Messua, catching him to her breast. "When thou
art one-half as fair we will marry thee to the
youngest daughter of a king, and thou shalt ride
Mowgli could not understand one word in
three of the talk here; the warm milk was taking
effect on him after his long run, so he curled
up and in a minute was deep asleep, and Messua
put the hair back from his eyes, threw a cloth
over him, and was happy. Jungle-fashion, he
slept out the rest of that night and all the next
day; for his instincts, which never wholly slept,
warned him there was nothing to fear. He waked
at last with a bound that shook the hut, for the
cloth over his face made him dream of traps; and
there he stood, his hand on his knife, the sleep all
heavy in his rolling eyes, ready for any fight.
Messua laughed, and set the evening meal before
him. There were only a few coarse cakes baked
over the smoky fire, some rice, and a lump of sour
preserved tamarinds just enough to go on with
till he could get to his evening kill. The smell of
the dew in the marshes made him hungry and
restless. He wanted to finish his spring running,
but the child insisted on sitting in his arms, and
Messua would have it that his long, blue-black
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THE SPRING RUNNING 307
hair must be combed out. So she sang, as she
combed, foolish little baby-songs, now calling
Mowgli her son, and now begging him to give
some of his Jungle power to the child. The hut
door was closed, but Mowgli heard a sound he
knewwell,and saw Messua's jaw drop with horror
as a great gray paw came under the bottom of the
door, and Gray Brother outside whined a muffled
and penitent whine of anxiety and fear.
"Out and wait! Ye would not come when I
called," said Mowgli in Jungle-talk, without turn-
ing his head, and the great gray paw disappeared.
"Do not do not bring thy thy servants with
thee," said Messua. "I we have always lived at
peace with the Jungle."
"It is peace," said Mowgli, rising. "Think of
that night on the road to Khanhiwara. There were
scores of such folk before thee and behind thee.
But I see that even in springtime the Jungle-Peo-
ple do not always forget. Mother, I go."
Messua drew aside humbly he was indeed a
wood-god, she thought; but as his hand was on
the door the mother in her made her throw her
arms round Mowgli's neck again and again.
"Come back!" she whispered. "Son or no
son, come back, for I love thee Look, he too
The child was crying because the man with the
shiny knife was going away.
3 o8 THE SPRING RUNNING
"Come back again," Messua repeated. "By
night or by day this door is never shut to thee."
Mowgli's throat worked as though the cords
in it were being pulled, and his voice seemed to be
dragged from it as he answered, "I will surely
"And now," he said, as he put by the head of
the fawning wolf on the threshold, "I have a little
cry against thee, Gray Brother. Why came ye
not all four when I called so long ago?"
"So long ago? It was but last night. I we
were singing in the Jungle the new songs, for
this is the Time of New Talk. Rememberest
"And as soon as the songs were sung," Gray
Brother went on earnestly, "I followed thy trail.
I ran from all the others and followed hot-foot.
But, O Little Brother, what hast thou done, eat-
ing and sleeping with the Man-Pack?"
"If ye had come when I called, this had never
been," said Mowgli, running much faster.
"And now what is to be?" said Gray Brother.
Mowgli was going to answer when a girl in a
white cloth came down some path that led from
the outskirts of the village. Gray Brother dropped
outof sight at once, and Mowgli backed noiselessly
into a field of high-springing crops. He could
almost have touched her with his hand when the
THE SPRING RUNNING 309
warm, green stalks closed before his face and he
disappeared like a ghost. The girl screamed, for
she thought she had seen a spirit, and then she
gave a deep sigh. Mowgli parted the stalks with
his hands and watched her till she was out of
"And now I do not know," he said, sighing
in his turn. "Why did ye not come when I
"We follow thee we follow thee," Gray
Brother mumbled, licking at Mowgli's heel. "We
follow thee always, except in the Time of the
"And would ye follow me to the Man-Pack?"
"Did I not follow thee on the night our old
Pack cast thee out? Who waked thee lying among
"Ay, but again?"
"Have I not followed thee to-night?"
"Ay, but again and again, and it may be again,
Gray Brother was silent. When he spoke he
growled to himself, "The Black One spoke truth."
"And he said?"
"Man goes to Man at the last. Raksha, our
mother, said "
"So also said Akela on the night of Red Dog,"
3 io THE SPRING RUNNING
"So also says Kaa, who is wiser than us ail."
"What dost thou say, Gray Brother?"
