
and they were deciding what seals they would
drive up to the
killing pens--for the seals were driven
just like sheep--to be
turned into seal-skin jackets
"Ho!" said Patalamon.
"Look! There's a white seal!"
Kerick Booterin turned nearly white under his oil and
for he was an Aleut, and Aleuts are not clean
people. Then he
began to mutter a prayer. "Don't touch
him, Patalamon. There has
never been a white seal
since--since I was born. Perhaps it is
ghost. He was lost last year in the big gale."
"I'm not going near him," said Patalamon. "He's unlucky.
you really think he is old Zaharrof come back? I owe
him for some
"Don't look at him," said Kerick. "Head off that drove
four-year-olds. The men ought to skin two hundred
it's the beginning of the season and they
are new to the work. A
hundred will do. Quick!"
Patalamon rattled a pair of seal's
shoulder bones in front of
a herd of holluschickie and
they stopped dead, puffing and
blowing. Then he stepped
near and the seals began to move, and
Kerick headed them
inland, and they never tried to get back to
companions. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of seals
watched them being driven, but they went on playing just
Kotick was the only one who asked questions,
and none of his
companions could tell him anything,
except that the men always
drove seals in that way for
six weeks or two months of every year.
"I am going to follow," he said, and his eyes nearly
out of his head as he shuffled along in the wake
of the herd.
"The white seal is
coming after us," cried Patalamon. "That's
time a seal has ever come to the killing-grounds alone."
"Hsh! Don't look behind you," said
Kerick. "It is Zaharrof's
ghost! I must speak to the
priest about this."
distance to the killing-grounds was only half a mile, but
it took an hour to cover, because if the seals went too
Kerick knew that they would get heated and then
their fur would
come off in patches when they were
skinned. So they went on very
slowly, past Sea Lion's
Neck, past Webster House, till they came
to the Salt
House just beyond the sight of the seals on the beach.
Kotick followed, panting and wondering. He thought that he
the world's end, but the roar of the seal
nurseries behind him
sounded as loud as the roar of a
train in a tunnel. Then Kerick
sat down on the moss and
pulled out a heavy pewter watch and let
the drove cool
off for thirty minutes, and Kotick could hear the
fog-dew dripping off the brim of his cap. Then ten or
each with an iron-bound club three or four
feet long, came up, and
Kerick pointed out one or two of
the drove that were bitten by
their companions or too
hot, and the men kicked those aside with
boots made of the skin of a walrus's throat, and then
Kerick said, "Let go!" and then the men clubbed the seals
head as fast as they could.
Ten minutes later little Kotick
did not recognize his friends
any more, for their skins
were ripped off from the nose to the
whipped off and thrown down on the ground in a
That was enough for Kotick. He turned and galloped (a seal
can gallop very swiftly for a short time) back to the sea;
little new mustache bristling with horror. At Sea
where the great sea lions sit on the edge
of the surf, he flung
himself flipper-overhead into the
cool water and rocked there,
gasping miserably. "What's
here?" said a sea lion gruffly, for as
a rule the sea
lions keep themselves to themselves.
"Scoochnie! Ochen scoochnie!" ("I'm lonesome, very
lonesome!") said Kotick. "They're killing all the
on all the beaches!"
The Sea Lion turned his head
inshore. "Nonsense!" he said.
"Your friends are making
as much noise as ever. You must have
seen old Kerick
polishing off a drove. He's done that for thirty
"It's horrible," said Kotick, backing water as a wave
over him, and steadying himself with a screw stroke
flippers that brought him all standing within
three inches of a
jagged edge of rock.
"Well done for a yearling!" said
the Sea Lion, who could
appreciate good swimming. "I
suppose it is rather awful from your
way of looking at
it, but if you seals will come here year after
course the men get to know of it, and unless you can find
an island where no men ever come you will always be
"Isn't there any such
island?" began Kotick.
followed the poltoos [the halibut] for twenty years, and
I can't say I've found it yet. But look here--you seem to
a fondness for talking to your betters--suppose you
go to Walrus
Islet and talk to Sea Vitch. He may know
flounce off like that. It's a six-mile
swim, and if I were you I
should haul out and take a nap
first, little one."
thought that that was good advice, so he swam round to
his own beach, hauled out, and slept for half an hour,
all over, as seals will. Then he headed
straight for Walrus
Islet, a little low sheet of rocky
island almost due northeast
from Novastoshnah, all
ledges and rock and gulls' nests, where the
herded by themselves.
close to old Sea Vitch--the big, ugly, bloated,
fat-necked, long-tusked walrus of the North Pacific, who
has no manners except when he is asleep--as he was then,
his hind flippers half in and half out of the
"Wake up!" barked Kotick,
for the gulls were making a great
"Hah! Ho! Hmph! What's that?" said
Sea Vitch, and he struck
the next walrus a blow with his
tusks and waked him up, and the
next struck the next,
and so on till they were all awake and
staring in every
direction but the right one.
"Hi! It's me," said Kotick, bobbing in the surf and
like a little white slug.
"Well! May I be--skinned!" said
Sea Vitch, and they all
looked at Kotick as you can
fancy a club full of drowsy old
gentlemen would look at
a little boy. Kotick did not care to hear
any more about
skinning just then; he had seen enough of it. So
called out: "Isn't there any place for seals to go where men
don't ever come?"
"Go and find out," said Sea Vitch, shutting his eyes.
away. We're busy here."
Kotick made his dolphin-jump in the air and shouted as loud
he could: "Clam-eater! Clam-eater!" He knew that Sea
caught a fish in his life but always rooted
for clams and seaweed;
though he pretended to be a very
terrible person. Naturally the
Chickies and the
Gooverooskies and the Epatkas--the Burgomaster
the Kittiwakes and the Puffins, who are always looking
for a chance to be rude, took up the cry, and--so
told me--for nearly five minutes you could
not have heard a gun
fired on Walrus Islet. All the
population was yelling and
Stareek [old man]!" while Sea Vitch rolled
from side to
side grunting and coughing.
"Now will you tell?" said Kotick, all out of breath.
"Go and ask Sea Cow," said Sea
Vitch. "If he is living still,
he'll be able to tell
"How shall I know Sea Cow
when I meet him?" said Kotick,
"He's the only thing in the sea
uglier than Sea Vitch,"
screamed a Burgomaster gull,
wheeling under Sea Vitch's nose.
"Uglier, and with worse
back to Novastoshnah, leaving the gulls to scream.
he found that no one sympathized with him in his little
attempt to discover a quiet place for the seals. They told
that men had always driven the holluschickie--it was
part of the
day's work--and that if he did not like to
see ugly things he
should not have gone to the killing
grounds. But none of the
other seals had seen the
killing, and that made the difference
between him and
his friends. Besides, Kotick was a white seal.
"What you must do," said old Sea Catch, after he had heard
son's adventures, "is to grow up and be a big seal
father, and have a nursery on the beach, and
then they will leave
you alone. In another five years
you ought to be able to fight
for yourself." Even gentle
Matkah, his mother, said: "You will
never be able to
stop the killing. Go and play in the sea,
Kotick went off and danced the Fire-dance with a
heavy little heart.
he left the beach as soon as he could, and set off
because of a notion in his bullet-head. He was going to
find Sea Cow, if there was such a person in the sea, and he
going to find a quiet island with good firm beaches
for seals to
live on, where men could not get at them.
So he explored and
explored by himself from the North to
the South Pacific, swimming
as much as three hundred
miles in a day and a night. He met with
than can be told, and narrowly escaped being
the Basking Shark, and the Spotted Shark, and the
Hammerhead, and he met all the untrustworthy ruffians that
and down the seas, and the heavy polite fish,
and the scarlet
spotted scallops that are moored in one
place for hundreds of
years, and grow very proud of it;
but he never met Sea Cow, and he
never found an island
that he could fancy.
beach was good and hard, with a slope behind it for
seals to play on, there was always the smoke of a whaler on
horizon, boiling down blubber, and Kotick knew what
Or else he could see that seals had once
visited the island and
been killed off, and Kotick knew
that where men had come once they
would come again.
He picked up with an old
stumpy-tailed albatross, who told him
Island was the very place for peace and quiet, and
Kotick went down there he was all but smashed to pieces
against some wicked black cliffs in a heavy sleet-storm
lightning and thunder. Yet as he pulled out against
the gale he
could see that even there had once been a
seal nursery. And it
was so in all the other islands
that he visited.
gave a long list of them, for he said that Kotick
five seasons exploring, with a four months' rest each year
at Novastoshnah, when the holluschickie used to make fun of
and his imaginary islands. He went to the
Gallapagos, a horrid
dry place on the Equator, where he
was nearly baked to death; he
went to the Georgia
Islands, the Orkneys, Emerald Island, Little
Island, Gough's Island, Bouvet's Island, the Crossets,
and even to a little speck of an island south of the Cape
Hope. But everywhere the People of the Sea told
him the same
things. Seals had come to those islands
once upon a time, but men
had killed them all off. Even
when he swam thousands of miles out
of the Pacific and
got to a place called Cape Corrientes (that was
was coming back from Gough's Island), he found a few
hundred mangy seals on a rock and they told him that men
That nearly broke his heart, and he headed round the Horn
to his own beaches; and on his way north he hauled
out on an
island full of green trees, where he found an
old, old seal who
was dying, and Kotick caught fish for
him and told him all his
sorrows. "Now," said Kotick, "I
am going back to Novastoshnah,
and if I am driven to the
killing-pens with the holluschickie I
The old seal said, "Try
once more. I am the last of the Lost
Masafuera, and in the days when men killed us by the
hundred thousand there was a story on the beaches that some
white seal would come out of the North and lead
the seal people to
a quiet place. I am old, and I shall
never live to see that day,
but others will. Try once
And Kotick curled up his
mustache (it was a beauty) and said,
"I am the only
white seal that has ever been born on the beaches,
am the only seal, black or white, who ever thought of
looking for new islands."
This cheered him immensely; and when he came back to
Novastoshnah that summer, Matkah, his mother, begged him to
and settle down, for he was no longer a
holluschick but a
full-grown sea-catch, with a curly
white mane on his shoulders, as
heavy, as big, and as
fierce as his father. "Give me another
season," he said.
"Remember, Mother, it is always the seventh
goes farthest up the beach."
Curiously enough, there was another seal who thought that
would put off marrying till the next year, and
Kotick danced the
Fire-dance with her all down Lukannon
Beach the night before he
set off on his last
exploration. This time he went westward,
because he had
fallen on the trail of a great shoal of halibut,
needed at least one hundred pounds of fish a day to keep
him in good condition. He chased them till he was tired,
he curled himself up and went to sleep on the
hollows of the
ground swell that sets in to Copper
Island. He knew the coast
perfectly well, so about
midnight, when he felt himself gently
bumped on a
weed-bed, he said, "Hm, tide's running strong
and turning over under water opened his eyes slowly and
stretched. Then he jumped like a cat, for he saw huge
nosing about in the shoal water and browsing on
the heavy fringes
of the weeds.
"By the Great Combers of
Magellan!" he said, beneath his
mustache. "Who in the
Deep Sea are these people?"
They were like no walrus, sea lion, seal, bear, whale,
fish, squid, or scallop that Kotick had ever seen
were between twenty and thirty feet long,
and they had no hind
flippers, but a shovel-like tail
that looked as if it had been
whittled out of wet
leather. Their heads were the most
things you ever saw, and they balanced on the ends
their tails in deep water when they weren't grazing, bowing
solemnly to each other and waving their front flippers as a
man waves his arm.
"Ahem!" said Kotick. "Good sport, gentlemen?" The big
answered by bowing and waving their flippers like
Footman. When they began feeding again Kotick
saw that their
upper lip was split into two pieces that
they could twitch apart
about a foot and bring together
again with a whole bushel of
seaweed between the splits.
They tucked the stuff into their
mouths and chumped
"Messy style of
feeding, that," said Kotick. They bowed
Kotick began to lose his temper. "Very good," he said.
"If you do happen to have an extra joint in your front
needn't show off so. I see you bow
gracefully, but I should like
to know your names." The
split lips moved and twitched; and the
glassy green eyes
stared, but they did not speak.
"Well!" said Kotick. "You're the only people I've ever
uglier than Sea Vitch--and with worse manners."
Then he remembered in a flash what
the Burgomaster gull had
screamed to him when he was a
little yearling at Walrus Islet, and
he tumbled backward
in the water, for he knew that he had found
Sea Cow at
The sea cows went on
schlooping and grazing and chumping in
the weed, and
Kotick asked them questions in every language that
had picked up in his travels; and the Sea People talk nearly as
many languages as human beings. But the sea cows did not
because Sea Cow cannot talk. He has only six
bones in his neck
where he ought to have seven, and they
say under the sea that that
prevents him from speaking
even to his companions. But, as you
know, he has an
extra joint in his foreflipper, and by waving it
down and about he makes what answers to a sort of clumsy
By daylight Kotick's mane was standing on end and his
was gone where the dead crabs go. Then the Sea
Cow began to
travel northward very slowly, stopping to
hold absurd bowing
councils from time to time, and
Kotick followed them, saying to
himself, "People who are
such idiots as these are would have been
killed long ago
if they hadn't found out some safe island. And
good enough for the Sea Cow is good enough for the Sea
Catch. All the same, I wish they'd hurry."
