Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Ch. 13: Red Dog

For our white and our excellent nights---for the nights of
swift running.
Fair ranging, far seeing, good hunting, sure cunning!
For the smells of the dawning, untainted, ere dew has departed!
For the rush through the mist, and the quarry blind-started!
For the cry of our mates when the sambhur has wheeled and is
standing at bay,
For the risk and the riot of night!
For the sleep at the lair-mouth by day,
It is met, and we go to the fight.
Bay! O Bay!

It was after the letting in of the Jungle that the pleasantest
part of Mowgli's life began. He had the good conscience that
comes from paying debts; all the Jungle was his friend, and just
a little afraid of him. The things that he did and saw and heard
when he was wandering from one people to another, with or
without his four companions, would make many many stories,
each as long as this one. So you will never be told how he met
the Mad Elephant of Mandla, who killed two-and-twenty bullocks
drawing eleven carts of coined silver to the Government
Treasury, and scattered the shiny rupees in the dust; how he
fought Jacala, the Crocodile, all one long night in the Marshes
of the North, and broke his skinning-knife on the brute's back-
plates; how he found a new and longer knife round the neck of a
man who had been killed by a wild boar, and how he tracked that
boar and killed him as a fair price for the knife; how he was
caught up once in the Great Famine, by the moving of the deer,
and nearly crushed to death in the swaying hot herds; how he
saved Hathi the Silent from being once more trapped in a pit
with a stake at the bottom, and how, next day, he himself fell
into a very cunning leopard-trap, and how Hathi broke the thick
wooden bars to pieces above him; how he milked the wild
buffaloes in the swamp, and how----

But we must tell one tale at a time. Father and Mother Wolf
died, and Mowgli rolled a big boulder against the mouth of their
cave, and cried the Death Song over them; Baloo grew very old
and stiff, and even Bagheera, whose nerves were steel and whose
muscles were iron, was a shade slower on the kill than he had
been. Akela turned from gray to milky white with pure age;
his ribs stuck out, and he walked as though he had been made
of wood, and Mowgli killed for him. But the young wolves,
the children of the disbanded Seeonee Pack, throve and
increased, and when there were about forty of them, masterless,
full-voiced, clean-footed five-year-olds, Akela told them that
they ought to gather themselves together ahd follow the Law,
and run under one head, as befitted the Free People.

This was not a question in which Mowgli concerned himself, for,
as he said, he had eaten sour fruit, and he knew the tree it
hung from; but when Phao, son of Phaona (his father was the Gray
Tracker in the days of Akela's headship), fought his way to the
leadership of the Pack, according to the Jungle Law, and the old
calls and songs began to ring under the stars once more, Mowgli
came to the Council Rock for memory's sake. When he chose to
speak the Pack waited till he had finished, and he sat at
Akela's side on the rock above Phao. Those were days of good
hunting and good sleeping. No stranger cared to break into the
jungles that belonged to Mowgli's people, as they called the
Pack, and the young wolves grew fat and strong, and there were
many cubs to bring to the Looking-over. Mowgli always attended
a Looking-over, remembering the night when a black panther
bought a naked brown baby into the pack, and the long call,
"Look, look well, O Wolves," made his heart flutter. Otherwise,
he would be far away in the Jungle with his four brothers,
tasting, touching, seeing, and feeling new things.

One twilight when he was trotting leisurely across the ranges
to give Akela the half of a buck that he had killed, while the
Four jogged behind him, sparring a little, and tumbling one
another over for joy of being alive, he heard a cry that had
never been heard since the bad days of Shere Khan. It was what
they call in the Jungle the pheeal, a hideous kind of shriek
that the jackal gives when he is hunting behind a tiger, or when
there is a big killing afoot. If you can imagine a mixture of
hate, triumph, fear, and despair, with a kind of leer running
through it, you will get some notion of the pheeal that rose and
sank and wavered and quavered far away across the Waingunga.
The Four stopped at once, bristling and growling. Mowgli's hand
went to his knife, and he checked, the blood in his face,
his eyebrows knotted.

"There is no Striped One dare kill here," he said.

"That is not the cry of the Forerunner," answered Gray Brother.
"It is some great killing. Listen!"

It broke out again, half sobbing and half chuckling, just as
though the jackal had soft human lips. Then Mowgli drew deep
breath, and ran to the Council Rock, overtaking on his way
hurrying wolves of the Pack. Phao and Akela were on the Rock
together, and below them, every nerve strained, sat the others.
The mothers and the cubs were cantering off to their lairs;
for when the pheeal cries it is no time for weak things to
be abroad.

They could hear nothing except the Waingunga rushing and
gurgling in the dark, and the light evening winds among the
tree-tops, till suddenly across the river a wolf called. It was
no wolf of the Pack, for they were all at the Rock. The note
changed to a long, despairing bay; and "Dhole!" it said, "Dhole!
dhole! dhole!" They heard tired feet on the rocks, and a gaunt
wolf, streaked with red on his flanks, his right fore-paw
useless, and his jaws white with foam, flung himself into the
circle and lay gasping at Mowgli's feet.

"Good hunting! Under whose Headship?" said Phao gravely.

"Good hunting! Won-tolla am I," was the answer. He meant that
he was a solitary wolf, fending for himself, his mate, and his
cubs in some lonely lair, as do many wolves in the south.
Won-tolla means an Outlier--one who lies out from any Pack.
Then he panted, and they could see his heart-beats shake him
backward and forward.

"What moves?" said Phao, for that is the question all the Jungle
asks after the pheeal cries.

