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| Home | Reading Room THE JUNGLE BOOK

by Rudyard Kipling

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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.

Oh, hear the call!--Good hunting all

That keep the Jungle Law!

Night-Song in the Jungle

It was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills

when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself,

yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of

the sleepy feeling in their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big

gray nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and

the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived.

"Augrh!" said Father Wolf. "It is time to hunt again." He was

going to spring down hill when a little shadow with a bushy tail

crossed the threshold and whined: "Good luck go with you, O Chief

of the Wolves. And good luck and strong white teeth go with noble

children that they may never forget the hungry in this world."

It was the jackal--Tabaqui, the Dish-licker--and the

wolves of India despise Tabaqui because he runs about making

mischief, and telling tales, and eating rags and pieces of leather

from the village rubbish-heaps. But they are afraid of him too,

because Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt to go

mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and

runs through the forest biting everything in his way. Even the

tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is

the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We

call it hydrophobia, but they call it dewanee--the madness--and run.

"Enter, then, and look," said Father Wolf stiffly, "but there

is no food here."

"For a wolf, no," said Tabaqui, "but for so mean a person as

myself a dry bone is a good feast. Who are we, the Gidur-log [the

jackal people], to pick and choose?" He scuttled to the back of

the cave, where he found the bone of a buck with some meat on it,

and sat cracking the end merrily.

"All thanks for this good meal," he said, licking his lips.

"How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes!

And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that

the children of kings are men from the beginning."

Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is nothing

so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces. It pleased

him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.

Tabaqui sat still, rejoicing in the mischief that he had made,

and then he said spitefully:

"Shere Khan, the Big One, has shifted his hunting grounds. He

will hunt among these hills for the next moon, so he has told me."

Shere Khan was the tiger who lived near the Waingunga River,

twenty miles away.

"He has no right!" Father Wolf began angrily--"By the Law

of the Jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due

warning. He will frighten every head of game within ten miles,

and I--I have to kill for two, these days."

"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 him, and he has come

here to make our villagers angry. They will scour the jungle for

him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when the

grass is set alight. Indeed, we are very grateful to Shere Khan!"

"Shall I tell him of your gratitude?" said Tabaqui.

"Out!" snapped Father Wolf. "Out and hunt with thy master.

Thou hast done harm enough for one night."

"I go," said Tabaqui quietly. "Ye can hear Shere Khan below

in the thickets. I might have saved myself the message."

Father Wolf listened, and below in the valley that ran down to

a little river he heard the dry, angry, snarly, singsong whine of

a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the 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 open, and makes

them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.

"Man!" said Father Wolf, showing all his white teeth. "Faugh!

Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must

eat Man, and on our ground too!"

The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a

reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing

to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside

the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for

this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of

white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with

gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle

suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man

is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it

is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too--and it is true

--that man-eaters become mangy, and lose their teeth.

The purr grew louder, and ended in the full-throated "Aaarh!"

of the tiger's charge.

Then there was a howl--an untigerish howl--from Shere

Khan. "He has missed," said Mother Wolf. "What is it?"

Father Wolf ran out a few paces and heard Shere Khan muttering

and mumbling savagely as he tumbled about in the scrub.

"The fool has had no more sense than to jump at a woodcutter's

campfire, and has burned his feet," said Father Wolf with a grunt.

"Tabaqui is with him."

"Something is coming uphill," said Mother Wolf, twitching one ear.

"Get ready."

The bushes rustled a little in the thicket, and Father Wolf

dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his leap. Then, if

you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful

thing in the world--the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his

bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then he

tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight

into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left


"Man!" he snapped. "A man's cub. Look!"

Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a

naked brown baby who could just walk--as soft and as dimpled a

little atom as ever came to a wolf's cave at night. He looked up

into Father Wolf's face, and laughed.

"Is that a man's cub?" said Mother Wolf. "I have never seen one.

Bring it here."

A Wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary,

mouth an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf's jaws

closed right on the child's back not a tooth even scratched the

skin as he laid it down among the cubs.

"How little! How naked, and--how bold!" said Mother Wolf

softly. The baby was pushing his way between the cubs to get

close to the warm hide. "Ahai! He is taking his meal with the

others. And so this is a man's cub. Now, was there ever a wolf

that could boast of a man's cub among her children?"