It was weary work for Kotick. The
herd never went more than
forty or fifty miles a day,
and stopped to feed at night, and kept
close to the
shore all the time; while Kotick swam round them, and
over them, and under them, but he could not hurry them up
mile. As they went farther north they held a
bowing council every
few hours, and Kotick nearly bit
off his mustache with impatience
till he saw that they
were following up a warm current of water,
and then he
respected them more.
they sank through the shiny water--sank like
for the first time since he had known them began to
quickly. Kotick followed, and the pace astonished him, for
he never dreamed that Sea Cow was anything of a swimmer.
headed for a cliff by the shore--a cliff that ran
down into deep
water, and plunged into a dark hole at
the foot of it, twenty
fathoms under the sea. It was a
long, long swim, and Kotick badly
wanted fresh air
before he was out of the dark tunnel they led him
"My wig!" he said, when he rose, gasping and puffing,
open water at the farther end. "It was a long dive,
but it was
The sea cows had separated and were browsing lazily along
edges of the finest beaches that Kotick had ever
seen. There were
long stretches of smooth-worn rock
running for miles, exactly
fitted to make
seal-nurseries, and there were play-grounds of hard
sloping inland behind them, and there were rollers for seals
to dance in, and long grass to roll in, and sand dunes to
and down, and, best of all, Kotick knew by the
feel of the water,
which never deceives a true sea
catch, that no men had ever come
The first thing he did was to
assure himself that the fishing
was good, and then he
swam along the beaches and counted up the
sandy islands half hidden in the beautiful rolling
Away to the northward, out to sea, ran a line of bars and
shoals and rocks that would never let a ship come within
of the beach, and between the islands and the
mainland was a
stretch of deep water that ran up to the
perpendicular cliffs, and
somewhere below the cliffs was
the mouth of the tunnel.
Novastoshnah over again, but ten times better," said
Kotick. "Sea Cow must be wiser than I thought. Men can't
down the cliffs, even if there were any men; and
the shoals to
seaward would knock a ship to splinters.
If any place in the sea
is safe, this is it."
He began to think of the seal he
had left behind him, but
though he was in a hurry to go
back to Novastoshnah, he thoroughly
explored the new
country, so that he would be able to answer all
Then he dived and made sure of the mouth of the tunnel,
raced through to the southward. No one but a sea cow
or a seal
would have dreamed of there being such a
place, and when he looked
back at the cliffs even Kotick
could hardly believe that he had
been under them.
He was six days going home, though
he was not swimming slowly;
and when he hauled out just
above Sea Lion's Neck the first person
he met was the
seal who had been waiting for him, and she saw by
look in his eyes that he had found his island at last.
But the holluschickie and Sea
Catch, his father, and all the
other seals laughed at
him when he told them what he had
discovered, and a
young seal about his own age said, "This is all
well, Kotick, but you can't come from no one knows where and
order us off like this. Remember we've been fighting for
nurseries, and that's a thing you never did. You
prowling about in the sea."
The other seals laughed at this,
and the young seal began
twisting his head from side to
side. He had just married that
year, and was making a
great fuss about it.
nursery to fight for," said Kotick. "I only want to
you all a place where you will be safe. What's the use of
"Oh, if you're trying to back out, of course I've no more
say," said the young seal with an ugly chuckle.
"Will you come with me if I win?"
said Kotick. And a green
light came into his eye, for he
was very angry at having to fight
"Very good," said the young seal
carelessly. "If you win,
He had no time to change his mind,
for Kotick's head was out
and his teeth sunk in the
blubber of the young seal's neck. Then
he threw himself
back on his haunches and hauled his enemy down
beach, shook him, and knocked him over. Then Kotick roared to
the seals: "I've done my best for you these five seasons
I've found you the island where you'll be safe,
but unless your
heads are dragged off your silly necks
you won't believe. I'm
going to teach you now. Look out
told me that never in his life--and Limmershin
thousand big seals fighting every year--never in all
little life did he see anything like Kotick's charge into the
nurseries. He flung himself at the biggest sea catch he
find, caught him by the throat, choked him and
bumped him and
banged him till he grunted for mercy, and
then threw him aside and
attacked the next. You see,
Kotick had never fasted for four
months as the big seals
did every year, and his deep-sea swimming
trips kept him
in perfect condition, and, best of all, he had
fought before. His curly white mane stood up with rage, and
his eyes flamed, and his big dog teeth glistened, and he
splendid to look at. Old Sea Catch, his father, saw
past, hauling the grizzled old seals about
as though they had been
halibut, and upsetting the young
bachelors in all directions; and
Sea Catch gave a roar
and shouted: "He may be a fool, but he is
fighter on the beaches! Don't tackle your father, my
son! He's with you!"
Kotick roared in answer, and old Sea Catch waddled in with
mustache on end, blowing like a locomotive, while
Matkah and the
seal that was going to marry Kotick
cowered down and admired their
men-folk. It was a
gorgeous fight, for the two fought as long as
a seal that dared lift up his head, and when there were
none they paraded grandly up and down the beach side by
At night, just as the Northern Lights were winking and
flashing through the fog, Kotick climbed a bare rock and
down on the scattered nurseries and the torn and
"Now," he said, "I've taught you your
"My wig!" said old Sea
Catch, boosting himself up stiffly, for
he was fearfully
mauled. "The Killer Whale himself could not have
them up worse. Son, I'm proud of you, and what's more, I'll
come with you to your island--if there is such a place."
"Hear you, fat pigs of the sea.
Who comes with me to the Sea
Cow's tunnel? Answer, or I
shall teach you again," roared Kotick.
There was a murmur like the ripple of the tide all up and
the beaches. "We will come," said thousands of
tired voices. "We
will follow Kotick, the White
Then Kotick dropped his
head between his shoulders and shut
his eyes proudly. He
was not a white seal any more, but red from
tail. All the same he would have scorned to look at or
touch one of his wounds.
A week later he and his army (nearly ten thousand
holluschickie and old seals) went away north to the Sea
tunnel, Kotick leading them, and the seals that
Novastoshnah called them idiots. But next
spring, when they all
met off the fishing banks of the
Pacific, Kotick's seals told such
tales of the new
beaches beyond Sea Cow's tunnel that more and
left Novastoshnah. Of course it was not all done at
once, for the seals are not very clever, and they need a
to turn things over in their minds, but year
after year more seals
went away from Novastoshnah, and
Lukannon, and the other
nurseries, to the quiet,
sheltered beaches where Kotick sits all
through, getting bigger and fatter and stronger each
year, while the holluschickie play around him, in that sea
where no man comes.
This is the great deep-sea song that all the St. Paul seals
when they are heading back to their beaches in the
summer. It is
a sort of very sad seal National
I met my mates in the
morning (and, oh, but I am old!)
Where roaring on the
ledges the summer ground-swell rolled;
I heard them lift
the chorus that drowned the breakers' song--
of Lukannon--two million voices strong.
The song of pleasant stations beside the salt lagoons,
The song of blowing squadrons that shuffled down the
The song of midnight dances that churned the sea
The Beaches of Lukannon--before the sealers
I met my mates in the
morning (I'll never meet them more!);
They came and went
in legions that darkened all the shore.
And o'er the
foam-flecked offing as far as voice could reach
hailed the landing-parties and we sang them up the beach.
The Beaches of Lukannon--the
winter wheat so tall--
The dripping, crinkled lichens,
and the sea-fog drenching all!
The platforms of our
playground, all shining smooth and worn!
The Beaches of
Lukannon--the home where we were born!
I met my mates in the morning, a broken, scattered band.
Men shoot us in the water and club us on the land;
Men drive us to the Salt House like silly sheep and
And still we sing Lukannon--before the sealers
Wheel down, wheel down to
southward; oh, Gooverooska, go!
And tell the Deep-Sea
Viceroys the story of our woe;
Ere, empty as the shark's
egg the tempest flings ashore,
The Beaches of Lukannon
shall know their sons no more!
At the hole where he went in
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin.
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:
"Nag, come up and dance with death!"
Eye to eye and head to head,
(Keep the measure, Nag.)
end when one is dead;
(At thy pleasure, Nag.)
Turn for turn and twist for twist--
(Run and hide thee, Nag.)
hooded Death has missed!
(Woe betide thee, Nag!)
This is the story of the great war
that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought
single-handed, through the
bath-rooms of the big bungalow in
Darzee, the Tailorbird, helped him, and
musk-rat, who never comes out into the middle of
floor, but always creeps round by the wall, gave him advice,
but Rikki-tikki did the real fighting.
He was a mongoose, rather like a
little cat in his fur and his
tail, but quite like a
weasel in his head and his habits. His
eyes and the end
of his restless nose were pink. He could scratch
anywhere he pleased with any leg, front or back, that he
chose to use. He could fluff up his tail till it looked
bottle brush, and his war cry as he scuttled
through the long
One day, a high summer flood washed him out of the
where he lived with his father and mother, and
kicking and clucking, down a roadside
ditch. He found a little
wisp of grass floating there,
and clung to it till he lost his
senses. When he
revived, he was lying in the hot sun on the
middle of a
garden path, very draggled indeed, and a small boy was
saying, "Here's a dead mongoose. Let's have a funeral."
"No," said his mother, "let's take
him in and dry him.
Perhaps he isn't really dead."
They took him into the house, and
a big man picked him up
between his finger and thumb and
said he was not dead but half
choked. So they wrapped
him in cotton wool, and warmed him over a
and he opened his eyes and sneezed.
"Now," said the big man (he was an Englishman who had
moved into the bungalow), "don't frighten him, and
we'll see what
It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a
because he is eaten up from nose to tail with
motto of all the mongoose family is "Run
and find out," and
Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose. He
looked at the cotton wool,
decided that it was not good
to eat, ran all round the table, sat
up and put his fur
in order, scratched himself, and jumped on the
frightened, Teddy," said his father. "That's his
tickling under my chin," said Teddy.
Rikki-tikki looked down between the boy's collar and
snuffed at his ear, and climbed down to the floor,
where he sat
rubbing his nose.
"Good gracious," said Teddy's
mother, "and that's a wild
creature! I suppose he's so
tame because we've been kind to him."
"All mongooses are like that," said her husband. "If
doesn't pick him up by the tail, or try to put him
in a cage,
he'll run in and out of the house all day
long. Let's give him
something to eat."
They gave him a little piece of
raw meat. Rikki-tikki liked
it immensely, and when it
was finished he went out into the
veranda and sat in the
sunshine and fluffed up his fur to make it
dry to the
roots. Then he felt better.
"There are more things to find out about in this house,"
said to himself, "than all my family could find out
in all their
lives. I shall certainly stay and find
He spent all that day
roaming over the house. He nearly
drowned himself in the
bath-tubs, put his nose into the ink on a
and burned it on the end of the big man's cigar,
climbed up in the big man's lap to see how writing was
done. At nightfall he ran into Teddy's nursery to watch
kerosene lamps were lighted, and when Teddy went to
Rikki-tikki climbed up too. But he was a restless
because he had to get up and attend to every
noise all through the
night, and find out what made it.
Teddy's mother and father came
in, the last thing, to
look at their boy, and Rikki-tikki was
awake on the
pillow. "I don't like that," said Teddy's mother.
may bite the child." "He'll do no such thing," said the
father. "Teddy's safer with that little beast than if he
bloodhound to watch him. If a snake came into the
mother wouldn't think of anything so awful.
Early in the morning Rikki-tikki came to early breakfast
the veranda riding on Teddy's shoulder, and they gave
and some boiled egg. He sat on all their laps
one after the
other, because every well-brought-up
mongoose always hopes to be a
house mongoose some day
and have rooms to run about in; and
(she used to live in the general's house at
had carefully told Rikki what to do if ever he came
across white men.
Then Rikki-tikki went out into the garden to see what was
be seen. It was a large garden, only half cultivated,
bushes, as big as summer-houses, of Marshal Niel
roses, lime and
orange trees, clumps of bamboos, and
thickets of high grass.
Rikki-tikki licked his lips.
"This is a splendid hunting-ground,"
he said, and his
tail grew bottle-brushy at the thought of it, and
scuttled up and down the garden, snuffing here and there till
he heard very sorrowful voices in a thorn-bush.
It was Darzee, the Tailorbird, and
his wife. They had made a
beautiful nest by pulling two
big leaves together and stitching
them up the edges with
fibers, and had filled the hollow with
cotton and downy
fluff. The nest swayed to and fro, as they sat
rim and cried.
"What is the
matter?" asked Rikki-tikki.
are very miserable," said Darzee. "One of our babies fell
out of the nest yesterday and Nag ate him."
"H'm!" said Rikki-tikki, "that is
very sad--but I am a
stranger here. Who is Nag?"
Darzee and his wife only cowered
down in the nest without
answering, for from the thick
grass at the foot of the bush there
came a low hiss--a
horrid cold sound that made Rikki-tikki jump
clear feet. Then inch by inch out of the grass rose up
the head and spread hood of Nag, the big black cobra, and
five feet long from tongue to tail. When he had
of himself clear of the ground, he
stayed balancing to and fro
exactly as a dandelion tuft
balances in the wind, and he looked at
the wicked snake's eyes that never change their
expression, whatever the snake may be thinking of.
"Who is Nag?" said he. "I am Nag.
The great God Brahm put
his mark upon all our people,
when the first cobra spread his hood
to keep the sun off
Brahm as he slept. Look, and be afraid!"
He spread out his hood more than ever, and Rikki-tikki saw
spectacle-mark on the back of it that looks exactly
like the eye
part of a hook-and-eye fastening. He was
afraid for the minute,
but it is impossible for a
mongoose to stay frightened for any
length of time, and
though Rikki-tikki had never met a live cobra
his mother had fed him on dead ones, and he knew that all
a grown mongoose's business in life was to fight and eat
Nag knew that too and, at the bottom of his cold
heart, he was
"Well," said Rikki-tikki, and his tail began to fluff up
again, "marks or no marks, do you think it is right for you
fledglings out of a nest?"
Nag was thinking to himself, and
watching the least little
movement in the grass behind
Rikki-tikki. He knew that mongooses
in the garden meant
death sooner or later for him and his family,
wanted to get Rikki-tikki off his guard. So he dropped his
head a little, and put it on one side.
