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| Home | Reading Room THE JUNGLE BOOK

by Rudyard Kipling

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Kaa's Hunting

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

Buffalo's pride.

Be clean, for the strength of the hunter is known by the

gloss of his hide.

If ye find that the Bullock can toss you, or the heavy-browed

Sambhur can gore;

Ye need not stop work to inform us: we knew it ten seasons


Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister

and Brother,

For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is

their mother.

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

earliest kill;

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

think and be still.

Maxims of Baloo

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

out of the Seeonee Wolf Pack, or revenged himself on Shere Khan

the tiger. It was in the days when Baloo was teaching him the Law

of the Jungle. The big, serious, old brown bear was delighted to

have so quick a pupil, for the young wolves will only learn as

much of the Law of the Jungle as applies to their own pack and

tribe, and run away as soon as they can repeat the Hunting Verse

--"Feet that make no noise; eyes that can see in the dark; ears

that can hear the winds in their lairs, and sharp white teeth, all

these things are the marks of our brothers except Tabaqui the

Jackal and the Hyaena whom we hate." But Mowgli, as a man-cub,

had to learn a great deal more than this. Sometimes Bagheera the

Black Panther would come lounging through the jungle to see how

his pet was getting on, and would purr with his head against a

tree while Mowgli recited the day's lesson to Baloo. The boy

could climb almost as well as he could swim, and swim almost as

well as he could run. So Baloo, the Teacher of the Law, taught

him the Wood and Water Laws: how to tell a rotten branch from a

sound one; how to speak politely to the wild bees when he came

upon a hive of them fifty feet above ground; what to say to Mang

the Bat when he disturbed him in the branches at midday; and how

to warn the water-snakes in the pools before he splashed down

among them. None of the Jungle People like being disturbed, and

all are very ready to fly at an intruder. Then, too, Mowgli was

taught the Strangers' Hunting Call, which must be repeated aloud

till it is answered, whenever one of the Jungle-People hunts

outside his own grounds. It means, translated, "Give me leave to

hunt here because I am hungry." And the answer is, "Hunt then for

food, but not for pleasure."

All this will show you how much Mowgli had to learn by heart,

and he grew very tired of saying the same thing over a hundred

times. But, as Baloo said to Bagheera, one day when Mowgli had

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 Panther, who 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 things, and that is why I hit him,

very softly, when he forgets."

"Softly! What dost thou know of softness, old 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

People, and all that hunt on four feet, except his own pack. He

can now claim protection, if he will only remember the words, from

all in the jungle. Is not that worth a little beating?"

"Well, look 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.

Come, Little Brother!"

"My head is ringing like a bee tree," said a sullen little

voice over their heads, and Mowgli slid down a tree trunk very

angry and indignant, adding as he reached the ground: "I come for

Bagheera and not for thee, fat old Baloo!"

"That is all one to me," said Baloo, though he was hurt and

grieved. "Tell Bagheera, then, the Master Words of the Jungle

that I have taught thee this day."

"Master Words for which people?" said Mowgli, delighted to

show off. "The jungle has many tongues. I know them all."

"A little thou knowest, but not much. See, O Bagheera, they

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-People, then--great scholar."

"We be of one blood, ye and I," said Mowgli, giving the words

the Bear accent which all the Hunting People use.

"Good. Now for the birds."

Mowgli repeated, with the Kite's whistle at the end of the sentence.

"Now for the Snake-People," said Bagheera.

The answer was a perfectly indescribable hiss, and Mowgli

kicked up his feet behind, clapped his hands together to applaud

himself, and jumped on to Bagheera's back, where 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 Elephant, who knows all about these things,

and how Hathi had taken Mowgli down to a pool to get the Snake

Word from a water-snake, because Baloo could not pronounce it, and

how Mowgli was now reasonably safe against all accidents in the

jungle, because neither snake, bird, nor beast would hurt him.

"No one then is to be feared," Baloo wound up, patting his big

furry stomach with pride.