"The dhole, the dhole of the Dekkan--Red Dog, the Killer!
They came north from the south saying the Dekkan was empty and
killing out by the way. When this moon was new there were four
to me--my mate and three cubs. She would teach them to kill on
the grass plains, hiding to drive the buck, as we do who are of
the open. At midnight I heard them together, full tongue on the
trail. At the dawn-wind I found them stiff in the grass--four,
Free People, four when this moon was new. Then sought I my
Blood-Right and found the dhole."

"How many?" said Mowgli quickly; the Pack growled deep in
their throats.

"I do not know. Three of them will kill no more, but at the last
they drove me like the buck; on my three legs they drove me.
Look, Free People!"

He thrust out his mangled fore-foot, all dark with dried blood.
There were cruel bites low down on his side, and his throat was
torn and worried.

"Eat," said Akela, rising up from the meat Mowgli had brought
him, and the Outlier flung himself on it.

"This shall be no loss," he said humbly, when he had taken off
the first edge of his hunger. "Give me a little strength, Free
People, and I also will kill. My lair is empty that was full
when this moon was new, and the Blood Debt is not all paid."

Phao heard his teeth crack on a haunch-bone and grunted
approvingly.

"We shall need those jaws," said he. "Were there cubs with
the dhole?"

"Nay, nay. Red Hunters all: grown dogs of their Pack, heavy and
strong for all that they eat lizards in the Dekkan."

What Won-tolla had said meant that the dhole, the red hunting-
dog of the Dekkan, was moving to kill, and the Pack knew well
that even the tiger will surrender a new kill to the dhole.
They drive straight through the Jungle, and what they meet they
pull down and tear to pieces. Though they are not as big nor
half as cunning as the wolf, they are very strong and very
numerous. The dhole, for instance, do not begin to call
themselves a pack till they are a hundred strong; whereas forty
wolves make a very fair pack indeed. Mowgli's wanderings had
taken him to the edge of the high grassy downs of the Dekkan,
and he had seen the fearless dholes sleeping and playing and
scratching themselves in the little hollows and tussocks that
they use for lairs. He despised and hated them because they did
not smell like the Free People, because they did not live in
caves, and, above all, because they had hair between their toes
while he and his friends were clean-footed. But he knew, for
Hathi had told him, what a terrible thing a dhole hunting-pack
was. Even Hathi moves aside from their line, and until they are
killed, or till game is scarce, they will go forward.

Akela knew something of the dholes, too, for he said to Mowgli
quietly, "It is better to die in a Full Pack than leaderless and
alone. This is good hunting, and--my last. But, as men live,
thou hast very many more nights and days, Little Brother.
Go north and lie down, and if any live after the dhole has gone
by he shall bring thee word of the fight."


"Ah," said Mowgli, quite gravely, "must I go to the marshes and
catch little fish and sleep in a tree, or must I ask help of the
Bandar-log and crack nuts, while the Pack fight below?"

"It is to the death," said Akela. "Thou hast never met the
dhole--the Red Killer. Even the Striped One----"

"Aowa! Aowa!" said Mowgli pettingly. "I have killed one striped
ape, and sure am I in my stomach that Shere Khan would have left
his own mate for meat to the dhole if he had winded a pack
across three ranges. Listen now: There was a wolf, my father,
and there was a wolf, my mother, and there was an old gray wolf
(not too wise: he is white now) was my father and my mother.
Therefore I--" he raised his voice, "I say that when the dhole
come, and if the dhole come, Mowgli and the Free People are of
one skin for that hunting ; and I say, by the Bull that bought
me--by the Bull Bagheera paid for me in the old days which ye of
the Pack do not remember--_I_ say, that the Trees and the River
may hear and hold fast if I forget; _I_ say that this my knife
shall be as a tooth to the Pack--and I do not think it is so
blunt. This is my Word which has gone from me."

"Thou dost not know the dhole, man with a wolf's tongue," said
Won-tolla. "I look only to clear the Blood Debt against them ere
they have me in many pieces. They move slowly, killing out as
they go, but in two days a little strength will come back to me
and I turn again for the Blood Debt. But for YE, Free People,
my word is that ye go north and eat but little for a while till
the dhole are gone. There is no meat in this hunting."

"Hear the Outlier!" said Mowgli with a laugh. Free People,
we must go north and dig lizards and rats from the bank, lest by
any chance we meet the dhole. He must kill out our hunting-
grounds, while we lie hid in the north till it please him to
give us our own again. He is a dog--and the pup of a dog--red,
yellow-bellied, lairless, and haired between every toe!
He counts his cubs six and eight at the litter, as though he
were Chikai, the little leaping rat. Surely we must run away,
Free People, and beg leave of the peoples of the north for the
offal of dead cattle! Ye know the saying: 'North are the vermin;
south are the lice. WE are the Jungle.' Choose ye, O choose.
It is good hunting! For the Pack--for the Full Pack--for the
lair and the litter; for the in-kill and the out-kill; for the
mate that drives the doe and the little, little cub within the
cave; it is met!--it is met!--it is met!"

The Pack answered with one deep, crashing bark that sounded in
the night like a big tree falling. "It is met!" they cried.
"Stay with these," said Mowgli to the Four. We shall need every
tooth. Phao and Akela must make ready the battle. I go to count
the dogs."

"It is death!" Won-tolla cried, half rising. What can such a
hairless one do against the Red Dog? Even the Striped One,
remember----"

"Thou art indeed an Outlier," Mowgli called back; "but we will
speak when the dholes are dead. Good hunting all!"