'They cast thee out once, with bad talk. They
cut thy mouth with stones. They sent Buldeo to
slay thee. They would have thrown thee into
the Red Flower. Thou, and not I, hast said that
they are evil and senseless. Thou, and not I I
follow my own people didst let in the Jungle
upon them. Thou, and not I, didst make song
against them more bitter even than our song
against Red Dog."
"I ask thee what thou sayest?"
They were talking as they ran. Gray Brother
cantered on a while without replying, and then he
said, between bound and bound as it were,
"Man-cub Master of the Jungle Son of Rak-
sha, Lair-brother to me though I forget for a
little while in the spring, thy trail is my trail, thy
lair is my lair, thy kill is my kill, and thy death-
fight is my death-fight. I speak for the Three.
But what wilt thou say to the Jungle?"
"That is well thought. Between the sight and
the kill it is not good to wait. Go before and
cry them all to the Council Rock, and I will tell
them what is in my stomach. But they may not
come in the Time of New Talk they may forget
"Hast thou, then, forgotten nothing?" snapped
Gray Brother over his shoulder, as he laid him-
THE SPRING RUNNING 311
self down to gallop, and Mowgli followed,
At any other season the news would have called
all the Jungle together with bristling necks, but
now they were busy hunting and fighting and
killing and singing. From one to another Gray
Brother ran, crying, "The Master of the Jungle
goes back to Man! Come to the Council Rock."
And the happy, eager People only answered, "He
will return in the summer heats. The Rains will
drive him to lair. Run and sing with us, Gray
"But the Master of the Jungle goes back to
Man," Gray Brother would repeat.
"Eee Yoawaf Is the Time of New Talk any
less sweet for that?" they would reply. So when
Mowgli, heavy-hearted, came up through the well-
remembered rocks to the place where he had been
brought into the Council, he found only the Four,
Baloo, who was nearly blind with age, and the
heavy, cold-blooded Kaa coiled around Akela's
"Thy trail ends here, then, Manling?" said
Kaa, as Mowgli threw himself down, his face in
his hands. "Cry thy cry. We be of one blood,
thou and I man and snake together."
"Why did I not die under Red Dog?" the
boy moaned. "My strength is gone from me,
and it is not any poison. By night and by day I
312 THE SPRING RUNNING
hear a double step upon my trail. When I turn
my head it is as though one had hidden himself
from me that instant. I go to look behind the
trees and he is not there. I call and none cry
again; but it is as though one listened and kept
back the answer. I lie down, but I do not rest.
I run the spring running, but I am not made still.
I bathe, but I am not made cool. The kill sickens
me, but I have no heart to fight except I kill.
The Red Flower is in my body, my bones are
water and I know not what I know."
"What need of talk?" said Baloo slowly,
turning his head to where Mowgli lay. "Akela
by the river said it, that Mowgli should drive
Mowgli back to the Man-Pack. I said it. But
who listens now to Baloo? Bagheera where is
Bagheera this night? he knows also. It is the
"When we met at Cold Lairs, Manling, I knew
it," said Kaa, turning a little in his mighty coils.
"Man goes to Man at the last, though the Jungle
does not cast him out."
The Four looked at one another and at
Mowgli, puzzled but obedient.
"The Jungle does not cast me out, then?"
Gray Brother and the Three growled furi-
ously, beginning, "So long as we live none shall
dare " But Baloo checked them.
THE SPRING RUNNING 313
"I taught thee the Law. It is for me to speak,"
he said; "and, though I cannot now see the rocks
before me, I see far. Little Frog, take thine own
trail; make thy lair with thine own blood and
pack and people; but when there is need of foot
or tooth or eye, or a word carried swiftly by night,
remember, Master of the Jungle, the Jungle is
thine at call."
"The Middle Jungle is thine also," said Kaa.
"I speak for no small people."
"Hai-mai, my brothers," cried Mowgli, throw-
ing up his arms with a sob. "I know not what I
know! I would not go; but I am drawn by both
feet. How shall I leave these nights?"
"Nay, look up, Little Brother," Baloo repeated.
"There is no shame in this hunting. When the
honey is eaten we leave the empty hive."
"Having cast the skin," said Kaa, "we may not
creep into it afresh. It is the Law."
"Listen, dearest of all to me," said Baloo.
