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.
Ohhear 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 restscratched himself
yawnedand 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 tumblingsquealing cubsand
the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived.
"Augrh!" said Father Wolf. "It is time to hunt again." Hewas
going to spring down hill when a little shadow with a bushy tail
crossed the threshold and whined: "Good luck go with youO 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."
It was the jackal--Tabaquithe Dish-licker--and the
wolves of India despise Tabaqui because he runs about making
mischiefand telling talesand eating rags and pieces of leather
from the village rubbish-heaps. But they are afraid of him too
because Tabaquimore than anyone else in the jungleis apt to go
madand then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyoneand
runs through the forest biting everything in his way. Even the
tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes madfor madness is
the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We
call it hydrophobiabut they call it dewanee--the madness--
"Enterthenand look" said Father Wolf stiffly"but there
is no food here."
"For a wolfno" said Tabaqui"but for so mean a person as
myself a dry bone is a good feast. Who are wethe Gidur-log [the
jackal people]to pick and choose?" He scuttled to the back of
the cavewhere 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 saidlicking his lips.
"How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes!
And so young too! IndeedindeedI might have remembered that
the children of kings are men from the beginning."
NowTabaqui 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 stillrejoicing in the mischief that he had made
and then he said spitefully:
"Shere Khanthe Big Onehas shifted his hunting grounds. He
will hunt among these hills for the next moonso 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 twothese days."
"His mother 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 himand he has come
here to make our villagers angry. They will scour the jungle for
him when he is far awayand we and our children must run when the
grass is set alight. Indeedwe 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 listenedand below in the valley that ran down to
a little river he heard the dryangrysnarlysingsong whine of
a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the jungle
"The fool!" 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 openand makes
them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.
"Man!" said Father Wolfshowing all his white teeth. "Faugh!
Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must
eat Manand on our ground too!"
The Law of the Junglewhich never orders anything without a
reasonforbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing
to show his children how to killand then he must hunt outside
the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for
this is that man-killing meanssooner or laterthe arrival of
white men on elephantswith gunsand 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 thingsand it
is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too--and it is true
--that man-eaters become mangyand lose their teeth.
The purr grew louderand 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
campfireand has burned his feet" said Father Wolf with a grunt.
"Tabaqui is with him."
"Something is coming uphill" said Mother Wolftwitching one
ear. "Get ready."
The bushes rustled a little in the thicketand Father Wolf
dropped with his haunches under himready for his leap. Thenif
you had been watchingyou 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 atand then he
tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight
into the air for four or five feetlanding almost where he left
"Man!" he snapped. "A man's cub. Look!"
Directly in front of himholding on by a low branchstood 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 faceand 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 canif necessary
mouth an egg without breaking itand 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 nakedand--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. Nowwas there ever a wolf
that could boast of a man's cub among her children?"
"I have heard now and again of such a thingbut never in our
Pack or in my time" said Father Wolf. "He is altogether without
hairand I could kill him with a touch of my foot. But seehe
looks up and is not afraid."
The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cavefor
Shere Khan's great square head and shoulders were thrust into the
entrance. Tabaquibehind himwas squeaking: "My lordmy lord
it went in here!"
"Shere Khan does us great honor" said Father Wolfbut 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 campfireas Father
Wolf had saidand 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 wasShere Khan's shoulders
and forepaws were cramped for want of roomas 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 Packand 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 killedam I to stand nosing into
your dog's den for my fair dues? It is IShere Khanwho speak!"
The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf
shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forwardher eyeslike
two green moons in the darknessfacing the blazing eyes of Shere
"And it is IRaksha [The Demon]who answers. The man's cub
is mineLungri--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
endlook youhunter of little naked cubs--frog-eater--
fish-killer--he shall hunt thee! Now get henceor by the
Sambhur that I killed (I eat no starved cattle)back thou goest
to thy motherburned beast of the junglelamer 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 Wolfbut
he could not stand up against Mother Wolffor he knew that where
he was she had all the advantage of the groundand would fight to
the death. So he backed out of the cave mouth growlingand 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 mineand to
my teeth he will come in the endO bush-tailed thieves!"
Mother Wolf threw herself down panting among the cubsand
Father Wolf said to her gravely:
"Shere Khan speaks this much truth. The cub must be shown to
the Pack. Wilt thou still keep himMother?"
"Keep him!" she gasped. "He came nakedby nightalone and
very hungry; yet he was not afraid! Lookhe 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
villagers here hunted through all our lairs in revenge! Keep him?
Assuredly I will keep him. Lie stilllittle frog. O thou Mowgli
--for Mowgli the Frog I will call thee--the time will come when
thou wilt hunt Shere Khan as he has hunted thee."
"But what will our Pack say?" said Father Wolf.
The Law of the Jungle lays down very clearly that any wolf
maywhen he marrieswithdraw 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 Councilwhich is generally held once a
month at full moonin order that the other wolves may identify
them. After that inspection the cubs are free to run where they
pleaseand until they have killed their first buck no excuse is
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.
Father Wolf waited till his cubs could run a littleand then
on the night of the Pack Meeting took them and Mowgli and Mother
Wolf to the Council Rock--a hilltop covered with stones and
boulders where a hundred wolves could hide. Akelathe great gray
Lone Wolfwho led all the Pack by strength and cunninglay out
at full length on his rockand below him sat forty or more wolves
of every size and colorfrom badger-colored veterans who could
handle a buck alone to young black three-year-olds who thought
they could. The Lone Wolf had led them for a year now. He had
fallen twice into a wolf trap in his youthand 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
over each other in the center of the circle where their mothers
and fathers satand now and again a senior wolf would go quietly
up to a cublook at him carefullyand 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 wellO Wolves!" And the anxious mothers would take up
the call: "Look--look wellO Wolves!"
At last--and Mother Wolf's neck bristles lifted as the time
came--Father Wolf pushed "Mowgli the Frog" as they called him
into the centerwhere he sat laughing and playing with some
pebbles that glistened in the moonlight.
Akela never raised his head from his pawsbut 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
man's cub?" Akela never even twitched his ears. All he said was:
"Look wellO Wolves! What have the Free People to do with the
orders of any save the Free People? Look well!"
There was a chorus of deep growlsand 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?" Nowthe Law of the
Jungle lays down that if there is any dispute as to the right of a
cub to be accepted by the Packhe must be spoken for by at least
two members of the Pack who are not his father and mother.
"Who speaks for this cub?" said Akela. "Among the Free People
who speaks?" There was no answer and Mother Wolf got ready for
what she knew would be her last fightif things came to fighting.
Then the only other creature who is allowed at the Pack
Council--Baloothe sleepy brown bear who teaches the wolf cubs
the Law of the Jungle: old Baloowho can come and go where he
pleases because he eats only nuts and roots and honey--rose upon
his hind quarters and grunted.
"The 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 of
wordsbut I speak the truth. Let him run with the Packand be
entered with the others. I myself will teach him."
"We need yet another" said Akela. "Baloo has spokenand he
is our teacher for the young cubs. Who speaks besides Baloo?"
A black shadow dropped down into the circle. It was Bagheera
the Black Pantherinky black all overbut with the panther
markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered
silk. Everybody knew Bagheeraand nobody cared to cross his
path; for he was as cunning as Tabaquias bold as the wild
buffaloand as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a
voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a treeand a skin
softer than down.
"O Akelaand ye the Free People" he purred"I have no right
in your assemblybut the Law of the Jungle says that if there is
a doubt which is not a killing matter in regard to a new cubthe
life of 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 wolveswho are always hungry.
"Listen to Bagheera. The cub can be bought for a price. It is
"Knowing that I have no right to speak hereI ask your
"Speak then" cried twenty voices.
"To kill a naked cub is shame. Besideshe 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 bulland a fat onenewly
killednot half a mile from hereif ye will accept the man's cub
according to the Law. Is it difficult?"
There was a clamor of scores of voicessaying: "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
the bullBagheera? Let him be accepted." And then came Akela's
deep baycrying: "Look well--look wellO Wolves!"
Mowgli was still deeply interested in the pebblesand 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 bulland only
AkelaBagheeraBalooand Mowgli's own wolves were left. Shere
Khan roared still in the nightfor he was very angry that Mowgli
had not been handed over to him.
"Ayroar well" said Bagheeraunder his whiskers"for the
time will come when this naked thing will make thee roar to
another tuneor I know nothing of man."
"It was well done" said Akela. "Men and their cubs are very
wise. He may be a help in time."
"Trulya help in time of need; for none can hope to lead the
Pack forever" said Bagheera.
Akela said nothing. He was thinking of the time that comes to
every leader of every pack when his strength goes from him and he
gets feebler and feeblertill at last he is killed by the wolves
and a new leader comes up--to be killed in his turn.
"Take him away" he said to Father Wolf"and train him as
befits one of the Free People."
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 yearsand
only guess at all the wonderful life that Mowgli led among the
wolvesbecause if it were written out it would fill ever so many
books. He grew up with the cubsthough theyof coursewere
grown wolves almost before he was a child. And Father Wolf taught
him his businessand the meaning of things in the jungletill
every rustle in the grassevery breath of the warm night air
every note of the owls above his headevery scratch of a bat's
claws as it roosted for a while in a treeand every splash of
every little fish jumping in a pool meant just as much to him as
the work of his office means to a business man. When he was not
learning he sat out in the sun and sleptand ate and went to
sleep again. When he felt dirty or hot he swam in the forest
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
itand that Bagheera showed him how to do. Bagheera would lie
out on a branch and call"Come alongLittle Brother" and at
first Mowgli would cling like the slothbut afterward he would
fling himself through the branches almost as boldly as the gray
ape. He took his place at the Council Rocktoowhen the Pack
metand there he discovered that if he stared hard at any wolf
the wolf would be forced to drop his eyesand so he used to stare
for fun. At other times he would pick the long thorns out of the
pads of his friendsfor wolves suffer terribly from thorns and
burs in their coats. He would go down the hillside into the
cultivated lands by nightand look very curiously at the
villagers in their hutsbut he had a mistrust of men because
Bagheera showed him a square box with a drop gate so cunningly
hidden in the jungle that he nearly walked into itand told him
that it was a trap. He loved better than anything else to go with
Bagheera into the dark warm heart of the forestto sleep all
through the drowsy dayand at night see how Bagheera did his
killing. Bagheera killed right and left as he felt hungryand so
did Mowgli--with one exception. As soon as he was old enough to
understand thingsBagheera 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"andthou
canst kill everything that thou art strong enough to kill; but for
the sake of the bull that bought thee thou must never kill or eat
any cattle young or old. That is the Law of the Jungle." Mowgli
And he grew and grew strong as a boy must grow who does not
know that he is learning any lessonsand who has nothing in the
world to think of except things to eat.
Mother Wolf told him once or twice that Shere Khan was not a
creature to be trustedand that some day he must kill Shere Khan.
But though a young wolf would have remembered that advice every
hourMowgli forgot it because he was only a boy--though he
would have called himself a wolf if he had been able to speak in
any human tongue.
Shere Khan was always crossing his path in the junglefor as
Akela grew older and feebler the lame tiger had come to be great
friends with the younger wolves of the Packwho followed him for
scrapsa thing Akela would never have allowed if he had dared to
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
eyes." And the young wolves would growl and bristle.
Bagheerawho had eyes and ears everywhereknew something of
thisand 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 Baloothough 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 Bagheera--
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
jungleas the boy lay with his head on Bagheera's beautiful black
skin"Little Brotherhow often have I told thee that Shere Khan
is thy enemy?"
"As many times as there are nuts on that palm" said Mowgli
whonaturallycould not count. "What of it? I am sleepy
Bagheeraand Shere Khan is all long tail and loud talk--like
"But this is no time for sleeping. Baloo knows it; I know it;
the Pack know it; and even the foolishfoolish deer know.
Tabaqui has told thee too."
"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 twice
against a palm-tree to teach him better manners."
"That was foolishnessfor though Tabaqui is a mischief-maker
he would have told thee of something that concerned thee closely.
Open those eyesLittle Brother. Shere Khan dare not kill thee in
the jungle. But rememberAkela is very oldand soon the day
comes when he cannot kill his buckand 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 tooand the young wolves
believeas Shere Khan has taught themthat a man-cub has no
place with the Pack. In a little time thou wilt be a man."
"And what is a man that he should not run with his brothers?"
said Mowgli. "I was born in the jungle. I have obeyed the Law of
the Jungleand 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 his
eyes. "Little Brother" said he"feel under my jaw."
Mowgli put up his strong brown handand just under Bagheera's
silky chinwhere the giant rolling muscles were all hid by the
glossy hairhe came upon a little bald spot.
"There is no one in the jungle that knows that IBagheera
carry that mark--the mark of the collar; and yetLittle
BrotherI was born among menand 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
thou wast a little naked cub. YesI too was born among men. I
had never seen the jungle. They fed me behind bars from an iron
pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera--the Panther--
and no man's playthingand I broke the silly lock with one blow
of my paw and came away. And because I had learned the ways of
menI became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan. Is it
"Yes" said Mowgli"all the jungle fear Bagheera--all
"Ohthou art a man's cub" said the Black Panther very
tenderly. "And even as I returned to my jungleso thou must go
back to men at last--to the men who are thy brothers--if thou
art not killed in the Council."
"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 away
in half a minute.
"That is why" he saidshifting his paw on the leaves. "Not
even I can look thee between the eyesand I was born among men
and I love theeLittle 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 sullenlyand he
frowned under his heavy black eyebrows.
"What is the Law of the Jungle? Strike first and then give
tongue. By thy very carelessness they know that thou art a man.
But 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 buck--the
Pack will turn against him and against thee. They will hold a
jungle Council at the Rockand then--and then--I have it!"
said Bagheeraleaping up. "Go thou down quickly to the men's
huts in the valleyand take some of the Red Flower which they
grow thereso that when the time comes thou mayest have even a
stronger friend than I or Baloo or those of the Pack that love
thee. Get the Red Flower."
By Red Flower Bagheera meant fireonly no creature in the
jungle will call fire by its proper name. Every beast lives in
deadly fear of itand invents a hundred ways of describing it.
"The Red Flower?" said Mowgli. "That grows outside their huts
in the twilight. I will get some."
"There speaks the man's cub" said Bagheera proudly.
"Remember that it grows in little pots. Get one swiftlyand keep
it by thee for time of need."
"Good!" said Mowgli. "I go. But art thou sureO my
Bagheera"--he slipped his arm around the splendid neck and
looked deep into the big eyes--"art thou sure that all this is
Shere Khan's doing?"
"By the Broken Lock that freed meI am sureLittle Brother."
"Thenby the Bull that bought meI will pay Shere Khan full
tale for thisand it may be a little over" said Mowgliand he
"That is a man. That is all a man" said Bagheera to himself
lying down again. "OhShere Khannever was a blacker hunting
than that frog-hunt of thine ten years ago!"
Mowgli was far and far through the forestrunning hardand
his heart was hot in him. He came to the cave as the evening mist
roseand drew breathand looked down the valley. The cubs were
outbut Mother Wolfat the back of the caveknew by his
breathing that something was troubling her frog.
"What is itSon?" 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 bushesto the stream at the bottom of the valley. There he
checkedfor he heard the yell of the Pack huntingheard the
bellow of a hunted Sambhurand the snort as the buck turned at
bay. Then there were wickedbitter howls from the young wolves:
"Akela! Akela! Let the Lone Wolf show his strength. Room for
the leader of the Pack! SpringAkela!"
The Lone Wolf must have sprung and missed his holdfor Mowgli
heard the snap of his teeth and then a yelp as the Sambhur knocked
him over with his forefoot.
He did not wait for anything morebut dashed on; and the
yells grew fainter behind him as he ran into the croplands where
the villagers lived.
"Bagheera spoke truth" he pantedas he nestled down in some
cattle fodder by the window of a hut. "To-morrow is one day both
for Akela and for me."
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 coldhe saw the man's child pick up
a wicker pot plastered inside with earthfill it with lumps of
red-hot charcoalput it under his blanketand go out to tend the
cows in the byre.
"Is that all?" said Mowgli. "If a cub can do itthere is
nothing to fear." So he strode round the corner and met the boy
took the pot from his handand disappeared into the mist while
the boy howled with fear.
"They are very like me" said Mowgliblowing into the pot as
he had seen the woman do. "This thing will die if I do not give
it things to eat"; and he dropped twigs and dried bark on the red
stuff. Halfway up the hill he met Bagheera with the morning dew
shining like moonstones on his coat.
"Akela has missed" said the Panther. "They would have killed
him last nightbut they needed thee also. They were looking for
thee on the hill."
"I was among the plowed lands. I am ready. See!" Mowgli
held up the fire-pot.
"Good! NowI have seen men thrust a dry branch into that
stuffand presently the Red Flower blossomed at the end of it.
Art thou not afraid?"
"No. Why should I fear? I remember now--if it is not a
dream--howbefore I was a WolfI lay beside the Red Flower
and it was warm and pleasant."
All that day Mowgli sat in the cave tending his fire pot and
dipping dry branches into it to see how they looked. He found a
branch that satisfied himand in the evening when Tabaqui came to
the cave and told him rudely enough that he was wanted at the
Council Rockhe laughed till Tabaqui ran away. Then Mowgli went
to the Councilstill laughing.
Akela the Lone Wolf lay by the side of his rock as a sign that
the leadership of the Pack was openand Shere Khan with his
following of scrap-fed wolves walked to and fro openly being
flattered. Bagheera lay close to Mowgliand the fire pot was
between Mowgli's knees. When they were all gathered together
Shere Khan began to speak--a thing he would never have dared to
do when Akela was in his prime.
"He has no right" whispered Bagheera. "Say so. He is a
dog's son. He will be frightened."
Mowgli sprang to his feet. "Free People" he cried"does
Shere Khan lead the Pack? What has a tiger to do with our
"Seeing that the leadership is yet openand being asked to
speak--" Shere Khan began.
"By whom?" said Mowgli. "Are we all jackalsto fawn on this
cattle butcher? The leadership of the Pack is with the Pack
There were yells of "Silencethou 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 killhe is called the Dead Wolf as long as he
liveswhich is not long.
Akela raised his old head wearily:--
"Free Peopleand ye toojackals of Shere Khanfor twelve
seasons I have led ye to and from the killand in all that time
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 Rocknow.
ThereforeI askwho comes to make an end of the Lone Wolf? For
it is my rightby the Law of the Junglethat ye come one by
There was a long hushfor no single wolf cared to fight Akela
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 Peoplehe 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-cubor
I will hunt here alwaysand not give you one bone. He is a man
a man's childand from the marrow of my bones I hate him!"
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?" clamored
Shere Khan. "Nogive him to me. He is a manand 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."
"AlsoI paid for him with a bull when he was accepted. The
worth of a bull is littlebut Bagheera's honor is something that
he will perhaps fight for" said Bagheera in his gentlest voice.
"A bull paid ten years ago!" the Pack snarled. "What do we
care for bones ten years old?"
"Or for a pledge?" said Bagheerahis white teeth bared under
his lip. "Well are ye called the Free People!"
"No man's cub can run with the people of the jungle" howled
Shere Khan. "Give him to me!"
"He is our brother in all but blood" Akela went on"and ye
would kill him here! In truthI have lived too long. Some of ye
are eaters of cattleand of others I have heard thatunder Shere
Khan's teachingye go by dark night and snatch children from the
villager's doorstep. Therefore I know ye to be cowardsand it is
to cowards I speak. It is certain that I must dieand my life is
of no worthor 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
being without a leader ye have forgotten--I promise that if ye
let the man-cub go to his own placeI will notwhen my time
comes to diebare one tooth against ye. I will die without
fighting. That will at least save the Pack three lives. More I
cannot do; but if ye willI 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 Khanwhose tail was
beginning to switch.
"Now the business is in thy hands" said Bagheera to Mowgli.
"We can do no more except fight."
Mowgli stood upright--the fire pot in his hands. Then he
stretched out his armsand yawned in the face of the Council; but
he was furious with rage and sorrowforwolflikethe wolves had
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
not call ye my brothers any morebut sag [dogs]as a man should.
What ye will doand what ye will not dois not yours to say.
That matter is with me; and that we may see the matter more
plainlyIthe manhave brought here a little of the Red Flower
He flung the fire pot on the groundand some of the red coals
lit a tuft of dried moss that flared upas all the Council drew
back in terror before the leaping flames.
Mowgli thrust his dead branch into the fire till the twigs lit
and crackledand whirled it above his head among the cowering
"Thou art the master" said Bagheera in an undertone. "Save
Akela from the death. He was ever thy friend."
Akelathe grim old wolf who had never asked for mercy in his
lifegave 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 Mowglistaring 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 meand I must forget your talk and your
companionship. But I will be more merciful than ye are. Because
I was all but your brother in bloodI promise that when I am a
man among men I will not betray ye to men as ye have betrayed me."
He kicked the fire with his footand 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
blinking stupidly at the flamesand caught him by the tuft on his
chin. Bagheera followed in case of accidents. "Updog!" Mowgli
cried. "Upwhen a man speaksor I will set that coat ablaze!"
Shere Khan's ears lay flat back on his headand he shut his
eyesfor 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 thus
thendo we beat dogs when we are men. Stir a whiskerLungri
and I ram the Red Flower down thy gullet!" He beat Shere Khan
over the head with the branchand the tiger whimpered and whined
in an agony of fear.
"Pah! Singed jungle cat--go now! But remember when next I
come to the Council Rockas a man should comeit will be with
Shere Khan's hide on my head. For the restAkela goes free to
live as he pleases. Ye will not kill himbecause that is not my
will. Nor do I think that ye will sit here any longerlolling
out your tongues as though ye were somebodiesinstead of dogs
whom I drive out--thus! Go!" The fire was burning furiously at
the end of the branchand Mowgli struck right and left round the
circleand the wolves ran howling with the sparks burning their
fur. At last there were only AkelaBagheeraand perhaps ten
wolves that had taken Mowgli's part. Then something began to hurt
Mowgli inside himas he had never been hurt in his life before
and he caught his breath and sobbedand the tears ran down his
"What is it? What is it?" he said. "I do not wish to leave
the jungleand I do not know what this is. Am I dying
"NoLittle Brother. That is only tears such as men use"
said Bagheera. "Now I know thou art a manand a man's cub no
longer. The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward. Let them
fallMowgli. They are only tears." So Mowgli sat and cried as
though his 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 lived
with Father Wolfand he cried on her coatwhile the four cubs
"Ye will not forget me?" said Mowgli.
"Never while we can follow a trail" said the cubs. "Come to
the foot of the hill when thou art a manand we will talk to
thee; and we will come into the croplands to play with thee by
"Come soon!" said Father Wolf. "Ohwise little frogcome
again soon; for we be oldthy mother and I."
"Come soon" said Mother Wolf"little naked son of mine.
Forlistenchild of manI 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 aloneto meet those mysterious things that are called
Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack
As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Oncetwice and again!
And a doe leaped upand a doe leaped up
From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.
This Iscouting alonebeheld
Oncetwice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Oncetwice and again!