"Except his own tribe," said Bagheera, under his breath; and

then aloud to Mowgli, "Have a care for my ribs, Little 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 own, and lead them through the branches all day


"What is this new folly, little dreamer of dreams?" said Bagheera.

"Yes, and 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 away, and 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 then, man-cub?"

"And then, and then, they gave me nuts and pleasant things to

eat, and 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

tail, and 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 Baloo, let me up! I will play with them again."

"Listen, man-cub," said the Bear, and 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 own, but use the stolen words which

they overhear when they listen, and peep, and wait up above in

the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without

leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and

pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in

the jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter

and all is forgotten. We of the jungle have no dealings with

them. We do not drink where the monkeys drink; we do not go where

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 whisper, for 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 many, evil, dirty, shameless, and they

desire, if they have any fixed desire, to be noticed by the Jungle

People. But we do not notice them even when they throw nuts and

filth on our heads."

He had hardly spoken when a shower of nuts and twigs spattered

down through the branches; and they could hear coughings and

howlings and angry jumpings high up in the air among the thin


"The Monkey-People are forbidden," said Baloo, "forbidden to

the Jungle-People. Remember."

"Forbidden," said Bagheera, "but I still think Baloo should

have warned thee against them."

"I--I? How was I to guess he would play with such dirt.

The Monkey People! Faugh!"

A fresh shower came down on their heads and the two trotted

away, taking Mowgli with them. What Baloo had said about the

monkeys was perfectly true. They belonged to the tree-tops, and as

beasts very seldom look up, there was no occasion for the monkeys

and the Jungle-People to cross each other's path. But whenever

they found a sick wolf, or a wounded tiger, or bear, the monkeys

would torment him, and would throw sticks and nuts at any beast

for fun and in the hope of being noticed. Then they would howl

and shriek senseless songs, and invite the Jungle-People to climb

up their trees and fight them, or would start furious battles over

nothing among themselves, and leave the dead monkeys where the

Jungle-People could see them. They were always just going to have

a leader, and laws and customs of their own, but they never did,

because their memories would not hold over from day to day, and so

they compromised things by making up a saying, "What the

Bandar-log think now the jungle will think later," and that

comforted them a great deal. None of the beasts could reach them,

but on the other hand none of the beasts would notice them, and

that was why they were so pleased when Mowgli came to play with

them, and they heard how angry Baloo was.

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 idea, and he told all the others that Mowgli would be a

useful person to keep in the tribe, because he could weave sticks

together for protection from the wind; so, if they caught him,

they could make him teach them. Of course Mowgli, as a

woodcutter's child, inherited all sorts of instincts, and used to

make little huts of fallen branches without thinking how he came

to do it. The Monkey-People, watching in the trees, considered

his play most wonderful. This time, they said, they were really

going to have a leader and become the wisest people in the jungle

--so wise that everyone else would notice and envy them.

Therefore they followed Baloo and Bagheera and Mowgli through the

jungle very quietly till it was time for the midday nap, and

Mowgli, who was very much ashamed of himself, slept between the

Panther and the Bear, resolving to have no more to do with the

Monkey People.

The next thing he remembered was feeling hands on his legs and

arms--hard, strong, little hands--and then a swash of branches

in his face, and then he was staring down through the swaying

boughs as Baloo woke the jungle with his deep cries and Bagheera

bounded up the trunk with every tooth bared. The Bandar-log

howled with triumph and scuffled away to the upper branches where

Bagheera dared not follow, shouting: "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 crossroads, up hills

and down hills, all laid out from fifty to seventy or a hundred

feet above ground, and 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 treetops, twenty feet at a

bound. Had they been alone they could have gone twice as fast,

but the boy's weight held them back. Sick and giddy as Mowgli was

he could not help enjoying the wild rush, though the glimpses of

earth far down below frightened him, and 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

them, and then with a cough and a whoop would fling themselves

into the air outward and downward, and bring up, hanging by their

hands or their feet to the lower limbs of the next tree.