"There is neither word nor will here to hold thee
back. Look up! Who may question the Master
of the Jungle? I saw thee playing among the
white pebbles yonder when thou wast a little frog;
and Bagheera, that bought thee for the price of a
young bull newly killed, saw thee also. Of that
Looking Over we two only remain; for Raksha,
thy lair-mother, is dead with thy lair-father; the
old Wolf-Pack is long since deadr thou knowest
3H THE SPRING RUNNING
whither Shere Khan went, and Akela died among
thedholes, where, butfor thy wisdom and strength,
the second Seeonee Pack would also have died.
There remains nothing but old bones. It is no
longer the Man-cub that asks leave of his Pack,
but the Master of the Jungle that changes his trail.
Who shall question Man in his ways?"
"But Bagheera and the Bull that bought me,"
said Mowgli. "I would not
His words were cut short by a roar and a crash
in the thicket below, and Bagheera, light, strong,
and terrible as always, stood before him.
"Therefore," he said, stretching out a dripping
right paw, "I did not come. It was a long hunt, but
helies dead in the bushes now a bull in his second
year the Bull that frees thee, Little Brother.
All debts are paid now. For the rest, my word is
Baloo'sword." He licked Mowgli's foot. "Remem-
ber, Bagheera loved thee," he cried, and bounded
away. At the foot of the hill he cried again long
and loud, "Good hunting on a new trail, Master
of the Jungle ! Remember, Bagheera loved thee."
"Thou hast heard," said Baloo. 'There is no
more. Go now; but first come to me. O wise
Little Frog, come to me !"
"It is hard to cast the skin," said Kaa as
Mowgli sobbed and sobbed, with his head on the
blind bear's side and his arms round his neck,
while Baloo tried feebly to lick his feet.
THE SPRING RUNNING 315
"The stars are thin," said Gray Brother, snuff-
ing at the dawn wind. "Where shall we lair
to-day? for, from now, we follow new trails."
And this is the last of the Mowgli stories.
[This is the song that Mowgli heard behind him in
the Jungle till he came to Messua's door again.]
OR the sake of him who showed
One wise Frog the Jungle-Road,
Keep the Law the Man-Pack
For thy blind old Baloo's sake!
Clean or tainted, hot or stale,
Hold it as it were the Trail,
Through the day and through
Questing neither left nor right.
For the sake of him who loves
Thee beyond all else that moves,
When thy Pack would make
Say: "Tabaqui sings again.'
THE OUTSONG 31?
When thy Pack would work thee ill,
Say: "Shere Khan is yet to kill."
When the knife is drawn to slay,
Keep the Law and go thy way.
(Root and honey, palm and spathe,
Guard a cub from harm and scathe!)
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
Anger is the egg of Fear
Only lidless eyes are clear.
Cobra-poison none may leech.
Even so with Cobra-speech.
Open talk shall call to thee
Strength, whose mate is Courtesy.
Send no lunge beyond thy length ;
Lend no rotten bough thy strength.
Gauge thy gape with buck or goat,
Lest thine eye should choke thy throat.
After gorging, wouldst thou sleep ?
Look thy den is hid and deep,
Lest a wrong, by thee forgot,
Draw thy killer to the spot.
East and West and North and South,
Wash thy hide and close thy mouth.
(Pit and rift and blue pool-brim,
Middle- Jungle follow him!)
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
3 i8 THE OUTSONG
In the cage my life began;
Well I know the worth of Man.
By the Broken Lock that freed
Man-cub, 'ware the Man-cub's breed!
Scenting-dew or starlight pale,
Choose no tangled tree-cat trail.
Pack or council, hunt or den,
Cry no truce with Jackal-Men.
Feed them silence when they say :
"Come with us an easy way."
Feed them silence when they seek
Help of thine to hurt the weak.
Make no bandar's boast of skill ;
Hold thy peace above the kill.
Let nor call nor song nor sign
Turn thee from thy hunting-line.
(Morning mist or twilight clear,
Serve him, Wardens of the Deer!)
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
On the trail that thou must tread
To the thresholds of our dread,
Where the Flower blossoms red;
Through the nights ivhen thou shalt lie
Prisoned from our Mother-sky,
Hearing us, thy loves, go by;
THE OUTSONG 319
In the dawns when thou shall wake
To the toil thou canst not break,
Heartsick for the Jungle's sake:
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Wisdom, Strength, and Courtesy,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
At the hole where he went in
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin.
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:
"Nag, come up and dance with death!"
Eye to eye and head to head,
(Keep the measure, Nag.}
This shall end when one is dead;
(At thy pleasure, Nag.}
Turn for turn and twist for twist
(Run and hide thee, Nag.}
Hah! The hooded Death has missed!
