Part 3 out of 4
"But, thou white worm of the dark, I tell thee there is neither
king nor city! The Jungle is all about us!" cried Kaa.
"There is still the Treasure. But this can be done. Wait
awhile, Kaa of the Rocks, and see the boy run. There is room
for great sport here. Life is good. Run to and fro awhile,
and make sport, boy!"
Mowgli put his hand on Kaa's head quietly.
"The white thing has dealt with men of the Man-Pack until now.
He does not know me," he whispered. "He has asked for this
hunting. Let him have it." Mowgli had been standing with the
ankus held point down. He flung it from him quickly and it
dropped crossways just behind the great snake's hood, pinning
him to the floor. In a flash, Kaa's weight was upon the writhing
body, paralysing it from hood to tail. The red eyes burned,
and the six spare inches of the head struck furiously right
"Kill!" said Kaa, as Mowgli's hand went to his knife.
"No," he said, as he drew the blade; "I will never kill again
save for food. But look you, Kaa!" He caught the snake behind
the hood, forced the mouth open with the blade of the knife,
and showed the terrible poison-fangs of the upper jaw lying
black and withered in the gum. The White Cobra had outlived his
poison, as a snake will.
"THUU" ("It is dried up"--Literally, a rotted out tree-stump),
said Mowgli; and motioning Kaa away, he picked up the ankus,
setting the White Cobra free.
"The King's Treasure needs a new Warden, he said gravely. "Thuu,
thou hast not done well. Run to and fro and make sport, Thuu!"
"I am ashamed. Kill me!" hissed the White Cobra.
"There has been too much talk of killing. We will go now.
I take the thorn-pointed thing, Thuu, because I have fought
and worsted thee."
"See, then, that the thing does not kill thee at last. It is
Death! Remember, it is Death! There is enough in that thing to
kill the men of all my city. Not long wilt thou hold it, Jungle
Man, nor he who takes it from thee. They will kill, and kill,
and kill for its sake! My strength is dried up, but the ankus
will do my work. It is Death! It is Death! It is Death!"
Mowgli crawled out through the hole into the passage again, and
the last that he saw was the White Cobra striking furiously with
his harmless fangs at the stolid golden faces of the gods that
lay on the floor, and hissing, "It is Death!"
They were glad to get to the light of day once more; and when
they were back in their own Jungle and Mowgli made the ankus
glitter in the morning light, he was almost as pleased as though
he had found a bunch of new flowers to stick in his hair.
"This is brighter than Bagheera's eyes," he said delightedly,
as he twirled the ruby. "I will show it to him; but what did
the Thuu mean when he talked of death?"
"I cannot say. I am sorrowful to my tail's tail that he felt
not thy knife. There is always evil at Cold Lairs--above ground
or below. But now I am hungry. Dost thou hunt with me this
dawn?" said Kaa.
"No; Bagheera must see this thing. Good hunting!" Mowgli danced
off, flourishing the great ankus, and stopping from time to time
to admire it, till he came to that part of the Jungle Bagheera
chiefly used, and found him drinking after a heavy kill. Mowgli
told him all his adventures from beginning to end, and Bagheera
sniffed at the ankus between whiles. When Mowgli came to the
White Cobra's last words, the Panther purred approvingly.
"Then the White Hood spoke the thing which is?" Mowgli
"I was born in the King's cages at Oodeypore, and it is in my
stomach that I know some little of Man. Very many men would kill
thrice in a night for the sake of that one big red stone alone."
"But the stone makes it heavy to the hand. My little bright
knife is better; and--see! the red stone is not good to eat. Then
WHY would they kill?"
"Mowgli, go thou and sleep. Thou hast lived among men, and----"
"I remember. Men kill because they are not hunting;--for
idleness and pleasure. Wake again, Bagheera. For what use was
this thorn-pointed thing made?"
Bagheera half opened his eyes--he was very sleepy--with a
"It was made by men to thrust into the head of the sons of
Hathi, so that the blood should pour out. I have seen the like
in the street of Oodeypore, before our cages. That thing has
tasted the blood of many such as Hathi."