"Let us talk," he said. "You eat
eggs. Why should not I eat
"Behind you! Look behind you!"
better than to waste time in staring. He
jumped up in
the air as high as he could go, and just under him
whizzed by the head of Nagaina, Nag's wicked wife. She had
up behind him as he was talking, to make an end of
him. He heard
her savage hiss as the stroke missed. He
came down almost across
her back, and if he had been an
old mongoose he would have known
that then was the time
to break her back with one bite; but he was
the terrible lashing return stroke of the cobra. He
indeed, but did not bite long enough, and he jumped clear of
the whisking tail, leaving Nagaina torn and angry.
"Wicked, wicked Darzee!" said Nag,
lashing up as high as he
could reach toward the nest in
the thorn-bush. But Darzee had
built it out of reach of
snakes, and it only swayed to and fro.
Rikki-tikki felt his eyes growing red and hot (when a
mongoose's eyes grow red, he is angry), and he sat back on
tail and hind legs like a little kangaroo, and
looked all round
him, and chattered with rage. But Nag
and Nagaina had disappeared
into the grass. When a snake
misses its stroke, it never says
anything or gives any
sign of what it means to do next.
Rikki-tikki did not
care to follow them, for he did not feel sure
could manage two snakes at once. So he trotted off to the
gravel path near the house, and sat down to think. It was
serious matter for him.
If you read the old books of natural history, you will
they say that when the mongoose fights the snake
and happens to
get bitten, he runs off and eats some
herb that cures him. That
is not true. The victory is
only a matter of quickness of eye and
foot--snake's blow against mongoose's jump--and
eye can follow the motion of a snake's head when it strikes,
this makes things much more wonderful than any magic
Rikki-tikki knew he was a young mongoose, and it
made him all the
more pleased to think that he had
managed to escape a blow from
behind. It gave him
confidence in himself, and when Teddy came
the path, Rikki-tikki was ready to be petted.
But just as Teddy was stooping, something wriggled a little
the dust, and a tiny voice said: "Be careful. I am
was Karait, the dusty brown snakeling that
lies for choice on the
dusty earth; and his bite is as
dangerous as the cobra's. But he
is so small that nobody
thinks of him, and so he does the more
Rikki-tikki's eyes grew
red again, and he danced up to Karait
with the peculiar
rocking, swaying motion that he had inherited
family. It looks very funny, but it is so perfectly
balanced a gait that you can fly off from it at any angle
please, and in dealing with snakes this is an
Rikki-tikki had only known, he was doing a
much more dangerous
thing than fighting Nag, for Karait
is so small, and can turn so
quickly, that unless Rikki
bit him close to the back of the head,
he would get the
return stroke in his eye or his lip. But Rikki
know. His eyes were all red, and he rocked back and
forth, looking for a good place to hold. Karait struck
Rikki jumped sideways and tried to run in, but the
dusty gray head lashed within a fraction
of his shoulder, and he
had to jump over the body, and
the head followed his heels close.
Teddy shouted to the house: "Oh, look here! Our mongoose
killing a snake." And Rikki-tikki heard a scream from
mother. His father ran out with a stick, but by
the time he came
up, Karait had lunged out once too far,
and Rikki-tikki had
sprung, jumped on the snake's back,
dropped his head far between
his forelegs, bitten as
high up the back as he could get hold, and
That bite paralyzed Karait, and Rikki-tikki was just
going to eat him up from the tail, after the custom of his
at dinner, when he remembered that a full meal
makes a slow
mongoose, and if he wanted all his strength
and quickness ready,
he must keep himself thin.
He went away for a dust bath under
the castor-oil bushes,
while Teddy's father beat the
dead Karait. "What is the use of
Rikki-tikki. "I have settled it all;" and then
mother picked him up from the dust and hugged him, crying
that he had saved Teddy from death, and Teddy's father said
he was a providence, and Teddy looked on with big
Rikki-tikki was rather amused at all the
fuss, which, of course,
he did not understand. Teddy's
mother might just as well have
petted Teddy for playing
in the dust. Rikki was thoroughly
That night at dinner, walking to
and fro among the
wine-glasses on the table, he might
have stuffed himself three
times over with nice things.
But he remembered Nag and Nagaina,
and though it was
very pleasant to be patted and petted by Teddy's
and to sit on Teddy's shoulder, his eyes would get red
from time to time, and he would go off into his long war
Teddy carried him off to bed, and
insisted on Rikki-tikki
sleeping under his chin.
Rikki-tikki was too well bred to bite or
scratch, but as
soon as Teddy was asleep he went off for his
walk round the house, and in the dark he ran up against
Chuchundra, the musk-rat, creeping around by the wall.
is a broken-hearted little beast. He whimpers
and cheeps all the
night, trying to make up his mind to
run into the middle of the
room. But he never gets
"Don't kill me," said
Chuchundra, almost weeping.
"Rikki-tikki, don't kill
"Do you think a
snake-killer kills muskrats?" said Rikki-tikki
"Those who kill snakes get killed by snakes," said
more sorrowfully than ever. "And how am I to
be sure that Nag
won't mistake me for you some dark
"There's not the least
danger," said Rikki-tikki. "But Nag is
in the garden,
and I know you don't go there."
"My cousin Chua, the rat, told me--" said Chuchundra,
then he stopped.
"Told you what?"
"H'sh! Nag is everywhere, Rikki-tikki. You should have
talked to Chua in the garden."
"I didn't--so you must tell me. Quick, Chuchundra, or
Chuchundra sat down and cried till the tears rolled off
whiskers. "I am a very poor man," he sobbed. "I
never had spirit
enough to run out into the middle of
the room. H'sh! I mustn't
tell you anything. Can't you
listened. The house was as still as still, but he
thought he could just catch the faintest scratch-scratch in
world--a noise as faint as that of a wasp walking on
window-pane--the dry scratch of a snake's scales on
"That's Nag or
Nagaina," he said to himself, "and he is
the bath-room sluice. You're right, Chuchundra; I
have talked to Chua."
off to Teddy's bath-room, but there was nothing
and then to Teddy's mother's bathroom. At the bottom of
the smooth plaster wall there was a brick pulled out to
sluice for the bath water, and as Rikki-tikki
stole in by the
masonry curb where the bath is put, he
heard Nag and Nagaina
whispering together outside in the
"When the house is
emptied of people," said Nagaina to her
will have to go away, and then the garden will be our
own again. Go in quietly, and remember that the big man
killed Karait is the first one to bite. Then come
out and tell
me, and we will hunt for Rikki-tikki
"But are you sure
that there is anything to be gained by
people?" said Nag.
When there were no people in the bungalow, did
any mongoose in the garden? So long as the bungalow is
empty, we are king and queen of the garden; and remember
soon as our eggs in the melon bed hatch (as they
our children will need room and
"I had not thought of
that," said Nag. "I will go, but there
is no need that
we should hunt for Rikki-tikki afterward. I will
the big man and his wife, and the child if I can, and come
away quietly. Then the bungalow will be empty, and
Rikki-tikki tingled all over with rage and hatred at this,
then Nag's head came through the sluice, and his
five feet of cold
body followed it. Angry as he was,
Rikki-tikki was very
frightened as he saw the size of
the big cobra. Nag coiled
himself up, raised his head,
and looked into the bathroom in the
dark, and Rikki
could see his eyes glitter.
"Now, if I kill him here, Nagaina will know; and if I
him on the open floor, the odds are in his favor.
What am I to
do?" said Rikki-tikki-tavi.
Nag waved to and fro, and then
Rikki-tikki heard him drinking
from the biggest
water-jar that was used to fill the bath. "That
good," said the snake. "Now, when Karait was killed, the big
man had a stick. He may have that stick still, but when he
in to bathe in the morning he will not have a
stick. I shall wait
here till he comes. Nagaina--do you
hear me?--I shall wait
here in the cool till
There was no answer
from outside, so Rikki-tikki knew Nagaina
had gone away.
Nag coiled himself down, coil by coil, round the
at the bottom of the water jar, and Rikki-tikki stayed still
as death. After an hour he began to move, muscle by
toward the jar. Nag was asleep, and Rikki-tikki
looked at his big
back, wondering which would be the
best place for a good hold.
"If I don't break his back
at the first jump," said Rikki, "he can
still fight. And
if he fights--O Rikki!" He looked at the
the neck below the hood, but that was too much for
and a bite near the tail would only make Nag savage.
"It must be the head"' he said at last; "the head above
hood. And, when I am once there, I must not let
Then he jumped. The head
was lying a little clear of the
water jar, under the
curve of it; and, as his teeth met, Rikki
back against the bulge of the red earthenware to hold
down the head. This gave him just one second's purchase,
made the most of it. Then he was battered to and
fro as a rat is
shaken by a dog--to and fro on the
floor, up and down, and
around in great circles, but his
eyes were red and he held on as
the body cart-whipped
over the floor, upsetting the tin dipper and
dish and the flesh brush, and banged against the tin side
of the bath. As he held he closed his jaws tighter and
for he made sure he would be banged to death,
and, for the honor
of his family, he preferred to be
found with his teeth locked. He
was dizzy, aching, and
felt shaken to pieces when something went
off like a
thunderclap just behind him. A hot wind knocked him
senseless and red fire singed his fur. The big man had
wakened by the noise, and had fired both barrels of
a shotgun into
Nag just behind the hood.
Rikki-tikki held on with his eyes
shut, for now he was quite
sure he was dead. But the
head did not move, and the big man
picked him up and
said, "It's the mongoose again, Alice. The
has saved our lives now."
Teddy's mother came in with a very white face, and saw
what was left of Nag, and Rikki-tikki dragged himself to
bedroom and spent half the rest of the night
tenderly to find out whether he really
was broken into forty
pieces, as he fancied.
When morning came he was very
stiff, but well pleased with his
doings. "Now I have
Nagaina to settle with, and she will be worse
Nags, and there's no knowing when the eggs she spoke of
will hatch. Goodness! I must go and see Darzee," he
Without waiting for
breakfast, Rikki-tikki ran to the
thornbush where Darzee
was singing a song of triumph at the top of
The news of Nag's death was all over the garden, for
sweeper had thrown the body on the rubbish-heap.
"Oh, you stupid tuft of feathers!" said Rikki-tikki
"Is this the time to sing?"
"Nag is dead--is dead--is dead!"
sang Darzee. "The
valiant Rikki-tikki caught him by the
head and held fast. The big
man brought the bang-stick,
and Nag fell in two pieces! He will
never eat my babies
"All that's true
enough. But where's Nagaina?" said
carefully round him.
came to the bathroom sluice and called for Nag,"
went on, "and Nag came out on the end of a stick--the
sweeper picked him up on the end of a stick and threw him
rubbish heap. Let us sing about the great, the
Rikki-tikki!" And Darzee filled his throat and
"If I could get up to
your nest, I'd roll your babies out!"
"You don't know when to do the right thing at
time. You're safe enough in your nest there, but it's
war for me down here. Stop singing a minute, Darzee."
"For the great, the beautiful
Rikki-tikki's sake I will stop,"
said Darzee. "What is
it, O Killer of the terrible Nag?"
"Where is Nagaina, for the third time?"
"On the rubbish heap by the
stables, mourning for Nag. Great
is Rikki-tikki with the
"Bother my white
teeth! Have you ever heard where she keeps
"In the melon bed, on the end
nearest the wall, where the sun
strikes nearly all day.
She hid them there weeks ago."
"And you never thought it worth while to tell me? The
nearest the wall, you said?"
"Rikki-tikki, you are not going to
eat her eggs?"
exactly; no. Darzee, if you have a grain of sense
will fly off to the stables and pretend that your wing is
broken, and let Nagaina chase you away to this bush. I must
to the melon-bed, and if I went there now she'd see
Darzee was a
feather-brained little fellow who could never
than one idea at a time in his head. And just because
knew that Nagaina's children were born in eggs like his own, he
didn't think at first that it was fair to kill them. But
was a sensible bird, and she knew that cobra's
eggs meant young
cobras later on. So she flew off from
the nest, and left Darzee
to keep the babies warm, and
continue his song about the death of
Nag. Darzee was
very like a man in some ways.
She fluttered in front of Nagaina by the rubbish heap
cried out, "Oh, my wing is broken! The boy in the
house threw a
stone at me and broke it." Then she
fluttered more desperately
Nagaina lifted up her head and
hissed, "You warned Rikki-tikki
when I would have killed
him. Indeed and truly, you've chosen a
bad place to be
lame in." And she moved toward Darzee's wife,
along over the dust.
broke it with a stone!" shrieked Darzee's wife.
"Well! It may be some consolation to you when you're dead
know that I shall settle accounts with the boy. My
on the rubbish heap this morning, but
before night the boy in the
house will lie very still.
What is the use of running away? I am
sure to catch you.
Little fool, look at me!"
Darzee's wife knew better than to do that, for a bird
looks at a snake's eyes gets so frightened that she
Darzee's wife fluttered on, piping
sorrowfully, and never leaving
the ground, and Nagaina
quickened her pace.
heard them going up the path from the stables, and
raced for the end of the melon patch near the wall. There, in
the warm litter above the melons, very cunningly hidden, he
twenty-five eggs, about the size of a bantam's
eggs, but with
whitish skin instead of shell.
"I was not a day too soon," he
said, for he could see the baby
cobras curled up inside
the skin, and he knew that the minute they
they could each kill a man or a mongoose. He bit off
tops of the eggs as fast as he could, taking care to crush the
young cobras, and turned over the litter from time to time
whether he had missed any. At last there were
only three eggs
left, and Rikki-tikki began to chuckle
to himself, when he heard
Darzee's wife screaming:
"Rikki-tikki, I led Nagaina toward
the house, and she has gone
into the veranda, and--oh,
come quickly--she means killing!"