He hurried off into the darkness, wild with excitement, hardly
looking where he set foot, and the natural consequence was that
he tripped full length over Kaa's great coils where the python
lay watching a deer-path near the river.

"Kssha!" said Kaa angrily. "Is this jungle-work, to stamp and
tramp and undo a night's hunting--when the game are moving so
well, too?"

"The fault was mine," said Mowgli, picking himself up. "Indeed
I was seeking thee, Flathead, but each time we meet thou art
longer and broader by the length of my arm. There is none like
thee in the Jungle, wise, old, strong, and most beautiful Kaa."

"Now whither does THIS trail lead?" Kaa's voice was gentler.
"Not a moon since there was a Manling with a knife threw stones
at my head and called me bad little tree-cat names, because I
lay asleep in the open."

"Ay, and turned every driven deer to all the winds, and Mowgli
was hunting, and this same Flathead was too deaf to hear his
whistle, and leave the deer-roads free," Mowgli answered
composedly, sitting down among the painted coils.

"Now this same Manling comes with soft, tickling words to this
same Flathead, telling him that he is wise and strong and
beautiful, and this same old Flathead believes and makes a
place, thus, for this same stone-throwing Manling, and--Art thou
at ease now? Could Bagheera give thee so good a resting-place?"

Kaa had, as usual, made a sort of soft half-hammock of himself
under Mowgli's weight. The boy reached out in the darkness,
and gathered in the supple cable-like neck till Kaa's head
rested on his shoulder, and then he told him all that had
happened in the Jungle that night.

"Wise I may be," said Kaa at the end; "but deaf I surely am.
Else I should have heard the pheeal. Small wonder the Eaters of
Grass are uneasy. How many be the dhole?"

"I have not yet seen. I came hot-foot to thee. Thou art older
than Hathi. But oh, Kaa,"--here Mowgli wriggled with sheerjoy,--
"it will be good hunting. Few of us will see another moon."

"Dost THOU strike in this? Remember thou art a Man; and remember
what Pack cast thee out. Let the Wolf look to the Dog. THOU art
a Man."

"Last year's nuts are this year's black earth," said Mowgli.
"It is true that I am a Man, but it is in my stomach that this
night I have said that I am a Wolf. I called the River and the
Trees to remember. I am of the Free People, Kaa, till the dhole
has gone by."

"Free People," Kaa grunted. "Free thieves! And thou hast tied
thyself into the death-knot for the sake of the memory of the
dead wolves? This is no good hunting."

"It is my Word which I have spoken. The Trees know, the
River knows. Till the dhole have gone by my Word comes not
back to me."

"Ngssh! This changes all trails. I had thought to take thee
away with me to the northern marshes, but the Word--even the
Word of a little, naked, hairless Manling--is the Word.
Now I, Kaa, say----"

"Think well, Flathead, lest thou tie thyself into the death-knot
also. I need no Word from thee, for well I know----"

"Be it so, then," said Kaa. "I will give no Word; but what is in
thy stomach to do when the dhole come?"

"They must swim the Waingunga. I thought to meet them with my
knife in the shallows, the Pack behind me; and so stabbing and
thrusting, we a little might turn them down-stream, or cool
their throats."

"The dhole do not turn and their throats are hot," said Kaa.
"There will be neither Manling nor Wolf-cub when that hunting is
done, but only dry bones."

"Alala! If we die, we die. It will be most good hunting. But my
stomach is young, and I have not seen many Rains. I am not wise
nor strong. Hast thou a better plan, Kaa?"

"I have seen a hundred and a hundred Rains. Ere Hathi cast
his milk-tushes my trail was big in the dust. By the First Egg,
I am older than many trees, and I have seen all that the Jungle
has done."

"But THIS is new hunting," said Mowgli. "Never before have the
dhole crossed our trail."

"What is has been. What will be is no more than a forgotten year
striking backward. Be still while I count those my years."

For a long hour Mowgli lay back among the coils, while Kaa,
his head motionless on the ground, thought of all that he had
seen and known since the day he came from the egg. The light
seemed to go out of his eyes and leave them like stale opals,
and now and again he made little stiff passes with his head,
right and left, as though he were hunting in his sleep.
Mowgli dozed quietly, for he knew that there is nothing like
sleep before hunting, and he was trained to take it at any hour
of the day or night.

Then he felt Kaa's back grow bigger and broader below him as the
huge python puffed himself out, hissing with the noise of a
sword drawn from a steel scabbard.

"I have seen all the dead seasons," Kaa said at last, "and the
great trees and the old elephants, and the rocks that were
bare and sharp-pointed ere the moss grew. Art THOU still
alive, Manling?"

"It is only a little after moonset," said Mowgli. I do not
understand----"

"Hssh! I am again Kaa. I knew it was but a little time. Now we
will go to the river, and I will show thee what is to be done
against the dhole."

He turned, straight as an arrow, for the main stream of the
Waingunga, plunging in a little above the pool that hid the
Peace Rock, Mowgli at his side.

"Nay, do not swim. I go swiftly. My back, Little Brother."

Mowgli tucked his left arm round Kaa's neck, dropped his right
close to his body, and straightened his feet. Then Kaa breasted
the current as he alone could, and the ripple of the checked
water stood up in a frill round Mowgli's neck, and his feet were
waved to and fro in the eddy under the python's lashing sides.
A mile or two above the Peace Rock the Waingunga narrows between
a gorge of marble rocks from eighty to a hundred feet high, and
the current runs like a mill-race between and over all manner of
ugly stones. But Mowgli did not trouble his head about the
water; little water in the world could have given him a moment's
fear. He was looking at the gorge on either side and sniffing
uneasily, for there was a sweetish-sourish smell in the air,
very like the smell of a big ant-hill on a hot day.
Instinctively he lowered himself in the water, only raising his
head to breathe from time to time, and Kaa came to anchor with a
double twist of his tail round a sunken rock, holding Mowgli in
the hollow of a coil, while the water raced on.