"But why do they thrust into the heads of elephants?"
"To teach them Man's Law. Having neither claws nor teeth,
men make these things--and worse."
"Always more blood when I come near, even to the things the
Man-Pack have made," said Mowgli disgustedly. He was getting a
little tired of the weight of the ankus. "If I had known this,
I would not have taken it. First it was Messua's blood on the
thongs, and now it is Hathi's. I will use it no more. Look!"
The ankus flew sparkling, and buried itself point down thirty
yards away, between the trees. "So my hands are clean of Death,"
said Mowgli, rubbing his palms on the fresh, moist earth.
"The Thuu said Death would follow me. He is old and white
"White or black, or death or life, _I_ am going to sleep,
Little Brother. I cannot hunt all night and howl all day, as
do some folk."
Bagheera went off to a hunting-lair that he knew, about two
miles off. Mowgli made an easy way for himself up a convenient
tree, knotted three or four creepers together, and in less time
than it takes to tell was swinging in a hammock fifty feet above
ground. Though he had no positive objection to strong daylight,
Mowgli followed the custom of his friends, and used it as little
as he could. When he waked among the very loud-voiced peoples
that live in the trees, it was twilight once more, and he had
been dreaming of the beautiful pebbles he had thrown away.
"At least I will look at the thing again," he said, and slid
down a creeper to the earth; but Bagheera was before him.
Mowgli could hear him snuffing in the half light.
"Where is the thorn-pointed thing?" cried Mowgli.
"A man has taken it. Here is the trail."
"Now we shall see whether the Thuu spoke truth. If the pointed
thing is Death, that man will die. Let us follow."
"Kill first," said Bagheera. "An empty stomach makes a careless
eye. Men go very slowly, and the Jungle is wet enough to hold
the lightest mark."
They killed as soon as they could, but it was nearly three hours
before they finished their meat and drink and buckled down to
the trail. The Jungle People know that nothing makes up for
being hurried over your meals.
"Think you the pointed thing will turn in the man's hand and
kill him?" Mowgli asked. "The Thuu said it was Death."
"We shall see when we find," said Bagheera, trotting with his
head low. "It is single-foot" (he meant that there was only one
man), "and the weight of the thing has pressed his heel far into
"Hai! This is as clear as summer lightning," Mowgli answered;
and they fell into the quick, choppy trail-trot in and out
through the checkers of the moonlight, following the marks of
those two bare feet.
"Now he runs swiftly," said Mowgli. "The toes are spread
apart." They went on over some wet ground. "Now why does
he turn aside here?"
"Wait!" said Bagheera, and flung himself forward with one
superb bound as far as ever he could. The first thing to do
when a trail ceases to explain itself is to cast forward
without leaving, your own confusing foot-marks on the ground.
Bagheera turned as he landed, and faced Mowgli, crying,
"Here comes another trail to meet him. It is a smaller foot,
this second trail, and the toes turn inward."
Then Mowgli ran up and looked. "It is the foot of a Gond
hunter," he said. "Look! Here he dragged his bow on the grass.
That is why the first trail turned aside so quickly. Big Foot
hid from Little Foot."
"That is true," said Bagheera. "Now, lest by crossing each
other's tracks we foul the signs, let each take one trail.
I am Big Foot, Little Brother, and thou art Little Foot,
Bagheera leaped back to the original trail, leaving Mowgli
stooping above the curious narrow track of the wild little man
of the woods.
"Now," said Bagheera, moving step by step along the chain of
footprints, "I, Big Foot, turn aside here. Now I hide me behind
a rock and stand still," not daring to shift my feet. Cry thy
trail, Little Brother."
"Now, I, Little Foot, come to the rock," said Mowgli, running up
his trail. "Now, I sit down under the rock, leaning upon my
right hand, and resting my bow between my toes. I wait long, for
the mark of my feet is deep here."