"I have heard now and again of such a thing, but never in our

Pack or in my time," said Father Wolf. "He is altogether without

hair, and I could kill him with a touch of my foot. But see, he

looks up and is not afraid."

The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cave, for

Shere Khan's great square head and shoulders were thrust into the

entrance. Tabaqui, behind him, was squeaking: "My lord, my lord,

it went in here!"

"Shere Khan does us great honor," said Father Wolf, but his

eyes were very angry. "What does Shere Khan need?"

"My quarry. A man's cub went this way," said Shere Khan.

"Its parents have run off. Give it to me."

Shere Khan had jumped at a woodcutter's campfire, as Father

Wolf had said, and was furious from the pain of his burned feet.

But Father Wolf knew that the mouth of the cave was too narrow for

a tiger to come in by. Even where he was, Shere Khan's shoulders

and forepaws were cramped for want of room, as a man's would be if

he tried to fight in a barrel.

"The Wolves are a free people," said Father Wolf. "They take

orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped

cattle-killer. The man's cub is ours--to kill if we choose."

"Ye choose and ye do not choose! What talk is this of

choosing? By the bull that I killed, am I to stand nosing into

your dog's den for my fair dues? It is I, Shere Khan, who speak!"

The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf

shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like

two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere


"And it is I, Raksha [The Demon], who answers. The man's cub

is mine, Lungri--mine to me! He shall not be killed. He shall

live to run with the Pack and to hunt with the Pack; and in the

end, look you, hunter of little naked cubs--frog-eater--

fish-killer--he shall hunt thee! Now get hence, or by the

Sambhur that I killed (I eat no starved cattle), back thou goest

to thy mother, burned beast of the jungle, lamer than ever thou

camest into the world! Go!"

Father Wolf looked on amazed. He had almost forgotten the

days when he won Mother Wolf in fair fight from five other wolves,

when she ran in the Pack and was not called The Demon for

compliment's sake. Shere Khan might have faced Father Wolf, but

he could not stand up against Mother Wolf, for he knew that where

he was she had all the advantage of the ground, and would fight to

the death. So he backed out of the cave mouth growling, and when

he was clear he shouted:

"Each dog barks in his own yard! We will see what the Pack

will say to this fostering of man-cubs. The cub is mine, and to

my teeth he will come in the end, O bush-tailed thieves!"

Mother Wolf threw herself down panting among the cubs, and

Father Wolf said to her gravely:

"Shere Khan speaks this much truth. The cub must be shown to

the Pack. Wilt thou still keep him, Mother?"

"Keep him!" she gasped. "He came naked, by night, alone and

very hungry; yet he was not afraid! Look, he has pushed one of my

babes to one side already. And that lame butcher would have

killed him and would have run off to the Waingunga while the

villagers here hunted through all our lairs in revenge! Keep him?

Assuredly I will keep him. Lie still, little 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

may, when he marries, withdraw from the Pack he belongs to. But

as soon as his cubs are old enough to stand on their feet he must

bring them to the Pack Council, which is generally held once a

month at full moon, in order that the other wolves may identify

them. After that inspection the cubs are free to run where they

please, and 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 little, and 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. Akela, the great gray

Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by strength and cunning, lay out

at full length on his rock, and below him sat forty or more wolves

of every size and color, from 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 youth, and once he had been

beaten and left for dead; so he knew the manners and customs of

men. There was very little talking at the Rock. The cubs tumbled

over each other in the center of the circle where their mothers

and fathers sat, and now and again a senior wolf would go quietly

up to a cub, look at him carefully, and return to his place on

noiseless feet. Sometimes a mother would push her cub far out

into the moonlight to be sure that he had not been overlooked.

Akela from his rock would cry: "Ye know the Law--ye know the

Law. Look well, O Wolves!" And the anxious mothers would take up

the call: "Look--look well, O 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 center, where he sat laughing and playing with some

pebbles that glistened in the moonlight.