"This is the Place of Death," said the boy. "Why do we
come here?"

"They sleep," said Kaa. "Hathi will not turn aside for the
Striped One. Yet Hathi and the Striped One together turn aside
for the dhole, and the dhole they say turn aside for nothing.
And yet for whom do the Little People of the Rocks turn aside?
Tell me, Master of the Jungle, who is the Master of the Jungle?"

"These," Mowgli whispered. "It is the Place of Death.
Let us go."

"Nay, look well, for they are asleep. It is as it was when I was
not the length of thy arm."

The split and weatherworn rocks of the gorge of the Waingunga
had been used since the beginning of the Jungle by the Little
People of the Rocks--the busy, furious, black wild bees of
India; and, as Mowgli knew well, all trails turned off half a
mile before they reached the gorge. For centuries the Little
People had hived and swarmed from cleft to cleft, and swarmed
again, staining the white marble with stale honey, and made
their combs tall and deep in the dark of the inner caves, where
neither man nor beast nor fire nor water had ever touched them.
The length of the gorge on both siaes was hung as it were with
black shimmery velvet curtains, and Mowgli sank as he looked,
for those were the clotted millions of the sleeping bees.
There were other lumps and festoons and things like decayed
tree-trunks studded on the face of the rock, the old combs of
past years, or new cities built in the shadow of the windless
gorge, and huge masses of spongy, rotten trash had rolled down
and stuck among the trees and creepers that clung to the rock-
face. As he listened he heard more than once the rustle and
slide of a honey-loaded comb turning over or failing away
somewhere in the dark galleries; then a booming of angry wings,
and the sullen drip, drip, drip, of the wasted honey, guttering
along till it lipped over some ledge in the open air and
sluggishly trickled down on the twigs. There was a tiny little
beach, not five feet broad, on one side of the river, and that
was piled high with the rubbish of uncounted years. There were
dead bees, drones, sweepings, and stale combs, and wings of
marauding moths that had strayed in after honey, all tumbled in
smooth piles of the finest black dust. The mere sharp smell of
it was enough to frighten anything that had no wings, and knew
what the Little People were.

Kaa moved up-stream again till he came to a sandy bar at the
head of the gorge.

"Here is this season's kill," said he. "Look!" On the bank lay
the skeletons of a couple of young deer and a buffalo.
Mowgli could see that neither wolf nor jackal had touched the
hones, which were laid out naturally.

"They came beyond the line;, they did not know the Law,"
murmured Mowgli, "and the Little People killed them. Let us
go ere they wake."

"They do not wake till the dawn," said Kaa. "Now I will tell
thee. A hunted buck from the south, many, many Rains ago,
came hither from the south, not knowing the Jungle, a Pack on
his trail. Being made blind by fear, he leaped from above,
the Pack running by sight, for they were hot and blind on the
trail. The sun was high, and the Little People were many and
very angry. Many, too, were those of the Pack who leaped into
the Waingunga, but they were dead ere they took water. Those who
did not leap died also in the rocks above. But the buck lived."

"How?"

"Because he came first, running for his life, leaping ere the
Little People were aware, and was in the river when they
gathered to kill. The Pack, following, was altogether lost
under the weight of the Little People."

"The buck lived?" Mowgli repeated slowly.

"At least he did not die THEN, though none waited his coming
down with a strong body to hold him safe against the water,
as a certain old fat, deaf, yellow Flathead would wait for a
Manling--yea, though there were all the dholes of the Dekkan on
his trail. What is in thy stomach?" Kaa's head was close to
Mowgli's ear; and it was a little time before the boy answered.

"It is to pull the very whiskers of Death, but--Kaa, thou art,
indeed, the wisest of all the Jungle."

"So many have said. Look now, if the dhole follow thee----"

"As surely they will follow. Ho! ho! I have many little thorns
under my tongue to prick into their hides."

"If they follow thee hot and blind, looking only at thy
shoulders, those who do not die up above will take water either
here or lower down, for the Little People will rise up and cover
them. Now the Waingunga is hungry water, and they will have no
Kaa to hold them, but will go down, such as live, to the
shallows by the Seeonee Lairs, and there thy Pack may meet
them by the throat."

"Ahai! Eowawa! Better could not be till the Rains fall in the
dry season. There is now only the little matter of the run and
the leap. I will make me known to the dholes, so that they shall
follow me very closely."

"Hast thou seen the rocks above thee? From the landward side?"

"Indeed, no. That I had forgotten."

"Go look. It is all rotten ground, cut and full of holes. One of
thy clumsy feet set down without seeing would end the hunt.
See, I leave thee here, and for thy sake only I will carry word
to the Pack that they may know where to look for the dhole.
For myself, I am not of one skin with ANY wolf."

When Kaa disliked an acquaintance he could be more unpleasant
than any of the Jungle People, except perhaps Bagheera. He swam
down-stream, and opposite the Rock he came on Phao and Akela
listening to the night noises.

"Hssh! Dogs," he said cheerfully. "The dholes will come down-
stream. If ye be not afraid ye can kill them in the shallows."

"When come they?" said Phao. "And where is my Man-cub?"
said Akela.