"I also, said Bagheera, hidden behind the rock. I wait,
resting the end of the thorn-pointed thing upon a stone.
It slips, for here is a scratch upon the stone. Cry thy trail,
"One, two twigs and a big branch are broken here," said Mowgli,
in an undertone. "Now, how shall I cry THAT? Ah! It is plain
now. I, Little Foot, go away making noises and tramplings so
that Big Foot may hear me." He moved away from the rock pace by
pace among the trees, his voice rising in the distance as he
approached a little cascade. "I--go--far--away--to--where--the--
Cry thy trail, Bagheera, Big Foot!"
The panther had been casting in every direction to see how Big
Foot's trail led away from behind the rock. Then he gave tongue:
"I come from behind the rock upon my knees, dragging the thorn-
pointed thing. Seeing no one, I run. I, Big Foot, run swiftly.
The trail is clear. Let each follow his own. I run!"
Bagheera swept on along the clearly-marked trail, and Mowgli
followed the steps of the Gond. For some time there was silence
in the Jungle.
"Where art thou, Little Foot?" cried Bagheera. Mowgli's voice
answered him not fifty yards to the right.
"Um!" said the Panther, with a deep cough. "The two run side by
side, drawing nearer!"
They raced on another half-mile, always keeping about the same
distance, till Mowgli, whose head was not so close to the ground
as Bagheera's, cried: "They have met. Good hunting--look!
Here stood Little Foot, with his knee on a rock--and yonder
is Big Foot indeed!"
Not ten yards in front of them, stretched across a pile of
broken rocks, lay the body of a villager of the district,
a long, small-feathered Gond arrow through his back and breast.
"Was the Thuu so old and so mad, Little Brother?" said Bagheera
gently. "Here is one death, at least."
"Follow on. But where is the drinker of elephant's blood--the
"Little Foot has it--perhaps. It is single-foot again now."
The single trail of a light man who had been running quickly
and bearing a burden on his left shoulder held on round a long,
low spur of dried grass, where each footfall seemed, to the
sharp eyes of the trackers, marked in hot iron.
Neither spoke till the trail ran up to the ashes of a camp-fire
hidden in a ravine.
"Again!" said Bagheera, checking as though he had been turned
The body of a little wizened Gond lay with its feet in the
ashes, and Bagheera looked inquiringly at Mowgli.
"That was done with a bamboo," said the boy, after one glance.
"I have used such a thing among the buffaloes when I served in
the Man-Pack. The Father of Cobras--I am sorrowful that I made a
jest of him--knew the breed well, as I might have known. Said I
not that men kill for idleness?"
"Indeed, they killed for the sake of the red and blue
stones," Bagheera answered. "Remember, I was in the King's
cages at Oodeypore."
"One, two, three, four tracks," said Mowgli, stooping over the
ashes. "Four tracks of men with shod feet. They do not go so
quickly as Gonds. Now, what evil had the little woodman done to
them? See, they talked together, all five, standing up, before
they killed him. Bagheera, let us go back. My stomach is heavy
in me, and yet it heaves up and down like an oriole's nest at
the end of a branch."
"It is not good hunting to leave game afoot. Follow!" said the
panther. "Those eight shod feet have not gone far."
No more was said for fully an hour, as they worked up the broad
trail of the four men with shod feet.
It was clear, hot daylight now, and Bagheera said,
"I smell smoke."
Men are always more ready to eat than to run, Mowgli answered,
trotting in and out between the low scrub bushes of the new
Jungle they were exploring. Bagheera, a little to his left,
made an indescribable noise in his throat.
"Here is one that has done with feeding," said he. A tumbled
bundle of gay-coloured clothes lay under a bush, and round it
was some spilt flour.
"That was done by the bamboo again," said Mowgli. " See! that
white dust is what men eat. They have taken the kill from this
one,--he carried their food,--and given him for a kill to Chil,
"It is the third," said Bagheera.