Sometimes he could see for miles and miles across the still green

jungle, as a man on the top of a mast can see for miles across the

sea, and then the branches and leaves would lash him across the

face, and he and his two guards would be almost down to earth

again. So, bounding and crashing and whooping and yelling, the

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 struggle, and then he began to think. The

first thing was to send back word to Baloo and Bagheera, for, at

the pace the monkeys were going, he knew his friends would be left

far behind. It was useless to look down, for he could only see

the topsides of the branches, so he stared upward and saw, far

away in the blue, Rann the Kite balancing and wheeling as he kept

watch over the jungle waiting for things to die. Rann saw that

the monkeys were carrying something, and dropped a few hundred

yards to find out whether their load was good to eat. He whistled

with surprise when he saw Mowgli being dragged up to a treetop and

heard him give the Kite call for--"We be of one blood, thou and

I." The waves of the branches closed over the boy, but 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 name, Brother?" Rann had never seen Mowgli before,

though of course he had heard of him.

"Mowgli, the Frog. Man-cub they call me! Mark my tra-il!"

The last words were shrieked as he was being swung through the

air, but Rann nodded and rose up till he looked no bigger than a

speck of dust, and there he hung, watching with his telescope eyes

the swaying of the treetops as Mowgli's escort whirled along.

"They never go far," he said with a chuckle. "They never do

what they set out to do. Always pecking at new things are the

Bandar-log. This time, if I have any eye-sight, they have pecked

down trouble for themselves, for Baloo is no fledgling and

Bagheera can, as I know, kill more than goats."

So he rocked on his wings, his feet gathered up under him, and waited.

Meantime, Baloo and Bagheera were furious with rage and grief.

Bagheera climbed as he had never climbed before, but the thin

branches broke beneath his weight, and he slipped down, his claws

full of bark.

"Why didst thou not warn the man-cub?" he roared to poor

Baloo, who had set off at a clumsy trot in the hope of overtaking

the monkeys. "What was the use of half slaying him with blows if

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 already, being

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 death, and bury me

with the Hyaena, for I am most miserable of bears! Arulala!

Wahooa! O Mowgli, Mowgli! Why did I not warn thee against the

Monkey-Folk instead of breaking thy head? Now perhaps I may have

knocked the day's lesson out of his mind, and he will be alone in

the jungle without the Master Words."

Baloo clasped his paws over his ears and rolled to and fro moaning.

"At least he gave me all the Words correctly a little time

ago," said Bagheera impatiently. "Baloo, thou hast neither memory

nor respect. What would the jungle think if I, the Black Panther,

curled myself up like Ikki the Porcupine, and 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 sport, or

kill him out of idleness, I have no fear for the man-cub. He is

wise and well taught, and above all he has the eyes that make the

Jungle-People afraid. But (and it is a great evil) he is in the

power of the Bandar-log, and they, because they live in trees,

have no fear of any of our people." Bagheera licked one forepaw


"Fool that I am! Oh, fat, brown, root-digging fool that I

am," said Baloo, uncoiling himself with a jerk, "it is true what

Hathi the Wild Elephant says: `To each his own fear'; and they,

the Bandar-log, fear Kaa the Rock Snake. He can climb as well as

they can. He steals the young monkeys in the night. The whisper

of his name makes their wicked tails cold. Let us go to Kaa."

"What will he do for us? He is not of our tribe, being

footless--and with most evil eyes," said Bagheera.

"He is very old and very cunning. Above all, he is always

hungry," said Baloo hopefully. "Promise him many goats."

"He sleeps for a full month after he has once eaten. He may

be asleep now, and even were he awake what if he would rather kill

his own goats?" Bagheera, who did not know much about Kaa, was

naturally suspicious.

"Then in that case, thou and I together, old hunter, might

make him see reason." Here Baloo rubbed his faded brown shoulder

against the Panther, and they went off to look for Kaa the Rock Python.