And a wolf stole backand a wolf stole back
To carry the word to the waiting pack
And we sought and we found and we bayed on his track
Oncetwice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Wolf Pack yelled
Oncetwice and again!
Feet in the jungle that leave no mark!
Eyes that can see in the dark--the dark!
Tongue--give tongue to it! Hark! O hark!
Oncetwice and again!
His spots are the joy of the Leopard: his horns are the
Be cleanfor the strength of the hunter is known by the
gloss of his hide.
If ye find that the Bullock can toss youor the heavy-browed
Sambhur can gore;
Ye need not stop work to inform us: we knew it ten seasons
Oppress not the cubs of the strangerbut hail them as Sister
For though they are little and fubsyit may be the Bear is
"There is none like to me!" says the Cub in the pride of his
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 Packor revenged himself on Shere Khan
the tiger. It was in the days when Baloo was teaching him the Law
of the Jungle. The bigseriousold brown bear was delighted to
have so quick a pupilfor the young wolves will only learn as
much of the Law of the Jungle as applies to their own pack and
tribeand run away as soon as they can repeat the Hunting Verse
--"Feet that make no noise; eyes that can see in the dark; ears
that can hear the winds in their lairsand sharp white teethall
these things are the marks of our brothers except Tabaqui the
Jackal and the Hyaena whom we hate." But Mowglias 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 onand 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 swimand swim almost as
well as he could run. So Baloothe Teacher of the Lawtaught
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 disturbedand
all are very ready to fly at an intruder. ThentooMowgli was
taught the Strangers' Hunting Callwhich must be repeated aloud
till it is answeredwhenever one of the Jungle-People hunts
outside his own grounds. It meanstranslated"Give me leave to
hunt here because I am hungry." And the answer is"Hunt then for
foodbut 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. Butas Baloo said to Bagheeraone day when Mowgli had
been 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 Pantherwho would
have spoiled Mowgli if he had had his own way. "How can his
little head carry all thy long talk?"
"Is there anything in the jungle too little to be killed? No.
That is why I teach him these thingsand that is why I hit him
very softlywhen he forgets."
"Softly! What dost thou know of softnessold Iron-feet?"
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
answered very earnestly. "I am now teaching him the Master Words
of the Jungle that shall protect him with the birds and the Snake
Peopleand all that hunt on four feetexcept his own pack. He
can now claim protectionif he will only remember the wordsfrom
all in the jungle. Is not that worth a little beating?"
"Welllook to it then that thou dost not kill the man-cub.
He 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 ask it"
--Bagheera stretched out one paw and admired the steel-blue
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.
"My head is ringing like a bee tree" said a sullen little
voice over their headsand Mowgli slid down a tree trunk very
angry and indignantadding as he reached the ground: "I come for
Bagheera and not for theefat old Baloo!"
"That is all one to me" said Baloothough he was hurt and
grieved. "Tell Bagheerathenthe Master Words of the Jungle
that I have taught thee this day."
"Master Words for which people?" said Mowglidelighted to
show off. "The jungle has many tongues. I know them all."
"A little thou knowestbut not much. SeeO Bagheerathey
never thank their teacher. Not one small wolfling has ever come
back to thank old Baloo for his teachings. Say the word for the
"We be of one bloodye and I" said Mowgligiving the words
the Bear accent which all the Hunting People use.
"Good. Now for the birds."
Mowgli repeatedwith the Kite's whistle at the end of the
"Now for the Snake-People" said Bagheera.
The answer was a perfectly indescribable hissand Mowgli
kicked up his feet behindclapped his hands together to applaud
himselfand jumped on to Bagheera's backwhere he sat sideways
drumming with his heels on the glossy skin and making the worst
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
from Hathi the Wild Elephantwho knows all about these things
and how Hathi had taken Mowgli down to a pool to get the Snake
Word from a water-snakebecause Baloo could not pronounce itand
how Mowgli was now reasonably safe against all accidents in the
junglebecause neither snakebirdnor beast would hurt him.
"No one then is to be feared" Baloo wound uppatting his big
furry stomach with pride.
"Except his own tribe" said Bagheeraunder his breath; and
then aloud to Mowgli"Have a care for my ribsLittle Brother!
What is all this dancing up and down?"
Mowgli had been trying to make himself heard by pulling at
Bagheera's shoulder 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 ownand lead them through the branches all day
"What is this new follylittle dreamer of dreams?" said
"Yesand throw branches and dirt at old Baloo" Mowgli went
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.
"Thou hast been with the Monkey People--the gray apes--the
people without a law--the eaters of everything. That is great
"When Baloo hurt my head" said Mowgli (he was still on his
back)"I went awayand the gray apes came down from the trees
and had pity on me. No one else cared." He snuffled a little.
"The pity of the Monkey People!" Baloo snorted. "The
stillness of the mountain stream! The cool of the summer sun!
"And thenand thenthey gave me nuts and pleasant things to
eatand they--they carried me in their arms up to the top of
the trees and said I was their blood brother except that I had no
tailand 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.
Let me get up! Bad Baloolet me up! I will play with them
"Listenman-cub" said the Bearand his voice rumbled like
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 ownbut use the stolen words which
they overhear when they listenand peepand wait up above in
the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without
leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and
pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in
the junglebut 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
the monkeys go; we do not hunt where they hunt; we do not die
where they die. Hast thou ever heard me speak of the Bandar-log
"No" said Mowgli in a whisperfor the forest was very still
now Baloo had finished.
"The Jungle-People put them out of their mouths and out of
their minds. They are very manyevildirtyshamelessand they
desireif they have any fixed desireto be noticed by the Jungle
People. 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 spattered
down through the branches; and they could hear coughings and
howlings and angry jumpings high up in the air among the thin
"The Monkey-People are forbidden" said Baloo"forbidden to
the Jungle-People. Remember."
"Forbidden" said Bagheera"but I still think Baloo should
have warned thee against them."
"I--I? How was I to guess he would play with such dirt.
The Monkey People! Faugh!"
A fresh shower came down on their heads and the two trotted
awaytaking Mowgli with them. What Baloo had said about the
monkeys was perfectly true. They belonged to the tree-topsand as
beasts very seldom look upthere was no occasion for the monkeys
and the Jungle-People to cross each other's path. But whenever
they found a sick wolfor a wounded tigeror bearthe monkeys
would torment himand would throw sticks and nuts at any beast
for fun and in the hope of being noticed. Then they would howl
and shriek senseless songsand invite the Jungle-People to climb
up their trees and fight themor would start furious battles over
nothing among themselvesand leave the dead monkeys where the
Jungle-People could see them. They were always just going to have
a leaderand laws and customs of their ownbut they never did
because their memories would not hold over from day to dayand so
they compromised things by making up a saying"What the
Bandar-log think now the jungle will think later" and that
comforted them a great deal. None of the beasts could reach them
but on the other hand none of the beasts would notice themand
that was why they were so pleased when Mowgli came to play with
themand they heard how angry Baloo was.
They never meant to do any more--the Bandar-log never mean
anything at all; but one of them invented what seemed to him a
brilliant ideaand he told all the others that Mowgli would be a
useful person to keep in the tribebecause he could weave sticks
together for protection from the wind; soif they caught him
they could make him teach them. Of course Mowglias a
woodcutter's childinherited all sorts of instinctsand used to
make little huts of fallen branches without thinking how he came
to do it. The Monkey-Peoplewatching in the treesconsidered
his play most wonderful. This timethey saidthey 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
jungle very quietly till it was time for the midday napand
Mowgliwho was very much ashamed of himselfslept between the
Panther and the Bearresolving to have no more to do with the
The next thing he remembered was feeling hands on his legs and
arms--hardstronglittle hands--and then a swash of branches
in his faceand 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
Bagheera dared not followshouting: "He has noticed us! Bagheera
has noticed us. All the Jungle-People admire us for our skill and
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 crossroadsup hills
and down hillsall laid out from fifty to seventy or a hundred
feet above groundand by these they can travel even at night if
necessary. Two of the strongest monkeys caught Mowgli under the
arms and swung off with him through the treetopstwenty 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 rushthough the glimpses of
earth far down below frightened himand the terrible check and
jerk at the end of the swing over nothing but empty air brought
his heart between his teeth. His escort would rush him up a tree
till he felt the thinnest topmost branches crackle and bend under
themand then with a cough and a whoop would fling themselves
into the air outward and downwardand bring uphanging 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 green
jungleas a man on the top of a mast can see for miles across the
seaand then the branches and leaves would lash him across the
faceand he and his two guards would be almost down to earth
again. Sobounding and crashing and whooping and yellingthe
whole tribe of Bandar-log swept along the tree-roads with Mowgli
For a time he was afraid of being dropped. Then he grew angry
but knew better than to struggleand then he began to think. The
first thing was to send back word to Baloo and Bagheeraforat
the pace the monkeys were goinghe knew his friends would be left
far behind. It was useless to look downfor he could only see
the topsides of the branchesso he stared upward and sawfar
away in the blueRann the Kite balancing and wheeling as he kept
watch over the jungle waiting for things to die. Rann saw that
the monkeys were carrying somethingand 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
heard him give the Kite call for--"We be of one bloodthou and
I." The waves of the branches closed over the boybut Chil
balanced away to the next tree in time to see the little brown
face come up again. "Mark my trail!" Mowgli shouted. "Tell
Baloo of the Seeonee Pack and Bagheera of the Council Rock."
"In whose nameBrother?" Rann had never seen Mowgli before
though of course he had heard of him.
"Mowglithe Frog. Man-cub they call me! Mark my tra-il!"
The last words were shrieked as he was being swung through the
airbut Rann nodded and rose up till he looked no bigger than a
speck of dustand there he hungwatching 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 do
what they set out to do. Always pecking at new things are the
Bandar-log. This timeif I have any eye-sightthey have pecked
down trouble for themselvesfor Baloo is no fledgling and
Bagheera canas I knowkill more than goats."
So he rocked on his wingshis feet gathered up under himand
MeantimeBaloo and Bagheera were furious with rage and grief.
Bagheera climbed as he had never climbed beforebut the thin
branches broke beneath his weightand he slipped downhis claws
full of bark.
"Why didst thou not warn the man-cub?" he roared to poor
Baloowho 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
thou didst 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 alreadybeing
tired of carrying him. Who can trust the Bandar-log? Put dead
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 deathand bury me
with the Hyaenafor I am most miserable of bears! Arulala!
Wahooa! O MowgliMowgli! Why did I not warn thee against the
Monkey-Folk instead of breaking thy head? Now perhaps I may have
knocked the day's lesson out of his mindand 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. "Baloothou hast neither memory
nor respect. What would the jungle think if Ithe Black Panther
curled myself up like Ikki the Porcupineand howled?"
"What do I care what the jungle thinks? He may be dead by
"Unless and until they drop him from the branches in sportor
kill him out of idlenessI have no fear for the man-cub. He is
wise and well taughtand 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-logand theybecause they live in trees
have no fear of any of our people." Bagheera licked one forepaw
"Fool that I am! Ohfatbrownroot-digging fool that I
am" said Baloouncoiling himself with a jerk"it is true what
Hathi the Wild Elephant says: `To each his own fear'; and they
the Bandar-logfear 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 tribebeing
footless--and with most evil eyes" said Bagheera.
"He is very old and very cunning. Above allhe is always
hungry" said Baloo hopefully. "Promise him many goats."
"He sleeps for a full month after he has once eaten. He may
be asleep nowand even were he awake what if he would rather kill
his own goats?" Bagheerawho did not know much about Kaawas
"Then in that casethou and I togetherold huntermight
make him see reason." Here Baloo rubbed his faded brown shoulder
against the Pantherand they went off to look for Kaa the Rock
They found him stretched out on a warm ledge in the afternoon
sunadmiring his beautiful new coatfor he had been in
retirement for the last ten days changing his skinand now he was
very splendid--darting his big blunt-nosed head along the
groundand twisting the thirty feet of his body into fantastic
knots and curvesand licking his lips as he thought of his dinner
"He has not eaten" said Baloowith a grunt of reliefas
soon as he saw the beautifully mottled brown and yellow jacket.
"Be carefulBagheera! He is always a little blind after he has
changed his skinand 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 hugand
when he had once lapped his huge coils round anybody there was no
more to be said. "Good hunting!" cried Baloositting up on his
haunches. Like all snakes of his breed Kaa was rather deafand
did not hear the call at first. Then he curled up ready for any
accidenthis head lowered.
"Good hunting for us all" he answered. "OhoBaloowhat
dost thou do here? Good huntingBagheera. One of us at least
needs food. Is there any news of game afoot? A doe nowor even
a young buck? I am as empty as a dried well."
"We are hunting" said Baloo carelessly. He knew that you
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 theeBagheera or Baloobut I--I have to
wait and wait for days in a wood-path and climb half a night on
the mere chance of a young ape. Psshaw! The branches are not
what they were when I was young. Rotten twigs and dry boughs are
"Maybe thy great weight has something to do with the matter"
"I am a fair length--a fair length" said Kaa with a little
pride. "But for all thatit is the fault of this new-grown
timber. I came very near to falling on my last hunt--very near
indeed--and the noise of my slippingfor my tail was not tight
wrapped around the treewaked the Bandar-logand they called me
most evil names."
"Footlessyellow earth-worm" said Bagheera under his
whiskersas 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
moonbut we never noticed them. They will say anything--even
that thou hast lost all thy teethand wilt not face anything
bigger than a kidbecause (they are indeed shamelessthese
Bandar-log)--because thou art afraid of the he-goat's horns"
Bagheera went on sweetly.
Now a snakeespecially a wary old python like Kaavery
seldom shows that he is angrybut 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 throatfor that was the first time in
his memory that one of the Jungle-People had owned to being
interested in the doings of the monkeys.
"Beyond doubt then it is no small thing that takes two such
hunters--leaders in their own jungle I am certain--on the
trail of the Bandar-log" Kaa replied courteouslyas he swelled
"Indeed" Baloo began"I am no more than the old and
sometimes very foolish Teacher of the Law to the Seeonee
wolf-cubsand Bagheera here--"
"Is Bagheera" said the Black Pantherand his jaws shut with
a snapfor he did not believe in being humble. "The trouble is
thisKaa. Those nut-stealers and pickers of palm leaves have
stolen away our man-cub of whom thou hast perhaps heard."
"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
very badly told."
"But it is true. He is such a man-cub as never was" said
Baloo. "The best and wisest and boldest of man-cubs--my own
pupilwho shall make the name of Baloo famous through all the
jungles; and besidesI--we--love himKaa."
"Ts! Ts!" said Kaaweaving 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 praise
properly" said Bagheera quickly. "Our man-cub is in the hands of
the Bandar-log nowand we know that of all the Jungle-People they
fear Kaa alone."
"They fear me alone. They have good reason" said Kaa.
the monkeys. But a man-thing in their hands is in no good luck.
They grow tired of the nuts they pickand throw them down. They
carry a branch half a daymeaning to do great things with itand
then they snap it in two. That man-thing is not to be envied.
They called me also--`yellow fish' was it not?"
"Worm--worm--earth-worm" said Bagheera"as well as other
things which I cannot now say for shame."
"We must remind them to speak well of their master. Aaa-ssp!
We must help their wandering memories. Nowwhither went they
with the cub?"
"The jungle alone knows. Toward the sunsetI believe" said
Baloo. "We had thought that thou wouldst knowKaa."
"I? How? I take them when they come in my waybut I do not
hunt the Bandar-logor frogs--or green scum on a water-hole
for that matter."
"UpUp! UpUp! Hillo! Illo! Illolook upBaloo of the
Seeonee Wolf Pack!"
Baloo looked up to see where the voice came fromand there
was Rann the Kitesweeping down with the sun shining on the
upturned flanges of his wings. It was near Rann's bedtimebut he
had ranged all over the jungle looking for the Bear and had missed
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
a nightor ten nightsor an hour. I have told the bats to watch
through the dark time. That is my message. Good huntingall you
"Full gorge and a deep sleep to youRann" cried Bagheera.
"I will remember thee in my next killand put aside the head for
thee aloneO 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 himand now we must go to the Cold Lairs."
They all knew where that place wasbut few of the Jungle
People ever went therebecause what they called the Cold Lairs
was an old deserted citylost and buried in the jungleand
beasts seldom use a place that men have once used. The wild boar
willbut the hunting tribes do not. Besidesthe monkeys lived
there as much as they could be said to live anywhereand no
self-respecting animal would come within eyeshot of it except in
times of droughtwhen the half-ruined tanks and reservoirs held a
"It is half a night's journey--at full speed" said
Bagheeraand Baloo looked very serious. "I will go as fast as I
can" he said anxiously.
"We dare not wait for thee. FollowBaloo. We must go on the
quick-foot--Kaa and I."
"Feet or no feetI can keep abreast of all thy four" said
Kaa shortly. Baloo made one effort to hurrybut had to sit down
pantingand so they left him to come on laterwhile Bagheera
hurried forwardat the quick panther-canter. Kaa said nothing
butstrive as Bagheera mightthe huge Rock-python held level
with him. When they came to a hill streamBagheera gained
because he bounded across while Kaa swamhis head and two feet of
his neck clearing the waterbut on level ground Kaa made up the
"By the Broken Lock that freed me" said Bagheerawhen
twilight had fallen"thou art no slow goer!"
"I am hungry" said Kaa. "Besidesthey called me speckled
"Worm--earth-wormand yellow to boot."
"All one. Let us go on" and Kaa seemed to pour himself along
the groundfinding the shortest road with his steady eyesand
keeping to it.
In the Cold Lairs the Monkey-People were not thinking of
Mowgli's friends at all. They had brought the boy to the Lost
Cityand were very much pleased with themselves for the time.
Mowgli had never seen an Indian city beforeand though this was
almost a heap of ruins it seemed very wonderful and splendid.
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 wornrusted hinges. Trees
had grown into and out of the walls; the battlements were tumbled
down and decayedand wild creepers hung out of the windows of the
towers on the walls in bushy hanging clumps.
A great roofless palace crowned the hilland the marble of
the courtyards and the fountains was splitand stained with red
and greenand the very cobblestones in the courtyard where the
king's elephants used to live had been thrust up and apart by
grasses and young trees. From the palace you could see the rows
and rows of roofless houses that made up the city looking like
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
stoodand the shattered domes of temples with wild figs sprouting
on their sides. The monkeys called the place their cityand
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
king's council chamberand scratch for fleas and pretend to be
men; or they would run in and out of the roofless houses and
collect pieces of plaster and old bricks in a cornerand forget
where they had hidden themand fight and cry in scuffling crowds
and then break off to play up and down the terraces of the king's
gardenwhere they would shake the rose trees and the oranges in
sport to see the fruit and flowers fall. They explored all the
passages and dark tunnels in the palace and the hundreds of little
dark roomsbut they never remembered what they had seen and what
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 muddyand then they fought over
itand then they would all rush together in mobs and shout:
"There is no one in the jungle so wise and good and clever and
strong and gentle as the Bandar-log." Then all would begin again
till they grew tired of the city and went back to the tree-tops
hoping the Jungle-People would notice them.
Mowgliwho had been trained under the Law of the Jungledid
not like or understand this kind of life. The monkeys dragged him
into the Cold Lairs late in the afternoonand instead of going to
sleepas Mowgli would have done after a long journeythey 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-logfor
Mowgli was going to show them how to weave sticks and canes
together as a protection against rain and cold. Mowgli picked up
some creepers and began to work them in and outand 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 foodor give me leave to hunt here."
Twenty or thirty monkeys bounded away to bring him nuts and
wild pawpaws. But they fell to fighting on the roadand it was
too much trouble to go back with what was left of the fruit.
Mowgli was sore and angry as well as hungryand he roamed through
the empty city giving the Strangers' Hunting Call from time to
timebut no one answered himand Mowgli felt that he had reached
a very bad place indeed. "All that Baloo has said about the
Bandar-log is true" he thought to himself. "They have no Lawno
Hunting Calland 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 mebut that is better than
chasing silly rose leaves with the Bandar-log."
No sooner had he walked to the city wall than the monkeys
pulled him backtelling him that he did not know how happy he
wasand pinching him to make him grateful. He set his teeth and
said nothingbut went with the shouting monkeys to a terrace
above the red sandstone reservoirs that were half-full of rain
water. There was a ruined summer-house of white marble in the
center of the terracebuilt for queens dead a hundred years ago.
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 fretworkset with agates and cornelians and jasper and
lapis lazuliand as the moon came up behind the hill it shone
through the open workcasting shadows on the ground like black
velvet embroidery. Soresleepyand hungry as he wasMowgli
could not help laughing when the Bandar-log begantwenty at a
timeto tell him how great and wise and strong and gentle they
wereand 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 soand so it must be true"
they shouted. "Now as you are a new listener and can carry our
words back to the Jungle-People so that they may notice us in
futurewe will tell you all about our most excellent selves."
Mowgli made no objectionand the monkeys gathered by hundreds and
hundreds on the terrace to listen to their own speakers singing
the praises of the Bandar-logand whenever a speaker stopped for
want of breath they would all shout together: "This is true; we
all say so." Mowgli nodded and blinkedand said "Yes" whenthey
asked him a questionand his head spun with the noise. "Tabaqui
the Jackal must have bitten all these people" he said to himself
"and now they have madness. Certainly this is dewaneethe
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
try to run away in the darkness. But I am tired."
That same cloud was being watched by two good friends in the
ruined ditch below the city wallfor Bagheera and Kaaknowing
well how dangerous the Monkey-People were in large numbersdid
not wish to run any risks. The monkeys never fight unless they
are a hundred to oneand few in the jungle care for those odds.
"I will go to the west wall" Kaa whispered"and come down
swiftly with the slope of the ground in my favor. They will not
throw themselves upon my back in their hundredsbut--"
"I know it" said Bagheera. "Would that Baloo were herebut
we must do what we can. When that cloud covers the moon I shall
go to the terrace. They hold some sort of council there over the
"Good hunting" said Kaa grimlyand glided away to the west
wall. That happened to be the least ruined of anyand the big
snake was delayed awhile before he could find a way up the stones.
The cloud hid the moonand 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
striking--he knew better than to waste time in biting--right
and left among the monkeyswho were seated round Mowgli in
circles fifty and sixty deep. There was a howl of fright and
rageand then as Bagheera tripped on the rolling kicking bodies
beneath hima monkey shouted: "There is only one here! Kill him!
Kill." A scuffling mass of monkeysbitingscratchingtearing
and pullingclosed over Bagheerawhile five or six laid hold of
Mowglidragged him up the wall of the summerhouse and pushed him
through the hole of the broken dome. A man-trained boy would have
been badly bruisedfor the fall was a good fifteen feetbut
Mowgli fell as Baloo had taught him to falland landed on his
"Stay there" shouted the monkeys"till we have killed thy
friendsand later we will play with thee--if the Poison-People
leave thee alive."