Rikki-tikki smashed two eggs, and tumbled backward down
melon-bed with the third egg in his mouth, and
scuttled to the
veranda as hard as he could put foot to
the ground. Teddy and his
mother and father were there
at early breakfast, but Rikki-tikki
saw that they were
not eating anything. They sat stone-still, and
faces were white. Nagaina was coiled up on the matting by
Teddy's chair, within easy striking distance of Teddy's
and she was swaying to and fro, singing a song
"Son of the big man
that killed Nag," she hissed, "stay still.
I am not
ready yet. Wait a little. Keep very still, all you
three! If you move I strike, and if you do not move I
Oh, foolish people, who killed my Nag!"
Teddy's eyes were fixed on his
father, and all his father
could do was to whisper, "Sit
still, Teddy. You mustn't move.
Teddy, keep still."
Then Rikki-tikki came up and
cried, "Turn round, Nagaina.
Turn and fight!"
"All in good time," said she,
without moving her eyes. "I
will settle my account with
you presently. Look at your friends,
are still and white. They are afraid. They
move, and if you come a step nearer I strike."
"Look at your eggs," said Rikki-tikki, "in the melon bed
the wall. Go and look, Nagaina!"
The big snake turned half around,
and saw the egg on the
veranda. "Ah-h! Give it to me,"
Rikki-tikki put his
paws one on each side of the egg, and his
blood-red. "What price for a snake's egg? For a young
cobra? For a young king cobra? For the last--the very last
the brood? The ants are eating all the others down by
Nagaina spun clear round, forgetting everything for the
of the one egg. Rikki-tikki saw Teddy's father
shoot out a big
hand, catch Teddy by the shoulder, and
drag him across the little
table with the tea-cups, safe
and out of reach of Nagaina.
"Tricked! Tricked! Tricked! Rikk-tck-tck!" chuckled
Rikki-tikki. "The boy is safe, and it was I--I--I that
Nag by the hood last night in the bathroom." Then
he began to
jump up and down, all four feet together,
his head close to the
floor. "He threw me to and fro,
but he could not shake me off.
He was dead before the
big man blew him in two. I did it!
Come then, Nagaina. Come and fight with me.
not be a widow long."
saw that she had lost her chance of killing Teddy, and
the egg lay between Rikki-tikki's paws. "Give me the
Rikki-tikki. Give me the last of my eggs, and I
will go away and
never come back," she said, lowering
"Yes, you will go
away, and you will never come back. For you
will go to
the rubbish heap with Nag. Fight, widow! The big man
gone for his gun! Fight!"
Rikki-tikki was bounding all round Nagaina, keeping just
of reach of her stroke, his little eyes like hot
gathered herself together and flung out
at him. Rikki-tikki
jumped up and backward. Again and
again and again she struck, and
each time her head came
with a whack on the matting of the veranda
gathered herself together like a watch spring. Then
Rikki-tikki danced in a circle to get behind her, and
round to keep her head to his head, so that
the rustle of her tail
on the matting sounded like dry
leaves blown along by the wind.
He had forgotten the egg. It still lay on the veranda,
Nagaina came nearer and nearer to it, till at last,
Rikki-tikki was drawing breath, she caught it in
her mouth, turned
to the veranda steps, and flew like an
arrow down the path, with
Rikki-tikki behind her. When
the cobra runs for her life, she
goes like a whip-lash
flicked across a horse's neck.
Rikki-tikki knew that he must catch her, or all the
would begin again. She headed straight for the
long grass by the
thorn-bush, and as he was running
Rikki-tikki heard Darzee still
singing his foolish
little song of triumph. But Darzee's wife was
flew off her nest as Nagaina came along, and flapped
wings about Nagaina's head. If Darzee had helped they might
have turned her, but Nagaina only lowered her hood and went
Still, the instant's delay brought Rikki-tikki up to
her, and as
she plunged into the rat-hole where she and
Nag used to live, his
little white teeth were clenched
on her tail, and he went down
with her--and very few
mongooses, however wise and old they may
be, care to
follow a cobra into its hole. It was dark in the
and Rikki-tikki never knew when it might open out and give
Nagaina room to turn and strike at him. He held on
stuck out his feet to act as brakes on the
dark slope of the hot,
Then the grass by the mouth of the
hole stopped waving, and
Darzee said, "It is all over
with Rikki-tikki! We must sing his
death song. Valiant
Rikki-tikki is dead! For Nagaina will surely
So he sang a very
mournful song that he made up on the spur of
and just as he got to the most touching part, the
quivered again, and Rikki-tikki, covered with dirt, dragged
himself out of the hole leg by leg, licking his whiskers.
stopped with a little shout. Rikki-tikki shook
some of the dust
out of his fur and sneezed. "It is all
over," he said. "The
widow will never come out again."
And the red ants that live
between the grass stems heard
him, and began to troop down one
after another to see if
he had spoken the truth.
Rikki-tikki curled himself up in the grass and slept where
was--slept and slept till it was late in the
afternoon, for he
had done a hard day's work.
"Now," he said, when he awoke, "I
will go back to the house.
Tell the Coppersmith, Darzee,
and he will tell the garden that
Nagaina is dead."
The Coppersmith is a bird who
makes a noise exactly like the
beating of a little
hammer on a copper pot; and the reason he is
making it is because he is the town crier to every Indian
garden, and tells all the news to everybody who cares to
As Rikki-tikki went up the path, he heard his
like a tiny dinner gong, and then the
steady "Ding-dong-tock! Nag
is dead--dong! Nagaina is
dead! Ding-dong-tock!" That set all
the birds in the
garden singing, and the frogs croaking, for Nag
Nagaina used to eat frogs as well as little birds.
When Rikki got to the house, Teddy and Teddy's mother
looked very white still, for she had been fainting)
father came out and almost cried over him;
and that night he ate
all that was given him till he
could eat no more, and went to bed
on Teddy's shoulder,
where Teddy's mother saw him when she came to
"He saved our lives
and Teddy's life," she said to her
husband. "Just think,
he saved all our lives."
Rikki-tikki woke up with a jump, for the mongooses are
"Oh, it's you," said he. "What are you bothering for?
the cobras are dead. And if they weren't, I'm
Rikki-tikki had a right
to be proud of himself. But he did
not grow too proud,
and he kept that garden as a mongoose should
with tooth and jump and spring and bite, till never a
cobra dared show its head inside the walls.
Darzee's Chant (Sung in honor of Rikki-tikki-tavi)
Singer and tailor am I--
Doubled the joys that I know--
Proud of my lilt to the sky,
of the house that I sew--
Over and under, so weave I my
music--so weave I the house that I
Sing to your fledglings again,
Mother, oh lift up your head!
that plagued us is slain,
Death in the garden lies
Terror that hid in the roses is impotent--flung on
Who has delivered us, who?
his nest and his name.
Rikki, the valiant, the true,
Tikki, with eyeballs of flame,
Rikk-tikki-tikki, the ivory-fanged, the hunter with
Give him the Thanks of the Birds,
Bowing with tail feathers spread!
Praise him with nightingale words--
Nay, I will praise him instead.
Hear! I will sing you the praise of the bottle-tailed
eyeballs of red!
(Here Rikki-tikki interrupted, and the rest of the song
Toomai of the Elephants
I will remember what I was, I am
sick of rope and chain--
I will remember my old strength
and all my forest affairs.
I will not sell my back to
man for a bundle of sugar-cane:
I will go out to my own
kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.
I will go out until the day, until the morning break--
Out to the wind's untainted kiss, the water's clean
I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket
I will revisit my lost loves, and playmates
Kala Nag, which
means Black Snake, had served the Indian
every way that an elephant could serve it for
forty-seven years, and as he was fully twenty years old
was caught, that makes him nearly seventy--a
ripe age for an
elephant. He remembered pushing, with a
big leather pad on his
forehead, at a gun stuck in deep
mud, and that was before the
Afghan War of 1842, and he
had not then come to his full strength.
His mother Radha Pyari,--Radha the darling,--who had
caught in the same drive with Kala Nag, told him,
little milk tusks had dropped out, that
elephants who were afraid
always got hurt. Kala Nag knew
that that advice was good, for the
first time that he
saw a shell burst he backed, screaming, into a
piled rifles, and the bayonets pricked him in all his
softest places. So, before he was twenty-five, he gave up
afraid, and so he was the best-loved and the
elephant in the service of the
Government of India. He had
carried tents, twelve
hundred pounds' weight of tents, on the
march in Upper
India. He had been hoisted into a ship at the end
steam crane and taken for days across the water, and made to
carry a mortar on his back in a strange and rocky country
from India, and had seen the Emperor Theodore
lying dead in
Magdala, and had come back again in the
steamer entitled, so the
soldiers said, to the
Abyssinian War medal. He had seen his
die of cold and epilepsy and starvation and
at a place called Ali Musjid, ten years later; and
afterward he had been sent down thousands of miles south to
and pile big balks of teak in the timberyards at
he had half killed an insubordinate
young elephant who was
shirking his fair share of
After that he was taken
off timber-hauling, and employed, with
a few score other
elephants who were trained to the business, in
to catch wild elephants among the Garo hills. Elephants
are very strictly preserved by the Indian Government. There
one whole department which does nothing else but hunt
catch them, and break them in, and send them
up and down the
country as they are needed for work.
Kala Nag stood ten fair feet at
the shoulders, and his tusks
had been cut off short at
five feet, and bound round the ends, to
splitting, with bands of copper; but he could do more
with those stumps than any untrained elephant could do with
real sharpened ones. When, after weeks and weeks of
driving of scattered elephants across the
hills, the forty or
fifty wild monsters were driven into
the last stockade, and the
big drop gate, made of tree
trunks lashed together, jarred down
behind them, Kala
Nag, at the word of command, would go into that
trumpeting pandemonium (generally at night, when the
flicker of the torches made it difficult to judge
picking out the biggest and wildest
tusker of the mob, would
hammer him and hustle him into
quiet while the men on the backs of
the other elephants
roped and tied the smaller ones.
There was nothing in the way of fighting that Kala Nag,
old wise Black Snake, did not know, for he had stood
up more than
once in his time to the charge of the
wounded tiger, and, curling
up his soft trunk to be out
of harm's way, had knocked the
springing brute sideways
in mid-air with a quick sickle cut of his
head, that he
had invented all by himself; had knocked him over,
kneeled upon him with his huge knees till the life went out
with a gasp and a howl, and there was only a fluffy striped
on the ground for Kala Nag to pull by the tail.
"Yes," said Big Toomai, his
driver, the son of Black Toomai
who had taken him to
Abyssinia, and grandson of Toomai of the
had seen him caught, "there is nothing that the
Snake fears except me. He has seen three generations of us
feed him and groom him, and he will live to see four."
"He is afraid of me also," said
Little Toomai, standing up to
his full height of four
feet, with only one rag upon him. He was
ten years old,
the eldest son of Big Toomai, and, according to
he would take his father's place on Kala Nag's neck when
he grew up, and would handle the heavy iron ankus, the
goad, that had been worn smooth by his father,
grandfather, and his great-grandfather.
He knew what he was talking of;
for he had been born under
Kala Nag's shadow, had played
with the end of his trunk before he
could walk, had
taken him down to water as soon as he could walk,
Kala Nag would no more have dreamed of disobeying his shrill
little orders than he would have dreamed of killing him on
day when Big Toomai carried the little brown baby
under Kala Nag's
tusks, and told him to salute his
master that was to be.
said Little Toomai, "he is afraid of me," and he took
long strides up to Kala Nag, called him a fat old pig, and
him lift up his feet one after the other.
"Wah!" said Little Toomai, "thou
art a big elephant," and he
wagged his fluffy head,
quoting his father. "The Government may
elephants, but they belong to us mahouts. When thou art
old, Kala Nag, there will come some rich rajah, and he will
thee from the Government, on account of thy size and
and then thou wilt have nothing to do but
to carry gold earrings
in thy ears, and a gold howdah on
thy back, and a red cloth
covered with gold on thy
sides, and walk at the head of the
processions of the
King. Then I shall sit on thy neck, O Kala
Nag, with a
silver ankus, and men will run before us with golden
sticks, crying, `Room for the King's elephant!' That will
good, Kala Nag, but not so good as this hunting in
"Umph!" said Big
Toomai. "Thou art a boy, and as wild as a
This running up and down among the hills is not the
Government service. I am getting old, and I do not love wild
elephants. Give me brick elephant lines, one stall to
elephant, and big stumps to tie them to safely, and
roads to exercise upon, instead of this
come-and-go camping. Aha,
the Cawnpore barracks were
good. There was a bazaar close by, and
only three hours'
work a day."
remembered the Cawnpore elephant-lines and said
He very much preferred the camp life, and hated those
broad, flat roads, with the daily grubbing for grass in the
reserve, and the long hours when there was
nothing to do except to
watch Kala Nag fidgeting in his
What Little Toomai
liked was to scramble up bridle paths that
elephant could take; the dip into the valley below; the
glimpses of the wild elephants browsing miles away; the
the frightened pig and peacock under Kala Nag's
feet; the blinding
warm rains, when all the hills and
valleys smoked; the beautiful
misty mornings when nobody
knew where they would camp that night;
cautious drive of the wild elephants, and the mad rush
and blaze and hullabaloo of the last night's drive, when
elephants poured into the stockade like boulders in
found that they could not get out, and
flung themselves at the
heavy posts only to be driven
back by yells and flaring torches
and volleys of blank
Even a little boy
could be of use there, and Toomai was as
useful as three
boys. He would get his torch and wave it, and
the best. But the really good time came when the
out began, and the Keddah--that is, the stockade--
looked like a picture of the end of the world, and men had
signs to one another, because they could not
speak. Then Little Toomai would climb up
to the top of one of the
quivering stockade posts, his
sun-bleached brown hair flying loose
all over his
shoulders, and he looking like a goblin in the
torch-light. And as soon as there was a lull you could hear
high-pitched yells of encouragement to Kala Nag,
trumpeting and crashing, and snapping of
ropes, and groans of the
tethered elephants. "Mael,
mael, Kala Nag! (Go on, go on, Black
Snake!) Dant do!