"They come when they come," said Kaa. "Wait and see. As for THY
Man-cub, from whom thou hast taken a Word and so laid him open
to Death, THY Man-cub is with ME, and if he be not already dead
the fault is none of thine, bleached dog! Wait here for the
dhole, and he glad that the Man- cub and I strike on thy side."

Kaa flashed up-stream again, and moored himself in the middle of
the gorge, looking upward at the line of the cliff. Presently he
saw Mowgli's head move against the stars, and then there was a
whizz in the air, the keen, clean schloop of a body falling feet
first, and next minute the boy was at rest again in the loop of
Kaa's body.

"It is no leap by night," said Mowgli quietly. "I have jumped
twice as far for sport; but that is an evil place above--low
bushes and gullies that go down very deep, all full of the
Little People. I have put big stones one above the other by
the side of three gullies. These I shall throw down with my
feet in running, and the Little People will rise up behind me,
very angry."

"That is Man's talk and Man's cunning," said Kaa. "Thou art
wise, but the Little People are always angry."

"Nay, at twilight all wings near and far rest for a while.
I will play with the dhole at twilight, for the dhole hunts best
by day. He follows now Won-tolla's blood-trail."

"Chil does not leave a dead ox, nor the dhole the blood-trail,"
said Kaa.

"Then I will make him a new blood-trail, of his own blood, if
I can, and give him dirt to eat. Thou wilt stay here, Kaa,
till I come again with my dholes?"

"Ay, but what if they kill thee in the Jungle, or the Little
People kill thee before thou canst leap down to the river?"

"When to-morrow comes we will kill for to-morrow," said Mowgli,
quoting a Jungle saying; and again, "When I am dead it is time
to sing the Death Song. Good hunting, Kaa!"

He loosed his arm from the python's neck and went down the gorge
like a log in a freshet, paddling toward the far bank, where he
found slack-water, and laughing aloud from sheer happiness.
There was nothing Mowgli liked better than, as he himself said,
"to pull the whiskers of Death," and make the Jungle know that
he was their overlord. He had often, with Baloo's help, robbed
bees' nests in single trees, and he knew that the Little People
hated the smell of wild garlic. So he gathered a small bundle of
it, tied it up with a bark string, and then followed Won-tolla's
blood-trail, as it ran southerly from the Lairs, for some five
miles, looking at the trees with his head on one side, and
chuckling as he looked.

"Mowgli the Frog have I been," said he to himself; "Mowgli the
Wolf have I said that I am. Now Mowgli the Ape must I be before
I am Mowgli the Buck. At the end I shall be Mowgli the Man.
Ho!" and he slid his thumb along the eighteen-inch blade of
his knife.

Won-tolla's trail, all rank with dark blood-spots, ran under
a forest of thick trees that grew close together and stretched
away north-eastward, gradually growing thinner and thinner to
within two miles of the Bee Rocks. From the last tree to the low
scrub of the Bee Rocks was open country, where there was hardly
cover enough to hide a wolf. Mowgli trotted along under the
trees, judging distances between branch and branch, occasionally
climbing up a trunk and taking a trial leap from one tree to
another till he came to the open ground, which he studied very
carefully for an hour. Then he turned, picked up Won-tolla's
trail where he had left it, settled himself in a tree with an
outrunning branch some eight feet from the ground, and sat
still, sharpening his knife on the sole of his foot and singing
to himself.

A little before mid-day, when the sun was very warm, he heard
the patter of feet and smelt the abominable smell of the dhole-
pack as they trotted pitilessly along Won-tolla's trail.
Seen from above, the red dhole does not look half the size of
a wolf, but Mowgli knew how strong his feet and jaws were.
He watched the sharp bay head of the leader snuffing along the
trail, and gave him "Good hunting!"

The brute looked up, and his companions halted behind him,
scores and scores of red dogs with low-hung tails, heavy
shoulders, weak quarters, and bloody mouths. The dholes are
a very silent people as a rule, and they have no manners even
in their own Jungle. Fully two hundred must have gathered
below him, but he could see that the leaders sniffed hungrily
on Won-tolla's trail, and tried to drag the Pack forward.
That would never do, or they would be at the Lairs in
broad daylight, and Mowgli meant to hold them under his
tree till dusk.

"By whose leave do ye come here?" said Mowgli.

"All Jungles are our Jungle," was the reply, and the dhole that
gave it bared his white teeth. Mowgli looked down with a smile,
and imitated perfectly the sharp chitter-chatter of Chikai,
the leaping rat of the Dekkan, meaning the dholes to understand
that he considered them no better than Chikai. The Pack closed
up round the tree-trunk and the leader bayed savagely, calling
Mowgli a tree-ape. For an answer Mowgli stretched down one naked
leg and wriggled his bare toes just above the leader's head.
That was enough, and more than enough, to wake the Pack to
stupid rage. Those who have hair between their toes do not care
to be reminded of it. Mowgli caught his foot away as the leader
leaped up, and said sweetly: Dog, red dog! Go back to the Dekkan
and eat lizards. Go to Chikai thy brother--dog, dog--red,
red dog! There is hair between every toe!" He twiddled his toes
a second time.