"We be of one bloodye and I" said Mowgliquickly giving
the Snake's Call. He could hear rustling and hissing in the
rubbish all round him and gave the Call a second timeto make
"Even ssso! Down hoods all!" said half a dozen low voices
(every ruin in India becomes sooner or later a dwelling place of
snakesand the old summerhouse was alive with cobras). "Stand
stillLittle Brotherfor thy feet may do us harm."
Mowgli stood as quietly as he couldpeering through the open
work and listening to the furious din of the fight round the Black
Panther--the yells and chatterings and scufflingsand
Bagheera's deephoarse cough as he backed and bucked and twisted
and plunged under the heaps of his enemies. For the first time
since he was bornBagheera was fighting for his life.
"Baloo must be at hand; Bagheera would not have come alone"
Mowgli thought. And then he called aloud: "To the tankBagheera.
Roll to the water tanks. Roll and plunge! Get to the water!"
Bagheera heardand the cry that told him Mowgli was safe gave
him new courage. He worked his way desperatelyinch by inch
straight for the reservoirshalting in silence. Then from the
ruined wall nearest the jungle rose up the rumbling war-shout of
Baloo. The old Bear had done his bestbut he could not come
before. "Bagheera" he shouted"I am here. I climb! I haste!
Ahuwora! The stones slip under my feet! Wait my comingO most
infamous Bandar-log!" He panted up the terrace only to disappear
to the head in a wave of monkeysbut he threw himself squarely on
his haunchesandspreading out his forepawshugged as many as
he could holdand then began to hit with a regular bat-bat-bat
like the flipping strokes of a paddle wheel. A crash and a splash
told Mowgli that Bagheera had fought his way to the tank where the
monkeys could not follow. The Panther lay gasping for breathhis
head just out of the waterwhile the monkeys stood three deep on
the red stepsdancing up and down with rageready to spring upon
him from all sides if he came out to help Baloo. It was then that
Bagheera lifted up his dripping chinand in despair gave the
Snake's Call for protection--"We be of one bloodye and I"--
for he believed that Kaa had turned tail at the last minute. Even
Baloohalf smothered under the monkeys on the edge of the
terracecould not help chuckling as he heard the Black Panther
asking for help.
Kaa had only just worked his way over the west walllanding
with a wrench that dislodged a coping stone into the ditch. He
had no intention of losing any advantage of the groundand coiled
and uncoiled himself once or twiceto be sure that every foot of
his long body was in working order. All that while the fight with
Baloo went onand the monkeys yelled in the tank round Bagheera
and Mang the Batflying to and frocarried the news of the great
battle over the jungletill even Hathi the Wild Elephant
trumpetedandfar awayscattered bands of the Monkey-Folk woke
and came leaping along the tree-roads to help their comrades in
the Cold Lairsand the noise of the fight roused all the day
birds for miles round. Then Kaa came straightquicklyand
anxious to kill. The fighting strength of a python is in the
driving blow of his head backed by all the strength and weight of
his body. If you can imagine a lanceor a battering ramor a
hammer weighing nearly half a ton driven by a coolquiet mind
living in the handle of ityou 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 chestand Kaa was thirty
feet longas you know. His first stroke was delivered into the
heart of the crowd round Baloo. It was sent home with shut mouth
in silenceand 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 Kaathe night thiefwho
could slip along the branches as quietly as moss growsand steal
away the strongest monkey that ever lived; of old Kaawho could
make himself look so like a dead branch or a rotten stump that the
wisest were deceivedtill the branch caught them. Kaa was
everything that the monkeys feared in the junglefor none of them
knew the limits of his powernone of them could look him in the
faceand none had ever come alive out of his hug. And so they
ranstammering with terrorto the walls and the roofs of the
housesand Baloo drew a deep breath of relief. His fur was much
thicker than Bagheera'sbut he had suffered sorely in the fight.
Then Kaa opened his mouth for the first time and spoke one long
hissing wordand the far-away monkeyshurrying to the defense of
the Cold Lairsstayed where they werecoweringtill the loaded
branches bent and crackled under them. The monkeys on the walls
and the empty houses stopped their criesand in the stillness
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
the necks of the big stone idols and shrieked as they skipped
along the battlementswhile Mowglidancing in the summerhouse
put his eye to the screenwork and hooted owl-fashion between his
front teethto show his derision and contempt.
"Get the man-cub out of that trap; I can do no more" Bagheera
gasped. "Let us take the man-cub and go. They may attack again."
"They will not move till I order them. Stay you sssso!" Kaa
hissedand the city was silent once more. "I could not come
beforeBrotherbut I think I heard thee call"--this was to
"I--I may have cried out in the battle" Bagheera answered.
"Balooart thou hurt?
"I am not sure that they did not pull me into a hundred little
bearlings" said Baloogravely shaking one leg after the other.
"Wow! I am sore. Kaawe owe theeI thinkour lives--Bagheera
"No matter. Where is the manling?"
"Herein a trap. I cannot climb out" cried Mowgli. The
curve of the broken dome was above his head.
"Take him away. He dances like Mao the Peacock. He will
crush our young" said the cobras inside.
"Hah!" said Kaa with a chuckle"he has friends everywhere
this manling. Stand backmanling. And hide youO Poison
People. I break down the wall."
Kaa looked carefully till he found a discolored crack in the
marble tracery showing a weak spotmade two or three light taps
with his head to get the distanceand then lifting up six feet of
his body clear of the groundsent home half a dozen full-power
smashing blowsnose-first. The screen-work broke and fell away
in a cloud of dust and rubbishand Mowgli leaped through the
opening and flung himself between Baloo and Bagheera--an arm
around each big neck.
"Art thou hurt?" said Baloohugging him softly.
"I am sorehungryand not a little bruised. Butohthey
have handled ye grievouslymy Brothers! Ye bleed."
"Others also" said Bagheeralicking his lips and looking at
the monkey-dead on the terrace and round the tank.
"It is nothingit is nothingif thou art safeohmy pride
of all little frogs!" whimpered Baloo.
"Of that we shall judge later" said Bagheerain a dry voice
that 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 our
Mowgli turned and saw the great Python's head swaying a foot
above his own.
"So this is the manling" said Kaa. "Very soft is his skin
and he is not unlike the Bandar-log. Have a caremanlingthat I
do not mistake thee for a monkey some twilight when I have newly
changed my coat."
"We be one bloodthou and I" Mowgli answered. "I take my
life from thee tonight. My kill shall be thy kill if ever thou
art hungryO Kaa."
"All thanksLittle Brother" said Kaathough his eyes
twinkled. "And what may so bold a hunter kill? I ask that I may
follow when next he goes abroad."
"I kill nothing--I am too little--but I drive goats
toward 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 held out
his hands]and if ever thou art in a trapI may pay the debt
which I owe to theeto Bagheeraand to Baloohere. Good
hunting to ye allmy masters."
"Well said" growled Baloofor Mowgli had returned thanks
very prettily. The Python dropped his head lightly for a minute
on Mowgli's shoulder. "A brave heart and a courteous tongue"
said he. "They shall carry thee far through the junglemanling.
But now go hence quickly with thy friends. Go and sleepfor the
moon setsand what follows it is not well that thou shouldst
The moon was sinking behind the hills and the lines of
trembling monkeys huddled together on the walls and battlements
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
jaws together 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 tree-tops--
"We seeO 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 circleweaving his head
from right to left. Then he began making loops and figures of
eight with his bodyand softoozy triangles that melted into
squares and five-sided figuresand coiled moundsnever resting
never hurryingand never stopping his low humming song. It grew
darker and darkertill at last the draggingshifting coils
disappearedbut they could hear the rustle of the scales.
Baloo and Bagheera stood still as stonegrowling in their
throatstheir neck hair bristlingand Mowgli watched and
"Bandar-log" said the voice of Kaa at last"can ye stir foot
or hand without my order? Speak!"
"Without thy order we cannot stir foot or handO Kaa!"
"Good! Come all one pace nearer to me."
The lines of the monkeys swayed forward helplesslyand Baloo
and Bagheera took one stiff step forward with them.
"Nearer!" hissed Kaaand 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
thereor I must go back--must go back to Kaa. Aah!"
"It is only old Kaa making circles on the dust" said Mowgli.
"Let us go." And the three slipped off through a gap in the walls
to the jungle.
"Whoof!" said Baloowhen 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 Bagheeratrembling. "In a
little timehad I stayedI should have walked down his throat."
"Many will walk by that road before the moon rises again"
said Baloo. "He will have good hunting--after his own fashion."
"But what was the meaning of it all?" said Mowgliwho did not
know anything of a python's powers of fascination. "I saw no more
than a big snake making foolish circles till the dark came. And
his nose was all sore. Ho! Ho!"
"Mowgli" said Bagheera angrily"his nose was sore on thy
accountas my ears and sides and pawsand 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 again."
"Truebut he has cost us heavily in time which might have
been spent in good huntingin woundsin hair--I am half
plucked along my back--and last of allin honor. For
rememberMowgliIwho am the Black Pantherwas forced to call
upon Kaa for protectionand Baloo and I were both made stupid as
little birds by the Hunger Dance. All thisman-cubcame of thy
playing with the Bandar-log."
"Trueit is true" said Mowgli sorrowfully. "I am an evil
man-cuband my stomach is sad in me."
"Mf! What says the Law of the JungleBaloo?"
Baloo did not wish to bring Mowgli into any more troublebut
he could not tamper with the Lawso he mumbled: "Sorrow never
stays punishment. But rememberBagheerahe is very little."
"I will remember. But he has done mischiefand blows must be
dealt now. Mowglihast 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 sneezed
and picked himself up without a word.
"Now" said Bagheera"jump on my backLittle Brotherand we
will go home."
One of the beauties of Jungle Law is that punishment settles
all scores. There is no nagging afterward.
Mowgli laid his head down on Bagheera's back and slept so
deeply that he never waked when he was put down in the home-cave.
Road-Song of the Bandar-Log
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 angrybut--never mind
Brotherthy 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 completein a minute or two--
Something noble and wise and good
Done by merely wishing we could.
We've forgottenbut--never mind
Brotherthy 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 men!
Let's pretend we are ... never mind
Brotherthy 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 wherelight and highthe wild grape swings.
By the rubbish in our wakeand the noble noise we make
Be surebe surewe're going to do some splendid things!
What of the huntinghunter bold?
Brotherthe watch was long and cold.
What of the quarry ye went to kill?
Brotherhe crops in the jungle still.
Where is the power that made your pride?
Brotherit ebbs from my flank and side.
Where is the haste that ye hurry by?
BrotherI 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 Rockhe
went down to the plowed lands where the villagers livedbut he
would not stop there because it was too near to the jungleand he
knew that he had made at least one bad enemy at the Council. So
he hurried onkeeping to the rough road that ran down the valley
and followed it at a steady jog-trot for nearly twenty milestill
he came to a country that he did not know. The valley opened out
into a great plain dotted over with rocks and cut up by ravines.
At one end stood a little villageand at the other the thick
jungle came down in a sweep to the grazing-groundsand stopped
there as though it had been cut off with a hoe. All over the
plaincattle and buffaloes were grazingand when the little boys
in charge of the herds saw Mowgli they shouted and ran awayand
the yellow pariah dogs that hang about every Indian village
barked. Mowgli walked onfor he was feeling hungryand when he
came to the village gate he saw the big thorn-bush that was drawn
up before the gate at twilightpushed to one side.
"Umph!" he saidfor he had come across more than one such
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
gateand when a man came out he stood upopened his mouthand
pointed down it to show that he wanted food. The man staredand
ran back up the one street of the village shouting for the priest
who was a bigfat man dressed in whitewith a red and yellow
mark on his forehead. The priest came to the gateand with him
at least a hundred peoplewho stared and talked and shouted and
pointed at Mowgli.
"They have no mannersthese 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.
"What is there to be afraid of?" said the priest. "Look at
the marks on his arms and legs. They are the bites of wolves. He
is but a wolf-child run away from the jungle."
Of coursein playing togetherthe cubs had often nipped
Mowgli harder than they intendedand there were white scars all
over his arms and legs. But he would have been the last person in
the world to call these bitesfor he knew what real biting meant.
"Arre! Arre!" said two or three women together. "To be bitten
by wolvespoor child! He is a handsome boy. He has eyes like
red fire. By my honorMessuahe is not unlike thy boy that was
taken by the tiger."
"Let me look" said a woman with heavy copper rings on her
wrists and anklesand she peered at Mowgli under the palm of her
hand. "Indeed he is not. He is thinnerbut he has the very look
of my boy."
The priest was a clever manand he knew that Messua was wife
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 housemy sisterand
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! Wellif I
am a mana man I must become."
The crowd parted as the woman beckoned Mowgli to her hut
where there was a red lacquered bedsteada great earthen grain
chest with funny raised patterns on ithalf a dozen copper
cooking potsan image of a Hindu god in a little alcoveand on
the wall a real looking glasssuch as they sell at the country
She gave him a long drink of milk and some breadand then she
laid her hand on his head and looked into his eyes; for she
thought perhaps that he might be her real son come back from the
jungle where the tiger had taken him. So she said"NathooO
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
his footand it was almost as hard as horn. "No" she said
sorrowfully"those feet have never worn shoesbut thou art very
like my Nathooand thou shalt be my son."
Mowgli was uneasybecause he had never been under a roof
before. But as he looked at the thatchhe saw that he could tear
it out any time if he wanted to get awayand that the window had
no 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 silly
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 the
wolves to imitate the challenge of bucks in the jungle and the
grunt of the little wild pig. Soas soon as Messua pronounced a
word Mowgli would imitate it almost perfectlyand before dark he
had learned the names of many things in the hut.
There was a difficulty at bedtimebecause Mowgli would not
sleep under anything that looked so like a panther trap as that
hutand 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."
So Mowgli stretched himself in some longclean grass at the
edge of the fieldbut 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 Wolf's
cubs). "This is a poor reward for following thee twenty miles.
Thou smellest of wood smoke and cattle--altogether like a man
already. WakeLittle Brother; I bring news."
"Are all well in the jungle?" said Mowglihugging him.
"All except the wolves that were burned with the Red Flower.
Nowlisten. Shere Khan has gone away to hunt far off till his
coat grows againfor he is badly singed. When he returns he
swears that he will lay thy bones in the Waingunga."
"There are two words to that. I also have made a little
promise. But news is always good. I am tired to-night--very
tired with new thingsGray Brother--but bring me the news
"Thou wilt not forget that thou art a wolf? Men will not make
thee forget?" said Gray Brother anxiously.
"Never. I will always remember that I love thee and all in
our 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 are
only menLittle Brotherand their talk is like the talk of frogs
in a pond. When I come down here againI will wait for thee in
the bamboos at the edge of the grazing-ground."
For three months after that night Mowgli hardly ever left the
village gatehe was so busy learning the ways and customs of men.
First he had to wear a cloth round himwhich annoyed him
horribly; and then he had to learn about moneywhich he did not
in the least understandand about plowingof which he did not
see the use. Then the little children in the village made him
very angry. Luckilythe Law of the Jungle had taught him to keep
his temperfor in the jungle life and food depend on keeping your
temper; but when they made fun of him because he would not play
games or fly kitesor because he mispronounced some wordonly
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 jungle
he knew he was weak compared with the beastsbut in the village
people said that he was as strong as a bull.
And Mowgli had not the faintest idea of the difference that
caste makes between man and man. When the potter's donkey slipped
in the clay pitMowgli hauled it out by the tailand helped to
stack the pots for their journey to the market at Khanhiwara.
That was very shockingtoofor the potter is a low-caste man
and his donkey is worse. When the priest scolded himMowgli
threatened to put him on the donkey tooand the priest told
Messua's husband that Mowgli had better be set to work as soon as
possible; and the village head-man told Mowgli that he would have
to go out with the buffaloes next dayand herd them while they
grazed. No one was more pleased than Mowgli; and that night
because he had been appointed a servant of the villageas it
werehe went off to a circle that met every evening on a masonry
platform under a great fig-tree. It was the village cluband the
head-man and the watchman and the barberwho knew all the gossip
of the villageand old Buldeothe village hunterwho had a
Tower musketmet and smoked. The monkeys sat and talked in the
upper branchesand there was a hole under the platform where a
cobra livedand he had his little platter of milk every night
because he was sacred; and the old men sat around the tree and
talkedand pulled at the big huqas (the water-pipes) till far
into the night. They told wonderful tales of gods and men and
ghosts; and Buldeo told even more wonderful ones of the ways of
beasts in the jungletill the eyes of the children sitting
outside the circle bulged out of their heads. Most of the tales
were about animalsfor the jungle was always at their door. The
deer and the wild pig grubbed up their cropsand now and again
the tiger carried off a man at twilightwithin sight of the
Mowgliwho naturally knew something about what they were
talking ofhad to cover his face not to show that he was
laughingwhile Buldeothe Tower musket across his kneesclimbed
on from one wonderful story to anotherand Mowgli's shoulders
Buldeo was explaining how the tiger that had carried away
Messua's son was a ghost-tigerand his body was inhabited by the
ghost of a wickedold money-lenderwho had died some years ago.
"And I know that this is true" he said"because Purun Dass
always limped from the blow that he got in a riot when his account
books were burnedand the tiger that I speak of he limpstoo
for the tracks of his pads are unequal."
"Truetruethat must be the truth" said the gray-beards
"Are all these tales such cobwebs and moon talk?" said Mowgli.
"That tiger limps because he was born lameas everyone knows. To
talk of the soul of a money-lender in a beast that never had the
courage of a jackal is child's talk."
Buldeo was speechless with surprise for a momentand the
"Oho! It is the jungle bratis it?" said Buldeo. "If thou
art so wisebetter bring his hide to Khanhiwarafor the
Government has set a hundred rupees on his life. Better still
talk not when thy elders speak."
Mowgli rose to go. "All the evening I have lain here
listening" he called back over his shoulder"andexcept once or
twiceBuldeo has not said one word of truth concerning the
junglewhich is at his very doors. Howthenshall I believe
the tales of ghosts and gods and goblins which he says he has
"It is full time that boy went to herding" said the head-man
while Buldeo puffed and snorted at Mowgli's impertinence.
The custom of most Indian villages is for a few boys to take
the cattle and buffaloes out to graze in the early morningand
bring them back at night. The very cattle that would trample a
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 safefor not even
the tiger will charge a mob of cattle. But if they straggle to
pick flowers or hunt lizardsthey are sometimes carried off.
Mowgli went through the village street in the dawnsitting on the
back of Ramathe great herd bull. The slaty-blue buffaloeswith
their longbackward-sweeping horns and savage eyesrose out
their byresone by oneand followed himand Mowgli made it very
clear to the children with him that he was the master. He beat
the buffaloes with a longpolished bambooand told Kamyaone of
the boysto graze the cattle by themselveswhile he went on with
the buffaloesand to be very careful not to stray away from the
An Indian grazing ground is all rocks and scrub and tussocks
and little ravinesamong which the herds scatter and disappear.
The buffaloes generally keep to the pools and muddy placeswhere
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
out of the jungle; then he dropped from Rama's necktrotted off
to a bamboo clumpand found Gray Brother. "Ah" said Gray
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 Khan?"
"He has come back to this countryand has waited here a long
time for thee. Now he has gone off againfor the game is scarce.
But he means to kill thee."
"Very good" said Mowgli. "So long as he is away do thou or
one of the four brothers sit on that rockso that I can see thee
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 mouth."
Then Mowgli picked out a shady placeand lay down and slept
while the buffaloes grazed round him. Herding in India is one of
the laziest things in the world. The cattle move and crunchand
lie downand move on againand they do not even low. They only
gruntand the buffaloes very seldom say anythingbut get down
into the muddy pools one after anotherand work their way into
the mud till only their noses and staring china-blue eyes show
above the surfaceand then they lie like logs. The sun makes the
rocks dance in the heatand the herd children hear one kite
(never any more) whistling almost out of sight overheadand they
know that if they diedor a cow diedthat kite would sweep down
and the next kite miles away would see him drop and followand
the nextand the nextand almost before they were dead there
would be a score of hungry kites come out of nowhere. Then they
sleep and wake and sleep againand 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 rockor a snake hunting a
frog near the wallows. Then they sing longlong songs with odd
native quavers at the end of themand the day seems longer than
most people's whole livesand perhaps they make a mud castle with
mud figures of men and horses and buffaloesand put reeds into
the men's handsand pretend that they are kings and the figures
are their armiesor that they are gods to be worshiped. Then
evening comes and the children calland the buffaloes lumber up
out of the sticky mud with noises like gunshots going off one
after the otherand they all string across the gray plain back to
the twinkling village lights.
Day after day Mowgli would lead the buffaloes out to their
wallowsand day after day he would see Gray Brother's back a mile
and a half away across the plain (so he knew that Shere Khan had
not come back)and day after day he would lie on the grass
listening to the noises round himand 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 WaingungaMowgli would have heard him in
those longstill mornings.
At last a day came when he did not see Gray Brother at the
signal placeand he laughed and headed the buffaloes for the
ravine by the dhk treewhich was all covered with golden-red
flowers. There sat Gray Brotherevery bristle on his back
"He has hidden for a month to throw thee off thy guard. He
crossed the ranges last night with Tabaquihot-foot on thy
trail" said the Wolfpanting.
Mowgli frowned. "I am not afraid of Shere Khanbut Tabaqui
is very cunning."
"Have no fear" said Gray Brotherlicking his lips a little.
"I met Tabaqui in the dawn. Now he is telling all his wisdom to
the kitesbut he told me everything before I broke his back.
Shere Khan's plan is to wait for thee at the village gate this
evening--for thee and for no one else. He is lying up nowin
the big dry ravine of the Waingunga."
"Has he eaten todayor does he hunt empty?" said Mowglifor
the answer meant life and death to him.
"He killed at dawn--a pig--and he has drunk too.
RememberShere Khan could never fasteven for the sake of
"Oh! Foolfool! What a cub's cub it is! Eaten and drunk
tooand 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
wind himand 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 thatI 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
through the jungle to the head of the ravine and then sweep down
--but he would slink out at the foot. We must block that end.
Gray Brothercanst thou cut the herd in two for me?"
"Not Iperhaps--but I have brought a wise helper." Gray
Brother trotted off and dropped into a hole. Then there lifted up
a huge gray head that Mowgli knew welland the hot air was filled
with the most desolate cry of all the jungle--the hunting howl
of a wolf at midday.
"Akela! Akela!" said Mowgliclapping his hands. "I might
have known that thou wouldst not forget me. We have a big work in
hand. Cut the herd in twoAkela. Keep the cows and calves
togetherand the bulls and the plow buffaloes by themselves."
The two wolves ranladies'-chain fashionin and out of the
herdwhich snorted and threw up its headand separated into two
clumps. In onethe cow-buffaloes stood with their calves in the
centerand glared and pawedreadyif a wolf would only stay
stillto charge down and trample the life out of him. In the
otherthe bulls and the young bulls snorted and stampedbut
though they looked more imposing they were much less dangerous
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 to
the leftAkela. Gray Brotherwhen we are gonehold the cows
togetherand drive them into the foot of the ravine."
"How far?" said Gray Brotherpanting and snapping.