Akela never raised his head from his paws, but went on with

the monotonous cry: "Look well!" A muffled roar came up from

behind the rocks--the voice of Shere Khan crying: "The cub is

mine. Give him to me. What have the Free People to do with a

man's cub?" Akela never even twitched his ears. All he said was:

"Look well, O 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 growls, and a young wolf in his

fourth year flung back Shere Khan's question to Akela: "What have

the Free People to do with a man's cub?" Now, the Law of the

Jungle lays down that if there is any dispute as to the right of a

cub to be accepted by the Pack, he must be spoken for by at 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 fight, if things came to fighting.

Then the only other creature who is allowed at the Pack

Council--Baloo, the sleepy brown bear who teaches the wolf cubs

the Law of the Jungle: old Baloo, who can come and go where he

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

words, but I speak the truth. Let him run with the Pack, and be

entered with the others. I myself will teach him."

"We need yet another," said Akela. "Baloo has spoken, and 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 Panther, inky black all over, but with the panther

markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered

silk. Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his

path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild

buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a

voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin

softer than down.

"O Akela, and ye the Free People," he purred, "I have no right

in your assembly, but the Law of the Jungle says that if there is

a doubt which is not a killing matter in regard to a new cub, the

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 wolves, who 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 here, I ask your leave."

"Speak then," cried twenty voices.

"To kill a naked cub is shame. Besides, he may make better

sport for you when he is grown. Baloo has spoken in his behalf.

Now to Baloo's word I will add one bull, and a fat one, newly

killed, not half a mile from here, if ye will accept the man's cub

according to the Law. Is it difficult?"

There was a clamor of scores of voices, saying: "What matter?

He will die in the winter rains. He will scorch in the sun. What

harm can a naked frog do us? Let him run with the Pack. Where is

the bull, Bagheera? Let him be accepted." And then came Akela's

deep bay, crying: "Look well--look well, O Wolves!"

Mowgli was still deeply interested in the pebbles, and he did

not notice when the wolves came and looked at him one by one. At

last they all went down the hill for the dead bull, and only

Akela, Bagheera, Baloo, and Mowgli's own wolves were left. Shere

Khan roared still in the night, for he was very angry that Mowgli

had not been handed over to him.

"Ay, roar well," said Bagheera, under his whiskers, "for the

time will come when this naked thing will make thee roar to

another tune, or I know nothing of man."

"It was well done," said Akela. "Men and their cubs are very

wise. He may be a help in time."

"Truly, a help in time of need; for none can hope to lead the

Pack forever," said 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 feebler, till 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 years, and

only guess at all the wonderful life that Mowgli led among the

wolves, because if it were written out it would fill ever so many

books. He grew up with the cubs, though they, of course, were

grown wolves almost before he was a child. And Father Wolf taught

him his business, and the meaning of things in the jungle, till

every rustle in the grass, every breath of the warm night air,

every note of the owls above his head, every scratch of a bat's

claws as it roosted for a while in a tree, and every splash of

every little fish jumping in a pool meant just as much to him as

the work of his office means to a business man. When he was not

learning he sat out in the sun and slept, and ate and went 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

it, and that Bagheera showed him how to do. Bagheera would lie

out on a branch and call, "Come along, Little Brother," and at

first Mowgli would cling like the sloth, but afterward he would

fling himself through the branches almost as boldly as the gray

ape. He took his place at the Council Rock, too, when the Pack

met, and there he discovered that if he stared hard at any wolf,

the wolf would be forced to drop his eyes, and so he used to stare

for fun. At other times he would pick the long thorns out of the

pads of his friends, for wolves suffer terribly from thorns and

burs in their coats. He would go down the hillside into the

cultivated lands by night, and look very curiously at the

villagers in their huts, but 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 it, and told him

that it was a trap. He loved better than anything else to go with

Bagheera into the dark warm heart of the forest, to sleep all

through the drowsy day, and at night see how Bagheera did his

killing. Bagheera killed right and left as he felt hungry, and so

did Mowgli--with one exception. As soon as he was old enough to

understand things, Bagheera told him that he must never touch

cattle because he had been bought into the Pack at the price of a

bull's life. "All the jungle is thine," said Bagheera, "and thou

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 lessons, and 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 trusted, and that some day he must kill Shere Khan.

But though a young wolf would have remembered that advice every

hour, Mowgli forgot it because he was only a boy--though he

would have called himself a wolf if he had been able to speak in

any human tongue.