"Come down ere we starve thee out, hairless ape!" yelled the
Pack, and this was exactly what Mowgli wanted. He laid himself
down along the branch, his cheek to the bark, his right arm
free, and there he told the Pack what he thought and knew about
them, their manners, their customs, their mates, and their
puppies. There is no speech in the world so rancorous and so
stinging as the language the Jungle People use to show scorn and
contempt. When you come to think of it you will see how this
must be so. As Mowgli told Kaa, he had many little thorns under
his tongue, and slowly and deliberately he drove the dholes from
silence to growls, from growls to yells, and from yells to
hoarse slavery ravings. They tried to answer his taunts, but a
cub might as well have tried to answer Kaa in a rage; and all
the while Mowgli's right hand lay crooked at his side, ready for
action, his feet locked round the branch. The big bay leader had
leaped many times in the air, but Mowgli dared not risk a false
blow. At last, made furious beyond his natural strength,
he bounded up seven or eight feet clear of the ground.
Then Mowgli's hand shot out like the head of a tree-snake,
and gripped him by the scruff of his neck, and the branch shook
with the jar as his weight fell back, almost wrenching Mowgli to
the ground. But he never loosed his grip, and inch by inch he
hauled the beast, hanging like a drowned jackal, up on the
branch. With his left hand he reached for his knife and cut off
the red, bushy tail, flinging the dhole back to earth again.
That was all he needed. The Pack would not go forward on
Won-tolla's trail now till they had killed Mowgli or Mowgli had
killed them. He saw them settle down in circles with a quiver of
the haunches that meant they were going to stay, and so he
climbed to a higher crotch, settled his back comfortably,
and went to sleep.

After three or four hours he waked and counted the Pack.
They were all there, silent, husky, and dry, with eyes of steel.
The sun was beginning to sink. In half an hour the Little People
of the Rocks would be ending their labours, and, as you know,
the dhole does not fight best in the twilight.

"I did not need such faithful watchers," he said politely,
standing up on a branch, "but I will remember this. Ye be true
dholes, but to my thinking over much of one kind. For that
reason I do not give the big lizard-eater his tail again.
Art thou not pleased, Red Dog?"

"I myself will tear out thy stomach!" yelled the leader,
scratching at the foot of the tree.

"Nay, but consider, wise rat of the Dekkan. There will now be
many litters of little tailless red dogs, yea, with raw red
stumps that sting when the sand is hot. Go home, Red Dog,
and cry that an ape has done this. Ye will not go? Come, then,
with me, and I will make you very wise!"

He moved, Bandar-log fashion, into the next tree, and so on into
the next and the next, the Pack following with lifted hungry
heads. Now and then he would pretend to fall, and the Pack would
tumble one over the other in their haste to be at the death.
It was a curious sight--the boy with the knife that shone in the
low sunlight as it sifted through the upper branches, and the
silent Pack with their red coats all aflame, huddling and
following below. When he came to the last tree he took the
garlic and rubbed himself all over carefully, and the dholes
yelled with scorn. "Ape with a wolf's tongue, dost thou think to
cover thy scent?" they said. "We follow to the death."

"Take thy tail," said Mowgli, flinging it back along the course
he had taken. The Pack instinctively rushed after it.
"And follow now--to the death."

He had slipped down the tree-trunk, and headed like the wind
in bare feet for the Bee Rocks, before the dholes saw what
he would do.

They gave one deep howl, and settled down to the long, lobbing
canter that can at the last run down anything that runs.
Mowgli knew their pack-pace to be much slower than that of the
wolves, or he would never have risked a two-mile run in full
sight. They were sure that the boy was theirs at last, and he
was sure that he held them to play with as he pleased. All his
trouble was to keep them sufficiently hot behind him to prevent
their turning off too soon. He ran cleanly, evenly, and
springily; the tailless leader not five yards behind him;
and the Pack tailing out over perhaps a quarter of a mile of
ground, crazy and blind with the rage of slaughter. So he kept
his distance by ear, reserving his last effort for the rush
across the Bee Rocks.

The Little People had gone to sleep in the early twilight,
for it was not the season of late blossoming flowers; but as
Mowgli's first foot- falls rang hollow on the hollow ground he
heard a sound as though all the earth were humming. Then he ran
as he had never run in his life before, spurned aside one--two--
three of the piles of stones into the dark, sweet-smelling
gullies; heard a roar like the roar of the sea in a cave;
saw with the tail of his eye the air grow dark behind him;
saw the current of the Waingunga far below, and a flat, diamond-
shaped head in the water; leaped outward with all his strength,
the tailless dhole snapping at his shoulder in mid-air, and
dropped feet first to the safety of the river, breathless and
triumphant. There was not a sting upon him, for the smell of the
garlic had checked the Little People for just the few seconds
that he was among them. When he rose Kaa's coils were steadying
him and things were bounding over the edge of the cliff--great
lumps, it seemed, of clustered bees falling like plummets;
but before any lump touched water the bees flew upward and the
body of a dhole whirled down-stream. Overhead they could hear
furious short yells that were drowned in a roar like breakers--
the roar of the wings of the Little People of the Rocks. Some of
the dholes, too, had fallen into the gullies that communicated
with the underground caves, and there choked and fought and
snapped among the tumbled honeycombs, and at last, borne up,
even when they were dead, on the heaving waves of bees beneath
them, shot out of some hole in the river-face, to roll over on
the black rubbish-heaps. There were dholes who had leaped short
into the trees on the cliffs, and the bees blotted out their
shapes; but the greater number of them, maddened by the stings,
had flung themselves into the river; and, as Kaa said, the
Waingunga was hungry water.

Kaa held Mowgli fast till the boy had recovered his breath.

"We may not stay here," he said. "The Little People are roused
indeed. Come!"

Swimming low and diving as often as he could, Mowgli went down
the river, knife in hand.

"Slowly, slowly," said Kaa. "One tooth does not kill a hundred
unless it be a cobra's, and many of the dholes took water
swiftly when they saw the Little People rise."