(Woe betide thee, Nag!}
THIS is the story of the great war that Rikki-
tikki-tavi fought single-handed, through the bath-
rooms of the big bungalow in Segowlee canton-
ment. Darzee, the tailor-bird, helped him, and
Chuchundra, the musk-rat, who never comes out
into the middle of the floor, but always creeps
round by the wall, gave him advice; but Rikki-
tikki did the real fighting.
He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in
his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his
head and his habits. His eyes and the end of his
restless nose were pink; he could scratch himself
anywhere he pleased, with any leg, front or back,
that he chose to use; he could fluff up his tail till
it looked like a bottle-brush, and his war-cry, as he
scuttled through the long grass, was: "Rikk-tikk-
One day, a high summer flood washed him out
of the burrow where he lived with his father and
mother, and carried him, kicking and clucking,
down a roadside ditch. He found a little wisp of
grass floating there, and clung to it till he lost his
senses. When he revived, he was lying in the hot
sun on the middle of a garden path, very draggled
indeed, and a small boy was saying: "Here's a
dead mongoose. Let's have a funeral."
"No," said his mother; "let's take him in and
dry him. Perhaps he isn't really dead."
They took him into the house, and a big man
picked him up between his finger and thumb, and
said he was not dead but half choked; so they
wrapped him in cotton-wool, and warmed him,
and he opened his eyes and sneezed.
"Now," said the big man (he was an English-
man who had just moved into the bungalow) ;
"don't frighten him, and we'll see what he'll do."
It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten
a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to
tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose
family is, "Run and find out"; and Rikki-tikki
was a true mongoose. He looked at the cotton-
wool, decided that it was not good to eat, ran all
round the table, sat
up and put his fur
in order, scratched
himself, and jumped
on the small boy's
"Don't be fright-
ened, Teddy," said
his father. "That's
his way of making
tickling under my
chin," said Teddy.
looked down be-
4-U~ k^ ' 1 "RIKKI-TIKKI LOOKED DOWN BETWEEN
tween the boy s col- T?E BOY , S COLLAR AND NECK
lar and neck, snuffed at his ear, and climbed down
to the floor, where he sat rubbing his nose.
"Good gracious," said Teddy's mother, "and
that's a wild creature! I suppose he's so tame
because we've been kind to him."
"Allmongoosesare like that," said her husband.
"If Teddy doesn't pick him up by the tail, or try
toputhimin a cage, he'll run in and out of the house
all day long. Let's give him something to eat."
They gave him a little piece of raw meat.
Rikki-tikki liked it immensely, and when it was
finished he went out into the verandah and sat in
the sunshine and fluffed up his fur to make it dry
to the roots. Then he felt better.
'There are more things to find out about in
this house," he said to himself, "than all my
family could find out in all their lives. I shall
certainly stay and find out."
He spent all that day roaming over the house.
He nearly drowned himself in the bath-tubs, put
his nose into the ink on a writing table, and burnt
it on the end of the big man's cigar, for he climbed
up in the big man's lap to see how writing was
done. At nightfall he ran into Teddy's nursery
to watch how kerosene-lamps were lighted, and
when Teddy went to bed Rikki-tikki climbed up
too; but he was a restless companion, because he
had to get up and attend to every noise all through
the night, and find out what made it. Teddy's
mother and father came in, the last thing, to look
RIKKI-TIKKI WAS AWAKE ON THE PILLOW.
at their boy, and Rikki-tikki was awake on the
pillow. "I don't like that," said Teddy's mother;
"he may bite the child." "He'll do no such thing,"
said the father. 'Teddy's safer with that little
beast than if he had a bloodhound to watch him.
If a snake came into the nursery now "
But Teddy's mother wouldn't think of anything
Early in the morning Rikki-tikki came to early
breakfast in the verandah riding on Teddy's shoul-
der, and they gave him banana and some boiled
egg;andhe sat on all their laps one after the other,
because every well-brought-up mongoose always
hopes to be a house-
mongoose some day and
have rooms to run about
in, and Rikki-tikki's
mother (she used to live
intheGeneral's house at
told Rikki what to do
if ever he came across
Then Rikki - tikki
went out into the gar-
den to see what was to
be seen. It was a large
garden, only half culti-
vated, with bushes as
big as summer-houses
of Marshal Niel roses,
lime and orange trees, clumps of bamboos, and
thickets of high grass. Rikki-tikki licked his lips.