Shere Khan was always crossing his path in the jungle, for as

Akela grew older and feebler the lame tiger had come to be great

friends with the younger wolves of the Pack, who followed him for

scraps, a 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.

Bagheera, who had eyes and ears everywhere, knew something of

this, and once or twice he told Mowgli in so many words that Shere

Khan would kill him some day. Mowgli would laugh and answer: "I

have the Pack and I have thee; and Baloo, though he is so lazy,

might strike a blow or two for my sake. Why should I be afraid?"

It was one very warm day that a new notion came to 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

jungle, as the boy lay with his head on Bagheera's beautiful black

skin, "Little Brother, how often have I told thee that Shere Khan

is thy enemy?"

"As many times as there are nuts on that palm," said Mowgli,

who, naturally, could not count. "What of it? I am sleepy,

Bagheera, and Shere Khan is all long tail and loud talk--like

Mao, the Peacock."

"But this is no time for sleeping. Baloo knows it; I know it;

the Pack know it; and even the foolish, foolish deer know.

Tabaqui has told thee 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 foolishness, for though Tabaqui is a mischief-maker,

he would have told thee of something that concerned thee closely.

Open those eyes, Little Brother. Shere Khan dare not kill thee in

the jungle. But remember, Akela is very old, and soon the day

comes when he cannot kill his buck, and then he will be leader no

more. Many of the wolves that looked thee over when thou wast

brought to the Council first are old too, and the young wolves

believe, as Shere Khan has taught them, that 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 Jungle, and there is no wolf of ours from whose paws I have

not pulled a thorn. Surely they are my brothers!"

Bagheera stretched himself at full length and half shut his

eyes. "Little Brother," said he, "feel under my jaw."

Mowgli put up his strong brown hand, and just under Bagheera's

silky chin, where the giant rolling muscles were all hid by the

glossy hair, he came upon a little bald spot.

"There is no one in the jungle that knows that I, Bagheera,

carry that mark--the mark of the collar; and yet, Little

Brother, I was born among men, and it was among men that my mother

died--in the cages of the king's palace at Oodeypore. It was

because of this that I paid the price for thee at the Council when

thou wast a little naked cub. Yes, I 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 plaything, and I broke the silly lock with one blow

of my paw and came away. And because I had learned the ways of

men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan. Is it

not so?"

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

except Mowgli."

"Oh, thou art a man's cub," said the Black Panther very

tenderly. "And even as I returned to my jungle, so thou must go

back to men at last--to the men who are thy brothers--if thou

art not killed in 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 said, shifting his paw on the leaves. "Not

even I can look thee between the eyes, and I was born among men,

and I love thee, Little Brother. The others they hate thee

because their eyes cannot meet thine; because thou art wise;

because thou hast pulled out thorns from their feet--because

thou art a man."

"I did not know these things," said Mowgli sullenly, and he

frowned under his heavy 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 Rock, and then--and then--I have it!"

said Bagheera, leaping up. "Go thou down quickly to the men's

huts in the valley, and take some of the Red Flower which they

grow there, so 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 fire, only no creature in the

jungle will call fire by its proper name. Every beast lives in

deadly fear of it, and invents a hundred ways of describing it.

"The Red Flower?" said Mowgli. "That grows outside their 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 swiftly, and keep

it by thee for time of need."

"Good!" said Mowgli. "I go. But art thou sure, O my

Bagheera"--he slipped his arm around the splendid neck and

looked deep into the big eyes--"art thou sure that all this is

Shere Khan's doing?"

"By the Broken Lock that freed me, I am sure, Little Brother."

"Then, by the Bull that bought me, I will pay Shere Khan full

tale for this, and it may be a little over," said Mowgli, and he

bounded away.

"That is a man. That is all a man," said Bagheera to himself,

lying down again. "Oh, Shere Khan, never was a blacker hunting

than that frog-hunt of thine ten years ago!"

Mowgli was far and far through the forest, running hard, and

his heart was hot in him. He came to the cave as the evening mist

rose, and drew breath, and looked down the valley. The cubs were

out, but Mother Wolf, at the back of the cave, knew by his

breathing that something was troubling her frog.

"What is it, Son?" she said.