They found him stretched out on a warm ledge in the afternoon

sun, admiring his beautiful new coat, for he had been in

retirement for the last ten days changing his skin, and now he was

very splendid--darting his big blunt-nosed head along the

ground, and twisting the thirty feet of his body into fantastic

knots and curves, and licking his lips as he thought of his dinner

to come.

"He has not eaten," said Baloo, with a grunt of relief, as

soon as he saw the beautifully mottled brown and yellow jacket.

"Be careful, Bagheera! He is always a little blind after he has

changed his skin, and very quick to strike."

Kaa was not a poison snake--in fact he rather despised the

poison snakes as cowards--but his strength lay in his hug, and

when he had once lapped his huge coils round anybody there was no

more to be said. "Good hunting!" cried Baloo, sitting up on his

haunches. Like all snakes of his breed Kaa was rather deaf, and

did not hear the call at first. Then he curled up ready for any

accident, his head lowered.

"Good hunting for us all," he answered. "Oho, Baloo, what

dost thou do here? Good hunting, Bagheera. One of us at least

needs food. Is there any news of game afoot? A doe now, or even

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 thee, Bagheera or Baloo, but 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 that, it 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 slipping, for my tail was not tight

wrapped around the tree, waked the Bandar-log, and they called me

most evil names."

"Footless, yellow earth-worm," said Bagheera under his

whiskers, as though he were trying to remember something.

"Sssss! Have they ever called me that?" said Kaa.

"Something of that kind it was that they shouted to us last

moon, but we never noticed them. They will say anything--even

that thou hast lost all thy teeth, and wilt not face anything

bigger than a kid, because (they are indeed shameless, these

Bandar-log)--because thou art afraid of the he-goat's horns,"

Bagheera went on sweetly.

Now a snake, especially a wary old python like Kaa, very

seldom shows that he is angry, but Baloo and Bagheera could see

the big swallowing muscles on either side of Kaa's throat ripple

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


"It--it is the Bandar-log that we follow now," said Baloo,

but the words stuck in his throat, for that was the first time in

his memory that one of the Jungle-People had owned to being

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 courteously, as 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-cubs, and Bagheera here--"

"Is Bagheera," said the Black Panther, and his jaws shut with

a snap, for he did not believe in being humble. "The trouble is

this, Kaa. 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

pupil, who shall make the name of Baloo famous through all the

jungles; and besides, I--we--love him, Kaa."

"Ts! Ts!" said Kaa, weaving his head to and fro. "I also

have known what love is. There are tales I could tell that--"

"That need a clear night when we are all well fed to praise

properly," said Bagheera quickly. "Our man-cub is in the hands of

the Bandar-log now, and we know that of all the Jungle-People they

fear Kaa alone."

"They fear me alone. They have good reason," said Kaa.

"Chattering, foolish, vain--vain, foolish, and chattering, are

the monkeys. But a man-thing in their hands is in no good luck.

They grow tired of the nuts they pick, and throw them down. They

carry a branch half a day, meaning to do great things with it, and

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. Now, whither went they

with the cub?"

"The jungle alone knows. Toward the sunset, I believe," said

Baloo. "We had thought that thou wouldst know, Kaa."

"I? How? I take them when they come in my way, but I do not

hunt the Bandar-log, or frogs--or green scum on a water-hole,

for that matter."

"Up, Up! Up, Up! Hillo! Illo! Illo, look up, Baloo of the

Seeonee Wolf Pack!"

Baloo looked up to see where the voice came from, and there

was Rann the Kite, sweeping down with the sun shining on the

upturned flanges of his wings. It was near Rann's bedtime, but 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 night, or ten nights, or an hour. I have told the bats to watch

through the dark time. That is my message. Good hunting, all you


"Full gorge and a deep sleep to you, Rann," cried Bagheera.

"I will remember thee in my next kill, and put aside the head for

thee alone, O best of kites!"

"It is nothing. It is nothing. The boy held the Master Word.

I could have done no less," and Rann circled up again to his 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 him, and now we must go to the Cold Lairs."