"Till the sides are higher than Shere Khan can jump" shouted
Mowgli. "Keep them there till we come down." The bulls swept off
as Akela bayedand Gray Brother stopped in front of the cows.
They charged down on himand he ran just before them to the foot
of the ravineas Akela drove the bulls far to the left.
"Well done! Another charge and they are fairly started.
Carefulnow--carefulAkela. A snap too much and the bulls
will charge. Hujah! This is wilder work than driving black-buck.
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?"
"Ay! Turn. 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 turnedto the right this timeand crashed
into the standing thicket. The other herd childrenwatching with
the cattle half a mile awayhurried to the village as fast as
their legs could carry themcrying that the buffaloes had gone
mad and run away.
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 ravineand
then take the bulls down it and catch Shere Khan between the bulls
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
and Akela had dropped far to the rearonly whimpering once or
twice to hurry the rear-guard. It was a longlong circlefor
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
of the trees down to the plain below; but what Mowgli looked at
was the sides of the ravineand he saw with a great deal of
satisfaction that they ran nearly straight up and downwhile the
vines and creepers that hung over them would give no foothold to a
tiger who wanted to get out.
"Let them breatheAkela" he saidholding 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."
He put his hands to his mouth and shouted down the ravine--
it was almost like shouting down a tunnel--and the echoes jumped
from rock to rock.
After a long time there came back the drawlingsleepy snarl
of a full-fed tiger just wakened.
"Who calls?" said Shere Khanand a splendid peacock fluttered
up out of the ravine screeching.
"IMowgli. Cattle thiefit is time to come to the Council
Rock! Down--hurry them downAkela! DownRamadown!"
The herd paused for an instant at the edge of the slopebut
Akela gave tongue in the full hunting-yelland they pitched over
one after the otherjust as steamers shoot rapidsthe sand and
stones spurting up round them. Once startedthere was no chance
of stoppingand before they were fairly in the bed of the ravine
Rama winded Shere Khan and bellowed.
"Ha! Ha!" said Mowglion his back. "Now thou knowest!"and
the torrent of black hornsfoaming muzzlesand staring eyes
whirled down the ravine just as boulders go down in floodtime; the
weaker buffaloes being shouldered out to the sides of the ravine
where they tore through the creepers. They knew what the business
was before them--the terrible charge of the buffalo herd against
which no tiger can hope to stand. Shere Khan heard the thunder of
their hoofspicked himself upand lumbered down the ravine
looking from side to side for some way of escapebut the walls of
the ravine were straight and he had to hold onheavy with his
dinner and his drinkwilling to do anything rather than fight.
The herd splashed through the pool he had just leftbellowing
till the narrow cut rang. Mowgli heard an answering bellow from
the foot of the ravinesaw 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 trippedstumbledand went
on again over something softandwith the bulls at his heels
crashed full into the other herdwhile the weaker buffaloes were
lifted clean off their feet by the shock of the meeting. That
charge carried both herds out into the plaingoring and stamping
and snorting. Mowgli watched his timeand slipped off Rama's
necklaying about him right and left with his stick.
"QuickAkela! Break them up. Scatter themor they will be
fighting one another. Drive them awayAkela. HaiRama! Hai
haihai! my children. Softly nowsoftly! It is all over."
Akela and Gray Brother ran to and fro nipping the buffaloes'
legsand though the herd wheeled once to charge up the ravine
againMowgli managed to turn Ramaand the others followed him to
Shere Khan needed no more trampling. He was deadand the
kites were coming for him already.
"Brothersthat was a dog's death" said Mowglifeeling for
the knife he always carried in a sheath round his neck now that he
lived with men. "But he would never have shown fight. His hide
will look well on the Council Rock. We must get to work swiftly."
A boy trained among men would never have dreamed of skinning a
ten-foot tiger alonebut Mowgli knew better than anyone else how
an animal's skin is fitted onand how it can be taken off. But
it was hard workand Mowgli slashed and tore and grunted for an
hourwhile the wolves lolled out their tonguesor came forward
and tugged as he ordered them. Presently a hand fell on his
shoulderand looking up he saw Buldeo with the Tower musket. The
children had told the village about the buffalo stampedeand
Buldeo went out angrilyonly too anxious to correct Mowgli for
not 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 tooand there is a hundred rupees on his head.
Wellwellwe will overlook thy letting the herd run offand
perhaps I will give thee one of the rupees of the reward when I
have taken the skin to Khanhiwara." He fumbled in his waist cloth
for flint and steeland stooped down to singe Shere Khan's
whiskers. Most native hunters always singe a tiger's whiskers to
prevent his ghost from haunting them.
"Hum!" said Mowglihalf to himself as he ripped back the skin
of a forepaw. "So thou wilt take the hide to Khanhiwara for the
rewardand perhaps give me one rupee? Now it is in my mind that
I need the skin for my own use. Heh! Old mantake away that
"What talk is this to the chief hunter of the village? Thy
luck and the stupidity of thy buffaloes have helped thee to this
kill. The tiger has just fedor he would have gone twenty miles
by this time. Thou canst not even skin him properlylittle
beggar bratand forsooth IBuldeomust be told not to singe his
whiskers. MowgliI 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 Mowgliwho was trying to
get at the shoulder"must I stay babbling to an old ape all noon?
HereAkelathis man plagues me."
Buldeowho was still stooping over Shere Khan's headfound
himself sprawling on the grasswith a gray wolf standing over
himwhile Mowgli went on skinning as though he were alone in all
"Ye-es" he saidbetween his teeth. "Thou art altogether
rightBuldeo. Thou wilt never give me one anna of the reward.
There is an old war between this lame tiger and myself--a very
old warand--I have won."
To do Buldeo justiceif he had been ten years younger he
would have taken his chance with Akela had he met the wolf in the
woodsbut a wolf who obeyed the orders of this boy who had
private wars with man-eating tigers was not a common animal. It
was sorcerymagic of the worst kindthought Buldeoand he
wondered whether the amulet round his neck would protect him. He
lay as still as stillexpecting every minute to see Mowgli turn
into a tiger too.
"Maharaj! Great King" he said at last in a husky whisper.
"Yes" said Mowgliwithout turning his headchuckling a
"I am an old man. I did not know that thou wast anything more
than a herdsboy. May I rise up and go awayor will thy servant
tear me to pieces?"
"Goand peace go with thee. Onlyanother time do not meddle
with my game. Let him goAkela."
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
magic and enchantment and sorcery that made the priest look very
Mowgli went on with his workbut it was nearly twilight
before he and the wolves had drawn the great gay skin clear of the
"Now we must hide this and take the buffaloes home! Help me
to herd themAkela."
The herd rounded up in the misty twilightand when they got
near the village Mowgli saw lightsand heard the conches and
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
about his earsand the villagers shouted: "Sorcerer! Wolf's
brat! Jungle demon! Go away! Get hence quickly or the priest
will turn thee into a wolf again. ShootBuldeoshoot!"
The old Tower musket went off with a bangand a young buffalo
bellowed in pain.
"More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets.
Buldeothat was thy buffalo."
"Now what is this?" said Mowglibewilderedas the stones
"They are not unlike the Packthese brothers of thine" said
Akelasitting down composedly. "It is in my head thatif
bullets mean anythingthey would cast thee out."
"Wolf! Wolf's cub! Go away!" shouted the priestwaving a
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 goAkela."
A woman--it was Messua--ran across to the herdand cried:
"Ohmy sonmy son! They say thou art a sorcerer who can turn
himself into a beast at will. I do not believebut go away or
they will kill thee. Buldeo says thou art a wizardbut I know
thou hast avenged Nathoo's death."
"Come backMessua!" shouted the crowd. "Come backor we
will stone thee."
Mowgli laughed a little short ugly laughfor a stone had hit
him in the mouth. "Run backMessua. 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 quicklyfor I shall send
the herd in more swiftly than their brickbats. I am no wizard
"Nowonce moreAkela" he cried. "Bring the herd in."
The buffaloes were anxious enough to get to the village. They
hardly needed Akela's yellbut charged through the gate like a
whirlwindscattering the crowd right and left.
"Keep count!" shouted Mowgli scornfully. "It may be that I
have stolen one of them. Keep countfor I will do your herding
no more. Fare you wellchildren of menand 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 Wolfand
as he looked up at the stars he felt happy. "No more sleeping in
traps for meAkela. Let us get Shere Khan's skin and go away.
Nowe will not hurt the villagefor Messua was kind to me."
When the moon rose over the plainmaking it look all milky
the horrified villagers saw Mowgliwith two wolves at his heels
and a bundle on his headtrotting across at the steady wolf's
trot that eats up the long miles like fire. Then they banged the
temple bells and blew the conches louder than ever. And Messua
criedand Buldeo embroidered the story of his adventures in the
jungletill he ended by saying that Akela stood up on his hind
legs and talked like a man.
The moon was just going down when Mowgli and the two wolves
came to the hill of the Council Rockand they stopped at Mother
"They have cast me out from the Man-PackMother" 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 behind
herand her eyes glowed as she saw the skin.
"I told him on that daywhen he crammed his head and
shoulders into this cavehunting for thy lifeLittle Frog--I
told him that the hunter would be the hunted. It is well done."
"Little Brotherit is well done" said a deep voice in the
thicket. "We were lonely in the jungle without theeand Bagheera
came running to Mowgli's bare feet. They clambered up the Council
Rock togetherand Mowgli spread the skin out on the flat stone
where Akela used to sitand pegged it down with four slivers of
bambooand Akela lay down upon itand called the old call to the
Council"Look--look wellO Wolves" exactly as he had called
when Mowgli was first brought there.
Ever since Akela had been deposedthe Pack had been without a
leaderhunting and fighting at their own pleasure. But they
answered the call from habit; and some of them were lame from the
traps they had fallen intoand some limped from shot woundsand
some were mangy from eating bad foodand many were missing. But
they came to the Council Rockall that were left of themand saw
Shere Khan's striped hide on the rockand 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 itselfand he
shouted it aloudleaping up and down on the rattling skinand
beating time with his heels till he had no more breath leftwhile
Gray Brother and Akela howled between the verses.
"Look wellO Wolves. Have I kept my word?" said Mowgli. And
the wolves bayed "Yes" and one tattered wolf howled:
"Lead us againO Akela. Lead us againO Man-cubfor we be
sick of this lawlessnessand we would be the Free People once
"Nay" purred Bagheera"that may not be. When ye are
full-fedthe madness may come upon you again. Not for nothing
are ye called the Free People. Ye fought for freedomand it is
yours. Eat itO Wolves."
"Man-Pack and Wolf-Pack have cast me out" said Mowgli. "Now
I will hunt alone in the jungle."
"And we will hunt with thee" said the four cubs.
So Mowgli went away and hunted with the four cubs in the
jungle from that day on. But he was not always alonebecause
years afterwardhe became a man and married.
But that is a story for grown-ups.
THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE
DANCED ON SHERE KHAN'S HIDE
The Song of Mowgli--IMowgliam singing. Let the jungle
listen to the things I have done.
Shere Khan said he would kill--would kill! At the gates in the
twilight he would kill Mowglithe Frog!
He ate and he drank. Drink deepShere Khanfor when wilt thou
drink again? Sleep and dream of the kill.
I am alone on the grazing-grounds. Gray Brothercome to me!
Come to meLone Wolffor there is big game afoot!
Bring up the great bull buffaloesthe blue-skinned herd bulls
with the angry eyes. Drive them to and fro as I order.
Sleepest thou stillShere Khan? Wakeohwake! Here come I
and the bulls are behind.
Ramathe King of the Buffaloesstamped with his foot. Waters of
the Waingungawhither went Shere Khan?
He is not Ikki to dig holesnor Maothe Peacockthat he should
fly. He is not Mang the Batto hang in the branches. Little
bamboos that creak togethertell me where he ran?
Ow! He is there. Ahoo! He is there. Under the feet of Rama
lies the Lame One! UpShere Khan!
Up and kill! Here is meat; break the necks of the bulls!
Hsh! He is asleep. We will not wake himfor his strength is
very great. The kites have come down to see it. The black
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 I am
naked. I am ashamed to meet all these people.
Lend me thy coatShere Khan. Lend me thy gay striped coat that I
may go to the Council Rock.
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 knifewith the knife that men usewith the knife of the
hunterI will stoop down for my gift.
Waters of the WaingungaShere Khan gives me his coat for the love
that he bears me. PullGray Brother! PullAkela! Heavy is
the hide of Shere Khan.
The Man Pack are angry. They throw stones and talk child's talk.
My mouth is bleeding. Let me run away.
Through the nightthrough the hot nightrun swiftly with memy
brothers. We will leave the lights of the village and go to
the low moon.
Waters of the Waingungathe Man-Pack have cast me out. I did
them no harmbut they were afraid of me. Why?
Wolf Packye have cast me out too. The jungle is shut to me and
the village gates are shut. Why?
As Mang flies between the beasts and birdsso fly I between the
village and the jungle. Why?
I dance on the hide of Shere Khanbut my heart is very heavy. My
mouth is cut and wounded with the stones from the villagebut
my heart is very lightbecause 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 Mowglisbut the hide of Shere Khan is under my feet.
All the jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan. Look--look
Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do not understand.
The White Seal
Oh! hush theemy babythe night is behind us
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moono'er the comberslooks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billowthen soft be thy pillow
Ahweary wee flipperlingcurl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake theenor shark overtake thee
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!
All these things happened several years ago at a place called
Novastoshnahor North East Pointon the Island of St. Paulaway
and away in the Bering Sea. Limmershinthe Winter Wrentold me
the tale when he was blown on to the rigging of a steamer going to
Japanand 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. Paul's
again. Limmershin is a very quaint little birdbut he knows how
to tell the truth.
Nobody comes to Novastoshnah except on businessand 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
the cold gray sea. For Novastoshnah Beach has the finest
accommodation for seals of any place in all the world.
Sea Catch knew thatand every spring would swim from whatever
place he happened to be in--would swim like a torpedo-boat
straight for Novastoshnah and spend a month fighting with his
companions for a good place on the rocksas close to the sea as
possible. Sea Catch was fifteen years olda huge gray fur seal
with almost a mane on his shouldersand longwicked dog teeth.
When he heaved himself up on his front flippers he stood more than
four feet clear of the groundand his weightif anyone had been
bold enough to weigh himwas nearly seven hundred pounds. He was
scarred all over with the marks of savage fightsbut he was
always ready for just one fight more. He would put his head on
one sideas though he were afraid to look his enemy in the face;
then he would shoot it out like lightningand when the big teeth
were firmly fixed on the other seal's neckthe other seal might
get away if he couldbut Sea Catch would not help him.
Yet Sea Catch never chased a beaten sealfor that was against
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 springthe whistlingbellowing
roaringand blowing on the beach was something frightful.
From a little hill called Hutchinson's Hillyou could look
over three and a half miles of ground covered with fighting seals;
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
breakersthey fought in the sandand they fought on the
smooth-worn basalt rocks of the nurseriesfor they were just as
stupid and unaccommodating as men. Their wives never came to the
island until late in May or early in Junefor 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 legionsand rubbed off
every single green thing that grew. They were called the
holluschickie--the bachelors--and there were perhaps two or
three hundred thousand of them at Novastoshnah alone.
Sea Catch had just finished his forty-fifth fight one spring
when Matkahhis softsleekgentle-eyed wifecame up out of the
seaand he caught her by the scruff of the neck and dumped her
down on his reservationsaying 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 beachesand so his temper was
generally bad. Matkah knew better than to answer back. She
looked round and cooed: "How thoughtful of you. You've taken the
old place again."
"I should think I had" said Sea Catch. "Look at me!"
He was scratched and bleeding in twenty places; one eye was
almost outand his sides were torn to ribbons.
"Ohyou menyou men!" Matkah saidfanning 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
"I haven't been doing anything but fight since the middle of
May. The beach is disgracefully crowded this season. I've met at
least a hundred seals from Lukannon Beachhouse hunting. Why
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 went
there they would say we were afraid. We must preserve
Sea Catch sunk his head proudly between his fat shoulders and
pretended to go to sleep for a few minutesbut all the time he
was keeping a sharp lookout for a fight. Now that all the seals
and their wives were on the landyou could hear their clamor
miles out to sea above the loudest gales. At the lowest counting
there were over a million seals on the beach--old sealsmother
sealstiny babiesand holluschickiefightingscuffling
bleatingcrawlingand playing together--going down to the sea
and coming up from it in gangs and regimentslying over every
foot of ground as far as the eye could reachand skirmishing
about in brigades through the fog. It is nearly always foggy at
Novastoshnahexcept when the sun comes out and makes everything
look all pearly and rainbow-colored for a little while.
KotickMatkah's babywas born in the middle of that
confusionand he was all head and shoulderswith palewatery
blue eyesas tiny seals must bebut there was something about
his coat that made his mother look at him very closely.
"Sea Catch" she saidat 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 benow."
And she sang the lowcrooning seal song that all the mother seals
sing to their babies:
You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby sealsdear rat
As bad as bad can be;
But splash 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 sideand
learned to scuffle out of the way when his father was fighting
with another sealand the two rolled and roared up and down the
slippery rocks. Matkah used to go to sea to get things to eat
and the baby was fed only once in two daysbut then he ate all he
could and throve upon it.
The first thing he did was to crawl inlandand there he met
tens of thousands of babies of his own ageand they played
together like puppieswent to sleep on the clean sandand played
again. The old people in the nurseries took no notice of them
and the holluschickie kept to their own groundsand 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
and wait until she heard Kotick bleat. Then she would take the
straightest of straight lines in his directionstriking out with
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 playgroundsand the babies were
kept lively. Butas Matkah told Kotick"So long as you don't
lie in muddy water and get mangeor rub the hard sand into a cut
or scratchand so long as you never go swimming when there is a
heavy seanothing will hurt you here."
Little seals can no more swim than little childrenbut they
are unhappy till they learn. The first time that Kotick went down
to the sea a wave carried him out beyond his depthand his big
head sank and his little hind flippers flew up exactly as his
mother had told him in the songand if the next wave had not
thrown him back again he would have drowned.
After thathe learned to lie in a beach pool and let the wash
of the waves just cover him and lift him up while he paddledbut
he always kept his eye open for big waves that might hurt. He was
two weeks learning to use his flippers; and all that while he
floundered in and out of the waterand coughed and grunted and
crawled up the beach and took catnaps on the sandand went back
againuntil at last he found that he truly belonged to the water.
Then you can imagine the times that he had with his
companionsducking under the rollers; or coming in on top of a
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 slipperyweedy rocks that just stuck out
of the wash. Now and then he would see a thin finlike a big
shark's findrifting along close to shoreand he knew that that
was the Killer Whalethe Grampuswho eats young seals when he
can get them; and Kotick would head for the beach like an arrow
and the fin would jig off slowlyas if it were looking for
nothing at all.
Late in October the seals began to leave St. Paul's for the
deep seaby families and tribesand there was no more fighting
over the nurseriesand the holluschickie played anywhere they
liked. "Next year" said Matkah to Kotick"you will be a
holluschickie; but this year you must learn how to catch fish."
They set out together across the Pacificand Matkah showed
Kotick how to sleep on his back with his flippers tucked down by
his side and his little nose just out of the water. No cradle is
so comfortable as the longrocking swell of the Pacific. When
Kotick felt his skin tingle all overMatkah told him he was
learning the "feel of the water" and that tinglyprickly
feelings meant bad weather comingand 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 Pigthe Porpoisefor he is very
wise." A school of porpoises were ducking and tearing through the
waterand little Kotick followed them as fast as he could. "How
do you know where to go to?" he panted. The leader of the school
rolled his white eye and ducked under. "My tail tingles
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 tinglesthat 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 learnedand 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
his hole among the weeds; how to skirt the wrecks lying a hundred
fathoms below water and dart like a rifle bullet in at one
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
or four feet clear of the water like a dolphinflippers close to
the side and tail curved; to leave the flying fish alone because
they are all bony; to take the shoulder-piece out of a cod at full
speed ten fathoms deepand never to stop and look at a boat or a
shipbut particularly a row-boat. At the end of six months what
Kotick did not know about deep-sea fishing was not worth the
knowing. And all that time he never set flipper on dry ground.
One dayhoweveras he was lying half asleep in the warm
water somewhere off the Island of Juan Fernandezhe felt faint
and lazy all overjust as human people do when the spring is in
their legsand he remembered the good firm beaches of
Novastoshnah seven thousand miles awaythe games his companions
playedthe smell of the seaweedthe seal roarand the fighting.
That very minute he turned northswimming steadilyand as he
went on he met scores of his matesall bound for the same place
and they said: "GreetingKotick! This year we are all
holluschickieand we can dance the Fire-dance in the breakers off
Lukannon and play on the new grass. But where did you get that
Kotick's fur was almost pure white nowand though he felt
very proud of ithe only said"Swim quickly! My bones are
aching for the land." And so they all came to the beaches where
they had been bornand heard the old sealstheir 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
from Novastoshnah to Lukannonand each seal leaves a wake like
burning oil behind him and a flaming flash when he jumpsand the
waves break in great phosphorescent streaks and swirls. Then they
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
talk about a wood that they had been nutting inand if anyone had
understood them he could have gone away and made such a chart of
that ocean as never was. The three- and four-year-old
holluschickie romped down from Hutchinson's Hill crying: "Out of
the wayyoungsters! The sea is deep and you don't know all
that's in it yet. Wait till you've rounded the Horn. Hiyou
yearlingwhere did you get that white coat?"
"I didn't get it" said Kotick. "It grew." And just as he
was going to roll the speaker overa couple of black-haired men
with flat red faces came from behind a sand duneand Kotickwho
had never seen a man beforecoughed and lowered his head. The
holluschickie just bundled off a few yards and sat staring
stupidly. The men were no less than Kerick Booterinthe chief of
the seal-hunters on the islandand Patalamonhis son. They came
from the little village not half a mile from the sea nurseries
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 later on.
"Ho!" said Patalamon. "Look! There's a white seal!"
Kerick Booterin turned nearly white under his oil and smoke
for he was an Aleutand Aleuts are not clean people. Then he
began to mutter a prayer. "Don't touch himPatalamon. There has
never been a white seal since--since I was born. Perhaps it is
old Zaharrof's ghost. He was lost last year in the big gale."
"I'm not going near him" said Patalamon. "He's unlucky. Do
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 of
four-year-olds. The men ought to skin two hundred to-daybut
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 deadpuffing and
blowing. Then he stepped near and the seals began to moveand
Kerick headed them inlandand they never tried to get back to
their companions. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of seals
watched them being drivenbut they went on playing just the same.
Kotick was the only one who asked questionsand none of his
companions could tell him anythingexcept that the men always
drove seals in that way for six weeks or two months of every year.
"I am going to follow" he saidand his eyes nearly popped
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
the first 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."
The distance to the killing-grounds was only half a milebut
it took an hour to coverbecause if the seals went too fast
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
slowlypast Sea Lion's Neckpast Webster Housetill they came
to the Salt House just beyond the sight of the seals on the beach.