"Some bat's chatter of Shere Khan," he called back. "I hunt

among the plowed fields tonight," and he plunged downward through

the bushes, to the stream at the bottom of the valley. There he

checked, for he heard the yell of the Pack hunting, heard the

bellow of a hunted Sambhur, and the snort as the buck turned at

bay. Then there were wicked, bitter howls from the young wolves:

"Akela! Akela! Let the Lone Wolf show his strength. Room for

the leader of the Pack! Spring, Akela!"

The Lone Wolf must have sprung and missed his hold, for 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 more, but dashed on; and the

yells grew fainter behind him as he ran into the croplands where

the villagers lived.

"Bagheera spoke truth," he panted, as he nestled down in some

cattle fodder by the window of a hut. "To-morrow is one day both

for Akela and for 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 cold, he saw the man's child pick up

a wicker pot plastered inside with earth, fill it with lumps of

red-hot charcoal, put it under his blanket, and go out to tend the

cows in the byre.

"Is that all?" said Mowgli. "If a cub can do it, there is

nothing to fear." So he strode round the corner and met the boy,

took the pot from his hand, and disappeared into the mist while

the boy howled with fear.

"They are very like me," said Mowgli, blowing into the pot as

he had seen the woman do. "This thing will die if I do not give

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 night, but 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! Now, I have seen men thrust a dry branch into that

stuff, and presently the Red Flower blossomed at the end of it.

Art thou not afraid?"

"No. Why should I fear? I remember now--if it is not a

dream--how, before I was a Wolf, I 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 him, and in the evening when Tabaqui came to

the cave and told him rudely enough that he was wanted at the

Council Rock, he laughed till Tabaqui ran away. Then Mowgli went

to the Council, still laughing.

Akela the Lone Wolf lay by the side of his rock as a sign that

the leadership of the Pack was open, and Shere Khan with his

following of scrap-fed wolves walked to and fro openly being

flattered. Bagheera lay close to Mowgli, and the fire pot was

between Mowgli's knees. When they were all gathered together,

Shere Khan began to speak--a thing he would never have dared to

do when Akela was in his prime.

"He has no right," whispered Bagheera. "Say so. He is a

dog's son. He will be frightened."

Mowgli sprang to his feet. "Free People," he cried, "does

Shere Khan lead the Pack? What has a tiger to do with our


"Seeing that the leadership is yet open, and being asked to

speak--" Shere Khan began.

"By whom?" said Mowgli. "Are we all jackals, to fawn on this

cattle butcher? The leadership of the Pack is with the Pack alone."

There were yells of "Silence, thou man's cub!" "Let him

speak. He has kept our Law"; and at last the seniors of the Pack

thundered: "Let the Dead Wolf speak." When a leader of the Pack

has missed his kill, he is called the Dead Wolf as long as he

lives, which is not long.

Akela raised his old head wearily:--

"Free People, and ye too, jackals of Shere Khan, for twelve

seasons I have led ye to and from the kill, and 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 Rock, now.

Therefore, I ask, who comes to make an end of the Lone Wolf? For

it is my right, by the Law of the Jungle, that ye come one by one."

There was a long hush, for 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 People, he was my meat from the

first. Give him to me. I am weary of this man-wolf folly. He

has troubled the jungle for ten seasons. Give me the man-cub, or

I will hunt here always, and not give you one bone. He is a man,

a man's child, and from the marrow of my bones I hate 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. "No, give him to me. He is a man, and none of us can

look him between the eyes."

Akela lifted his head again and said, "He has eaten our food.

He has slept with us. He has driven game for us. He has broken

no word of the Law of the Jungle."

"Also, I paid for him with a bull when he was accepted. The

worth of a bull is little, but Bagheera's honor is something that

he will perhaps fight for," said Bagheera in his gentlest voice.

"A bull paid ten years ago!" the Pack snarled. "What do we

care for bones ten years old?"