'This is a splendid hunting-ground," he said, and
his tail grew bottle-brushy at the thought of it,
and he scuttled up and down the garden, snuffing
here and there till he heard very sorrowful voices
in a thorn-bush.
HE CAME TO BREAKFAST RIDING
ON TEDDY'S SHOULDER."
It was Darzee, the tailor-bird, and his wife.
They had made a beautiful nest by pulling two
big leaves together and stitching them up the
edges v/ith fibres, and had filled the hollow with
cotton and downy fluff. The nest swayed to and
fro, as they sat on the rim and cried.
( WE ARE VERY MISERABLE,' SAID DARZEE."
"What is the matter?" asked Rikki-tikki.
"We are very miserable," said Darzee. "One
of our babies fell out of the nest yesterday, and
Nag ate him."
"H'm!" said Rikki-tikki, "that is very sad
but I am a stranger here. Who is Nag?"
Darzee and his wife only cowered down in the
nest without answering, for from the thick grass
at the foot of the bush there came a low hiss a
horrid cold sound that made Rikki-tikki jump
back two clear feet. Then inch by inch out of
the grass rose up the head and spread hood of
Nag, the big black cobra, and he was five feet
long from tongue to tail. When he had lifted
one-third of himself clear of the ground, he stayed
balancing to and fro exactly as a dandelion-tuft
balances in the wind, and he looked at Rikki-tikki
with the wicked snake's eyes that never change
their expression, whatever the snake may be think-
"Who is Nag?" said he. "I am Nag. The
great god Brahm put his mark upon all our people
when the first cobra spread his hood to keep the
sun off Brahm as he slept. Look, and be afraid !"
He spread out his hood more than ever, and
Rikki-tikki saw the spectacle-mark on the back of
it that looks exactly like the eye part of a hook-
and-eye fastening. He was afraid for the minute;
but it is impossible for a mongoose to stay fright-
ened for any length of time, and though Rikki-
tikki had never met a live cobra before, his mother
had fed him on dead ones, and he knew that all a
grown mongoose's business in life was to fight and
eat snakes. Nag knew that too, and at the bottom
of his cold heart he was afraid.
__Ji c \vja
r" T tei^;Kiap!*J ;.
'^^ : ;.\. .*;:;...-, :^'^:/
"Well," said Rikki-tikki, and his tail began to
fluff up again, "marks or no marks, do you think
it is right for you to eat fledglings out of a nest?"
Nag was thinking to himself, and watching the
least little movement in the grass behind Rikki-
tikki. He knew that mongooses in the garden
meant death sooner or later for him and his
family, but he wanted to get Rikki-tikki off his
guard. So he dropped his head a little, and put
it on one side.
"Let us talk," he said. "You eat eggs. Why
should not I eat birds?"
"Behind you! Look behind you!" sang Dar-
Rikki-tikki knew better than to waste time in
staring. He jumped up in the air as high as he
could go, and just under him whizzed by the head
of Nagaina, Nag's wicked wife. She had crept up
behind him as he was talking, to make an end of
him; and he heard her savage hiss as the stroke
missed. He came down almost across her back,
and if he had been an old mongoose he would have
known that then was the time to break her back
with one bite; but he was afraid of the terrible
lashing return-stroke of the cobra. He bit, indeed,
but did not bite long enough, and he jumped
clear of the whisking tail, leaving Nagaina torn
"Wicked, wicked Darzee!" said Nag, lashing
up as high as he could reach toward the nest in
the thorn-bush; but Darzee had built it out of
reach of snakes, and it only swayed to and fro.
Rikki-tikki felt his eyes growing red and hot
(when a mongoose's eyes grow red, he is angry),
and he sat back on his tail and hind legs like a
little kangaroo, and looked all round him, and
chattered with rage. But Nag and Nagaina had
disappeared into the grass. When a snake misses
its stroke, it never says anything or gives any sign
of what it means to do next. Rikki-tikki did not
care to follow them, for he did not feel sure that
he could manage two snakes at once. So he
trotted off to the gravel path near the house, and
sat down to think. It was a serious matter for
If you read the old books of natural history,
you will find they say that when the mongoose
fights the snake and happens to get bitten, he runs
off and eats some herb that cures him. That is
not true. The victory is only a matter of quick-
ness of eye and quickness of foot, snake's blow
against mongoose's jump, and as no eye can fol-
low the motion of a snake's head when it strikes,
that makes things much more wonderful than any
magic herb. Rikki-tikki knew he was a young
mongoose, and it made him all the more pleased to
think that he had managed to escape a blow from