They all knew where that place was, but few of the Jungle

People ever went there, because what they called the Cold Lairs

was an old deserted city, lost and buried in the jungle, and

beasts seldom use a place that men have once used. The wild boar

will, but the hunting tribes do not. Besides, the monkeys lived

there as much as they could be said to live anywhere, and no

self-respecting animal would come within eyeshot of it except in

times of drought, when the half-ruined tanks and reservoirs held a

little water.

"It is half a night's journey--at full speed," said

Bagheera, and Baloo looked very serious. "I will go as fast as I

can," he said anxiously.

"We dare not wait for thee. Follow, Baloo. We must go on the

quick-foot--Kaa and I."

"Feet or no feet, I can keep abreast of all thy four," said

Kaa shortly. Baloo made one effort to hurry, but had to sit down

panting, and so they left him to come on later, while Bagheera

hurried forward, at the quick panther-canter. Kaa said nothing,

but, strive as Bagheera might, the huge Rock-python held level

with him. When they came to a hill stream, Bagheera gained,

because he bounded across while Kaa swam, his head and two feet of

his neck clearing the water, but on level ground Kaa made up the


"By the Broken Lock that freed me," said Bagheera, when

twilight had fallen, "thou art no slow goer!"

"I am hungry," said Kaa. "Besides, they called me speckled frog."

"Worm--earth-worm, and yellow to boot."

"All one. Let us go on," and Kaa seemed to pour himself along

the ground, finding the shortest road with his steady eyes, and

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

City, and were very much pleased with themselves for the time.

Mowgli had never seen an Indian city before, and 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 worn, rusted hinges. Trees

had grown into and out of the walls; the battlements were tumbled

down and decayed, and wild creepers hung out of the windows of the

towers on the walls in bushy hanging clumps.

A great roofless palace crowned the hill, and the marble of

the courtyards and the fountains was split, and stained with red

and green, and the very cobblestones in the courtyard where the

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

stood, and the shattered domes of temples with wild figs sprouting

on their sides. The monkeys called the place their city, and

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 chamber, and 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 corner, and forget

where they had hidden them, and fight and cry in scuffling crowds,

and then break off to play up and down the terraces of the king's

garden, where they would shake the rose trees and the oranges in

sport to see the fruit and flowers fall. They explored all the

passages and dark tunnels in the palace and the hundreds of little

dark rooms, but 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 muddy, and then they fought over

it, and then they would all rush together in mobs and shout:

"There is no one in the jungle so wise and good and clever and

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.

Mowgli, who had been trained under the Law of the Jungle, did

not like or understand this kind of life. The monkeys dragged him

into the Cold Lairs late in the afternoon, and instead of going to

sleep, as Mowgli would have done after a long journey, they joined

hands and danced about and sang their foolish songs. One of the

monkeys made a speech and told his companions that Mowgli's

capture marked a new thing in the history of the Bandar-log, for

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 out, and the monkeys

tried to imitate; but in a very few minutes they lost interest and

began to pull their friends' tails or jump up and down on all

fours, coughing.

"I wish to eat," said Mowgli. "I am a stranger in this part

of the jungle. Bring me food, or give me leave to hunt here."

Twenty or thirty monkeys bounded away to bring him nuts and

wild pawpaws. But they fell to fighting on the road, and it was

too much trouble to go back with what was left of the fruit.

Mowgli was sore and angry as well as hungry, and he roamed through

the empty city giving the Strangers' Hunting Call from time to

time, but no one answered him, and Mowgli felt that he had reached

a very bad place indeed. "All that Baloo has said about the

Bandar-log is true," he thought to himself. "They have no Law, no

Hunting Call, and no leaders--nothing but foolish words and

little picking thievish hands. So if I am starved or killed here,

it will be all my own fault. But I must try to return to my own

jungle. Baloo will surely beat me, but that is better than

chasing silly rose leaves with the Bandar-log."