"Or for a pledge?" said Bagheera, his 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 truth, I have lived too long. Some of ye

are eaters of cattle, and of others I have heard that, under Shere

Khan's teaching, ye go by dark night and snatch children from the

villager's doorstep. Therefore I know ye to be cowards, and it is

to cowards I speak. It is certain that I must die, and my life is

of no worth, or I would offer that in the man-cub's place. But

for the sake of the Honor of the Pack,--a little matter that by

being without a leader ye have forgotten,--I promise that if ye

let the man-cub go to his own place, I will not, when my time

comes to die, bare 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 will, I can save ye the shame that comes of

killing a brother against whom there is no fault--a brother

spoken for and bought into the Pack according to the Law of the


"He is a man--a man--a man!" snarled the Pack. And most

of the wolves began to gather round Shere Khan, whose tail was

beginning to switch.

"Now the business is in thy hands," said Bagheera to Mowgli.

"We can do no more except fight."

Mowgli stood upright--the fire pot in his hands. Then he

stretched out his arms, and yawned in the face of the Council; but

he was furious with rage and sorrow, for, wolflike, the 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 more, but sag [dogs], as a man should.

What ye will do, and what ye will not do, is not yours to say.

That matter is with me; and that we may see the matter more

plainly, I, the man, have brought here a little of the Red Flower

which ye, dogs, fear."

He flung the fire pot on the ground, and some of the red coals

lit a tuft of dried moss that flared up, as all the Council drew

back in terror before the leaping flames.

Mowgli thrust his dead branch into the fire till the twigs lit

and crackled, and whirled it above his head among the cowering


"Thou art the master," said Bagheera in an undertone. "Save

Akela from the death. He was ever thy friend."

Akela, the grim old wolf who had never asked for mercy in his

life, gave one piteous look at Mowgli as the boy stood all naked,

his long black hair tossing over his shoulders in the light of the

blazing branch that made the shadows jump and quiver.

"Good!" said Mowgli, staring round slowly. "I see that ye are

dogs. I go from you to my own people--if they be my own people.

The jungle is shut to me, and I must forget your talk and your

companionship. But I will be more merciful than ye are. Because

I was all but your brother in blood, I promise that when I am a

man among men I will not betray ye to men as ye have betrayed me."

He kicked the fire with his foot, and the sparks flew up. "There

shall be no war between any of us in the Pack. But here is a debt

to pay before I go." He strode forward to where Shere Khan sat

blinking stupidly at the flames, and caught him by the tuft on his

chin. Bagheera followed in case of accidents. "Up, dog!" Mowgli

cried. "Up, when a man speaks, or I will set that coat ablaze!"

Shere Khan's ears lay flat back on his head, and he shut his

eyes, for the blazing branch was very near.

"This cattle-killer said he would kill me in the Council

because he had not killed me when I was a cub. Thus and thus,

then, do we beat dogs when we are men. Stir a whisker, Lungri,

and I ram the Red Flower down thy gullet!" He beat Shere Khan

over the head with the branch, and the tiger whimpered and whined

in an agony of fear.

"Pah! Singed jungle cat--go now! But remember when next I

come to the Council Rock, as a man should come, it will be with

Shere Khan's hide on my head. For the rest, Akela goes free to

live as he pleases. Ye will not kill him, because that is not my

will. Nor do I think that ye will sit here any longer, lolling

out your tongues as though ye were somebodies, instead of dogs

whom I drive out--thus! Go!" The fire was burning furiously at

the end of the branch, and Mowgli struck right and left round the

circle, and the wolves ran howling with the sparks burning their

fur. At last there were only Akela, Bagheera, and perhaps ten

wolves that had taken Mowgli's part. Then something began to hurt

Mowgli inside him, as he had never been hurt in his life before,

and he caught his breath and sobbed, and the tears ran down his face.

"What is it? What is it?" he said. "I do not wish to leave

the jungle, and I do not know what this is. Am I dying, Bagheera?"

"No, Little Brother. That is only tears such as men use,"

said Bagheera. "Now I know thou art a man, and a man's cub no

longer. The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward. Let them

fall, Mowgli. They are only tears." So Mowgli sat and cried as

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 Wolf, and he cried on her coat,

while 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 man,

and we will talk to thee; and we will come into the croplands

to play with thee by night."

"Come soon!" said Father Wolf. "Oh, wise little frog, come

again soon; for we be old, thy mother and I."

"Come soon," said Mother Wolf, "little naked son of mine.

For, listen, child of man, I loved thee more than ever

I loved my 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 alone, to meet those mysterious things that are

called men.



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