(Give him the tusk!) Somalo! Somalo!
Maro! Mar! (Hit him, hit him!) Mind the
Arre! Hai! Yai! Kya-a-ah!" he would shout, and
fight between Kala Nag and the wild elephant would sway to
and fro across the Keddah, and the old elephant catchers
wipe the sweat out of their eyes, and find time to
nod to Little
Toomai wriggling with joy on the top of
He did more than
wriggle. One night he slid down from the
slipped in between the elephants and threw up the loose
end of a rope, which had dropped, to a driver who was
get a purchase on the leg of a kicking young
calf (calves always
give more trouble than full-grown
animals). Kala Nag saw him,
caught him in his trunk, and
handed him up to Big Toomai, who
slapped him then and
there, and put him back on the post.
Next morning he gave him a scolding and said, "Are not
brick elephant lines and a little tent carrying
enough, that thou
must needs go elephant catching on thy
own account, little
worthless? Now those foolish
hunters, whose pay is less than my
pay, have spoken to
Petersen Sahib of the matter." Little Toomai
frightened. He did not know much of white men, but Petersen
Sahib was the greatest white man in the world to him. He
head of all the Keddah operations--the man who
caught all the
elephants for the Government of India,
and who knew more about the
ways of elephants than any
happen?" said Little Toomai.
"Happen! The worst that can happen. Petersen Sahib is a
madman. Else why should he go hunting these wild devils? He
even require thee to be an elephant catcher, to
sleep anywhere in
these fever-filled jungles, and at
last to be trampled to death in
the Keddah. It is well
that this nonsense ends safely. Next week
is over, and we of the plains are sent back to our
stations. Then we will march on smooth roads, and forget
hunting. But, son, I am angry that thou
shouldst meddle in the
business that belongs to these
dirty Assamese jungle folk. Kala
Nag will obey none but
me, so I must go with him into the Keddah,
but he is
only a fighting elephant, and he does not help to rope
them. So I sit at my ease, as befits a mahout,--not a
hunter,--a mahout, I say, and a man who gets a
pension at the
end of his service. Is the family of
Toomai of the Elephants to
be trodden underfoot in the
dirt of a Keddah? Bad one! Wicked
one! Worthless son! Go
and wash Kala Nag and attend to his ears,
and see that
there are no thorns in his feet. Or else Petersen
will surely catch thee and make thee a wild hunter--a
follower of elephant's foot tracks, a jungle bear. Bah!
Little Toomai went off without saying a word, but he told
Nag all his grievances while he was examining his
matter," said Little Toomai, turning up the
fringe of Kala Nag's
huge right ear. "They have said my
name to Petersen Sahib, and
perhaps--who knows? Hai! That is
a big thorn that I have
The next few days
were spent in getting the elephants
together, in walking
the newly caught wild elephants up and down
couple of tame ones to prevent them giving too much
trouble on the downward march to the plains, and in taking
of the blankets and ropes and things that had been
worn out or
lost in the forest.
Petersen Sahib came in on his
clever she-elephant Pudmini; he
had been paying off
other camps among the hills, for the season
to an end, and there was a native clerk sitting at a
table under a tree, to pay the drivers their wages. As each
was paid he went back to his elephant, and joined
the line that
stood ready to start. The catchers, and
hunters, and beaters, the
men of the regular Keddah, who
stayed in the jungle year in and
year out, sat on the
backs of the elephants that belonged to
permanent force, or leaned against the trees with
guns across their arms, and made fun of the drivers who were
going away, and laughed when the newly caught elephants
line and ran about.
Big Toomai went up to the clerk
with Little Toomai behind him,
and Machua Appa, the head
tracker, said in an undertone to a
friend of his, "There
goes one piece of good elephant stuff at
least. 'Tis a
pity to send that young jungle-cock to molt in the
Now Petersen Sahib had ears all over him, as a man must
who listens to the most silent of all living
elephant. He turned where he was lying
all along on Pudmini's
back and said, "What is that? I
did not know of a man among the
plains-drivers who had
wit enough to rope even a dead elephant."
"This is not a man, but a boy. He went into the Keddah at
last drive, and threw Barmao there the rope, when we
to get that young calf with the blotch on
his shoulder away from
Machua Appa pointed at Little
Toomai, and Petersen Sahib
looked, and Little Toomai
bowed to the earth.
"He throw a
rope? He is smaller than a picket-pin. Little
is thy name?" said Petersen Sahib.
Little Toomai was too frightened to speak, but Kala Nag
behind him, and Toomai made a sign with his hand,
and the elephant
caught him up in his trunk and held him
level with Pudmini's
forehead, in front of the great
Petersen Sahib. Then Little
Toomai covered his face with
his hands, for he was only a child,
and except where
elephants were concerned, he was just as bashful
child could be.
Petersen Sahib, smiling underneath his mustache,
why didst thou teach thy elephant that trick? Was it to help
thee steal green corn from the roofs of the houses when the
are put out to dry?"
"Not green corn, Protector of the Poor,--melons," said
Little Toomai, and all the men sitting about broke into a
laughter. Most of them had taught their
elephants that trick when
they were boys. Little Toomai
was hanging eight feet up in the
air, and he wished very
much that he were eight feet underground.
"He is Toomai, my son, Sahib," said Big Toomai, scowling.
is a very bad boy, and he will end in a jail,
"Of that I have my
doubts," said Petersen Sahib. "A boy who
can face a full
Keddah at his age does not end in jails. See,
one, here are four annas to spend in sweetmeats because
thou hast a little head under that great thatch of hair. In
thou mayest become a hunter too." Big Toomai
scowled more than
ever. "Remember, though, that Keddahs
are not good for children
to play in," Petersen Sahib
"Must I never go
there, Sahib?" asked Little Toomai with a big
"Yes." Petersen Sahib smiled
again. "When thou hast seen the
elephants dance. That is
the proper time. Come to me when thou
hast seen the
elephants dance, and then I will let thee go into
There was another
roar of laughter, for that is an old joke
elephant-catchers, and it means just never. There are great
cleared flat places hidden away in the forests that are
elephants' ball-rooms, but even these are only
found by accident,
and no man has ever seen the
elephants dance. When a driver
boasts of his skill and
bravery the other drivers say, "And when
didst thou see
the elephants dance?"
put Little Toomai down, and he bowed to the earth
and went away with his father, and gave the silver four-anna
piece to his mother, who was nursing his baby brother, and
all were put up on Kala Nag's back, and the line of
squealing elephants rolled down the hill path
to the plains. It
was a very lively march on account of
the new elephants, who gave
trouble at every ford, and
needed coaxing or beating every other
Big Toomai prodded Kala Nag
spitefully, for he was very angry,
but Little Toomai was
too happy to speak. Petersen Sahib had
noticed him, and
given him money, so he felt as a private soldier
feel if he had been called out of the ranks and praised by
"What did Petersen Sahib mean by the elephant dance?" he
at last, softly to his mother.
Big Toomai heard him and grunted.
"That thou shouldst never
be one of these hill buffaloes
of trackers. That was what he
meant. Oh, you in front,
what is blocking the way?"
Assamese driver, two or three elephants ahead, turned round
angrily, crying: "Bring up Kala Nag, and knock this
mine into good behavior. Why should
Petersen Sahib have chosen me
to go down with you
donkeys of the rice fields? Lay your beast
Toomai, and let him prod with his tusks. By all the
of the Hills, these new elephants are possessed, or else they
can smell their companions in the jungle." Kala Nag hit the
elephant in the ribs and knocked the wind out of
him, as Big
Toomai said, "We have swept the hills of
wild elephants at the
last catch. It is only your
carelessness in driving. Must I keep
order along the
"Hear him!" said
the other driver. "We have swept the hills!
Ho! Ho! You
are very wise, you plains people. Anyone but a
who never saw the jungle would know that they know that
the drives are ended for the season. Therefore all the
elephants to-night will--but why should I waste
wisdom on a
"What will they do?" Little Toomai called out.
"Ohe, little one. Art thou there?
Well, I will tell thee,
for thou hast a cool head. They
will dance, and it behooves thy
father, who has swept
all the hills of all the elephants, to
is this?" said Big Toomai. "For forty years,
son, we have tended elephants, and we have never heard
such moonshine about dances."
"Yes; but a plainsman who lives in a hut knows only the
walls of his hut. Well, leave thy elephants
and see what comes. As for their
dancing, I have seen the place
many windings has the Dihang River?
Here is another
ford, and we must swim the calves. Stop still,
And in this way,
talking and wrangling and splashing through
they made their first march to a sort of receiving
for the new elephants. But they lost their tempers long
before they got there.
Then the elephants were chained by their hind legs to
big stumps of pickets, and extra ropes were fitted
to the new
elephants, and the fodder was piled before
them, and the hill
drivers went back to Petersen Sahib
through the afternoon light,
telling the plains drivers
to be extra careful that night, and
laughing when the
plains drivers asked the reason.
Little Toomai attended to Kala Nag's supper, and as
fell, wandered through the camp, unspeakably
happy, in search of a
tom-tom. When an Indian child's
heart is full, he does not run
about and make a noise in
an irregular fashion. He sits down to a
sort of revel
all by himself. And Little Toomai had been spoken
Petersen Sahib! If he had not found what he wanted, I
believe he would have been ill. But the sweetmeat seller in
camp lent him a little tom-tom--a drum beaten with
the flat of
the hand--and he sat down, cross-legged,
before Kala Nag as the
stars began to come out, the
tom-tom in his lap, and he thumped
and he thumped and he
thumped, and the more he thought of the
great honor that
had been done to him, the more he thumped, all
among the elephant fodder. There was no tune and no words,
but the thumping made him happy.
The new elephants strained at
their ropes, and squealed and
trumpeted from time to
time, and he could hear his mother in the
putting his small brother to sleep with an old, old song
about the great God Shiv, who once told all the animals
should eat. It is a very soothing lullaby, and
the first verse
Shiv, who poured the harvest and made the winds to blow,
Sitting at the doorways of a day of long ago,
Gave to each his portion, food and toil and fate,
From the King upon the guddee to the Beggar at the gate.
All things made he--Shiva the Preserver.
Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all--
Thorn for the camel, fodder for the kine,
And mother's heart for sleepy head, O little son of
Little Toomai came in with a joyous tunk-a-tunk at the end
each verse, till he felt sleepy and stretched himself
fodder at Kala Nag's side. At last the elephants
began to lie
down one after another as is their custom,
till only Kala Nag at
the right of the line was left
standing up; and he rocked slowly
from side to side, his
ears put forward to listen to the night
wind as it blew
very slowly across the hills. The air was full of
the night noises that, taken together, make one big silence--
the click of one bamboo stem against the other, the rustle
something alive in the undergrowth, the scratch and
squawk of a
half-waked bird (birds are awake in the
night much more often than
we imagine), and the fall of
water ever so far away. Little
Toomai slept for some
time, and when he waked it was brilliant
Kala Nag was still standing up with his ears
Little Toomai turned, rustling in the fodder, and watched
the curve of his big back against half the stars in heaven,
while he watched he heard, so far away that it
sounded no more
than a pinhole of noise pricked through
the stillness, the
"hoot-toot" of a wild elephant.
All the elephants in the lines
jumped up as if they had been
shot, and their grunts at
last waked the sleeping mahouts, and
they came out and
drove in the picket pegs with big mallets, and
this rope and knotted that till all was quiet. One new
elephant had nearly grubbed up his picket, and Big Toomai
Kala Nag's leg chain and shackled that elephant
hind-foot, but slipped a loop of grass
string round Kala Nag's
leg, and told him to remember
that he was tied fast. He knew that
he and his father
and his grandfather had done the very same thing
hundreds of times before. Kala Nag did not answer to the
gurgling, as he usually did. He stood still,
looking out across
the moonlight, his head a little
raised and his ears spread like
fans, up to the great
folds of the Garo hills.
to him if he grows restless in the night," said Big
Toomai to Little Toomai, and he went into the hut and
Little Toomai was just going to sleep, too, when
he heard the coir
string snap with a little "tang," and
Kala Nag rolled out of his
pickets as slowly and as
silently as a cloud rolls out of the
mouth of a valley.
Little Toomai pattered after him, barefooted,
road in the moonlight, calling under his breath, "Kala
Nag! Kala Nag! Take me with you, O Kala Nag!" The
turned, without a sound, took three strides
back to the boy in the
moonlight, put down his trunk,
swung him up to his neck, and
almost before Little
Toomai had settled his knees, slipped into
There was one blast of
furious trumpeting from the lines, and
then the silence
shut down on everything, and Kala Nag began to
Sometimes a tuft of high grass washed along his sides as a
wave washes along the sides of a ship, and sometimes a
wild-pepper vines would scrape along his
back, or a bamboo would
creak where his shoulder touched
it. But between those times he
moved absolutely without
any sound, drifting through the thick
Garo forest as
though it had been smoke. He was going uphill, but
though Little Toomai watched the stars in the rifts of the
he could not tell in what direction.