No sooner had he walked to the city wall than the monkeys

pulled him back, telling him that he did not know how happy he

was, and pinching him to make him grateful. He set his teeth and

said nothing, but went with the shouting monkeys to a terrace

above the red sandstone reservoirs that were half-full of rain

water. There was a ruined summer-house of white marble in the

center of the terrace, built 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 fretwork, set with agates and cornelians and jasper and

lapis lazuli, and as the moon came up behind the hill it shone

through the open work, casting shadows on the ground like black

velvet embroidery. Sore, sleepy, and hungry as he was, Mowgli

could not help laughing when the Bandar-log began, twenty at a

time, to tell him how great and wise and strong and gentle they

were, and how foolish he was to wish to leave them. "We are

great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful

people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true,"

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

future, we will tell you all about our most excellent selves."

Mowgli made no objection, and the monkeys gathered by hundreds and

hundreds on the terrace to listen to their own speakers singing

the praises of the Bandar-log, and whenever a speaker stopped for

want of breath they would all shout together: "This is true; we

all say so." Mowgli nodded and blinked, and said "Yes" when they

asked him a question, and 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 dewanee, the

madness. Do they never go to sleep? Now there is a cloud coming

to cover that moon. If it were only a big enough cloud I might

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 wall, for Bagheera and Kaa, knowing

well how dangerous the Monkey-People were in large numbers, did

not wish to run any risks. The monkeys never fight unless they

are a hundred to one, and few in the jungle care for those odds.

"I will go to the west wall," Kaa whispered, "and come down

swiftly with the slope of the ground in my favor. They will not

throw themselves upon my back in their hundreds, but--"

"I know it," said Bagheera. "Would that Baloo were here, but

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 grimly, and glided away to the west

wall. That happened to be the least ruined of any, and the big

snake was delayed awhile before he could find a way up the stones.

The cloud hid the moon, and as Mowgli wondered what would come

next he heard Bagheera's light feet on the terrace. The Black

Panther had raced up the slope almost without a sound and was

striking--he knew better than to waste time in biting--right

and left among the monkeys, who were seated round Mowgli in

circles fifty and sixty deep. There was a howl of fright and

rage, and then as Bagheera tripped on the rolling kicking bodies

beneath him, a monkey shouted: "There is only one here! Kill him!

Kill." A scuffling mass of monkeys, biting, scratching, tearing,

and pulling, closed over Bagheera, while five or six laid hold of

Mowgli, dragged 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 bruised, for the fall was a good fifteen feet, but

Mowgli fell as Baloo had taught him to fall, and landed on his feet.

"Stay there," shouted the monkeys, "till we have killed thy

friends, and later we will play with thee--if the Poison-People

leave thee alive."

"We be of one blood, ye and I," said Mowgli, quickly giving

the Snake's Call. He could hear rustling and hissing in the

rubbish all round him and gave the Call a second time, to make sure.

"Even ssso! Down hoods all!" said half a dozen low voices

(every ruin in India becomes sooner or later a dwelling place of

snakes, and the old summerhouse was alive with cobras). "Stand

still, Little Brother, for thy feet may do us harm."

Mowgli stood as quietly as he could, peering through the open

work and listening to the furious din of the fight round the Black

Panther--the yells and chatterings and scufflings, and

Bagheera's deep, hoarse cough as he backed and bucked and twisted

and plunged under the heaps of his enemies. For the first time

since he was born, Bagheera was fighting for his life.

"Baloo must be at hand; Bagheera would not have come alone,"

Mowgli thought. And then he called aloud: "To the tank, Bagheera.

Roll to the water tanks. Roll and plunge! Get to the water!"

Bagheera heard, and the cry that told him Mowgli was safe gave

him new courage. He worked his way desperately, inch by inch,

straight for the reservoirs, halting in silence. Then from the

ruined wall nearest the jungle rose up the rumbling war-shout of

Baloo. The old Bear had done his best, but he could not come

before. "Bagheera," he shouted, "I am here. I climb! I haste!