Kotick followedpanting and wondering. He thought that he was at
the world's endbut 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 minutesand Kotick could hear the
fog-dew dripping off the brim of his cap. Then ten or twelve men
each with an iron-bound club three or four feet longcame upand
Kerick pointed out one or two of the drove that were bitten by
their companions or too hotand the men kicked those aside with
their heavy boots made of the skin of a walrus's throatand then
Kerick said"Let go!" and then the men clubbed the seals on the
head as fast as they could.
Ten minutes later little Kotick did not recognize his friends
any morefor their skins were ripped off from the nose to the
hind flipperswhipped off and thrown down on the ground in a
pile. That was enough for Kotick. He turned and galloped (a seal
can gallop very swiftly for a short time) back to the sea; his
little new mustache bristling with horror. At Sea Lion's Neck
where the great sea lions sit on the edge of the surfhe flung
himself flipper-overhead into the cool water and rocked there
gasping miserably. "What's here?" said a sea lion grufflyfor as
a rule the sea lions keep themselves to themselves.
"Scoochnie! Ochen scoochnie!" ("I'm lonesomevery
lonesome!") said Kotick. "They're killing all the holluschickie
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 Kotickbacking water as a wave went
over himand steadying himself with a screw stroke of his
flippers that brought him all standing within three inches of a
jagged edge of rock.
"Well done for a yearling!" said the Sea Lionwho could
appreciate good swimming. "I suppose it is rather awful from your
way of looking at itbut if you seals will come here year after
yearof course the men get to know of itand unless you can find
an island where no men ever come you will always be driven."
"Isn't there any such island?" began Kotick.
"I've followed the poltoos [the halibut] for twenty yearsand
I can't say I've found it yet. But look here--you seem to have
a fondness for talking to your betters--suppose you go to Walrus
Islet and talk to Sea Vitch. He may know something. Don't
flounce off like that. It's a six-mile swimand if I were you I
should haul out and take a nap firstlittle one."
Kotick thought that that was good adviceso he swam round to
his own beachhauled outand slept for half an hourtwitching
all overas seals will. Then he headed straight for Walrus
Isleta little low sheet of rocky island almost due northeast
from Novastoshnahall ledges and rock and gulls' nestswhere the
walrus herded by themselves.
He landed close to old Sea Vitch--the biguglybloated
pimpledfat-neckedlong-tusked walrus of the North Pacificwho
has no manners except when he is asleep--as he was thenwith
his hind flippers half in and half out of the surf.
"Wake up!" barked Kotickfor the gulls were making a great
"Hah! Ho! Hmph! What's that?" said Sea Vitchand he struck
the next walrus a blow with his tusks and waked him upand the
next struck the nextand so on till they were all awake and
staring in every direction but the right one.
"Hi! It's me" said Kotickbobbing in the surf and looking
like a little white slug.
"Well! May I be--skinned!" said Sea Vitchand 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
he called out: "Isn't there any place for seals to go where men
don't ever come?"
"Go and find out" said Sea Vitchshutting his eyes. "Run
away. We're busy here."
Kotick made his dolphin-jump in the air and shouted as loud as
he could: "Clam-eater! Clam-eater!" He knew that Sea Vitch never
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
Gulls and the Kittiwakes and the Puffinswho are always looking
for a chance to be rudetook up the cryand--so Limmershin
told me--for nearly five minutes you could not have heard a gun
fired on Walrus Islet. All the population was yelling and
screaming "Clam-eater! Stareek [old man]!" while Sea Vitch rolled
from side to side grunting and coughing.
"Now will you tell?" said Kotickall out of breath.
"Go and ask Sea Cow" said Sea Vitch. "If he is living still
he'll be able to tell you."
"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 gullwheeling under Sea Vitch's nose.
"Uglierand with worse manners! Stareek!"
Kotick swam back to Novastoshnahleaving the gulls to scream.
There he found that no one sympathized with him in his little
attempt to discover a quiet place for the seals. They told him
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 killingand that made the difference
between him and his friends. BesidesKotick was a white seal.
"What you must do" said old Sea Catchafter he had heard his
son's adventures"is to grow up and be a big seal like your
fatherand have a nursery on the beachand then they will leave
you alone. In another five years you ought to be able to fight
for yourself." Even gentle Matkahhis mothersaid: "You will
never be able to stop the killing. Go and play in the sea
Kotick." And Kotick went off and danced the Fire-dance with a
very heavy little heart.
That autumn he left the beach as soon as he couldand set off
alone because of a notion in his bullet-head. He was going to
find Sea Cowif there was such a person in the seaand he was
going to find a quiet island with good firm beaches for seals to
live onwhere men could not get at them. So he explored and
explored by himself from the North to the South Pacificswimming
as much as three hundred miles in a day and a night. He met with
more adventures than can be toldand narrowly escaped being
caught by the Basking Sharkand the Spotted Sharkand the
Hammerheadand he met all the untrustworthy ruffians that loaf up
and down the seasand the heavy polite fishand the scarlet
spotted scallops that are moored in one place for hundreds of
yearsand grow very proud of it; but he never met Sea Cowand he
never found an island that he could fancy.
If the beach was good and hardwith a slope behind it for
seals to play onthere was always the smoke of a whaler on the
horizonboiling down blubberand Kotick knew what that meant.
Or else he could see that seals had once visited the island and
been killed offand Kotick knew that where men had come once they
would come again.
He picked up with an old stumpy-tailed albatrosswho told him
that Kerguelen Island was the very place for peace and quietand
when Kotick went down there he was all but smashed to pieces
against some wicked black cliffs in a heavy sleet-storm with
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.
Limmershin gave a long list of themfor he said that Kotick
spent five seasons exploringwith a four months' rest each year
at Novastoshnahwhen the holluschickie used to make fun of him
and his imaginary islands. He went to the Gallapagosa horrid
dry place on the Equatorwhere he was nearly baked to death; he
went to the Georgia Islandsthe OrkneysEmerald IslandLittle
Nightingale IslandGough's IslandBouvet's Islandthe Crossets
and even to a little speck of an island south of the Cape of Good
Hope. But everywhere the People of the Sea told him the same
things. Seals had come to those islands once upon a timebut 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
when he was coming back from Gough's Island)he found a few
hundred mangy seals on a rock and they told him that men came
That nearly broke his heartand he headed round the Horn back
to his own beaches; and on his way north he hauled out on an
island full of green treeswhere he found an oldold seal who
was dyingand 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
shall not care."
The old seal said"Try once more. I am the last of the Lost
Rookery of Masafueraand in the days when men killed us by the
hundred thousand there was a story on the beaches that some day a
white seal would come out of the North and lead the seal people to
a quiet place. I am oldand I shall never live to see that day
but others will. Try once more."
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
and I am the only sealblack or whitewho ever thought of
looking for new islands."
This cheered him immensely; and when he came back to
Novastoshnah that summerMatkahhis motherbegged him to marry
and settle downfor he was no longer a holluschick but a
full-grown sea-catchwith a curly white mane on his shouldersas
heavyas bigand as fierce as his father. "Give me another
season" he said. "RememberMotherit is always the seventh
wave that goes farthest up the beach."
Curiously enoughthere was another seal who thought that she
would put off marrying till the next yearand 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
and he needed at least one hundred pounds of fish a day to keep
him in good condition. He chased them till he was tiredand then
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 wellso about midnightwhen he felt himself gently
bumped on a weed-bedhe said"Hmtide's running strong
tonight" and turning over under water opened his eyes slowly and
stretched. Then he jumped like a catfor he saw huge things
nosing about in the shoal water and browsing on the heavy fringes
of the weeds.
"By the Great Combers of Magellan!" he saidbeneath his
mustache. "Who in the Deep Sea are these people?"
They were like no walrussea lionsealbearwhaleshark
fishsquidor scallop that Kotick had ever seen before. They
were between twenty and thirty feet longand they had no hind
flippersbut a shovel-like tail that looked as if it had been
whittled out of wet leather. Their heads were the most
foolish-looking things you ever sawand they balanced on the ends
of their tails in deep water when they weren't grazingbowing
solemnly to each other and waving their front flippers as a fat
man waves his arm.
"Ahem!" said Kotick. "Good sportgentlemen?" The bigthings
answered by bowing and waving their flippers like the Frog
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 solemnly.
"Messy style of feedingthat" said Kotick. They bowed
againand Kotick began to lose his temper. "Very good" he said.
"If you do happen to have an extra joint in your front flipper you
needn't show off so. I see you bow gracefullybut I should like
to know your names." The split lips moved and twitched; and the
glassy green eyes staredbut they did not speak.
"Well!" said Kotick. "You're the only people I've ever met
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 Isletand
he tumbled backward in the waterfor he knew that he had found
Sea Cow at last.
The sea cows went on schlooping and grazing and chumping in
the weedand Kotick asked them questions in every language that
he had picked up in his travels; and the Sea People talk nearly as
many languages as human beings. But the sea cows did not answer
because Sea Cow cannot talk. He has only six bones in his neck
where he ought to have sevenand they say under the sea that that
prevents him from speaking even to his companions. Butas you
knowhe has an extra joint in his foreflipperand by waving it
up and down and about he makes what answers to a sort of clumsy
By daylight Kotick's mane was standing on end and his temper
was gone where the dead crabs go. Then the Sea Cow began to
travel northward very slowlystopping to hold absurd bowing
councils from time to timeand Kotick followed themsaying 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
what is good enough for the Sea Cow is good enough for the Sea
Catch. All the sameI wish they'd hurry."
It was weary work for Kotick. The herd never went more than
forty or fifty miles a dayand stopped to feed at nightand kept
close to the shore all the time; while Kotick swam round themand
over themand under thembut he could not hurry them up one-half
mile. As they went farther north they held a bowing council every
few hoursand 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.
One night they sank through the shiny water--sank like
stones--and for the first time since he had known them began to
swim quickly. Kotick followedand the pace astonished himfor
he never dreamed that Sea Cow was anything of a swimmer. They
headed for a cliff by the shore--a cliff that ran down into deep
waterand plunged into a dark hole at the foot of ittwenty
fathoms under the sea. It was a longlong swimand Kotick badly
wanted fresh air before he was out of the dark tunnel they led him
"My wig!" he saidwhen he rosegasping and puffinginto
open water at the farther end. "It was a long divebut it was
The sea cows had separated and were browsing lazily along the
edges of the finest beaches that Kotick had ever seen. There were
long stretches of smooth-worn rock running for milesexactly
fitted to make seal-nurseriesand there were play-grounds of hard
sand sloping inland behind themand there were rollers for seals
to dance inand long grass to roll inand sand dunes to climb up
and downandbest of allKotick knew by the feel of the water
which never deceives a true sea catchthat no men had ever come
The first thing he did was to assure himself that the fishing
was goodand then he swam along the beaches and counted up the
delightful low sandy islands half hidden in the beautiful rolling
fog. Away to the northwardout to searan a line of bars and
shoals and rocks that would never let a ship come within six miles
of the beachand between the islands and the mainland was a
stretch of deep water that ran up to the perpendicular cliffsand
somewhere below the cliffs was the mouth of the tunnel.
"It's Novastoshnah over againbut ten times better" said
Kotick. "Sea Cow must be wiser than I thought. Men can't come
down the cliffseven if there were any men; and the shoals to
seaward would knock a ship to splinters. If any place in the sea
is safethis is it."
He began to think of the seal he had left behind himbut
though he was in a hurry to go back to Novastoshnahhe thoroughly
explored the new countryso that he would be able to answer all
Then he dived and made sure of the mouth of the tunneland
raced through to the southward. No one but a sea cow or a seal
would have dreamed of there being such a placeand when he looked
back at the cliffs even Kotick could hardly believe that he had
been under them.
He was six days going homethough 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 himand she saw by
the look in his eyes that he had found his island at last.
But the holluschickie and Sea Catchhis fatherand all the
other seals laughed at him when he told them what he had
discoveredand a young seal about his own age said"This is all
very wellKotickbut you can't come from no one knows where and
order us off like this. Remember we've been fighting for our
nurseriesand that's a thing you never did. You preferred
prowling about in the sea."
The other seals laughed at thisand the young seal began
twisting his head from side to side. He had just married that
yearand was making a great fuss about it.
"I've no nursery to fight for" said Kotick. "I only want to
show you all a place where you will be safe. What's the use of
"Ohif you're trying to back outof course I've no more to
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 eyefor 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 mindfor 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
the beachshook himand knocked him over. Then Kotick roared to
the seals: "I've done my best for you these five seasons past.
I've found you the island where you'll be safebut unless your
heads are dragged off your silly necks you won't believe. I'm
going to teach you now. Look out for yourselves!"
Limmershin told me that never in his life--and Limmershin
sees ten thousand big seals fighting every year--never in all
his little life did he see anything like Kotick's charge into the
nurseries. He flung himself at the biggest sea catch he could
findcaught him by the throatchoked him and bumped him and
banged him till he grunted for mercyand then threw him aside and
attacked the next. You seeKotick had never fasted for four
months as the big seals did every yearand his deep-sea swimming
trips kept him in perfect conditionandbest of allhe had
never fought before. His curly white mane stood up with rageand
his eyes flamedand his big dog teeth glistenedand he was
splendid to look at. Old Sea Catchhis fathersaw him tearing
pasthauling the grizzled old seals about as though they had been
halibutand upsetting the young bachelors in all directions; and
Sea Catch gave a roar and shouted: "He may be a foolbut he is
the best fighter on the beaches! Don't tackle your fathermy
son! He's with you!"
Kotick roared in answerand old Sea Catch waddled in with his
mustache on endblowing like a locomotivewhile Matkah and the
seal that was going to marry Kotick cowered down and admired their
men-folk. It was a gorgeous fightfor the two fought as long as
there was a seal that dared lift up his headand when there were
none they paraded grandly up and down the beach side by side
At nightjust as the Northern Lights were winking and
flashing through the fogKotick climbed a bare rock and looked
down on the scattered nurseries and the torn and bleeding seals.
"Now" he said"I've taught you your lesson."
"My wig!" said old Sea Catchboosting himself up stifflyfor
he was fearfully mauled. "The Killer Whale himself could not have
cut them up worse. SonI'm proud of youand what's moreI'll
come with you to your island--if there is such a place."
"Hear youfat pigs of the sea. Who comes with me to the Sea
Cow's tunnel? Answeror I shall teach you again" roared Kotick.
There was a murmur like the ripple of the tide all up and down
the beaches. "We will come" said thousands of tired voices."We
will follow Kotickthe White Seal."
Then Kotick dropped his head between his shoulders and shut
his eyes proudly. He was not a white seal any morebut red from
head to 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 Cow's
tunnelKotick leading themand the seals that stayed at
Novastoshnah called them idiots. But next springwhen they all
met off the fishing banks of the PacificKotick's seals told such
tales of the new beaches beyond Sea Cow's tunnel that more and
more seals left Novastoshnah. Of course it was not all done at
oncefor the seals are not very cleverand they need a long time
to turn things over in their mindsbut year after year more seals
went away from Novastoshnahand Lukannonand the other
nurseriesto the quietsheltered beaches where Kotick sits all
the summer throughgetting bigger and fatter and stronger each
yearwhile the holluschickie play around himin that sea where
no man comes.
This is the great deep-sea song that all the St. Paul seals sing
when they are heading back to their beaches in the summer. It is
a sort of very sad seal National Anthem.
I met my mates in the morning (andohbut I am old!)
Where roaring on the ledges the summer ground-swell rolled;
I heard them lift the chorus that drowned the breakers' song--
The Beaches of Lukannon--two million voices strong.
The song of pleasant stations beside the salt lagoons
The song of blowing squadrons that shuffled down the dunes
The song of midnight dances that churned the sea to flame--
The Beaches of Lukannon--before the sealers came!
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
We hailed the landing-parties and we sang them up the beach.
The Beaches of Lukannon--the winter wheat so tall--
The drippingcrinkled lichensand the sea-fog drenching all!
The platforms of our playgroundall shining smooth and worn!
The Beaches of Lukannon--the home where we were born!
I met my mates in the morninga brokenscattered band.
Men shoot us in the water and club us on the land;
Men drive us to the Salt House like silly sheep and tame
And still we sing Lukannon--before the sealers came.
Wheel downwheel down to southward; ohGooverooskago!
And tell the Deep-Sea Viceroys the story of our woe;
Ereempty 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:
"Nagcome up and dance with death!"
Eye to eye and head to head
(Keep the measureNag.)
This shall end when one is dead;
(At thy pleasureNag.)
Turn for turn and twist for twist--
(Run and hide theeNag.)
Hah! The hooded Death has missed!
(Woe betide theeNag!)
This is the story of the great war that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought
single-handedthrough the bath-rooms of the big bungalow in
Segowlee cantonment. Darzeethe Tailorbirdhelped himand
Chuchundrathe musk-ratwho never comes out into the middle of
the floorbut always creeps round by the wallgave him advice
but Rikki-tikki did the real fighting.
He was a mongooserather like a little cat in his fur and his
tailbut quite like a weasel in his head and his habits. His
eyes and the end of his restless nose were pink. He could scratch
himself anywhere he pleased with any legfront or backthat he
chose to use. He could fluff up his tail till it looked like a
bottle brushand his war cry as he scuttled through the long
grass was: "Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!"
One daya high summer flood washed him out of the burrow
where he lived with his father and motherand carried him
kicking and cluckingdown a roadside ditch. He found a little
wisp of grass floating thereand clung to it till he lost his
senses. When he revivedhe was lying in the hot sun on the
middle of a garden pathvery draggled indeedand 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 houseand 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 wooland warmed him over a
little fireand he opened his eyes and sneezed.
"Now" said the big man (he was an Englishman who had just
moved into the bungalow)"don't frighten himand we'll see what
It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose
because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The
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 eatran all round the tablesat
up and put his fur in orderscratched himselfand jumped on the
small boy's shoulder.
"Don't be frightenedTeddy" said his father. "That's his
way of making friends."
"Ouch! He's tickling under my chin" said Teddy.
Rikki-tikki looked down between the boy's collar and neck
snuffed at his earand climbed down to the floorwhere 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 Teddy
doesn't pick him up by the tailor 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 immenselyand 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" he
said to himself"than all my family could find out in all their
lives. I shall certainly stay and find out."
He spent all that day roaming over the house. He nearly
drowned himself in the bath-tubsput his nose into the ink on a
writing tableand burned it on the end of the big man's cigar
for he climbed up in the big man's lap to see how writing was
done. At nightfall he ran into Teddy's nursery to watch how
kerosene lamps were lightedand when Teddy went to bed
Rikki-tikki climbed up too. But he was a restless companion
because he had to get up and attend to every noise all through the
nightand find out what made it. Teddy's mother and father came
inthe last thingto look at their boyand Rikki-tikki was
awake on the pillow. "I don't like that" said Teddy's mother.
"He may bite the child." "He'll do no such thing" saidthe
father. "Teddy's safer with that little beast than if he had a
bloodhound to watch him. If a snake came into the nursery now--"
But Teddy's mother wouldn't think of anything so awful.
Early in the morning Rikki-tikki came to early breakfast in
the veranda riding on Teddy's shoulderand they gave him banana
and some boiled egg. He sat on all their laps one after the
otherbecause every well-brought-up mongoose always hopes to be a
house mongoose some day and have rooms to run about in; and
Rikki-tikki's mother (she used to live in the general's house at
Segowlee) 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 to
be seen. It was a large gardenonly half cultivatedwith
bushesas big as summer-housesof Marshal Niel roseslime and
orange treesclumps of bamboosand thickets of high grass.
Rikki-tikki licked his lips. "This is a splendid hunting-ground"
he saidand his tail grew bottle-brushy at the thought of itand
he scuttled up and down the gardensnuffing here and there till
he heard very sorrowful voices in a thorn-bush.
It was Darzeethe Tailorbirdand his wife. They had made a
beautiful nest by pulling two big leaves together and stitching
them up the edges with fibersand had filled the hollow with
cotton and downy fluff. The nest swayed to and froas they sat
on the rim and cried.
"What is the matter?" asked Rikki-tikki.
"We 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
answeringfor from the thick grass at the foot of the bush there
came a low hiss--a horrid cold sound that made Rikki-tikki jump
back two clear feet. Then inch by inch out of the grass rose up
the head and spread hood of Nagthe big black cobraand he was
five feet long from tongue to tail. When he had lifted one-third
of himself clear of the groundhe stayed balancing to and fro
exactly as a dandelion tuft balances in the windand he looked at
Rikki-tikki with the wicked snake's eyes that never change their
expressionwhatever the snake may be thinking of.
"Who is Nag?" said he. "I am Nag. The great God Brahm put
his mark upon all our peoplewhen the first cobra spread his hood
to keep the sun off Brahm as he slept. Lookand be afraid!"
He spread out his hood more than everand Rikki-tikki saw the
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 timeand though Rikki-tikki had never met a live cobra
beforehis mother had fed him on dead onesand he knew that all
a grown mongoose's business in life was to fight and eat snakes.
Nag knew that too andat the bottom of his cold hearthe was
"Well" said Rikki-tikkiand his tail began to fluff up
again"marks or no marksdo you think it is right for you to eat
fledglings out of a nest?"
Nag was thinking to himselfand 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
but he wanted to get Rikki-tikki off his guard. So he dropped his
head a littleand put it on one side.
"Let us talk" he said. "You eat eggs. Why should not I eat
"Behind you! Look behind you!" sang Darzee.
Rikki-tikki knew better than to waste time in staring. He
jumped up in the air as high as he could goand just under him
whizzed by the head of NagainaNag's wicked wife. She had crept
up behind him as he was talkingto make an end of him. He heard
her savage hiss as the stroke missed. He came down almost across
her backand 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
afraid of the terrible lashing return stroke of the cobra. He
bitindeedbut did not bite long enoughand he jumped clear of
the whisking tailleaving Nagaina torn and angry.
"Wickedwicked Darzee!" said Naglashing up as high as he
could reach toward the nest in the thorn-bush. But Darzee had
built it out of reach of snakesand it only swayed to and fro.
Rikki-tikki felt his eyes growing red and hot (when a
mongoose's eyes grow redhe is angry)and he sat back on his
tail and hind legs like a little kangarooand looked all round
himand chattered with rage. But Nag and Nagaina had disappeared
into the grass. When a snake misses its strokeit never says
anything or gives any sign of what it means to do next.
Rikki-tikki did not care to follow themfor he did not feel sure
that he could manage two snakes at once. So he trotted off to the
gravel path near the houseand sat down to think. It was a
serious matter for him.
If you read the old books of natural historyyou will find
they say that when the mongoose fights the snake and happens to
get bittenhe runs off and eats some herb that cures him. That
is not true. The victory is only a matter of quickness of eye and
quickness of foot--snake's blow against mongoose's jump--and
as no eye can follow the motion of a snake's head when it strikes
this makes things much more wonderful than any magic herb.
Rikki-tikki knew he was a young mongooseand it made him all the
more pleased to think that he had managed to escape a blow from
behind. It gave him confidence in himselfand when Teddy came
running down the pathRikki-tikki was ready to be petted.