Then Kala Nag reached the crest of
the ascent and stopped for
a minute, and Little Toomai
could see the tops of the trees lying
all speckled and
furry under the moonlight for miles and miles,
blue-white mist over the river in the hollow. Toomai
leaned forward and looked, and he felt that the forest was
below him--awake and alive and crowded. A big
fruit-eating bat brushed past his ear; a
rattled in the thicket; and in the
darkness between the tree stems
he heard a hog-bear
digging hard in the moist warm earth, and
snuffing as it
Then the branches
closed over his head again, and Kala Nag
began to go
down into the valley--not quietly this time, but as
runaway gun goes down a steep bank--in one rush. The huge
limbs moved as steadily as pistons, eight feet to each
the wrinkled skin of the elbow points
rustled. The undergrowth on
either side of him ripped
with a noise like torn canvas, and the
saplings that he
heaved away right and left with his shoulders
back again and banged him on the flank, and great trails of
creepers, all matted together, hung from his tusks as he
head from side to side and plowed out his
pathway. Then Little
Toomai laid himself down close to
the great neck lest a swinging
bough should sweep him to
the ground, and he wished that he were
back in the lines
The grass began to get
squashy, and Kala Nag's feet sucked and
squelched as he
put them down, and the night mist at the bottom of
valley chilled Little Toomai. There was a splash and a
trample, and the rush of running water, and Kala Nag
through the bed of a river, feeling his way at
each step. Above
the noise of the water, as it swirled
round the elephant's legs,
Little Toomai could hear more
splashing and some trumpeting both
down--great grunts and angry snortings, and all the
about him seemed to be full of rolling, wavy shadows.
"Ai!" he said, half aloud, his
teeth chattering. "The
elephant-folk are out tonight. It
is the dance, then!"
swashed out of the water, blew his trunk clear, and
began another climb. But this time he was not alone, and he
not to make his path. That was made already, six
feet wide, in
front of him, where the bent jungle-grass
was trying to recover
itself and stand up. Many
elephants must have gone that way only
a few minutes
before. Little Toomai looked back, and behind him a
great wild tusker with his little pig's eyes glowing like
coals was just lifting himself out of the misty
Then the trees closed up again, and they went on
and up, with
trumpetings and crashings, and the sound of
breaking branches on
every side of them.
At last Kala Nag stood still
between two tree-trunks at the
very top of the hill.
They were part of a circle of trees that
grew round an
irregular space of some three or four acres, and in
that space, as Little Toomai could see, the ground had been
trampled down as hard as a brick floor. Some trees grew in
center of the clearing, but their bark was rubbed
away, and the
white wood beneath showed all shiny and
polished in the patches of
moonlight. There were
creepers hanging from the upper branches,
and the bells
of the flowers of the creepers, great waxy white
like convolvuluses, hung down fast asleep. But within the
limits of the clearing there was not a single blade of
nothing but the trampled earth.
The moonlight showed it all iron
gray, except where some
elephants stood upon it, and
their shadows were inky black.
Little Toomai looked,
holding his breath, with his eyes starting
out of his
head, and as he looked, more and more and more
swung out into the open from between the tree trunks.
Little Toomai could only count up to ten, and he counted
again on his fingers till he lost count of the
tens, and his head
began to swim. Outside the clearing
he could hear them crashing
in the undergrowth as they
worked their way up the hillside, but
as soon as they
were within the circle of the tree trunks they
white-tusked wild males, with fallen leaves and
twigs lying in the wrinkles of their necks and the folds
of their ears; fat, slow-footed she-elephants, with
little pinky black calves only three or four
feet high running
under their stomachs; young elephants
with their tusks just
beginning to show, and very proud
of them; lanky, scraggy old-maid
elephants, with their
hollow anxious faces, and trunks like rough
old bull elephants, scarred from shoulder to flank
great weals and cuts of bygone fights, and the caked dirt of
their solitary mud baths dropping from their shoulders; and
was one with a broken tusk and the marks of the
terrible drawing scrape, of a tiger's
claws on his side.
standing head to head, or walking to and fro across
ground in couples, or rocking and swaying all by themselves--
scores and scores of elephants.
Toomai knew that so long as he lay still on Kala Nag's
nothing would happen to him, for even in the rush
and scramble of
a Keddah drive a wild elephant does not
reach up with his trunk
and drag a man off the neck of a
tame elephant. And these
elephants were not thinking of
men that night. Once they started
and put their ears
forward when they heard the chinking of a leg
the forest, but it was Pudmini, Petersen Sahib's pet
elephant, her chain snapped short off, grunting, snuffling
hillside. She must have broken her pickets and
come straight from
Petersen Sahib's camp; and Little
Toomai saw another elephant, one
that he did not know,
with deep rope galls on his back and breast.
must have run away from some camp in the hills about.
At last there was no sound of any
more elephants moving in the
forest, and Kala Nag rolled
out from his station between the trees
and went into the
middle of the crowd, clucking and gurgling, and
elephants began to talk in their own tongue, and to move
Still lying down, Little Toomai looked down upon scores
scores of broad backs, and wagging ears, and tossing
little rolling eyes. He heard the click of
tusks as they crossed
other tusks by accident, and the
dry rustle of trunks twined
together, and the chafing of
enormous sides and shoulders in the
crowd, and the
incessant flick and hissh of the great tails. Then
cloud came over the moon, and he sat in black darkness. But the
quiet, steady hustling and pushing and gurgling went on
same. He knew that there were elephants all
round Kala Nag, and
that there was no chance of backing
him out of the assembly; so he
set his teeth and
shivered. In a Keddah at least there was
shouting, but here he was all alone in the dark,
once a trunk came up and touched him on the knee.
Then an elephant trumpeted, and they all took it up for
or ten terrible seconds. The dew from the trees
down like rain on the unseen backs, and
a dull booming noise
began, not very loud at first, and
Little Toomai could not tell
what it was. But it grew
and grew, and Kala Nag lifted up one
forefoot and then
the other, and brought them down on the ground
--one-two, one-two, as steadily as trip-hammers. The
were stamping all together now, and it sounded
like a war drum
beaten at the mouth of a cave. The dew
fell from the trees till
there was no more left to fall,
and the booming went on, and the
ground rocked and
shivered, and Little Toomai put his hands up to
to shut out the sound. But it was all one gigantic jar
that ran through him--this stamp of hundreds of heavy feet
the raw earth. Once or twice he could feel Kala Nag
and all the
others surge forward a few strides, and the
thumping would change
to the crushing sound of juicy
green things being bruised, but in
a minute or two the
boom of feet on hard earth began again. A
creaking and groaning somewhere near him. He put out his
arm and felt the bark, but Kala Nag moved forward, still
and he could not tell where he was in the
clearing. There was no
sound from the elephants, except
once, when two or three little
calves squeaked together.
Then he heard a thump and a shuffle,
and the booming
went on. It must have lasted fully two hours, and
Toomai ached in every nerve, but he knew by the smell of
the night air that the dawn was coming.
The morning broke in one sheet of
pale yellow behind the green
hills, and the booming
stopped with the first ray, as though the
light had been
an order. Before Little Toomai had got the ringing
of his head, before even he had shifted his position, there
was not an elephant in sight except Kala Nag, Pudmini, and
elephant with the rope-galls, and there was neither
rustle nor whisper down the hillsides to show
where the others had
Little Toomai stared again and again. The clearing, as
remembered it, had grown in the night. More trees
stood in the
middle of it, but the undergrowth and the
jungle grass at the
sides had been rolled back. Little
Toomai stared once more. Now
he understood the
trampling. The elephants had stamped out more
stamped the thick grass and juicy cane to trash, the
trash into slivers, the slivers into tiny fibers, and the
into hard earth.
"Wah!" said Little Toomai, and his eyes were very heavy.
"Kala Nag, my lord, let us keep by Pudmini and go to
Sahib's camp, or I shall drop from thy
The third elephant
watched the two go away, snorted, wheeled
took his own path. He may have belonged to some little
native king's establishment, fifty or sixty or a hundred
Two hours later, as Petersen Sahib was eating early
his elephants, who had been double chained
that night, began to
trumpet, and Pudmini, mired to the
shoulders, with Kala Nag, very
footsore, shambled into
the camp. Little Toomai's face was gray
and pinched, and
his hair was full of leaves and drenched with
he tried to salute Petersen Sahib, and cried faintly:
"The dance--the elephant dance! I have seen it, and--I
As Kala Nag sat down, he slid off his neck in a
But, since native
children have no nerves worth speaking of,
in two hours
he was lying very contentedly in Petersen Sahib's
hammock with Petersen Sahib's shooting-coat under his head,
glass of warm milk, a little brandy, with a dash
inside of him, and while the old hairy,
scarred hunters of the
jungles sat three deep before
him, looking at him as though he
were a spirit, he told
his tale in short words, as a child will,
and wound up
"Now, if I lie in one
word, send men to see, and they will
find that the
elephant folk have trampled down more room in their
dance-room, and they will find ten and ten, and many times
tracks leading to that dance-room. They made more
room with their
feet. I have seen it. Kala Nag took me,
and I saw. Also Kala
Nag is very leg-weary!"
Little Toomai lay back and slept
all through the long
afternoon and into the twilight,
and while he slept Petersen Sahib
and Machua Appa
followed the track of the two elephants for
miles across the hills. Petersen Sahib had spent eighteen
years in catching elephants, and he had only once before
such a dance-place. Machua Appa had no need to
look twice at the
clearing to see what had been done
there, or to scratch with his
toe in the packed, rammed
"The child speaks
truth," said he. "All this was done last
night, and I
have counted seventy tracks crossing the river. See,
Sahib, where Pudmini's leg-iron cut the bark of that tree!
she was there too."
They looked at one another and up and down, and they
For the ways of elephants are beyond the wit
of any man, black or
white, to fathom.
"Forty years and five," said
Machua Appa, "have I followed my
lord, the elephant, but
never have I heard that any child of man
had seen what
this child has seen. By all the Gods of the Hills,
is--what can we say?" and he shook his head.
When they got back to camp it was time for the evening
Petersen Sahib ate alone in his tent, but he gave
orders that the
camp should have two sheep and some
fowls, as well as a double
ration of flour and rice and
salt, for he knew that there would be
Big Toomai had come up hotfoot
from the camp in the plains to
search for his son and
his elephant, and now that he had found
them he looked
at them as though he were afraid of them both. And
was a feast by the blazing campfires in front of the lines
of picketed elephants, and Little Toomai was the hero of it
And the big brown elephant catchers, the trackers
and drivers and
ropers, and the men who know all the
secrets of breaking the
wildest elephants, passed him
from one to the other, and they
marked his forehead with
blood from the breast of a newly killed
show that he was a forester, initiated and free of
And at last, when
the flames died down, and the red light of
the logs made
the elephants look as though they had been dipped in
blood too, Machua Appa, the head of all the drivers of all
Keddahs--Machua Appa, Petersen Sahib's other self,
who had never
seen a made road in forty years: Machua
Appa, who was so great
that he had no other name than
Machua Appa,--leaped to his feet,
with Little Toomai
held high in the air above his head, and
"Listen, my brothers. Listen, too, you my lords in the
lines there, for I, Machua Appa, am speaking! This little
shall no more be called Little Toomai, but Toomai of
Elephants, as his great-grandfather was called
before him. What
never man has seen he has seen through
the long night, and the
favor of the elephant-folk and
of the Gods of the Jungles is with
him. He shall become
a great tracker. He shall become greater
than I, even I,
Machua Appa! He shall follow the new trail, and
stale trail, and the mixed trail, with a clear eye! He shall
take no harm in the Keddah when he runs under their bellies
rope the wild tuskers; and if he slips before the
feet of the
charging bull elephant, the bull elephant
shall know who he is and
shall not crush him. Aihai! my
lords in the chains,"--he
whirled up the line of
pickets--"here is the little one that has
dances in your hidden places,--the sight that never
saw! Give him honor, my lords! Salaam karo, my children.
Make your salute to Toomai of the Elephants! Gunga Pershad,
Hira Guj, Birchi Guj, Kuttar Guj, ahaa!
seen him at the dance, and thou too,
Kala Nag, my pearl among
elephants!--ahaa! Together! To
Toomai of the Elephants.
And at that last wild yell the
whole line flung up their
trunks till the tips touched
their foreheads, and broke out into
the full salute--the
crashing trumpet-peal that only the Viceroy
hears, the Salaamut of the Keddah.
But it was all for the sake of Little Toomai, who had
what never man had seen before--the dance of the
night and alone in the heart of the Garo
Shiv and the Grasshopper
(The song that Toomai's mother sang to the baby)
Shiv, who poured the harvest and
made the winds to blow,
Sitting at the doorways of a day
of long ago,
Gave to each his portion, food and toil and
From the King upon the guddee to the Beggar at the
All things made he--Shiva the Preserver.
Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all,--
Thorn for the camel, fodder for the kine,
And mother's heart for sleepy head, O little son of
Wheat he gave to rich
folk, millet to the poor,
Broken scraps for holy men
that beg from door to door;
Battle to the tiger, carrion
to the kite,
And rags and bones to wicked wolves without
the wall at night.
Naught he found too lofty, none he
saw too low--
Parbati beside him watched them come and
Thought to cheat her husband, turning Shiv to
Stole the little grasshopper and hid it in her
So she tricked him, Shiva the Preserver.
Mahadeo! Mahadeo! Turn and see.
Tall are the camels, heavy are the kine,
But this was Least of Little Things, O little son of
When the dole was ended,
laughingly she said,
Master, of a million mouths, is not
Laughing, Shiv made answer, "All have had
Even he, the little one, hidden 'neath thy
From her breast she plucked it, Parbati the
Saw the Least of Little Things gnawed a new-grown
Saw and feared and wondered, making prayer to
Who hath surely given meat to all that live.
All things made he--Shiva the Preserver.
Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all,--
Thorn for the camel, fodder for the kine,
And mother's heart for sleepy head, O little son of
Her Majesty's Servants
You can work it out by Fractions or by simple Rule of
But the way of Tweedle-dum is not the way of
You can twist it, you can turn it, you can
plait it till you drop,
But the way of Pilly Winky's not
the way of Winkie Pop!
been raining heavily for one whole month--raining on a
camp of thirty thousand men and thousands of camels,
horses, bullocks, and mules all gathered
together at a place
called Rawal Pindi, to be reviewed
by the Viceroy of India. He
was receiving a visit from
the Amir of Afghanistan--a wild king
of a very wild
country. The Amir had brought with him for a
eight hundred men and horses who had never seen a camp
or a locomotive before in their lives--savage men and
horses from somewhere at the back of Central
Asia. Every night a
mob of these horses would be sure to
break their heel ropes and
stampede up and down the camp
through the mud in the dark, or the
camels would break
loose and run about and fall over the ropes of
tents, and you can imagine how pleasant that was for men
trying to go to sleep. My tent lay far away from the camel
and I thought it was safe. But one night a man
popped his head in
and shouted, "Get out, quick! They're
coming! My tent's gone!"
who "they" were, so I put on my boots and waterproof
scuttled out into the slush. Little Vixen, my fox terrier,
went out through the other side; and then there was a
a grunting and bubbling, and I saw the tent
cave in, as the pole
snapped, and begin to dance about
like a mad ghost. A camel had
blundered into it, and wet
and angry as I was, I could not help
laughing. Then I
ran on, because I did not know how many camels
have got loose, and before long I was out of sight of the
camp, plowing my way through the mud.
At last I fell over the tail-end
of a gun, and by that knew I
was somewhere near the
artillery lines where the cannon were
stacked at night.
As I did not want to plowter about any more in
drizzle and the dark, I put my waterproof over the muzzle of
one gun, and made a sort of wigwam with two or three
I found, and lay along the tail of another
gun, wondering where
Vixen had got to, and where I might
Just as I was getting ready
to go to sleep I heard a jingle of
harness and a grunt,
and a mule passed me shaking his wet ears.
to a screw-gun battery, for I could hear the rattle of
the straps and rings and chains and things on his saddle
screw-guns are tiny little cannon made in two
pieces, that are
screwed together when the time comes to
use them. They are taken
up mountains, anywhere that a
mule can find a road, and they are
very useful for
fighting in rocky country.
Behind the mule there was a camel, with his big soft
squelching and slipping in the mud, and his neck
bobbing to and
fro like a strayed hen's. Luckily, I knew
enough of beast
language--not wild-beast language, but
camp-beast language, of
course--from the natives to know
what he was saying.
have been the one that flopped into my tent, for he
called to the mule, "What shall I do? Where shall I go? I
fought with a white thing that waved, and it took a
stick and hit
me on the neck." (That was my broken tent
pole, and I was very
glad to know it.) "Shall we run
"Oh, it was you," said the
mule, "you and your friends, that
have been disturbing
the camp? All right. You'll be beaten for
this in the
morning. But I may as well give you something on
I heard the harness
jingle as the mule backed and caught the
camel two kicks
in the ribs that rang like a drum. "Another
said, "you'll know better than to run through a mule
battery at night, shouting `Thieves and fire!' Sit down,
your silly neck quiet."
The camel doubled up
camel-fashion, like a two-foot rule, and
whimpering. There was a regular beat of hoofs in the
darkness, and a big troop-horse cantered up as steadily as
he were on parade, jumped a gun tail, and landed
close to the
"It's disgraceful," he said, blowing out his nostrils.
camels have racketed through our lines again--the
this week. How's a horse to keep his
condition if he isn't
allowed to sleep. Who's here?"
"I'm the breech-piece mule of
number two gun of the First
Screw Battery," said the
mule, "and the other's one of your
friends. He's waked
me up too. Who are you?"
"Number Fifteen, E troop, Ninth Lancers--Dick Cunliffe's
horse. Stand over a little, there."
"Oh, beg your pardon," said the
mule. "It's too dark to see
much. Aren't these camels
too sickening for anything? I walked
out of my lines to
get a little peace and quiet here."
"My lords," said the camel humbly, "we dreamed bad dreams
the night, and we were very much afraid. I am only a
camel of the 39th Native Infantry, and I am not
as brave as you
are, my lords."
"Then why didn't you stay and
carry baggage for the 39th
Native Infantry, instead of
running all round the camp?" said the
"They were such very bad dreams,"
said the camel. "I am
sorry. Listen! What is that? Shall
we run on again?"
said the mule, "or you'll snap your long
between the guns." He cocked one ear and listened.
"Bullocks!" he said. "Gun bullocks. On my word, you and
friends have waked the camp very thoroughly. It
takes a good deal
of prodding to put up a
I heard a chain
dragging along the ground, and a yoke of the
white bullocks that drag the heavy siege guns when the
elephants won't go any nearer to the firing, came
along together. And almost stepping on the
chain was another
battery mule, calling wildly for
"That's one of our
recruits," said the old mule to the troop
calling for me. Here, youngster, stop squealing.
dark never hurt anybody yet."
The gun-bullocks lay down together and began chewing the
but the young mule huddled close to Billy.
"Things!" he said. "Fearful and
horrible, Billy! They came
into our lines while we were
asleep. D'you think they'll kill
"I've a very great mind to give
you a number-one kicking,"
said Billy. "The idea of a
fourteen-hand mule with your training
battery before this gentleman!"
"Gently, gently!" said the troop-horse. "Remember they
always like this to begin with. The first time I
ever saw a man
(it was in Australia when I was a
three-year-old) I ran for half a
day, and if I'd seen a
camel, I should have been running still."
Nearly all our horses for the English cavalry are brought
India from Australia, and are broken in by the
"True enough," said Billy. "Stop shaking, youngster. The
first time they put the full harness with all its chains on
back I stood on my forelegs and kicked every bit of
it off. I
hadn't learned the real science of kicking
then, but the battery
said they had never seen anything
"But this wasn't
harness or anything that jingled," said the
"You know I don't mind that now, Billy. It was
like trees, and they fell up and down the lines and
bubbled; and my head-rope broke, and I couldn't find my
and I couldn't find you, Billy, so I ran off
"H'm!" said Billy. "As soon as I heard the camels were
I came away on my own account. When a battery--a
calls gun-bullocks gentlemen, he must be
very badly shaken up.
Who are you fellows on the ground
The gun bullocks rolled
their cuds, and answered both
together: "The seventh
yoke of the first gun of the Big Gun
Battery. We were
asleep when the camels came, but when we were
on we got up and walked away. It is better to lie quiet
in the mud than to be disturbed on good bedding. We told
friend here that there was nothing to be afraid of,
but he knew so
much that he thought otherwise. Wah!"
They went on chewing.
"That comes of being afraid," said
Billy. "You get laughed at
by gun-bullocks. I hope you
like it, young un."
mule's teeth snapped, and I heard him say something
about not being afraid of any beefy old bullock in the
the bullocks only clicked their horns
together and went on
"Now, don't be angry after you've
been afraid. That's the
worst kind of cowardice," said
the troop-horse. "Anybody can be
forgiven for being
scared in the night, I think, if they see
don't understand. We've broken out of our pickets,
and again, four hundred and fifty of us, just because a new
recruit got to telling tales of whip snakes at home in
till we were scared to death of the loose ends
of our head-ropes."
very well in camp," said Billy. "I'm not above
stampeding myself, for the fun of the thing, when I haven't
out for a day or two. But what do you do on active
"Oh, that's quite
another set of new shoes," said the troop
Cunliffe's on my back then, and drives his knees
me, and all I have to do is to watch where I am putting my
feet, and to keep my hind legs well under me, and be
bridle-wise?" said the young mule.
"By the Blue Gums of the Back Blocks," snorted the
troop-horse, "do you mean to say that you aren't taught to
bridle-wise in your business? How can you do
anything, unless you
can spin round at once when the
rein is pressed on your neck? It
means life or death to
your man, and of course that's life and
death to you.
Get round with your hind legs under you the instant
feel the rein on your neck. If you haven't room to swing
round, rear up a little and come round on your hind legs.
"We aren't taught that way," said Billy the mule
"We're taught to obey the man at our head: step
off when he says
so, and step in when he says so. I
suppose it comes to the same
thing. Now, with all this
fine fancy business and rearing, which
must be very bad
for your hocks, what do you do?"
"That depends," said the troop-horse. "Generally I have to
in among a lot of yelling, hairy men with
knives, worse than the farrier's
knives--and I have to take care
that Dick's boot is just
touching the next man's boot without
crushing it. I can
see Dick's lance to the right of my right eye,
know I'm safe. I shouldn't care to be the man or horse that
stood up to Dick and me when we're in a hurry."
"Don't the knives hurt?" said the
"Well, I got one
cut across the chest once, but that wasn't
"A lot I should have
cared whose fault it was, if it hurt!"
said the young
"You must," said the
troop horse. "If you don't trust your
man, you may as
well run away at once. That's what some of our
do, and I don't blame them. As I was saying, it wasn't
Dick's fault. The man was lying on the ground, and I
myself not to tread on him, and he slashed up
at me. Next time I
have to go over a man lying down I
shall step on him--hard."
"H'm!" said Billy. "It sounds very foolish. Knives are
things at any time. The proper thing to do is to
climb up a
mountain with a well-balanced saddle, hang on
by all four feet and
your ears too, and creep and crawl
and wriggle along, till you
come out hundreds of feet
above anyone else on a ledge where
there's just room
enough for your hoofs. Then you stand still and
quiet--never ask a man to hold your head, young un--keep
quiet while the guns are being put together, and then you
the little poppy shells drop down into the
tree-tops ever so far
"Don't you ever trip?" said the
"They say that
when a mule trips you can split a hen's ear,"
Billy. "Now and again perhaps a badly packed saddle will
upset a mule, but it's very seldom. I wish I could show you
business. It's beautiful. Why, it took me three
years to find
out what the men were driving at. The
science of the thing is
never to show up against the sky
line, because, if you do, you may
get fired at. Remember
that, young un. Always keep hidden as
much as possible,
even if you have to go a mile out of your way.
the battery when it comes to that sort of climbing."
"Fired at without the chance of running into the people
are firing!" said the troop-horse, thinking hard. "I
stand that. I should want to charge--with
"Oh, no, you wouldn't.
You know that as soon as the guns are
they'll do all the charging. That's scientific and
baggage-camel had been bobbing his head to and fro for
some time past, anxious to get a word in edgewise. Then I
him say, as he cleared his throat, nervously:
"I--I--I have fought a little, but
not in that climbing
way or that running way."
"No. Now you mention it," said
Billy, "you don't look as
though you were made for
climbing or running--much. Well, how
was it, old
"The proper way,"
said the camel. "We all sat down--"
"Oh, my crupper and breastplate!" said the troop-horse
his breath. "Sat down!"
"We sat down--a hundred of us,"
the camel went on, "in a big
square, and the men piled
our packs and saddles, outside the
square, and they
fired over our backs, the men did, on all sides
"What sort of men? Any
men that came along?" said the
troop-horse. "They teach
us in riding school to lie down and let
our masters fire
across us, but Dick Cunliffe is the only man I'd
to do that. It tickles my girths, and, besides, I can't see
with my head on the ground."
"What does it matter who fires across you?" said the
"There are plenty of men and plenty of other
camels close by, and
a great many clouds of smoke. I am
not frightened then. I sit
still and wait."
"And yet," said Billy, "you dream
bad dreams and upset the
camp at night. Well, well!
Before I'd lie down, not to speak of
sitting down, and
let a man fire across me, my heels and his head
have something to say to each other. Did you ever hear
anything so awful as that?"
There was a long silence, and then one of the gun
lifted up his big head and said, "This is very
There is only one way of fighting."
"Oh, go on," said Billy. "Please
don't mind me. I suppose
you fellows fight standing on
"Only one way,"
said the two together. (They must have been
"This is that way. To put all twenty yoke of us to the
big gun as soon as Two Tails trumpets." ("Two Tails" is
slang for the elephant.)
"What does Two Tails trumpet for?"
said the young mule.
that he is not going any nearer to the smoke on the
other side. Two Tails is a great coward. Then we tug the
all together--Heya--Hullah! Heeyah! Hullah! We
do not climb
like cats nor run like calves. We go across
the level plain,
twenty yoke of us, till we are unyoked
again, and we graze while
the big guns talk across the
plain to some town with mud walls,
and pieces of the
wall fall out, and the dust goes up as though
cattle were coming home."
And you choose that time for grazing?" said the young
"That time or any other. Eating is always good. We eat
we are yoked up again and tug the gun back to where
Two Tails is
waiting for it. Sometimes there are big
guns in the city that
speak back, and some of us are
killed, and then there is all the
more grazing for those
that are left. This is Fate. None the
less, Two Tails is
a great coward. That is the proper way to
fight. We are
brothers from Hapur. Our father was a sacred bull
Shiva. We have spoken."
I've certainly learned something tonight," said the
troop-horse. "Do you gentlemen of the screw-gun battery
inclined to eat when you are being fired at with
big guns, and Two
Tails is behind you?"
"About as much as we feel inclined
to sit down and let men
sprawl all over us, or run into
people with knives. I never heard
such stuff. A mountain
ledge, a well-balanced load, a driver you
can trust to
let you pick your own way, and I'm your mule. But--
other things--no!" said Billy, with a stamp of his foot.
"Of course," said the troop horse,
"everyone is not made in
the same way, and I can quite
see that your family, on your
father's side, would fail
to understand a great many things."
"Never you mind my family on my father's side," said
angrily, for every mule hates to be reminded that
his father was a
donkey. "My father was a Southern
gentleman, and he could pull
down and bite and kick into
rags every horse he came across.
Remember that, you big
wild horse without any breeding. Imagine the
Sunol if a car-horse called her a "skate," and you can
imagine how the Australian horse felt. I saw the white of
glitter in the dark.
"See here, you son of an imported Malaga jackass," he
between his teeth, "I'd have you know that I'm
related on my
mother's side to Carbine, winner of the
Melbourne Cup, and where I
come from we aren't
accustomed to being ridden over roughshod by
parrot-mouthed, pig-headed mule in a pop-gun pea-shooter
battery. Are you ready?"