"The more work for my knife, then. Phai! How the, Little People
follow!" Mowgli sank again. The face of the water was blanketed
with wild bees, buzzing sullenly and stinging all they found.

"Nothing was ever yet lost by silence," said Kaa--no sting could
penetrate his scales--"and thou hast all the long night for the
hunting. Hear them howl!"

Nearly half the pack had seen the trap their fellows rushed
into, and turning sharp aside had flung themselves into the
water where the gorge broke down in steep banks. Their cries of
rage and their threats against the "tree-ape" who had brought
them to their shame mixed with the yells and growls of those who
had been punished by the Little People. To remain ashore was
death, and every dhole knew it. Their pack was swept along the
current, down to the deep eddies of the Peace Pool, but even
there the angry Little People followed and forced them to the
water again. Mowgli could hear the voice of the tailless leader
bidding his people hold on and kill out every wolf in Seeonee.
But he did not waste his time in listening.

"One kills in the dark behind us!" snapped a dhole. "Here is
tainted water!"

Mowgli had dived forward like an otter, twitched a struggling
dhole under water before he could open his mouth, and dark rings
rose as the body plopped up, turning on its side. The dholes
tried to turn, but the current prevented them, and the Little
People darted at the heads and ears, and they could hear the
challenge of the Seeonee Pack growing louder and deeper in the
gathering darkness. Again Mowgli dived, and again a dhole went
under, and rose dead, and again the clamour broke out at the
rear of the pack; some howling that it was best to go ashore,
others calling on their leader to lead them back to the Dekkan,
and others bidding Mowgli show himself and he killed.

"They come to the fight with two stomachs and several voices,"
said Kaa. "The rest is with thy brethren below yonder, The
Little People go back to sleep. They have chased us far. Now I,
too, turn back, for I am not of one skin with any wolf.
Good hunting, Little Brother, and remember the dhole bites low."

A wolf came running along the bank on three legs, leaping up and
down, laying his head sideways close to the ground, hunching his
back, and breaking high into the air, as though he were playing
with his cubs. It was Won-tolla, the Outlier, and he said never
a word, but continued his horrible sport beside the dholes.
They had been long in the water now, and were swimming wearily,
their coats drenched and heavy, their bushy tails dragging like
sponges, so tired and shaken that they, too, were silent,
watching the pair of blazing eyes that moved abreast.

"This is no good hunting," said one, panting.

"Good hunting!" said Mowgli, as he rose boldly at the brute's
side, and sent the long knife home behind the shoulder, pushing
hard to avoid his dying snap.

"Art thou there, Man-cub?" said Won-tolla across the water.

"Ask of the dead, Outlier," Mowgli replied. "Have none come
down-stream? I have filled these dogs' mouths with dirt;
I have tricked them in the broad daylight, and their leader
lacks his tail, but here be some few for thee still.
Whither shall I drive them?"

"I will wait," said Won-tolla. "The night is before me."

Nearer and nearer came the bay of the Seeonee wolves. "For the
Pack, for the Full Pack it is met!" and a bend in the river
drove the dholes forward among the sands and shoals opposite
the Lairs.

Then they saw their mistake. They should have landed half a mile
higher up, and rushed the wolves on dry ground. Now it was too
late. The bank was lined with burning eyes, and except for the
horrible pheeal that had never stopped since sundown, there was
no sound in the Jungle. It seemed as though Won-tolla were
fawning on them to come ashore; and "Turn and take hold!" said
the leader of the dholes. The entire Pack flung themselves at
the shore, threshing and squattering through the shoal water,
till the face of the Waingunga was all white and torn, and the
great ripples went from side to side, like bow-waves from a
boat. Mowgli followed the rush, stabbing and slicing as the
dholes, huddled together, rushed up the river-beach in one wave.

Then the long fight began, heaving and straining and splitting
and scattering and narrowing and broadening along the red,
wet sands, and over and between the tangled tree-roots,
and through and among the bushes, and in and out of the grass
clumps; for even now the dholes were two to one. But they met
wolves fighting for all that made the Pack, and not only the
short, high, deep-chested, white-tusked hunters of the Pack,
but the anxious-eyed lahinis--the she-wolves of the lair, as the
saying is--fighting for their litters, with here and there a
yearling wolf, his first coat still half woolly, tugging and
grappling by their sides. A wolf, you must know, flies at the
throat or snaps at the flank, while a dhole, by preference,
bites at the belly; so when the dholes were struggling out of
the water and had to raise their heads, the odds were with the
wolves. On dry land the wolves suffered; but in the water or
ashore, Mowgli's knife came and went without ceasing. The Four
had worried their way to his side. Gray Brother, crouched
between the boy's knees, was protecting his stomach, while the
others guarded his back and either side, or stood over him when
the shock of a leaping, yelling dhole who had thrown himself
full on the steady blade bore him down. For the rest, it was one
tangled confusion--a locked and swaying mob that moved from
right to left and from left to right along the bank; and also
ground round and round slowly on its own centre. Here would be a
heaving mound, like a water-blister in a whirlpool, which would
break like a water-blister, and throw up four or five mangled
dogs, each striving to get back to the centre; here would be a
single wolf borne down by two or three dholes, laboriously
dragging them forward, and sinking the while; here a yearling
cub would he held up by the pressure round him, though he had
been killed early, while his mother, crazed with dumb rage,
rolled over and over, snapping, and passing on; and in the
middle of the thickest press, perhaps, one wolf and one dhole,
forgetting everything else, would be manoeuvring for first hold
till they were whirled away by a rush of furious fighters.
Once Mowgli passed Akela, a dhole on either flank, and his all
but toothless jaws closed over the loins of a third; and once he
saw Phao, his teeth set in the throat of a dhole, tugging the
unwilling beast forward till the yearlings could finish him.
But the bulk of the fight was blind flurry and smother in the
dark; hit, trip, and tumble, yelp, groan, and worry-worry-worry,
round him and behind him and above him. As the night wore on,
the quick, giddy-go-round motion increased. The dholes were
cowed and afraid to attack the stronger wolves, but did not yet
dare to run away. Mowgli felt that the end was coming soon, and
contented himself with striking merely to cripple. The yearlings
were growing bolder; there was time now and again to breathe,
and pass a word to a friend, and the mere flicker of the knife
would sometimes turn a dog aside.