But just as Teddy was stoopingsomething wriggled a little in
the dustand a tiny voice said: "Be careful. I am Death!" It
was Karaitthe 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 himand so he does the more
harm to people.
Rikki-tikki's eyes grew red againand he danced up to Karait
with the peculiar rockingswaying motion that he had inherited
from his family. It looks very funnybut it is so perfectly
balanced a gait that you can fly off from it at any angle you
pleaseand in dealing with snakes this is an advantage. If
Rikki-tikki had only knownhe was doing a much more dangerous
thing than fighting Nagfor Karait is so smalland can turn so
quicklythat 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
did not know. His eyes were all redand he rocked back and
forthlooking for a good place to hold. Karait struck out.
Rikki jumped sideways and tried to run inbut the wicked little
dusty gray head lashed within a fraction of his shoulderand he
had to jump over the bodyand the head followed his heels close.
Teddy shouted to the house: "Ohlook here! Our mongoose is
killing a snake." And Rikki-tikki heard a scream from Teddy's
mother. His father ran out with a stickbut by the time he came
upKarait had lunged out once too farand Rikki-tikki had
sprungjumped on the snake's backdropped his head far between
his forelegsbitten as high up the back as he could get holdand
rolled away. That bite paralyzed Karaitand Rikki-tikki was just
going to eat him up from the tailafter the custom of his family
at dinnerwhen he remembered that a full meal makes a slow
mongooseand 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
that?" thought Rikki-tikki. "I have settled it all;" and then
Teddy's mother picked him up from the dust and hugged himcrying
that he had saved Teddy from deathand Teddy's father said that
he was a providenceand Teddy looked on with big scared eyes.
Rikki-tikki was rather amused at all the fusswhichof 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 dinnerwalking to and fro among the
wine-glasses on the tablehe 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
motherand to sit on Teddy's shoulderhis eyes would get red
from time to timeand he would go off into his long war cry of
Teddy carried him off to bedand insisted on Rikki-tikki
sleeping under his chin. Rikki-tikki was too well bred to bite or
scratchbut as soon as Teddy was asleep he went off for his
nightly walk round the houseand in the dark he ran up against
Chuchundrathe musk-ratcreeping around by the wall. Chuchundra
is a broken-hearted little beast. He whimpers and cheeps all the
nighttrying to make up his mind to run into the middle of the
room. But he never gets there.
"Don't kill me" said Chuchundraalmost weeping.
"Rikki-tikkidon't kill me!"
"Do you think a snake-killer kills muskrats?" said Rikki-tikki
"Those who kill snakes get killed by snakes" said Chuchundra
more sorrowfully than ever. "And how am I to be sure that Nag
won't mistake me for you some dark night?"
"There's not the least danger" said Rikki-tikki. "But Nag is
in the gardenand I know you don't go there."
"My cousin Chuathe rattold me--" said Chuchundraand
then he stopped.
"Told you what?"
"H'sh! Nag is everywhereRikki-tikki. You should have
talked to Chua in the garden."
"I didn't--so you must tell me. QuickChuchundraor I'll
Chuchundra sat down and cried till the tears rolled off his
whiskers. "I am a very poor man" he sobbed. "I never hadspirit
enough to run out into the middle of the room. H'sh! I mustn't
tell you anything. Can't you hearRikki-tikki?"
Rikki-tikki listened. The house was as still as stillbut he
thought he could just catch the faintest scratch-scratch in the
world--a noise as faint as that of a wasp walking on a
window-pane--the dry scratch of a snake's scales on brick-work.
"That's Nag or Nagaina" he said to himself"and he is
crawling into the bath-room sluice. You're rightChuchundra; I
should have talked to Chua."
He stole off to Teddy's bath-roombut there was nothing
thereand then to Teddy's mother's bathroom. At the bottom of
the smooth plaster wall there was a brick pulled out to make a
sluice for the bath waterand as Rikki-tikki stole in by the
masonry curb where the bath is puthe heard Nag and Nagaina
whispering together outside in the moonlight.
"When the house is emptied of people" said Nagaina to her
husband"he will have to go awayand then the garden will be our
own again. Go in quietlyand remember that the big man who
killed Karait is the first one to bite. Then come out and tell
meand we will hunt for Rikki-tikki together."
"But are you sure that there is anything to be gained by
killing the people?" said Nag.
"Everything. When there were no people in the bungalowdid
we have any mongoose in the garden? So long as the bungalow is
emptywe are king and queen of the garden; and remember that as
soon as our eggs in the melon bed hatch (as they may tomorrow)
our children will need room and quiet."
"I had not thought of that" said Nag. "I will gobut there
is no need that we should hunt for Rikki-tikki afterward. I will
kill the big man and his wifeand the child if I canand come
away quietly. Then the bungalow will be emptyand Rikki-tikki
Rikki-tikki tingled all over with rage and hatred at thisand
then Nag's head came through the sluiceand his five feet of cold
body followed it. Angry as he wasRikki-tikki was very
frightened as he saw the size of the big cobra. Nag coiled
himself upraised his headand looked into the bathroom in the
darkand Rikki could see his eyes glitter.
"Nowif I kill him hereNagaina will know; and if I fight
him on the open floorthe odds are in his favor. What am I to
do?" said Rikki-tikki-tavi.
Nag waved to and froand then Rikki-tikki heard him drinking
from the biggest water-jar that was used to fill the bath. "That
is good" said the snake. "Nowwhen Karait was killedthe big
man had a stick. He may have that stick stillbut when he comes
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 daytime."
There was no answer from outsideso Rikki-tikki knew Nagaina
had gone away. Nag coiled himself downcoil by coilround the
bulge at the bottom of the water jarand Rikki-tikki stayed still
as death. After an hour he began to movemuscle by muscle
toward the jar. Nag was asleepand Rikki-tikki looked at his big
backwondering which would be the best place for a good hold.
"If I don't break his back at the first jump" said Rikki"hecan
still fight. And if he fights--O Rikki!" He looked at the
thickness of the neck below the hoodbut that was too much for
him; and a bite near the tail would only make Nag savage.
"It must be the head"' he said at last; "the head above the
hood. Andwhen I am once thereI must not let go."
Then he jumped. The head was lying a little clear of the
water jarunder the curve of it; andas his teeth metRikki
braced his back against the bulge of the red earthenware to hold
down the head. This gave him just one second's purchaseand he
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 floorup and downand
around in great circlesbut his eyes were red and he held on as
the body cart-whipped over the floorupsetting the tin dipper and
the soap dish and the flesh brushand banged against the tin side
of the bath. As he held he closed his jaws tighter and tighter
for he made sure he would be banged to deathandfor the honor
of his familyhe preferred to be found with his teeth locked. He
was dizzyachingand 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 been
wakened by the noiseand had fired both barrels of a shotgun into
Nag just behind the hood.
Rikki-tikki held on with his eyes shutfor now he was quite
sure he was dead. But the head did not moveand the big man
picked him up and said"It's the mongoose againAlice. The
little chap has saved our lives now."
Then Teddy's mother came in with a very white faceand saw
what was left of Nagand Rikki-tikki dragged himself to Teddy's
bedroom and spent half the rest of the night shaking himself
tenderly to find out whether he really was broken into forty
piecesas he fancied.
When morning came he was very stiffbut well pleased with his
doings. "Now I have Nagaina to settle withand she will be worse
than five Nagsand there's no knowing when the eggs she spoke of
will hatch. Goodness! I must go and see Darzee" he said.
Without waiting for breakfastRikki-tikki ran to the
thornbush where Darzee was singing a song of triumph at the top of
his voice. The news of Nag's death was all over the gardenfor
the sweeper had thrown the body on the rubbish-heap.
"Ohyou stupid tuft of feathers!" said Rikki-tikki angrily.
"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-stickand Nag fell in two pieces! He will
never eat my babies again."
"All that's true enough. But where's Nagaina?" said
Rikki-tikkilooking carefully round him.
"Nagaina came to the bathroom sluice and called for Nag"
Darzee 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 upon the
rubbish heap. Let us sing about the greatthe red-eyed
Rikki-tikki!" And Darzee filled his throat and sang.
"If I could get up to your nestI'd roll your babies out!"
said Rikki-tikki. "You don't know when to do the right thing at
the right time. You're safe enough in your nest therebut it's
war for me down here. Stop singing a minuteDarzee."
"For the greatthe beautiful Rikki-tikki's sake I will stop"
said Darzee. "What is itO Killer of the terrible Nag?"
"Where is Nagainafor the third time?"
"On the rubbish heap by the stablesmourning for Nag. Great
is Rikki-tikki with the white teeth."
"Bother my white teeth! Have you ever heard where she keeps
"In the melon bedon the end nearest the wallwhere the sun
strikes nearly all day. She hid them there weeks ago."
"And you never thought it worth while to tell me? The end
nearest the wallyou said?"
"Rikki-tikkiyou are not going to eat her eggs?"
"Not eat exactly; no. Darzeeif you have a grain of sense
you will fly off to the stables and pretend that your wing is
brokenand let Nagaina chase you away to this bush. I must get
to the melon-bedand if I went there now she'd see me."
Darzee was a feather-brained little fellow who could never
hold more than one idea at a time in his head. And just because
he knew that Nagaina's children were born in eggs like his ownhe
didn't think at first that it was fair to kill them. But his wife
was a sensible birdand she knew that cobra's eggs meant young
cobras later on. So she flew off from the nestand left Darzee
to keep the babies warmand 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 and
cried out"Ohmy 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 trulyyou've chosen a
bad place to be lame in." And she moved toward Darzee's wife
slipping along over the dust.
"The boy broke it with a stone!" shrieked Darzee's wife.
"Well! It may be some consolation to you when you're dead to
know that I shall settle accounts with the boy. My husband lies
on the rubbish heap this morningbut 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 foollook at me!"
Darzee's wife knew better than to do thatfor a bird who
looks at a snake's eyes gets so frightened that she cannot move.
Darzee's wife fluttered onpiping sorrowfullyand never leaving
the groundand Nagaina quickened her pace.
Rikki-tikki heard them going up the path from the stablesand
he raced for the end of the melon patch near the wall. Therein
the warm litter above the melonsvery cunningly hiddenhe found
twenty-five eggsabout the size of a bantam's eggsbut with
whitish skin instead of shell.
"I was not a day too soon" he saidfor he could see the baby
cobras curled up inside the skinand he knew that the minute they
were hatched they could each kill a man or a mongoose. He bit off
the tops of the eggs as fast as he couldtaking care to crush the
young cobrasand turned over the litter from time to time to see
whether he had missed any. At last there were only three eggs
leftand Rikki-tikki began to chuckle to himselfwhen he heard
Darzee's wife screaming:
"Rikki-tikkiI led Nagaina toward the houseand she has gone
into the verandaand--ohcome quickly--she means killing!"
Rikki-tikki smashed two eggsand tumbled backward down the
melon-bed with the third egg in his mouthand scuttled to the
veranda as hard as he could put foot to the ground. Teddy and his
mother and father were there at early breakfastbut Rikki-tikki
saw that they were not eating anything. They sat stone-stilland
their faces were white. Nagaina was coiled up on the matting by
Teddy's chairwithin easy striking distance of Teddy's bare leg
and she was swaying to and frosinging a song of triumph.
"Son of the big man that killed Nag" she hissed"stay still.
I am not ready yet. Wait a little. Keep very stillall you
three! If you move I strikeand if you do not move I strike.
Ohfoolish peoplewho killed my Nag!"
Teddy's eyes were fixed on his fatherand all his father
could do was to whisper"Sit stillTeddy. You mustn't move.
Then Rikki-tikki came up and cried"Turn roundNagaina.
Turn and fight!"
"All in good time" said shewithout moving her eyes. "I
will settle my account with you presently. Look at your friends
Rikki-tikki. They are still and white. They are afraid. They
dare not moveand if you come a step nearer I strike."
"Look at your eggs" said Rikki-tikki"in the melon bed near
the wall. Go and lookNagaina!"
The big snake turned half aroundand saw the egg on the
veranda. "Ah-h! Give it to me" she said.
Rikki-tikki put his paws one on each side of the eggand his
eyes were blood-red. "What price for a snake's egg? For a young
cobra? For a young king cobra? For the last--the very last of
the brood? The ants are eating all the others down by the melon
Nagaina spun clear roundforgetting everything for the sake
of the one egg. Rikki-tikki saw Teddy's father shoot out a big
handcatch Teddy by the shoulderand drag him across the little
table with the tea-cupssafe and out of reach of Nagaina.
"Tricked! Tricked! Tricked! Rikk-tck-tck!" chuckled
Rikki-tikki. "The boy is safeand it was I--I--I that caught
Nag by the hood last night in the bathroom." Then he began to
jump up and downall four feet togetherhis head close to the
floor. "He threw me to and frobut he could not shake me off.
He was dead before the big man blew him in two. I did it!
Rikki-tikki-tck-tck! Come thenNagaina. Come and fight with me.
You shall not be a widow long."
Nagaina saw that she had lost her chance of killing Teddyand
the egg lay between Rikki-tikki's paws. "Give me the egg
Rikki-tikki. Give me the last of my eggsand I will go away and
never come back" she saidlowering her hood.
"Yesyou will go awayand you will never come back. For you
will go to the rubbish heap with Nag. Fightwidow! The big man
has gone for his gun! Fight!"
Rikki-tikki was bounding all round Nagainakeeping just out
of reach of her strokehis little eyes like hot coals. Nagaina
gathered herself together and flung out at him. Rikki-tikki
jumped up and backward. Again and again and again she struckand
each time her head came with a whack on the matting of the veranda
and she gathered herself together like a watch spring. Then
Rikki-tikki danced in a circle to get behind herand Nagaina spun
round to keep her head to his headso 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 verandaand
Nagaina came nearer and nearer to ittill at lastwhile
Rikki-tikki was drawing breathshe caught it in her mouthturned
to the veranda stepsand flew like an arrow down the pathwith
Rikki-tikki behind her. When the cobra runs for her lifeshe
goes like a whip-lash flicked across a horse's neck.
Rikki-tikki knew that he must catch heror all the trouble
would begin again. She headed straight for the long grass by the
thorn-bushand as he was running Rikki-tikki heard Darzee still
singing his foolish little song of triumph. But Darzee's wife was
wiser. She flew off her nest as Nagaina came alongand flapped
her wings about Nagaina's head. If Darzee had helped they might
have turned herbut Nagaina only lowered her hood and went on.
Stillthe instant's delay brought Rikki-tikki up to herand as
she plunged into the rat-hole where she and Nag used to livehis
little white teeth were clenched on her tailand he went down
with her--and very few mongooseshowever wise and old they may
becare to follow a cobra into its hole. It was dark in the
hole; and Rikki-tikki never knew when it might open out and give
Nagaina room to turn and strike at him. He held on savagelyand
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 wavingand
Darzee said"It is all over with Rikki-tikki! We must sing his
death song. Valiant Rikki-tikki is dead! For Nagaina will surely
kill him underground."
So he sang a very mournful song that he made up on the spur of
the minuteand just as he got to the most touching partthe
grass quivered againand Rikki-tikkicovered with dirtdragged
himself out of the hole leg by leglicking his whiskers. Darzee
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 himand 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 he
was--slept and slept till it was late in the afternoonfor he
had done a hard day's work.
"Now" he saidwhen he awoke"I will go back to the house.
Tell the CoppersmithDarzeeand 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
always making it is because he is the town crier to every Indian
gardenand tells all the news to everybody who cares to listen.
As Rikki-tikki went up the pathhe heard his "attention" notes
like a tiny dinner gongand then the steady "Ding-dong-tock! Nag
is dead--dong! Nagaina is dead! Ding-dong-tock!" That set all
the birds in the garden singingand the frogs croakingfor Nag
and Nagaina used to eat frogs as well as little birds.
When Rikki got to the houseTeddy and Teddy's mother (she
looked very white stillfor she had been fainting) and Teddy's
father came out and almost cried over him; and that night he ate
all that was given him till he could eat no moreand went to bed
on Teddy's shoulderwhere Teddy's mother saw him when she came to
look late at night.
"He saved our lives and Teddy's life" she said to her
husband. "Just thinkhe saved all our lives."
Rikki-tikki woke up with a jumpfor the mongooses are light
"Ohit's you" said he. "What are you bothering for? All
the cobras are dead. And if they weren'tI'm here."
Rikki-tikki had a right to be proud of himself. But he did
not grow too proudand he kept that garden as a mongoose should
keep itwith tooth and jump and spring and bitetill never a
cobra dared show its head inside the walls.
(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
Proud of the house that I sew--
Over and underso weave I my music--so weave I the house that I
Sing to your fledglings again
Motheroh lift up your head!
Evil that plagued us is slain
Death in the garden lies dead.
Terror that hid in the roses is impotent--flung on the dung-hill
Who has delivered uswho?
Tell me his nest and his name.
Rikkithe valiantthe true
Tikkiwith eyeballs of flame
Rikk-tikki-tikkithe ivory-fangedthe hunter with eyeballs of
Give him the Thanks of the Birds
Bowing with tail feathers spread!
Praise him with nightingale words--
NayI will praise him instead.
Hear! I will sing you the praise of the bottle-tailed Rikkiwith
eyeballs of red!
(Here Rikki-tikki interruptedand the rest of the song is
Toomai of the Elephants
I will remember what I wasI 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 kindand the wood-folk in their lairs.
I will go out until the dayuntil the morning break--
Out to the wind's untainted kissthe water's clean caress;
I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket stake.
I will revisit my lost lovesand playmates masterless!
Kala Nagwhich means Black Snakehad served the Indian
Government in every way that an elephant could serve it for
forty-seven yearsand as he was fully twenty years old when he
was caughtthat makes him nearly seventy--a ripe age for an
elephant. He remembered pushingwith a big leather pad on his
foreheadat a gun stuck in deep mudand that was before the
Afghan War of 1842and he had not then come to his full strength.
His mother Radha Pyari--Radha the darling--who had been
caught in the same drive with Kala Nagtold himbefore his
little milk tusks had dropped outthat elephants who were afraid
always got hurt. Kala Nag knew that that advice was goodfor the
first time that he saw a shell burst he backedscreaminginto a
stand of piled riflesand the bayonets pricked him in all his
softest places. Sobefore he was twenty-fivehe gave up being
afraidand so he was the best-loved and the best-looked-after
elephant in the service of the Government of India. He had
carried tentstwelve hundred pounds' weight of tentson the
march in Upper India. He had been hoisted into a ship at the end
of a steam crane and taken for days across the waterand made to
carry a mortar on his back in a strange and rocky country very far
from Indiaand had seen the Emperor Theodore lying dead in
Magdalaand had come back again in the steamer entitledso the
soldiers saidto the Abyssinian War medal. He had seen his
fellow elephants die of cold and epilepsy and starvation and
sunstroke up at a place called Ali Musjidten years later; and
afterward he had been sent down thousands of miles south to haul
and pile big balks of teak in the timberyards at Moulmein. There
he had half killed an insubordinate young elephant who was
shirking his fair share of work.
After that he was taken off timber-haulingand employedwith
a few score other elephants who were trained to the businessin
helping to catch wild elephants among the Garo hills. Elephants
are very strictly preserved by the Indian Government. There is
one whole department which does nothing else but hunt themand
catch themand break them inand send them up and down the
country as they are needed for work.
Kala Nag stood ten fair feet at the shouldersand his tusks
had been cut off short at five feetand bound round the endsto
prevent them splittingwith bands of copper; but he could do more
with those stumps than any untrained elephant could do with the
real sharpened ones. Whenafter weeks and weeks of cautious
driving of scattered elephants across the hillsthe forty or
fifty wild monsters were driven into the last stockadeand the
big drop gatemade of tree trunks lashed togetherjarred down
behind themKala Nagat the word of commandwould go into that
flaringtrumpeting pandemonium (generally at nightwhen the
flicker of the torches made it difficult to judge distances)and
picking out the biggest and wildest tusker of the mobwould
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 Nagthe
old wise Black Snakedid not knowfor he had stood up more than
once in his time to the charge of the wounded tigerandcurling
up his soft trunk to be out of harm's wayhad knocked the
springing brute sideways in mid-air with a quick sickle cut of his
headthat he had invented all by himself; had knocked him over
and kneeled upon him with his huge knees till the life went out
with a gasp and a howland there was only a fluffy striped thing
on the ground for Kala Nag to pull by the tail.
"Yes" said Big Toomaihis driverthe son of Black Toomai
who had taken him to Abyssiniaand grandson of Toomai of the
Elephants who had seen him caught"there is nothing that the
Black Snake fears except me. He has seen three generations of us
feed him and groom himand he will live to see four."
"He is afraid of me also" said Little Toomaistanding up to
his full height of four feetwith only one rag upon him. He was
ten years oldthe eldest son of Big Toomaiandaccording to
customhe would take his father's place on Kala Nag's neck when
he grew upand would handle the heavy iron ankusthe elephant
goadthat had been worn smooth by his fatherand his
grandfatherand his great-grandfather.
He knew what he was talking of; for he had been born under
Kala Nag's shadowhad played with the end of his trunk before he
could walkhad taken him down to water as soon as he could walk
and Kala Nag would no more have dreamed of disobeying his shrill
little orders than he would have dreamed of killing him on that
day when Big Toomai carried the little brown baby under Kala Nag's
tusksand told him to salute his master that was to be.
"Yes" said Little Toomai"he is afraid of me" and hetook
long strides up to Kala Nagcalled him a fat old pigand made
him lift up his feet one after the other.
"Wah!" said Little Toomai"thou art a big elephant" andhe
wagged his fluffy headquoting his father. "The Government may
pay for elephantsbut they belong to us mahouts. When thou art
oldKala Nagthere will come some rich rajahand he will buy
thee from the Governmenton account of thy size and thy manners
and then thou wilt have nothing to do but to carry gold earrings
in thy earsand a gold howdah on thy backand a red cloth
covered with gold on thy sidesand walk at the head of the
processions of the King. Then I shall sit on thy neckO Kala
Nagwith a silver ankusand men will run before us with golden
stickscrying`Room for the King's elephant!' That will be
goodKala Nagbut not so good as this hunting in the jungles."
"Umph!" said Big Toomai. "Thou art a boyand as wild as a
buffalo-calf. This running up and down among the hills is not the
best Government service. I am getting oldand I do not love wild
elephants. Give me brick elephant linesone stall to each
elephantand big stumps to tie them to safelyand flatbroad
roads to exercise uponinstead of this come-and-go camping. Aha
the Cawnpore barracks were good. There was a bazaar close byand
only three hours' work a day."
Little Toomai remembered the Cawnpore elephant-lines and said
nothing. He very much preferred the camp lifeand hated those
broadflat roadswith the daily grubbing for grass in the forage
reserveand the long hours when there was nothing to do except to
watch Kala Nag fidgeting in his pickets.