"On your hind legs!" squealed Billy. They both reared up
facing each other, and I was expecting a furious fight,
gurgly, rumbly voice, called out of the darkness
to the right--
"Children, what are you fighting about
there? Be quiet."
dropped down with a snort of disgust, for neither
nor mule can bear to listen to an elephant's voice.
"It's Two Tails!" said the troop-horse. "I can't stand
A tail at each end isn't fair!"
"My feelings exactly," said Billy,
crowding into the
troop-horse for company. "We're very
alike in some things."
suppose we've inherited them from our mothers," said the
troop horse. "It's not worth quarreling about. Hi! Two
are you tied up?"
"Yes," said Two Tails, with a laugh all up his trunk.
picketed for the night. I've heard what you fellows
saying. But don't be afraid. I'm not coming
The bullocks and the
camel said, half aloud, "Afraid of Two
nonsense!" And the bullocks went on, "We are sorry
you heard, but it is true. Two Tails, why are you afraid of
the guns when they fire?"
"Well," said Two Tails, rubbing one hind leg against the
other, exactly like a little boy saying a poem, "I don't
know whether you'd understand."
"We don't, but we have to pull the
guns," said the bullocks.
know it, and I know you are a good deal braver than you
think you are. But it's different with me. My battery
called me a Pachydermatous Anachronism the other
"That's another way of
fighting, I suppose?" said Billy, who
was recovering his
"You don't know what
that means, of course, but I do. It
means betwixt and
between, and that is just where I am. I can see
my head what will happen when a shell bursts, and you
"I can," said the troop-horse. "At least a little bit. I
not to think about it."
"I can see more than you, and I do think about it. I
there's a great deal of me to take care of, and I
know that nobody
knows how to cure me when I'm sick. All
they can do is to stop my
driver's pay till I get well,
and I can't trust my driver."
"Ah!" said the troop horse. "That explains it. I can
"You could put a whole regiment of Dicks on my back
making me feel any better. I know just enough to
uncomfortable, and not enough to go on in spite of
"We do not understand,"
said the bullocks.
"I know you
don't. I'm not talking to you. You don't know
"We do," said the
bullocks. "It is red stuff that soaks into
gave a kick and a bound and a snort.
"Don't talk of it," he said. "I can smell it now, just
thinking of it. It makes me want to run--when I haven't
"But it is not here," said the camel and the bullocks.
are you so stupid?"
"It's vile stuff," said Billy. "I don't want to run, but
don't want to talk about it."
"There you are!" said Two Tails,
waving his tail to explain.
"Surely. Yes, we have been here all night," said the
Two Tails stamped his foot till the iron ring on it
"Oh, I'm not talking to you. You can't see
inside your heads."
"No. We see
out of our four eyes," said the bullocks. "We
straight in front of us."
could do that and nothing else, you wouldn't be needed
to pull the big guns at all. If I was like my captain--he
see things inside his head before the firing begins,
and he shakes
all over, but he knows too much to run
away--if I was like him I
could pull the guns. But if I
were as wise as all that I should
never be here. I
should be a king in the forest, as I used to be,
sleeping half the day and bathing when I liked. I haven't
good bath for a month."
"That's all very fine," said
Billy. "But giving a thing a
long name doesn't make it
"H'sh!" said the
troop horse. "I think I understand what Two
better in a minute," said Two Tails
angrily. "Now you
just explain to me why you don't like this!"
He began trumpeting furiously at the top of his trumpet.
"Stop that!" said Billy and the
troop horse together, and I
could hear them stamp and
shiver. An elephant's trumpeting is
especially on a dark night.
shan't stop," said Two Tails. "Won't you explain that,
please? Hhrrmph! Rrrt! Rrrmph! Rrrhha!" Then he stopped
suddenly, and I heard a little whimper in the dark, and
Vixen had found me at last. She knew as well
as I did that if
there is one thing in the world the
elephant is more afraid of
than another it is a little
barking dog. So she stopped to bully
Two Tails in his
pickets, and yapped round his big feet. Two
shuffled and squeaked. "Go away, little dog!" he said.
"Don't snuff at my ankles, or I'll kick at you. Good little
--nice little doggie, then! Go home, you yelping
Oh, why doesn't someone take her away?
She'll bite me in a
"Seems to me," said Billy to the troop horse, "that our
Two Tails is afraid of most things. Now, if I had
a full meal for
every dog I've kicked across the
parade-ground I should be as fat
as Two Tails
I whistled, and Vixen
ran up to me, muddy all over, and licked
my nose, and
told me a long tale about hunting for me all through
camp. I never let her know that I understood beast talk, or
she would have taken all sorts of liberties. So I buttoned
into the breast of my overcoat, and Two Tails
shuffled and stamped
and growled to himself.
extraordinary!" he said. "It runs in
our family. Now,
where has that nasty little beast gone to?"
I heard him feeling about with his trunk.
"We all seem to be affected in
various ways," he went on,
blowing his nose. "Now, you
gentlemen were alarmed, I believe,
when I trumpeted."
"Not alarmed, exactly," said the
troop-horse, "but it made me
feel as though I had
hornets where my saddle ought to be. Don't
"I'm frightened of a
little dog, and the camel here is
frightened by bad
dreams in the night."
very lucky for us that we haven't all got to fight in
the same way," said the troop-horse.
"What I want to know," said the
young mule, who had been quiet
for a long time--"what I
want to know is, why we have to fight
"Because we're told to," said the
troop-horse, with a snort of
"Orders," said Billy the mule, and
his teeth snapped.
(It is an order!), said the camel with a gurgle,
Tails and the bullocks repeated, "Hukm hai!"
"Yes, but who gives the orders?" said the recruit-mule.
"The man who walks at your
head--Or sits on your back--Or
holds the nose rope--Or
twists your tail," said Billy and the
the camel and the bullocks one after the other.
"But who gives them the orders?"
"Now you want to know too much,
young un," said Billy, "and
that is one way of getting
kicked. All you have to do is to obey
the man at your
head and ask no questions."
"He's quite right," said Two Tails. "I can't always
because I'm betwixt and between. But Billy's
right. Obey the man
next to you who gives the order, or
you'll stop all the battery,
besides getting a
got up to go. "Morning is coming," they
said. "We will
go back to our lines. It is true that we only see
our eyes, and we are not very clever. But still, we are
the only people to-night who have not been afraid.
you brave people."
Nobody answered, and the
troop-horse said, to change the
that little dog? A dog means a man
"Here I am," yapped Vixen, "under
the gun tail with my man.
You big, blundering beast of a
camel you, you upset our tent. My
man's very angry."
"Phew!" said the bullocks. "He
must be white!"
"Of course he
is," said Vixen. "Do you suppose I'm looked
after by a
Ouach! Ugh!" said the bullocks. "Let us get away
They plunged forward in the mud, and managed somehow to
their yoke on the pole of an ammunition wagon, where
"Now you have done
it," said Billy calmly. "Don't struggle.
You're hung up
till daylight. What on earth's the matter?"
The bullocks went off into the long hissing snorts that
cattle give, and pushed and crowded and slued and
slipped and nearly fell down in the mud,
break your necks in a minute," said the troop-horse.
"What's the matter with white men? I live with 'em."
"They--eat--us! Pull!" said the
near bullock. The yoke
snapped with a twang, and they
lumbered off together.
knew before what made Indian cattle so scared of
Englishmen. We eat beef--a thing that no cattle-driver
--and of course the cattle do not like it.
"May I be flogged with my own
pad-chains! Who'd have thought
of two big lumps like
those losing their heads?" said Billy.
"Never mind. I'm going to look at this man. Most of the
white men, I know, have things in their pockets," said
"I'll leave you, then. I can't say I'm over-fond of 'em
myself. Besides, white men who haven't a place to sleep in
more than likely to be thieves, and I've a good deal
property on my back. Come along, young un,
and we'll go back to
our lines. Good-night, Australia!
See you on parade to-morrow, I
suppose. Good-night, old
Hay-bale!--try to control your
feelings, won't you?
Good-night, Two Tails! If you pass us on
tomorrow, don't trumpet. It spoils our formation."
Billy the Mule stumped off with the swaggering limp of an
campaigner, as the troop-horse's head came nuzzling
breast, and I gave him biscuits, while Vixen,
who is a most
conceited little dog, told him fibs about
the scores of horses
that she and I kept.
"I'm coming to the parade
to-morrow in my dog-cart," she said.
"Where will you
"On the left hand of the
second squadron. I set the time for
all my troop, little
lady," he said politely. "Now I must go back
to Dick. My
tail's all muddy, and he'll have two hours' hard work
dressing me for parade."
The big parade of all the thirty thousand men was held
afternoon, and Vixen and I had a good place close
to the Viceroy
and the Amir of Afghanistan, with high,
big black hat of astrakhan
wool and the great diamond
star in the center. The first part of
the review was all
sunshine, and the regiments went by in wave
upon wave of
legs all moving together, and guns all in a line,
our eyes grew dizzy. Then the cavalry came up, to the
beautiful cavalry canter of "Bonnie Dundee," and Vixen
ear where she sat on the dog-cart. The second
squadron of the
Lancers shot by, and there was the
troop-horse, with his tail like
spun silk, his head
pulled into his breast, one ear forward and
setting the time for all his squadron, his legs going as
smoothly as waltz music. Then the big guns came by, and I
Tails and two other elephants harnessed in line
to a forty-pounder
siege gun, while twenty yoke of oxen
walked behind. The seventh
pair had a new yoke, and they
looked rather stiff and tired. Last
came the screw guns,
and Billy the mule carried himself as though
commanded all the troops, and his harness was oiled and
polished till it winked. I gave a cheer all by myself for
the mule, but he never looked right or left.
The rain began to fall again, and
for a while it was too misty
to see what the troops were
doing. They had made a big half
circle across the plain,
and were spreading out into a line. That
line grew and
grew and grew till it was three-quarters of a mile
from wing to wing--one solid wall of men, horses, and guns.
Then it came on straight toward the Viceroy and the Amir,
it got nearer the ground began to shake, like the
deck of a
steamer when the engines are going fast.
Unless you have been there you
cannot imagine what a
frightening effect this steady
come-down of troops has on the
spectators, even when
they know it is only a review. I looked at
the Amir. Up
till then he had not shown the shadow of a sign of
astonishment or anything else. But now his eyes began to
bigger and bigger, and he picked up the reins on his
and looked behind him. For a minute it
seemed as though he were
going to draw his sword and
slash his way out through the English
men and women in
the carriages at the back. Then the advance
dead, the ground stood still, the whole line saluted, and
thirty bands began to play all together. That was the end
review, and the regiments went off to their camps
in the rain, and
an infantry band struck up with--
The animals went in two by two,
The animals went in two by two,
elephant and the battery mul',
and they all got into the
For to get out of the rain!
heard an old grizzled, long-haired Central Asian chief,
who had come down with the Amir, asking questions of a
"Now," said he, "in what manner was this wonderful thing
the officer answered, "An order was given, and they
"But are the beasts as wise as the men?" said the chief.
"They obey, as the men do. Mule,
horse, elephant, or bullock,
he obeys his driver, and
the driver his sergeant, and the sergeant
lieutenant, and the lieutenant his captain, and the captain
his major, and the major his colonel, and the colonel
brigadier commanding three regiments, and the
general, who obeys the Viceroy, who is the
servant of the Empress.
Thus it is done."
"Would it were so in Afghanistan!"
said the chief, "for there
we obey only our own
"And for that reason,"
said the native officer, twirling his
Amir whom you do not obey must come here and take
from our Viceroy."
Parade Song of the Camp Animals
ELEPHANTS OF THE GUN TEAMS
We lent to Alexander the strength of Hercules,
The wisdom of our foreheads, the cunning of our knees;
We bowed our necks to service: they ne'er were loosed
Make way there--way for the ten-foot teams
Of the Forty-Pounder train!
Those heroes in their harnesses avoid a cannon-ball,
And what they know of powder upsets them one and all;
Then we come into action and tug the guns again--
Make way there--way for the twenty yoke
Of the Forty-Pounder train!
By the brand on my shoulder, the finest of tunes
Is played by the Lancers, Hussars, and Dragoons,
And it's sweeter than "Stables" or "Water" to me--
The Cavalry Canter of "Bonnie Dundee"!
Then feed us and break us and
handle and groom,
And give us good riders and plenty of
And launch us in column of squadron and see
The way of the war-horse to "Bonnie Dundee"!
As me and my companions
were scrambling up a hill,
The path was lost in rolling
stones, but we went forward still;
For we can wriggle
and climb, my lads, and turn up everywhere,
Oh, it's our
delight on a mountain height, with a leg or two to
Good luck to every sergeant, then, that lets us pick our
Bad luck to all the driver-men that cannot pack a
For we can wriggle and climb, my lads, and turn up
Oh, it's our delight on a mountain height,
with a leg or two to
We haven't a camelty tune of our own
To help us trollop along,
neck is a hair trombone
(Rtt-ta-ta-ta! is a hair
And this our marching-song:
Can't! Don't! Shan't! Won't!
it along the line!
Somebody's pack has slid from his
Wish it were only mine!
Somebody's load has tipped off in the road--
Cheer for a halt and a row!
Yarrh! Grr! Arrh!
Somebody's catching it now!
Children of the
Camp are we,
Serving each in his degree;
Children of the yoke and goad,
and harness, pad and load.
See our line across the
Like a heel-rope bent again,
Reaching, writhing, rolling far,
Sweeping all away to war!
men that walk beside,
Dusty, silent, heavy-eyed,
Cannot tell why we or they
and suffer day by day.
Children of the Camp are we,
Serving each in his degree;
Children of the yoke and goad,
and harness, pad and load!
End of the Project Gutenberg
Edition of Kipling's Jungle Book