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Now Chil the Kite brings home the night
That Mang the Bat sets free --
The herds are shut in byre and hut
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Talon and tush and claw.
Oh, hear the call! -- Good hunting all
That keep the jungle Law!
Night Song in the Jungle
It was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee Hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big gray nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived. "Augrh!" said Father Wolf, "it is time to hunt again." And he was going to spring downhill when a little shadow with a bushy tail crossed the threshold and whined: "Good luck go with you, 0 Chief of the Wolves; and good luck and strong white teeth go with the noble children, that they may never forget the hungry in this world. "
It was the jackal -- Tabaqui the Dish-licker -- and the wolves of India despise Tabaqui because he runs about making mischief, and telling tales, and eating rags and pieces of leather from the village rubbish heaps. But they are afraid of him too, because Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt to go mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through the forest biting everything in his way. Even the tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We call it hydrophobia,but they call it dewanee -- the madness -- and run.
"Enter, then, and look," said Father Wolf, stiffly, "but there is no food here."
"For a wolf, no," said Tabaqui, "but for so mean a person as myself a dry bone is a good feast. Who are we, the Gidur-log [the Jackal-People], to pick and choose?" He scuttled to the back of the cave, where he found the bone of a buck with some meat on it, and sat cracking the end merrily.
"All thanks for this good meal," he said, licking his lips. "How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that the children of kings are men from the beginning."
Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces; and it pleased him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.
Tabaqui sat still, rejoicing in the mischief that he had made, and then he said spitefully:
"Shere Khan, the Big One, has shifted his hunting grounds. He will hunt among these hills for the next moon, so he has told me."
Shere Khan was the tiger who lived near the Wainganga River, twenty miles away.
"He has no right!" Father Wolf began angrily. "By the Law of the jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due warning. He will frighten every head of game within ten miles, and I -- I have to kill for two, these days."
"His mother did not call him Lungri [the Lame One] for nothing," said Mother Wolf, quietly. "He has been lame in one foot from his birth. That is why he has only killed cattle. Now the villagers of the Wainganga are angry with him, and he has come here to make our villagers angry. They will scour the jungle for him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when the grass is set alight. Indeed, we are very grateful to Shere Khan!"
"Shall I tell him of your gratitude?" said Tabaqui.
"Out!" snapped Father Wolf. "Out and hunt with thy master. Thou hast done harm enough for one night."
"I go," said Tabaqui, quietly. "Ye can hear Shere Khan below in the thickets. I might have saved myself the message."
Father Wolf listened, and below in the valley that ran down to a little river, he heard the dry, angry, snarly, singsong whine of a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the jungle knows it.
"The fool!" said Father Wolf. "To begin a night's work with that noise! Does he think that our buck are like his fat Wainganga bullocks?"
"Hsh. It is neither bullock nor buck he hunts tonight," said Mother Wolf "It is Man." The whine had changed to a sort of humming purr that seemed to come from every quarter of the compass. It was the noise that bewilders woodcutters and gypsies sleeping in the open, and makes them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.
"Man!" said Father Wolf, showing all his white teeth. "Faugh! Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must eat Man, and on our ground too!"
The Law of the jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too -- and it is true -- that maneaters become mangy, and lose their teeth.
The purr grew louder, and ended in the full-throated "Aaarh!" of the tiger's charge.
Then there was a howl -- an untigerish howl -- from Shere Khan. "He has missed," said Mother Wolf "What is it?"The Jungle Book. Copyright © by Rudyard Kipling. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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"One of those rare books that I felt I was actually living as I read it." —Michael Morpurgo
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The Jungle Book by author Rudyard Kipling is a novel that hides under the guise of a series of playful children’s tales, but, though they do have that quintessential playful quality, The Jungle Book is instead a vividly colorful anthology of beautiful stories that truly capture the vast breadth of a child’s imagination as well as having some strikingly poignant moments and messages littered throughout each tale. The Jungle Book, in contrast to how it is depicted in popular culture, is a series of stories instead of one narrative. A multitude of characters are introduced in the book, but three of said stories revolve around a boy named Mowgli. These tales give a brief but entertaining story of the childhood of a man-cub; out of place in the jungle, Mowgli strives to become regarded a true member of the Seeonee Wolf Pack by following the guidance of the old bear Baloo and with the protection of the black panther Bagheera in a quest to lean the Law of the Jungle, though his human nature often gets in the way of his goal. After these three segments, Rudyard continues the book with tales of equally memorable characters such as Kotick the seal, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the brave mongoose, and adventurous Little Toomai. I think that each story had a quality that set it apart from the other, and in every tale, Kipling is successful in both building worlds that seem realistic through his effective use of several forms of figurative language as well as making the reader invested in the characters of each story. He masterfully illustrates the feelings and development of characters despite the restrictions on length a short story would have. It certainly is worthwhile to see the growth of young Mowgli, an energetic but foolish boy, to a wise person who is ready to claim his destiny – it almost feels as though you are growing with Mowgli while reading the book. Though Mowgli, I must admit, is the most compelling of the protagonists of the book, it is impossible not to root for the amazing courage and selflessness of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi during his battle with the cobras, and it is hard not to admire Kotick’s perseverance in order to ensure a better future for his kin. The Jungle Book, to add upon what I have just written of, excels in the art of delivering meaningful lessons to the reader in a powerful way. The perseverance of Kotick, the selflessness of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and Toomai’s curiosity are important for every child to pick up on, but they are truly important for people of all ages to keep close to their heart. The Jungle Book also addresses the difference between animal and man by indirectly challenging the meaning of the word animal. The Laws of the Jungle reveal the irony of how the beasts of the jungle, who could destroy any man with one fell swoop, keep to their own business while men, who think themselves civilized, hunt down animals for no completely valid reason – we are close to the lawless Bandar-Log. The Jungle Book, at its best, is a stunningly written lucid dream of a childhood – a most beautiful dream, I might add. Perhaps the most powerful part of the journey into Kipling’s jungle is the love that seems to unite humans and animals alike. This quote seems to show that best: “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.”