Ahuwora! The stones slip under my feet! Wait my coming, O most

infamous Bandar-log!" He panted up the terrace only to disappear

to the head in a wave of monkeys, but he threw himself squarely on

his haunches, and, spreading out his forepaws, hugged as many as

he could hold, and then began to hit with a regular bat-bat-bat,

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 breath, his

head just out of the water, while the monkeys stood three deep on

the red steps, dancing up and down with rage, ready to spring upon

him from all sides if he came out to help Baloo. It was then that

Bagheera lifted up his dripping chin, and in despair gave the

Snake's Call for protection--"We be of one blood, ye and I"--

for he believed that Kaa had turned tail at the last minute. Even

Baloo, half smothered under the monkeys on the edge of the

terrace, could not help chuckling as he heard the Black Panther

asking for help.

Kaa had only just worked his way over the west wall, landing

with a wrench that dislodged a coping stone into the ditch. He

had no intention of losing any advantage of the ground, and coiled

and uncoiled himself once or twice, to be sure that every foot of

his long body was in working order. All that while the fight with

Baloo went on, and the monkeys yelled in the tank round Bagheera,

and Mang the Bat, flying to and fro, carried the news of the great

battle over the jungle, till even Hathi the Wild Elephant

trumpeted, and, far away, scattered bands of the Monkey-Folk woke

and came leaping along the tree-roads to help their comrades in

the Cold Lairs, and the noise of the fight roused all the day

birds for miles round. Then Kaa came straight, quickly, and

anxious to kill. The fighting strength of a python is in the

driving blow of his head backed by all the strength and weight of

his body. If you can imagine a lance, or a battering ram, or a

hammer weighing nearly half a ton driven by a cool, quiet mind

living in the handle of it, you can roughly imagine what Kaa was

like when he fought. A python four or five feet long can knock a

man down if he hits him fairly in the chest, and Kaa was thirty

feet long, as you know. His first stroke was delivered into the

heart of the crowd round Baloo. It was sent home with shut mouth

in silence, and there was no need of a second. The monkeys

scattered with cries of--"Kaa! It is Kaa! Run! Run!"

Generations of monkeys had been scared into good behavior by

the stories their elders told them of Kaa, the night thief, who

could slip along the branches as quietly as moss grows, and steal

away the strongest monkey that ever lived; of old Kaa, who could

make himself look so like a dead branch or a rotten stump that the

wisest were deceived, till the branch caught them. Kaa was

everything that the monkeys feared in the jungle, for none of them

knew the limits of his power, none of them could look him in the

face, and none had ever come alive out of his hug. And so they

ran, stammering with terror, to the walls and the roofs of the

houses, and Baloo drew a deep breath of relief. His fur was much

thicker than Bagheera's, but he had suffered sorely in the fight.

Then Kaa opened his mouth for the first time and spoke one long

hissing word, and the far-away monkeys, hurrying to the defense of

the Cold Lairs, stayed where they were, cowering, till the loaded

branches bent and crackled under them. The monkeys on the walls

and the empty houses stopped their cries, and 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 battlements, while Mowgli, dancing in the summerhouse,

put his eye to the screenwork and hooted owl-fashion between his

front teeth, to 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

hissed, and the city was silent once more. "I could not come

before, Brother, but I think I heard thee call"--this was to Bagheera.

"I--I may have cried out in the battle," Bagheera answered.

"Baloo, art thou hurt?

"I am not sure that they did not pull me into a hundred little

bearlings," said Baloo, gravely shaking one leg after the other.

"Wow! I am sore. Kaa, we owe thee, I think, our lives--Bagheera

and I."

"No matter. Where is the manling?"

"Here, in 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 back, manling. And hide you, O Poison

People. I break down the wall."

Kaa looked carefully till he found a discolored crack in the

marble tracery showing a weak spot, made two or three light taps

with his head to get the distance, and then lifting up six feet of

his body clear of the ground, sent home half a dozen full-power

smashing blows, nose-first. The screen-work broke and fell away

in a cloud of dust and rubbish, and Mowgli leaped through the

opening and flung himself between Baloo and Bagheera--an arm

around each big neck.

"Art thou hurt?" said Baloo, hugging him softly.