What Little Toomai liked was to scramble up bridle paths that
only an elephant could take; the dip into the valley below; the
glimpses of the wild elephants browsing miles away; the rush of
the frightened pig and peacock under Kala Nag's feet; the blinding
warm rainswhen all the hills and valleys smoked; the beautiful
misty mornings when nobody knew where they would camp that night;
the steadycautious drive of the wild elephantsand the mad rush
and blaze and hullabaloo of the last night's drivewhen the
elephants poured into the stockade like boulders in a landslide
found that they could not get outand flung themselves at the
heavy posts only to be driven back by yells and flaring torches
and volleys of blank cartridge.
Even a little boy could be of use thereand Toomai was as
useful as three boys. He would get his torch and wave itand
yell with the best. But the really good time came when the
driving out beganand the Keddah--that isthe stockade--
looked like a picture of the end of the worldand men had to make
signs to one anotherbecause they could not hear themselves
speak. Then Little Toomai would climb up to the top of one of the
quivering stockade postshis sun-bleached brown hair flying loose
all over his shouldersand he looking like a goblin in the
torch-light. And as soon as there was a lull you could hear his
high-pitched yells of encouragement to Kala Nagabove the
trumpeting and crashingand snapping of ropesand groans of the
tethered elephants. "MaelmaelKala Nag! (Go ongo onBlack
Snake!) Dant do! (Give him the tusk!) Somalo! Somalo!
(Carefulcareful!) Maro! Mar! (Hit himhit him!) Mind the
post! Arre! Arre! Hai! Yai! Kya-a-ah!" he would shoutand
the big fight between Kala Nag and the wild elephant would sway to
and fro across the Keddahand the old elephant catchers would
wipe the sweat out of their eyesand find time to nod to Little
Toomai wriggling with joy on the top of the posts.
He did more than wriggle. One night he slid down from the
post and slipped in between the elephants and threw up the loose
end of a ropewhich had droppedto a driver who was trying to
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 trunkand handed him up to Big Toomaiwho
slapped him then and thereand put him back on the post.
Next morning he gave him a scolding and said"Are not good
brick elephant lines and a little tent carrying enoughthat thou
must needs go elephant catching on thy own accountlittle
worthless? Now those foolish hunterswhose pay is less than my
payhave spoken to Petersen Sahib of the matter." Little Toomai
was frightened. He did not know much of white menbut Petersen
Sahib was the greatest white man in the world to him. He was the
head of all the Keddah operations--the man who caught all the
elephants for the Government of Indiaand who knew more about the
ways of elephants than any living man.
"What--what will 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 may
even require thee to be an elephant catcherto sleep anywhere in
these fever-filled junglesand at last to be trampled to death in
the Keddah. It is well that this nonsense ends safely. Next week
the catching is overand we of the plains are sent back to our
stations. Then we will march on smooth roadsand forget all this
hunting. ButsonI am angry that thou shouldst meddle in the
business that belongs to these dirty Assamese jungle folk. Kala
Nag will obey none but meso I must go with him into the Keddah
but he is only a fighting elephantand he does not help to rope
them. So I sit at my easeas befits a mahout--not a mere
hunter--a mahoutI sayand 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
Sahib will surely catch thee and make thee a wild hunter--a
follower of elephant's foot tracksa jungle bear. Bah! Shame!
Little Toomai went off without saying a wordbut he told Kala
Nag all his grievances while he was examining his feet. "No
matter" said Little Toomaiturning up the fringe of Kala Nag's
huge right ear. "They have said my name to Petersen Sahiband
perhaps--and perhaps--and perhaps--who knows? Hai! That is
a big thorn that I have pulled out!"
The next few days were spent in getting the elephants
togetherin walking the newly caught wild elephants up and down
between a couple of tame ones to prevent them giving too much
trouble on the downward march to the plainsand in taking stock
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 hillsfor the season
was coming to an endand there was a native clerk sitting at a
table under a treeto pay the drivers their wages. As each man
was paid he went back to his elephantand joined the line that
stood ready to start. The catchersand huntersand beatersthe
men of the regular Keddahwho stayed in the jungle year in and
year outsat on the backs of the elephants that belonged to
Petersen Sahib's permanent forceor leaned against the trees with
their guns across their armsand made fun of the drivers who were
going awayand laughed when the newly caught elephants broke the
line and ran about.
Big Toomai went up to the clerk with Little Toomai behind him
and Machua Appathe head trackersaid 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 himas a man must have
who listens to the most silent of all living things--the wild
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 manbut a boy. He went into the Keddah at the
last driveand threw Barmao there the ropewhen we were trying
to get that young calf with the blotch on his shoulder away from
Machua Appa pointed at Little Toomaiand Petersen Sahib
lookedand Little Toomai bowed to the earth.
"He throw a rope? He is smaller than a picket-pin. Little
onewhat is thy name?" said Petersen Sahib.
Little Toomai was too frightened to speakbut Kala Nag was
behind himand Toomai made a sign with his handand the elephant
caught him up in his trunk and held him level with Pudmini's
foreheadin front of the great Petersen Sahib. Then Little
Toomai covered his face with his handsfor he was only a child
and except where elephants were concernedhe was just as bashful
as a child could be.
"Oho!" said Petersen Sahibsmiling underneath his mustache
"and why didst thou teach thy elephant that trick? Was it to help
thee steal green corn from the roofs of the houses when the ears
are put out to dry?"
"Not green cornProtector of the Poor--melons" said
Little Toomaiand all the men sitting about broke into a roar of
laughter. Most of them had taught their elephants that trick when
they were boys. Little Toomai was hanging eight feet up in the
airand he wished very much that he were eight feet underground.
"He is Toomaimy sonSahib" said Big Toomaiscowling. "He
is a very bad boyand he will end in a jailSahib."
"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
little onehere are four annas to spend in sweetmeats because
thou hast a little head under that great thatch of hair. In time
thou mayest become a hunter too." Big Toomai scowled more than
ever. "Rememberthoughthat Keddahs are not good for children
to play in" Petersen Sahib went on.
"Must I never go thereSahib?" 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 danceand then I will let thee go into
all the Keddahs."
There was another roar of laughterfor that is an old joke
among elephant-catchersand it means just never. There are great
cleared flat places hidden away in the forests that are called
elephants' ball-roomsbut 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?"
Kala Nag put Little Toomai downand he bowed to the earth
again and went away with his fatherand gave the silver four-anna
piece to his motherwho was nursing his baby brotherand they
all were put up on Kala Nag's backand the line of grunting
squealing elephants rolled down the hill path to the plains. It
was a very lively march on account of the new elephantswho gave
trouble at every fordand needed coaxing or beating every other
Big Toomai prodded Kala Nag spitefullyfor he was very angry
but Little Toomai was too happy to speak. Petersen Sahib had
noticed himand given him moneyso he felt as a private soldier
would feel if he had been called out of the ranks and praised by
"What did Petersen Sahib mean by the elephant dance?" he said
at lastsoftly 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. Ohyou in frontwhat is blocking the way?"
An Assamese drivertwo or three elephants aheadturned round
angrilycrying: "Bring up Kala Nagand knock this youngster of
mine into good behavior. Why should Petersen Sahib have chosen me
to go down with you donkeys of the rice fields? Lay your beast
alongsideToomaiand let him prod with his tusks. By all the
Gods of the Hillsthese new elephants are possessedor else they
can smell their companions in the jungle." Kala Nag hit the new
elephant in the ribs and knocked the wind out of himas 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 whole line?"
"Hear him!" said the other driver. "We have swept the hills!
Ho! Ho! You are very wiseyou plains people. Anyone but a
mud-head who never saw the jungle would know that they know that
the drives are ended for the season. Therefore all the wild
elephants to-night will--but why should I waste wisdom on a
"What will they do?" Little Toomai called out.
"Ohelittle one. Art thou there? WellI will tell thee
for thou hast a cool head. They will danceand it behooves thy
fatherwho has swept all the hills of all the elephantsto
double-chain his pickets to-night."
"What talk is this?" said Big Toomai. "For forty years
father and sonwe have tended elephantsand we have never heard
such moonshine about dances."
"Yes; but a plainsman who lives in a hut knows only the four
walls of his hut. Wellleave thy elephants unshackled tonight
and see what comes. As for their dancingI have seen the place
where--Bapree-bap! How many windings has the Dihang River?
Here is another fordand we must swim the calves. Stop still
you behind there."
And in this waytalking and wrangling and splashing through
the riversthey made their first march to a sort of receiving
camp for the new elephants. But they lost their tempers long
before they got there.
Then the elephants were chained by their hind legs to their
big stumps of picketsand extra ropes were fitted to the new
elephantsand the fodder was piled before themand the hill
drivers went back to Petersen Sahib through the afternoon light
telling the plains drivers to be extra careful that nightand
laughing when the plains drivers asked the reason.
Little Toomai attended to Kala Nag's supperand as evening
fellwandered through the campunspeakably happyin search of a
tom-tom. When an Indian child's heart is fullhe 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
to by Petersen Sahib! If he had not found what he wantedI
believe he would have been ill. But the sweetmeat seller in the
camp lent him a little tom-tom--a drum beaten with the flat of
the hand--and he sat downcross-leggedbefore Kala Nag as the
stars began to come outthe tom-tom in his lapand he thumped
and he thumped and he thumpedand the more he thought of the
great honor that had been done to himthe more he thumpedall
alone among the elephant fodder. There was no tune and no words
but the thumping made him happy.
The new elephants strained at their ropesand squealed and
trumpeted from time to timeand he could hear his mother in the
camp hut putting his small brother to sleep with an oldold song
about the great God Shivwho once told all the animals what they
should eat. It is a very soothing lullabyand the first verse
Shivwho poured the harvest and made the winds to blow
Sitting at the doorways of a day of long ago
Gave to each his portionfood 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 camelfodder for the kine
And mother's heart for sleepy headO little son of mine!
Little Toomai came in with a joyous tunk-a-tunk at the end of
each versetill he felt sleepy and stretched himself on the
fodder at Kala Nag's side. At last the elephants began to lie
down one after another as is their customtill only Kala Nag at
the right of the line was left standing up; and he rocked slowly
from side to sidehis ears put forward to listen to the night
wind as it blew very slowly across the hills. The air was full of
all the night noises thattaken togethermake one big silence--
the click of one bamboo stem against the otherthe rustle of
something alive in the undergrowththe 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 timeand when he waked it was brilliant
moonlightand Kala Nag was still standing up with his ears
cocked. Little Toomai turnedrustling in the fodderand watched
the curve of his big back against half the stars in heavenand
while he watched he heardso far away that it sounded no more
than a pinhole of noise pricked through the stillnessthe
"hoot-toot" of a wild elephant.
All the elephants in the lines jumped up as if they had been
shotand their grunts at last waked the sleeping mahoutsand
they came out and drove in the picket pegs with big malletsand
tightened this rope and knotted that till all was quiet. One new
elephant had nearly grubbed up his picketand Big Toomai took off
Kala Nag's leg chain and shackled that elephant fore-foot to
hind-footbut slipped a loop of grass string round Kala Nag's
legand 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 order by
gurglingas he usually did. He stood stilllooking out across
the moonlighthis head a little raised and his ears spread like
fansup to the great folds of the Garo hills.
"Tend to him if he grows restless in the night" said Big
Toomai to Little Toomaiand he went into the hut and slept.
Little Toomai was just going to sleeptoowhen 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 himbarefooted
down the road in the moonlightcalling under his breath"Kala
Nag! Kala Nag! Take me with youO Kala Nag!" The elephant
turnedwithout a soundtook three strides back to the boy in the
moonlightput down his trunkswung him up to his neckand
almost before Little Toomai had settled his kneesslipped into
There was one blast of furious trumpeting from the linesand
then the silence shut down on everythingand Kala Nag began to
move. Sometimes a tuft of high grass washed along his sides as a
wave washes along the sides of a shipand sometimes a cluster of
wild-pepper vines would scrape along his backor a bamboo would
creak where his shoulder touched it. But between those times he
moved absolutely without any sounddrifting through the thick
Garo forest as though it had been smoke. He was going uphillbut
though Little Toomai watched the stars in the rifts of the trees
he could not tell in what direction.
Then Kala Nag reached the crest of the ascent and stopped for
a minuteand Little Toomai could see the tops of the trees lying
all speckled and furry under the moonlight for miles and miles
and the blue-white mist over the river in the hollow. Toomai
leaned forward and lookedand he felt that the forest was awake
below him--awake and alive and crowded. A big brown
fruit-eating bat brushed past his ear; a porcupine's quills
rattled in the thicket; and in the darkness between the tree stems
he heard a hog-bear digging hard in the moist warm earthand
snuffing as it digged.
Then the branches closed over his head againand Kala Nag
began to go down into the valley--not quietly this timebut as
a runaway gun goes down a steep bank--in one rush. The huge
limbs moved as steadily as pistonseight feet to each strideand
the wrinkled skin of the elbow points rustled. The undergrowth on
either side of him ripped with a noise like torn canvasand the
saplings that he heaved away right and left with his shoulders
sprang back again and banged him on the flankand great trails of
creepersall matted togetherhung from his tusks as he threw his
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 groundand he wished that he were
back in the lines again.
The grass began to get squashyand Kala Nag's feet sucked and
squelched as he put them downand the night mist at the bottom of
the valley chilled Little Toomai. There was a splash and a
trampleand the rush of running waterand Kala Nag strode
through the bed of a riverfeeling his way at each step. Above
the noise of the wateras it swirled round the elephant's legs
Little Toomai could hear more splashing and some trumpeting both
upstream and down--great grunts and angry snortingsand all the
mist about him seemed to be full of rollingwavy shadows.
"Ai!" he saidhalf aloudhis teeth chattering. "The
elephant-folk are out tonight. It is the dancethen!"
Kala Nag swashed out of the waterblew his trunk clearand
began another climb. But this time he was not aloneand he had
not to make his path. That was made alreadysix feet widein
front of himwhere 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 backand behind him a
great wild tusker with his little pig's eyes glowing like hot
coals was just lifting himself out of the misty river.
Then the trees closed up againand they went on and upwith
trumpetings and crashingsand 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 acresand in
all that spaceas Little Toomai could seethe ground had been
trampled down as hard as a brick floor. Some trees grew in the
center of the clearingbut their bark was rubbed awayand 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 creepersgreat waxy white
things like convolvuluseshung down fast asleep. But within the
limits of the clearing there was not a single blade of green--
nothing but the trampled earth.
The moonlight showed it all iron grayexcept where some
elephants stood upon itand their shadows were inky black.
Little Toomai lookedholding his breathwith his eyes starting
out of his headand as he lookedmore and more and more
elephants swung out into the open from between the tree trunks.
Little Toomai could only count up to tenand he counted again and
again on his fingers till he lost count of the tensand his head
began to swim. Outside the clearing he could hear them crashing
in the undergrowth as they worked their way up the hillsidebut
as soon as they were within the circle of the tree trunks they
moved like ghosts.
There were white-tusked wild maleswith fallen leaves and
nuts and twigs lying in the wrinkles of their necks and the folds
of their ears; fatslow-footed she-elephantswith restless
little pinky black calves only three or four feet high running
under their stomachs; young elephants with their tusks just
beginning to showand very proud of them; lankyscraggy old-maid
elephantswith their hollow anxious facesand trunks like rough
bark; savage old bull elephantsscarred from shoulder to flank
with great weals and cuts of bygone fightsand the caked dirt of
their solitary mud baths dropping from their shoulders; and there
was one with a broken tusk and the marks of the full-strokethe
terrible drawing scrapeof a tiger's claws on his side.
They were standing head to heador walking to and fro across
the ground in couplesor rocking and swaying all by themselves--
scores and scores of elephants.
Toomai knew that so long as he lay still on Kala Nag's neck
nothing would happen to himfor 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
iron in the forestbut it was PudminiPetersen Sahib's pet
elephanther chain snapped short offgruntingsnuffling up the
hillside. She must have broken her pickets and come straight from
Petersen Sahib's camp; and Little Toomai saw another elephantone
that he did not knowwith deep rope galls on his back and breast.
Hetoomust have run away from some camp in the hills about.
At last there was no sound of any more elephants moving in the
forestand Kala Nag rolled out from his station between the trees
and went into the middle of the crowdclucking and gurglingand
all the elephants began to talk in their own tongueand to move
Still lying downLittle Toomai looked down upon scores and
scores of broad backsand wagging earsand tossing trunksand
little rolling eyes. He heard the click of tusks as they crossed
other tusks by accidentand the dry rustle of trunks twined
togetherand the chafing of enormous sides and shoulders in the
crowdand the incessant flick and hissh of the great tails. Then
a cloud came over the moonand he sat in black darkness. But the
quietsteady hustling and pushing and gurgling went on just the
same. He knew that there were elephants all round Kala Nagand
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
torchlight and shoutingbut here he was all alone in the dark
and once a trunk came up and touched him on the knee.
Then an elephant trumpetedand they all took it up for five
or ten terrible seconds. The dew from the trees above spattered
down like rain on the unseen backsand a dull booming noise
begannot very loud at firstand Little Toomai could not tell
what it was. But it grew and grewand Kala Nag lifted up one
forefoot and then the otherand brought them down on the ground
--one-twoone-twoas steadily as trip-hammers. The elephants
were stamping all together nowand 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 falland the booming went onand the
ground rocked and shiveredand Little Toomai put his hands up to
his ears to shut out the sound. But it was all one gigantic jar
that ran through him--this stamp of hundreds of heavy feet on
the raw earth. Once or twice he could feel Kala Nag and all the
others surge forward a few stridesand the thumping would change
to the crushing sound of juicy green things being bruisedbut in
a minute or two the boom of feet on hard earth began again. A
tree was creaking and groaning somewhere near him. He put out his
arm and felt the barkbut Kala Nag moved forwardstill tramping
and he could not tell where he was in the clearing. There was no
sound from the elephantsexcept oncewhen 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 hoursand
Little Toomai ached in every nervebut 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
hillsand the booming stopped with the first rayas though the
light had been an order. Before Little Toomai had got the ringing
out of his headbefore even he had shifted his positionthere
was not an elephant in sight except Kala NagPudminiand the
elephant with the rope-gallsand there was neither sign nor
rustle nor whisper down the hillsides to show where the others had
Little Toomai stared again and again. The clearingas he
remembered ithad grown in the night. More trees stood in the
middle of itbut 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
room--had stamped the thick grass and juicy cane to trashthe
trash into sliversthe slivers into tiny fibersand the fibers
into hard earth.
"Wah!" said Little Toomaiand his eyes were very heavy.
"Kala Nagmy lordlet us keep by Pudmini and go to Petersen
Sahib's campor I shall drop from thy neck."
The third elephant watched the two go awaysnortedwheeled
roundand took his own path. He may have belonged to some little
native king's establishmentfifty or sixty or a hundred miles
Two hours lateras Petersen Sahib was eating early breakfast
his elephantswho had been double chained that nightbegan to
trumpetand Pudminimired to the shoulderswith Kala Nagvery
footsoreshambled into the camp. Little Toomai's face was gray
and pinchedand his hair was full of leaves and drenched with
dewbut he tried to salute Petersen Sahiband cried faintly:
"The dance--the elephant dance! I have seen itand--I die!"
As Kala Nag sat downhe slid off his neck in a dead faint.
Butsince 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 headand a
glass of warm milka little brandywith a dash of quinine
inside of himand while the old hairyscarred hunters of the
jungles sat three deep before himlooking at him as though he
were a spirithe told his tale in short wordsas a child will
and wound up with:
"Nowif I lie in one wordsend men to seeand they will
find that the elephant folk have trampled down more room in their
dance-roomand they will find ten and tenand many times ten
tracks leading to that dance-room. They made more room with their
feet. I have seen it. Kala Nag took meand I saw. Also Kala
Nag is very leg-weary!"
Little Toomai lay back and slept all through the long
afternoon and into the twilightand while he slept Petersen Sahib
and Machua Appa followed the track of the two elephants for
fifteen miles across the hills. Petersen Sahib had spent eighteen
years in catching elephantsand he had only once before found
such a dance-place. Machua Appa had no need to look twice at the
clearing to see what had been done thereor to scratch with his
toe in the packedrammed earth.
"The child speaks truth" said he. "All this was done last
nightand I have counted seventy tracks crossing the river. See
Sahibwhere Pudmini's leg-iron cut the bark of that tree! Yes;
she was there too."
They looked at one another and up and downand they wondered.
For the ways of elephants are beyond the wit of any manblack or
"Forty years and five" said Machua Appa"have I followed my
lordthe elephantbut never have I heard that any child of man
had seen what this child has seen. By all the Gods of the Hills
it is--what can we say?" and he shook his head.
When they got back to camp it was time for the evening meal.
Petersen Sahib ate alone in his tentbut he gave orders that the
camp should have two sheep and some fowlsas well as a double
ration of flour and rice and saltfor 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 elephantand now that he had found
them he looked at them as though he were afraid of them both. And
there was a feast by the blazing campfires in front of the lines
of picketed elephantsand Little Toomai was the hero of it all.
And the big brown elephant catchersthe trackers and drivers and
ropersand the men who know all the secrets of breaking the
wildest elephantspassed him from one to the otherand they
marked his forehead with blood from the breast of a newly killed
jungle-cockto show that he was a foresterinitiated and free of
all the jungles.
And at lastwhen the flames died downand the red light of
the logs made the elephants look as though they had been dipped in
blood tooMachua Appathe head of all the drivers of all the
Keddahs--Machua AppaPetersen Sahib's other selfwho had never
seen a made road in forty years: Machua Appawho 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 headand
shouted: "Listenmy brothers. Listentooyou my lords in the
lines therefor IMachua Appaam speaking! This little one
shall no more be called Little Toomaibut Toomai of the
Elephantsas his great-grandfather was called before him. What
never man has seen he has seen through the long nightand 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 Ieven IMachua Appa! He shall follow the new trailand
the stale trailand the mixed trailwith a clear eye! He shall
take no harm in the Keddah when he runs under their bellies to
rope the wild tuskers; and if he slips before the feet of the
charging bull elephantthe 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
seen your dances in your hidden places--the sight that never
man saw! Give him honormy lords! Salaam karomy children.
Make your salute to Toomai of the Elephants! Gunga Pershadahaa!
Hira GujBirchi GujKuttar Gujahaa! Pudmini--thou hast
seen him at the danceand thou tooKala Nagmy 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 foreheadsand broke out into
the full salute--the crashing trumpet-peal that only the Viceroy
of India hearsthe Salaamut of the Keddah.
But it was all for the sake of Little Toomaiwho had seen
what never man had seen before--the dance of the elephants at
night and alone in the heart of the Garo hills!
Shiv and the Grasshopper
(The song that Toomai's mother sang to the baby)
Shivwho poured the harvest and made the winds to blow
Sitting at the doorways of a day of long ago
Gave to each his portionfood 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 camelfodder for the kine
And mother's heart for sleepy headO little son of mine!
Wheat he gave to rich folkmillet to the poor
Broken scraps for holy men that beg from door to door;
Battle to the tigercarrion to the kite
And rags and bones to wicked wolves without the wall at night.
Naught he found too loftynone he saw too low--
Parbati beside him watched them come and go;
Thought to cheat her husbandturning Shiv to jest--
Stole the little grasshopper and hid it in her breast.
