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THE JUNGLE BOOK

Contents

 

Mowgli's Brothers

Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack

Kaa's Hunting

Road-Song of the Bandar-Log

"Tiger! Tiger!"

Mowgli's Song

The White Seal

Lukannon

"Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"

Darzee's Chant

Toomai of the Elephants

Shiv and the Grasshopper

Her Majesty's Servants

Parade Song of the Camp Animals

 

 

Mowgli's Brothers

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--

and run.

"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

knows it.

"The fool!" said Father Wolf. "To begin a night's work with

that noise! Does he think that our buck are like his fat

Waingunga bullocks?"

"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

ground.

"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

Khan.

"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

the Law."

"Knowing that I have no right to speak hereI ask your

leave."

"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

obeyed faithfully.

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

Maothe Peacock."

"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

not so?"

"Yes" said Mowgli"all the jungle fear Bagheera--all

except Mowgli."

"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

bounded away.

"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

leadership?"

"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

alone."

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

one."

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

Jungle."

"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

which yedogsfear."

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

wolves.

"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

face.

"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

Bagheera?"

"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

life before.

"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

howled miserably.

"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

night."

"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

cubs."

"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

men.

 

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!

 

Kaa's Hunting

His spots are the joy of the Leopard: his horns are the

Buffalo's pride.

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

before.

Oppress not the cubs of the strangerbut hail them as Sister

and Brother

For though they are little and fubsyit may be the Bear is

their mother.

"There is none like to me!" says the Cub in the pride of his

earliest kill;

But the jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him

think and be still.

Maxims of Baloo

All that is told here happened some time before Mowgli was turned

out of the Seeonee Wolf 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--

softness. Ugh."

"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

know."

"I will call Mowgli and he shall say them--if he will.

ComeLittle Brother!"

"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

Hunting-Peoplethen--great scholar."

"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

sentence.

"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

long."

"What is this new follylittle dreamer of dreams?" said

Bagheera.

"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

was angry.

"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

shame."

"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 thenman-cub?"

"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

always lied."

"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

again."

"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

till today?"

"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

branches.

"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

Monkey People.

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

their prisoner.

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

waited.

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

panted.

"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

moaning.

"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

now."

"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

thoughtfully.

"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

naturally suspicious.

"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

Python.

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

to come.

"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

they all."

"Maybe thy great weight has something to do with the matter"

said Baloo.

"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

and bulge.

"The Bandar-log have shifted their grounds" he said quietly.

"When I came up into the sun today I heard them whooping among the

tree-tops."

"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

with curiosity.

"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.

"Chatteringfoolishvain--vainfoolishand chatteringare

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

below!"

"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

roost.

"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

trees!"

"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

little water.

"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

distance.

"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

frog."

"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

fourscoughing.

"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

boy."

"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

feet.

"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

sure.

"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

Bagheera.

"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

and I."

"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

customsMowgli."

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

see."

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

upon him.

"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

wondered.

"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

just."

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!

 

"Tiger! Tiger!"

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

men."

"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

fairs.

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

their talk."

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

always."

"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

village gates.

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

shook.

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

nodding together.

"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

head-man stared.

"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

seen?"

"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

herd.

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

lifted.

"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

revenge."

"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

Brother.

"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

called.

"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

the wallows.

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

fire!"

"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

India.

"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

little.

"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

grave.

Mowgli went on with his workbut it was nearly twilight

before he and the wolves had drawn the great gay skin clear of the

body.

"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

flew thicker.

"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

Messua. Farewell!"

"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

street."

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

Wolf's cave.

"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

more."

"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.

 

Mowgli's Song

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

honor.

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.

Why?

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

falls. Why?

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

wellO Wolves!

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!

Seal Lullaby

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

Whale."

"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

appearancesmy dear."

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

white!"

"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

away.

"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

here."

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

coat?"

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

gulls' eggs."

"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

years."

"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

noise.

"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

sheering off.

"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

there too.

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

telegraphic code.

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

through.

"My wig!" he saidwhen he rosegasping and puffinginto

open water at the farther end. "It was a long divebut it was

worth it."

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

there.

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

questions.

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

fighting?"

"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

at all.

"Very good" said the young seal carelessly. "If you win

I'll come."

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

bellowing.

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.

 

 

Lukannon

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!

 

"Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"

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

he'll do."

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

afraid.

"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

birds?"

"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

enjoying himself.

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

"Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!"

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

scornfully.

"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

bite you!"

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

will go."

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

her eggs?"

"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

than ever.

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.

Teddykeep still."

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

bed."

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

moist earth.

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

sleepers.

"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.

 

Darzee's Chant

(Sung in honor of Rikki-tikki-tavi)

Singer and tailor am I--

Doubled the joys that I know--

Proud of my lilt to the sky

Proud of the house that I sew--

Over and underso weave I my music--so weave I the house that I

sew.

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

and dead!

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

flame!

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

lost.)

 

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!

Go!"

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

plains."

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

his mother."

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

gasp.

"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

minute.

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

his commander-in-chief.

"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

river-turtle?"

"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

says:

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

the forest.

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

about.

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

gone.

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

away.

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

whiteto fathom.

"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

a feast.

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.

Barrao!"

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

account now."

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

mule.

"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

aremy lords."

"Then why didn't you stay and carry baggage for the 39th

Native Infantryinstead of running all round the camp?" said the

mule.

"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

us?"

"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

themselves.

"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

gentlemen."

"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

chewing.

"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

being bridle-wise."

"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

Dick's fault--"

"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

below."

"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

mule.

"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

bullocks can't."

"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

Dick."

"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

my back."

"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

bullocks.

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

Tails means."

"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

minute."

"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

begin again."

"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

at all."

"Because we're told to" said the troop-horsewith a snort of

contempt.

"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

somewhere about."

"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

quickly."

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

troop-horse.

"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

Hurrah!

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

officer.

"Now" said he"in what manner was this wonderful thing

done?"

And the officer answered"An order was givenand they

obeyed."

"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!

GUN BULLOCKS

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!

CAVALRY HORSES

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"!

 

SCREW-GUN MULES

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

spare!

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

spare!

COMMISSARIAT CAMELS

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

Reachingwrithingrolling far

Sweeping all away to war!

While the men that walk beside

Dustysilentheavy-eyed

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!