"I am sore, hungry, and not a little bruised. But, oh, they

have handled ye grievously, my Brothers! Ye bleed."

"Others also," said Bagheera, licking his lips and looking at

the monkey-dead on the terrace and round the tank.

"It is nothing, it is nothing, if thou art safe, oh, my pride

of all little frogs!" whimpered Baloo.

"Of that we shall judge later," said Bagheera, in 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

customs, Mowgli."

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 care, manling, that I

do not mistake thee for a monkey some twilight when I have newly

changed my coat."

"We be one blood, thou and I," Mowgli answered. "I take my

life from thee tonight. My kill shall be thy kill if ever thou

art hungry, O Kaa."

"All thanks, Little Brother," said Kaa, though 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 trap, I may pay the debt

which I owe to thee, to Bagheera, and to Baloo, here. Good

hunting to ye all, my masters."

"Well said," growled Baloo, for Mowgli had returned thanks

very prettily. The Python dropped his head lightly for a minute

on Mowgli's shoulder. "A brave heart and a courteous tongue,"

said he. "They shall carry thee far through the jungle, manling.

But now go hence quickly with thy friends. Go and sleep, for the

moon sets, and 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 see, O Kaa."

"Good. Begins now the dance--the Dance of the Hunger of Kaa.

Sit still and watch."

He turned twice or thrice in a big circle, weaving his head

from right to left. Then he began making loops and figures of

eight with his body, and soft, oozy triangles that melted into

squares and five-sided figures, and coiled mounds, never resting,

never hurrying, and never stopping his low humming song. It grew

darker and darker, till at last the dragging, shifting coils

disappeared, but they could hear the rustle of the scales.

Baloo and Bagheera stood still as stone, growling in their throats,

their neck hair bristling, and 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 hand, O Kaa!"

"Good! Come all one pace nearer to me."

The lines of the monkeys swayed forward helplessly, and Baloo

and Bagheera took one stiff step forward with them.

"Nearer!" hissed Kaa, and they all moved again.

Mowgli laid his hands on Baloo and Bagheera to get them away,

and the two great beasts started as though they had been waked

from a dream.

"Keep thy hand on my shoulder," Bagheera whispered. "Keep it

there, or I must go back--must go back to Kaa. Aah!"

"It is only old Kaa making circles on the dust," said Mowgli.

"Let us go." And the three slipped off through a gap in the walls

to the jungle.

"Whoof!" said Baloo, when he stood under the still trees

again. "Never more will I make an ally of Kaa," and he shook

himself all over.

"He knows more than we," said Bagheera, trembling. "In a

little time, had I stayed, I should have walked down his throat."

"Many will walk by that road before the moon rises again,"

said Baloo. "He will have good hunting--after his own fashion."

"But what was the meaning of it all?" said Mowgli, who 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

account, as my ears and sides and paws, and Baloo's neck and

shoulders are bitten on thy account. Neither Baloo nor Bagheera

will be able to hunt with pleasure for many days."

"It is nothing," said Baloo; "we have the man-cub again."

"True, but he has cost us heavily in time which might have

been spent in good hunting, in wounds, in hair--I am half

plucked along my back--and last of all, in honor. For,

remember, Mowgli, I, who am the Black Panther, was forced to call

upon Kaa for protection, and Baloo and I were both made stupid as

little birds by the Hunger Dance. All this, man-cub, came of thy

playing with the Bandar-log."

"True, it is true," said Mowgli sorrowfully. "I am an evil

man-cub, and my stomach is sad in me."

"Mf! What says the Law of the Jungle, Baloo?"

Baloo did not wish to bring Mowgli into any more trouble, but

he could not tamper with the Law, so he mumbled: "Sorrow never

stays punishment. But remember, Bagheera, he is very little."

"I will remember. But he has done mischief, and blows must be

dealt now. Mowgli, hast thou anything to say?"

"Nothing. I did wrong. Baloo and thou are wounded. It is 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 back, Little Brother, and 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.



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