So she tricked himShiva the Preserver.
Mahadeo! Mahadeo! Turn and see.
Tall are the camelsheavy are the kine
But this was Least of Little ThingsO little son of mine!
When the dole was endedlaughingly she said
Masterof a million mouthsis not one unfed?"
LaughingShiv made answer"All have had their part
Even hethe little onehidden 'neath thy heart."
From her breast she plucked itParbati the thief
Saw the Least of Little Things gnawed a new-grown leaf!
Saw and feared and wonderedmaking prayer to Shiv
Who hath surely given meat to all that live.
All things made he--Shiva the Preserver.
Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all--
Thorn for the camelfodder for the kine
And mother's heart for sleepy headO little son of mine!
Her Majesty's Servants
You can work it out by Fractions or by simple Rule of Three
But the way of Tweedle-dum is not the way of Tweedle-dee.
You can twist ityou can turn ityou can plait it till you drop
But the way of Pilly Winky's not the way of Winkie Pop!
It had been raining heavily for one whole month--raining on a
camp of thirty thousand men and thousands of camelselephants
horsesbullocksand mules all gathered together at a place
called Rawal Pindito 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
bodyguard eight hundred men and horses who had never seen a camp
or a locomotive before in their lives--savage men and savage
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 darkor the
camels would break loose and run about and fall over the ropes of
the tentsand you can imagine how pleasant that was for men
trying to go to sleep. My tent lay far away from the camel lines
and I thought it was safe. But one night a man popped his head in
and shouted"Get outquick! They're coming! My tent's gone!"
I knew who "they" wereso I put on my boots and waterproof
and scuttled out into the slush. Little Vixenmy fox terrier
went out through the other side; and then there was a roaring and
a grunting and bubblingand I saw the tent cave inas the pole
snappedand begin to dance about like a mad ghost. A camel had
blundered into itand wet and angry as I wasI could not help
laughing. Then I ran onbecause I did not know how many camels
might have got looseand before long I was out of sight of the
campplowing my way through the mud.
At last I fell over the tail-end of a gunand 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
the drizzle and the darkI put my waterproof over the muzzle of
one gunand made a sort of wigwam with two or three rammers that
I foundand lay along the tail of another gunwondering where
Vixen had got toand where I might be.
Just as I was getting ready to go to sleep I heard a jingle of
harness and a gruntand a mule passed me shaking his wet ears.
He belonged to a screw-gun batteryfor I could hear the rattle of
the straps and rings and chains and things on his saddle pad. The
screw-guns are tiny little cannon made in two piecesthat are
screwed together when the time comes to use them. They are taken
up mountainsanywhere that a mule can find a roadand they are
very useful for fighting in rocky country.
Behind the mule there was a camelwith his big soft feet
squelching and slipping in the mudand his neck bobbing to and
fro like a strayed hen's. LuckilyI knew enough of beast
language--not wild-beast languagebut camp-beast languageof
course--from the natives to know what he was saying.
He must have been the one that flopped into my tentfor he
called to the mule"What shall I do? Where shall I go? I have
fought with a white thing that wavedand it took a stick and hit
me on the neck." (That was my broken tent poleand I was very
glad to know it.) "Shall we run on?"
"Ohit was you" said the mule"you and your friendsthat
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
time" he said"you'll know better than to run through a mule
battery at nightshouting `Thieves and fire!' Sit downand keep
your silly neck quiet."
The camel doubled up camel-fashionlike a two-foot ruleand
sat down whimpering. There was a regular beat of hoofs in the
darknessand a big troop-horse cantered up as steadily as though
he were on paradejumped a gun tailand landed close to the
"It's disgraceful" he saidblowing out his nostrils. "Those
camels have racketed through our lines again--the third time
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 FifteenE troopNinth Lancers--Dick Cunliffe's
horse. Stand over a littlethere."
"Ohbeg 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 in
the nightand we were very much afraid. I am only a baggage
camel of the 39th Native Infantryand I am not as brave as you
"Then why didn't you stay and carry baggage for the 39th
Native Infantryinstead 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?"
"Sit down" said the mule"or you'll snap your long
stick-legs between the guns." He cocked one ear and listened.
"Bullocks!" he said. "Gun bullocks. On my wordyou and your
friends have waked the camp very thoroughly. It takes a good deal
of prodding to put up a gun-bullock."
I heard a chain dragging along the groundand a yoke of the
great sulky white bullocks that drag the heavy siege guns when the
elephants won't go any nearer to the firingcame shouldering
along together. And almost stepping on the chain was another
battery mulecalling wildly for "Billy."
"That's one of our recruits" said the old mule to the troop
horse. "He's calling for me. Hereyoungsterstop squealing.
The dark never hurt anybody yet."
The gun-bullocks lay down together and began chewing the cud
but the young mule huddled close to Billy.
"Things!" he said. "Fearful and horribleBilly! 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
disgracing the battery before this gentleman!"
"Gentlygently!" said the troop-horse. "Remember they are
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
dayand if I'd seen a camelI should have been running still."
Nearly all our horses for the English cavalry are brought to
India from Australiaand are broken in by the troopers
"True enough" said Billy. "Stop shakingyoungster. The
first time they put the full harness with all its chains on my
back I stood on my forelegs and kicked every bit of it off. I
hadn't learned the real science of kicking thenbut the battery
said they had never seen anything like it."
"But this wasn't harness or anything that jingled" said the
young mule. "You know I don't mind that nowBilly. It was
Things like treesand they fell up and down the lines and
bubbled; and my head-rope brokeand I couldn't find my driver
and I couldn't find youBillyso I ran off with--with these
"H'm!" said Billy. "As soon as I heard the camels were loose
I came away on my own account. When a battery--a screw-gun mule
calls gun-bullocks gentlemenhe must be very badly shaken up.
Who are you fellows on the ground there?"
The gun bullocks rolled their cudsand answered both
together: "The seventh yoke of the first gun of the Big Gun
Battery. We were asleep when the camels camebut when we were
trampled 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 your
friend here that there was nothing to be afraid ofbut 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 ityoung un."
The young mule's teeth snappedand I heard him say something
about not being afraid of any beefy old bullock in the world. But
the bullocks only clicked their horns together and went on
"Nowdon'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 nightI thinkif they see
things they don't understand. We've broken out of our pickets
again and againfour hundred and fifty of usjust because a new
recruit got to telling tales of whip snakes at home in Australia
till we were scared to death of the loose ends of our head-ropes."
"That's all very well in camp" said Billy. "I'm not above
stampeding myselffor the fun of the thingwhen I haven't been
out for a day or two. But what do you do on active service?"
"Ohthat's quite another set of new shoes" said the troop
horse. "Dick Cunliffe's on my back thenand drives his knees
into meand all I have to do is to watch where I am putting my
feetand to keep my hind legs well under meand be bridle-wise."
"What's 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 be
bridle-wise in your business? How can you do anythingunless you
can spin round at once when the rein is pressed on your neck? It
means life or death to your manand of course that's life and
death to you. Get round with your hind legs under you the instant
you feel the rein on your neck. If you haven't room to swing
roundrear up a little and come round on your hind legs. That's
"We aren't taught that way" said Billy the mule stiffly.
"We're taught to obey the man at our head: step off when he says
soand step in when he says so. I suppose it comes to the same
thing. Nowwith all this fine fancy business and rearingwhich
must be very bad for your hockswhat do you do?"
"That depends" said the troop-horse. "Generally I have to go
in among a lot of yellinghairy men with knives--long shiny
knivesworse 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
and I 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 young mule.
"WellI got one cut across the chest oncebut that wasn't
"A lot I should have cared whose fault it wasif it hurt!"
said the young mule.
"You must" said the troop horse. "If you don't trust your
manyou may as well run away at once. That's what some of our
horses doand I don't blame them. As I was sayingit wasn't
Dick's fault. The man was lying on the groundand I stretched
myself not to tread on himand 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 dirty
things at any time. The proper thing to do is to climb up a
mountain with a well-balanced saddlehang on by all four feet and
your ears tooand creep and crawl and wriggle alongtill 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
keep quiet--never ask a man to hold your headyoung un--keep
quiet while the guns are being put togetherand then you watch
the little poppy shells drop down into the tree-tops ever so far
"Don't you ever trip?" said the troop-horse.
"They say that when a mule trips you can split a hen's ear"
said Billy. "Now and again perhaps a badly packed saddle will
upset a mulebut it's very seldom. I wish I could show you our
business. It's beautiful. Whyit 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 linebecauseif you doyou may
get fired at. Remember thatyoung un. Always keep hidden as
much as possibleeven if you have to go a mile out of your way.
I lead the battery when it comes to that sort of climbing."
"Fired at without the chance of running into the people who
are firing!" said the troop-horsethinking hard. "I couldn't
stand that. I should want to charge--with Dick."
"Ohnoyou wouldn't. You know that as soon as the guns are
in position they'll do all the charging. That's scientific and
neat. But knives--pah!"
The baggage-camel had been bobbing his head to and fro for
some time pastanxious to get a word in edgewise. Then I heard
him sayas he cleared his throatnervously:
"I--I--I have fought a littlebut 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. Wellhow
was itold Hay-bales?"
"The proper way" said the camel. "We all sat down--"
"Ohmy crupper and breastplate!" said the troop-horse under
his breath. "Sat down!"
"We sat down--a hundred of us" the camel went on"in a big
squareand the men piled our packs and saddlesoutside the
squareand they fired over our backsthe men didon all sides
of the square."
"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 usbut Dick Cunliffe is the only man I'd
trust to do that. It tickles my girthsandbesidesI can't see
with my head on the ground."
"What does it matter who fires across you?" said the camel.
"There are plenty of men and plenty of other camels close byand
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. Wellwell! Before I'd lie downnot to speak of
sitting downand let a man fire across memy heels and his head
would have something to say to each other. Did you ever hear
anything so awful as that?"
There was a long silenceand then one of the gun bullocks
lifted up his big head and said"This is very foolish indeed.
There is only one way of fighting."
"Ohgo on" said Billy. "Please don't mind me. I suppose
you fellows fight standing on your tails?"
"Only one way" said the two together. (They must have been
twins.) "This is that way. To put all twenty yoke of us to the
big gun as soon as Two Tails trumpets." ("Two Tails" is camp
slang for the elephant.)
"What does Two Tails trumpet for?" said the young mule.
"To show that he is not going any nearer to the smoke on the
other side. Two Tails is a great coward. Then we tug the big gun
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 ustill we are unyoked againand we graze while
the big guns talk across the plain to some town with mud walls
and pieces of the wall fall outand the dust goes up as though
many cattle were coming home."
"Oh! And you choose that time for grazing?" said the young
"That time or any other. Eating is always good. We eat till
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 backand some of us are killedand then there is all the
more grazing for those that are left. This is Fate. None the
lessTwo Tails is a great coward. That is the proper way to
fight. We are brothers from Hapur. Our father was a sacred bull
of Shiva. We have spoken."
"WellI've certainly learned something tonight" said the
troop-horse. "Do you gentlemen of the screw-gun battery feel
inclined to eat when you are being fired at with big gunsand Two
Tails is behind you?"
"About as much as we feel inclined to sit down and let men
sprawl all over usor run into people with knives. I never heard
such stuff. A mountain ledgea well-balanced loada driver you
can trust to let you pick your own wayand I'm your mule. But--
the other things--no!" said Billywith a stamp of his foot.
"Of course" said the troop horse"everyone is not made in
the same wayand I can quite see that your familyon your
father's sidewould fail to understand a great many things."
"Never you mind my family on my father's side" said Billy
angrilyfor every mule hates to be reminded that his father was a
donkey. "My father was a Southern gentlemanand he could pull
down and bite and kick into rags every horse he came across.
Remember thatyou big brown Brumby!"
Brumby means wild horse without any breeding. Imagine the
feelings of Sunol if a car-horse called her a "skate" and you can
imagine how the Australian horse felt. I saw the white of his eye
glitter in the dark.
"See hereyou son of an imported Malaga jackass" he said
between his teeth"I'd have you know that I'm related on my
mother's side to Carbinewinner of the Melbourne Cupand where I
come from we aren't accustomed to being ridden over roughshod by
any parrot-mouthedpig-headed mule in a pop-gun pea-shooter
battery. Are you ready?"
"On your hind legs!" squealed Billy. They both reared up
facing each otherand I was expecting a furious fightwhen a
gurglyrumbly voicecalled out of the darkness to the right--
"Childrenwhat are you fighting about there? Be quiet."
Both beasts dropped down with a snort of disgustfor neither
horse nor mule can bear to listen to an elephant's voice.
"It's Two Tails!" said the troop-horse. "I can't stand him.
A tail at each end isn't fair!"
"My feelings exactly" said Billycrowding into the
troop-horse for company. "We're very alike in some things."
"I suppose we've inherited them from our mothers" said the
troop horse. "It's not worth quarreling about. Hi! Two Tails
are you tied up?"
"Yes" said Two Tailswith a laugh all up his trunk. "I'm
picketed for the night. I've heard what you fellows have been
saying. But don't be afraid. I'm not coming over."
The bullocks and the camel saidhalf aloud"Afraid of Two
Tails--what nonsense!" And the bullocks went on"We are sorry
that you heardbut it is true. Two Tailswhy are you afraid of
the guns when they fire?"
"Well" said Two Tailsrubbing one hind leg against the
otherexactly like a little boy saying a poem"I don't quite
know whether you'd understand."
"We don'tbut we have to pull the guns" said the bullocks.
"I know itand I know you are a good deal braver than you
think you are. But it's different with me. My battery captain
called me a Pachydermatous Anachronism the other day."
"That's another way of fightingI suppose?" said Billywho
was recovering his spirits.
"You don't know what that meansof coursebut I do. It
means betwixt and betweenand that is just where I am. I can see
inside my head what will happen when a shell burstsand you
"I can" said the troop-horse. "At least a little bit. I try
not to think about it."
"I can see more than youand I do think about it. I know
there's a great deal of me to take care ofand 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 welland I can't trust my driver."
"Ah!" said the troop horse. "That explains it. I can trust
"You could put a whole regiment of Dicks on my back without
making me feel any better. I know just enough to be
uncomfortableand not enough to go on in spite of it."
"We do not understand" said the bullocks.
"I know you don't. I'm not talking to you. You don't know
what blood is."
"We do" said the bullocks. "It is red stuff that soaks into
the ground and smells."
The troop-horse gave a kick and a bound and a snort.
"Don't talk of it" he said. "I can smell it nowjust
thinking of it. It makes me want to run--when I haven't Dick on
"But it is not here" said the camel and the bullocks. "Why
are you so stupid?"
"It's vile stuff" said Billy. "I don't want to runbut I
don't want to talk about it."
"There you are!" said Two Tailswaving his tail to explain.
"Surely. Yeswe have been here all night" said the
Two Tails stamped his foot till the iron ring on it jingled.
"OhI'm not talking to you. You can't see inside your heads."
"No. We see out of our four eyes" said the bullocks. "We
see straight in front of us."
"If I could do that and nothing elseyou wouldn't be needed
to pull the big guns at all. If I was like my captain--he can
see things inside his head before the firing beginsand he shakes
all overbut 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 forestas I used to be
sleeping half the day and bathing when I liked. I haven't had a
good bath for a month."
"That's all very fine" said Billy. "But giving a thing a
long name doesn't make it any better."
"H'sh!" said the troop horse. "I think I understand what Two
"You'll understand 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 togetherand I
could hear them stamp and shiver. An elephant's trumpeting is
always nastyespecially on a dark night.
"I shan't stop" said Two Tails. "Won't you explain that
please? Hhrrmph! Rrrt! Rrrmph! Rrrhha!" Then he stopped
suddenlyand I heard a little whimper in the darkand knew that
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 picketsand yapped round his big feet. Two
Tails shuffled and squeaked. "Go awaylittle dog!" he said.
"Don't snuff at my anklesor I'll kick at you. Good little dog
--nice little doggiethen! Go homeyou yelping little beast!
Ohwhy doesn't someone take her away? She'll bite me in a
"Seems to me" said Billy to the troop horse"that our friend
Two Tails is afraid of most things. Nowif I had a full meal for
every dog I've kicked across the parade-ground I should be as fat
as Two Tails nearly."
I whistledand Vixen ran up to memuddy all overand licked
my noseand told me a long tale about hunting for me all through
the camp. I never let her know that I understood beast talkor
she would have taken all sorts of liberties. So I buttoned her
into the breast of my overcoatand Two Tails shuffled and stamped
and growled to himself.
"Extraordinary! Most extraordinary!" he said. "It runs in
our family. Nowwhere 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. "Nowyou gentlemen were alarmedI believe
when I trumpeted."
"Not alarmedexactly" 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 dogand the camel here is
frightened by bad dreams in the night."
"It is 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 mulewho had been quiet
for a long time--"what I want to know iswhy we have to fight
"Because we're told to" said the troop-horsewith a snort of
"Orders" said Billy the muleand his teeth snapped.
"Hukm hai!" (It is an order!)said the camel with a gurgle
and Two Tails and the bullocks repeated"Hukm hai!"
"Yesbut 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
troop-horse and the camel and the bullocks one after the other.
"But who gives them the orders?"
"Now you want to know too muchyoung 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 obey
because I'm betwixt and between. But Billy's right. Obey the man
next to you who gives the orderor you'll stop all the battery
besides getting a thrashing."
The gun-bullocks got up to go. "Morning is coming" they
said. "We will go back to our lines. It is true that we only see
out of our eyesand we are not very clever. But stillwe are
the only people to-night who have not been afraid. Good-night
you brave people."
Nobody answeredand the troop-horse saidto change the
conversation"Where's that little dog? A dog means a man
"Here I am" yapped Vixen"under the gun tail with my man.
You bigblundering beast of a camel youyou 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 black bullock-driver?"
"Huah! Ouach! Ugh!" said the bullocks. "Let us get away
They plunged forward in the mudand managed somehow to run
their yoke on the pole of an ammunition wagonwhere it jammed.
"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 Indian
cattle giveand pushed and crowded and slued and stamped and
slipped and nearly fell down in the mudgrunting savagely.
"You'll 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 twangand they lumbered off together.
I never knew before what made Indian cattle so scared of
Englishmen. We eat beef--a thing that no cattle-driver touches
--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 menI knowhave things in their pockets" said the
"I'll leave youthen. I can't say I'm over-fond of 'em
myself. Besideswhite men who haven't a place to sleep in are
more than likely to be thievesand I've a good deal of Government
property on my back. Come alongyoung unand we'll go back to
our lines. Good-nightAustralia! See you on parade to-morrowI
suppose. Good-nightold Hay-bale!--try to control your
feelingswon't you? Good-nightTwo Tails! If you pass us on
the ground tomorrowdon't trumpet. It spoils our formation."
Billy the Mule stumped off with the swaggering limp of an old
campaigneras the troop-horse's head came nuzzling into my
breastand I gave him biscuitswhile Vixenwho is a most
conceited little dogtold 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 be?"
"On the left hand of the second squadron. I set the time for
all my trooplittle lady" he said politely. "Now I must go back
to Dick. My tail's all muddyand he'll have two hours' hard work
dressing me for parade."
The big parade of all the thirty thousand men was held that
afternoonand Vixen and I had a good place close to the Viceroy
and the Amir of Afghanistanwith highbig black hat of astrakhan
wool and the great diamond star in the center. The first part of
the review was all sunshineand the regiments went by in wave
upon wave of legs all moving togetherand guns all in a line
till our eyes grew dizzy. Then the cavalry came upto the
beautiful cavalry canter of "Bonnie Dundee" and Vixen cocked her
ear where she sat on the dog-cart. The second squadron of the
Lancers shot byand there was the troop-horsewith his tail like
spun silkhis head pulled into his breastone ear forward and
one backsetting the time for all his squadronhis legs going as
smoothly as waltz music. Then the big guns came byand I saw Two
Tails and two other elephants harnessed in line to a forty-pounder
siege gunwhile twenty yoke of oxen walked behind. The seventh
pair had a new yokeand they looked rather stiff and tired. Last
came the screw gunsand Billy the mule carried himself as though
he commanded all the troopsand his harness was oiled and
polished till it winked. I gave a cheer all by myself for Billy
the mulebut he never looked right or left.
The rain began to fall againand for a while it was too misty
to see what the troops were doing. They had made a big half
circle across the plainand were spreading out into a line. That
line grew and grew and grew till it was three-quarters of a mile
long from wing to wing--one solid wall of menhorsesand guns.
Then it came on straight toward the Viceroy and the Amirand as
it got nearer the ground began to shakelike 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
spectatorseven 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 get
bigger and biggerand he picked up the reins on his horse's neck
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
stopped deadthe ground stood stillthe whole line salutedand
thirty bands began to play all together. That was the end of the
reviewand the regiments went off to their camps in the rainand
an infantry band struck up with--
The animals went in two by two
The animals went in two by two
The elephant and the battery mul'
and they all got into the Ark
For to get out of the rain!
Then I heard an old grizzledlong-haired Central Asian chief
who had come down with the Amirasking questions of a native
"Now" said he"in what manner was this wonderful thing
And the officer answered"An order was givenand they
"But are the beasts as wise as the men?" said the chief.
"They obeyas the men do. Mulehorseelephantor bullock
he obeys his driverand the driver his sergeantand the sergeant
his lieutenantand the lieutenant his captainand the captain
his majorand the major his coloneland the colonel his
brigadier commanding three regimentsand the brigadier the
generalwho obeys the Viceroywho 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 wills."
"And for that reason" said the native officertwirling his
mustache"your Amir whom you do not obey must come here and take
orders 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 foreheadsthe cunning of our knees;
We bowed our necks to service: they ne'er were loosed again--
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 shoulderthe finest of tunes
Is played by the LancersHussarsand 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 room
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 stonesbut we went forward still;
For we can wriggle and climbmy ladsand turn up everywhere
Ohit's our delight on a mountain heightwith a leg or two to
Good luck to every sergeantthenthat lets us pick our road;
Bad luck to all the driver-men that cannot pack a load:
For we can wriggle and climbmy ladsand turn up everywhere
Ohit's our delight on a mountain heightwith a leg or two to
We haven't a camelty tune of our own
To help us trollop along
But every neck is a hair trombone
(Rtt-ta-ta-ta! is a hair trombone!)
And this our marching-song:
Can't! Don't! Shan't! Won't!
Pass it along the line!
Somebody's pack has slid from his back
Wish it were only mine!
Somebody's load has tipped off in the road--
Cheer for a halt and a row!
Urrr! Yarrh! Grr! Arrh!
Somebody's catching it now!
ALL THE BEASTS TOGETHER
Children of the Camp are we
Serving each in his degree;
Children of the yoke and goad
Pack and harnesspad and load.
See our line across the plain
Like a heel-rope bent again
Sweeping all away to war!
While the men that walk beside
Cannot tell why we or they
March and suffer day by day.
Children of the Camp are we
Serving each in his degree;
Children of the yoke and goad
Pack and harnesspad and load!