"The meat is very near the bone," Gray Brother yelled. He was
bleeding from a score of flesh-wounds.

"But the bone is yet to he cracked," said Mowgli. "Eowawa!
THUS do we do in the Jungle!" The red blade ran like a flame
along the side of a dhole whose hind-quarters were hidden by
the weight of a clinging wolf.

"My kill!" snorted the wolf through his wrinkled nostrils.
"Leave him to me."

"Is thy stomach still empty, Outlier?" said Mowgli. Won-tolla
was fearfully punished, but his grip had paralysed the dhole,
who could not turn round and reach him.

"By the Bull that bought me," said Mowgli, with a bitter laugh,
"it is the tailless one!" And indeed it was the big bay-
coloured leader.

"It is not wise to kill cubs and lahinis," Mowgli went on
philosophically, wiping the blood out of his eyes, "unless one
has also killed the Outlier; and it is in my stomach that this
Won-tolla kills thee."

A dhole leaped to his leader's aid; but before his teeth had
found Won-tolla's flank, Mowgli's knife was in his throat,
and Gray Brother took what was left.

"And thus do we do in the Jungle," said Mowgli.

Won-tolla said not a word, only his jaws were closing and
closing on the backbone as his life ebbed. The dhole shuddered,
his head dropped, and he lay still, and Won-tolla dropped
above him.

"Huh! The Blood Debt is paid," said Mowgli. "Sing the song,
Won-tolla."

"He hunts no more," said Gray Brother; "and Akela, too, is
silent this long time."

"The bone is cracked!" thundered Phao, son of Phaona. "They go!
Kill, kill out, O hunters of the Free People!"

Dhole after dhole was slinking away from those dark and bloody
sands to the river, to the thick Jungle, up-stream or down-
stream as he saw the road clear.

"The debt! The debt!" shouted Mowgli. "Pay the debt! They have
slain the Lone Wolf! Let not a dog go!"

He was flying to the river, knife in hand, to check any dhole
who dared to take water, when, from under a mound of nine dead,
rose Akela's head and fore-quarters, and Mowgli dropped on his
knees beside the Lone Wolf.

"Said I not it would be my last fight?" Akela gasped. "It is
good hunting. And thou, Little Brother?"

"I live, having killed many."

"Even so. I die, and I would--I would die by thee,
Little Brother."

Mowgli took the terrible scarred head on his knees, and put his
arms round the torn neck.

"It is long since the old days of Shere Khan, and a Man-cub that
rolled naked in the dust."

"Nay, nay, I am a wolf. I am of one skin with the Free People,"
Mowgli cried. "It is no will of mine that I am a man."

"Thou art a man, Little Brother, wolfling of my watching.
Thou art a man, or else the Pack had fled before the dhole.
My life I owe to thee, and to-day thou hast saved the Pack even
as once I saved thee. Hast thou forgotten? All debts are paid
now. Go to thine own people. I tell thee again, eye of my eye,
this hunting is ended. Go to thine own people."

"I will never go. I will hunt alone in the Jungle. I have
said it."

"After the summer come the Rains, and after the Rains comes the
spring. Go back before thou art driven."

"Who will drive me?"

"Mowgli will drive Mowgli. Go back to thy people. Go to Man."

"When Mowgli drives Mowgli I will go," Mowgli answered.

"There is no more to say," said Akela. "Little Brother,
canst thou raise me to my feet? I also was a leader of the
Free People."

Very carefully and gently Mowgli lifted the bodies aside,
and raised Akela to his feet, both arms round him, and the Lone
Wolf drew a long breath, and began the Death Song that a leader
of the Pack should sing when he dies. It gathered strength as he
went on, lifting and lifting, and ringing far across the river,
till it came to the last "Good hunting!" and Akela shook himself
clear of Mowgli for an instant, and, leaping into the air,
fell backward dead upon his last and most terrible kill.

Mowgli sat with his head on his knees, careless of anything
else, while the remnant of the flying dholes were being
overtaken and run down by the merciless lahinis. Little by
little the cries died away, and the wolves returned limping,
as their wounds stiffened, to take stock of the losses.
Fifteen of the Pack, as well as half a dozen lahinis, lay dead
by the river, and of the others not one was unmarked. And Mowgli
sat through it all till the cold daybreak, when Phao's wet,
red muzzle was dropped in his hand, and Mowgli drew back to show
the gaunt body of Akela.

"Good hunting!" said Phao, as though Akela were still alive,
and then over his bitten shoulder to the others: "Howl, dogs!
A Wolf has died to-night!"

But of all the Pack of two hundred fighting dholes, whose boast
was that all jungles were their Jungle, and that no living thing
could stand before them, not one returned to the Dekkan to carry
that word.

Rudyard Kipling