"I will go with new, big frogs to the Father of Cobras, and feed
him fat," said Mowgli to himself. "The drinker of elephant's
blood is Death himself--but still I do not understand!"
"Follow!" said Bagheera.
They had not gone half a mile farther when they heard Ko,
the Crow, singing the death-song in the top of a tamarisk under
whose shade three men were lying. A half-dead fire smoked in the
centre of the circle, under an iron plate which held a blackened
and burned cake of unleavened bread. Close to the fire, and
blazing in the sunshine, lay the ruby-and-turquoise ankus.
"The thing works quickly; all ends here," said Bagheera.
"How did THESE die, Mowgli? There is no mark on any."
A Jungle-dweller gets to learn by experience as much as many
doctors know of poisonous plants and berries. Mowgli sniffed the
smoke that came up from the fire, broke off a morsel of the
blackened bread, tasted it, and spat it out again.
"Apple of Death," he coughed. "The first must have made it
ready in the food for THESE, who killed him, having first
killed the Gond."
"Good hunting, indeed! The kills follow close," said Bagheera.
"Apple of Death" is what the Jungle call thorn-apple or dhatura,
the readiest poison in all India.
"What now?" said the panther. "Must thou and I kill each other
for yonder red-eyed slayer?"
"Can it speak?" said Mowgli in a whisper. Did I do it a wrong
when I threw it away? Between us two it can do no wrong, for we
do not desire what men desire. If it be left here, it will
assuredly continue to kill men one after another as fast as nuts
fall in a high wind. I have no love to men, but even I would not
have them die six in a night."
"What matter? They are only men. They killed one another, and
were well pleased," said Bagheera. "That first little woodman
"They are cubs none the less; and a cub will drown himself to
bite the moon's light on the water. The fault was mine," said
Mowgli, who spoke as though he knew all about everything.
"I will never again bring into the Jungle strange things--not
though they be as beautiful as flowers. This"--he handled the
ankus gingerly--"goes back to the Father of Cobras. But first
we must sleep, and we cannot sleep near these sleepers. Also we
must bury HIM, lest he run away and kill another six. Dig me a
hole under that tree."
"But, Little Brother," said Bagheera, moving off to the spot,
"I tell thee it is no fault of the blood-drinker. The trouble
is with the men."
"All one," said Mowgli. "Dig the hole deep. When we wake I will
take him up and carry him back."
Two nights later, as the White Cobra sat mourning in the
darkness of the vault, ashamed, and robbed, and alone,
the turquoise ankus whirled through the hole in the wall,
and clashed on the floor of golden coins.
"Father of Cobras," said Mowgli (he was careful to keep the
other side of the wall), "get thee a young and ripe one of thine
own people to help thee guard the King's Treasure, so that no
man may come away alive any more."
"Ah-ha! It returns, then. I said the thing was Death. How comes
it that thou art still alive?" the old Cobra mumbled, twining
lovingly round the ankus-haft.
"By the Bull that bought me, I do not know! That thing has
killed six times in a night. Let him go out no more."
THE SONG OF THE LITTLE HUNTER
Ere Mor the Peacock flutters, ere the Monkey People cry,
Ere Chil the Kite swoops down a furlong sheer,
Through the Jungle very softly flits a shadow and a sigh--
He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!
Very softly down the glade runs a waiting, watching shade,
And the whisper spreads and widens far and near;
And the sweat is on thy brow, for he passes even now--
He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!
Ere the moon has climbed the mountain, ere the rocks
are ribbed with light,
When the downward-dipping trails are dank and drear,
Comes a breathing hard behind thee--snuffle-snuffle
through the night--
It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!
On thy knees and draw the bow; bid the shrilling arrow go;
In the empty, mocking thicket plunge the spear;
But thy hands are loosed and weak, and the blood has left
It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!
When the heat-cloud sucks the tempest, when the slivered
When the blinding, blaring rain-squalls lash and veer;
Through the war-gongs of the thunder rings a voice more
loud than all--
It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!
Now the spates are banked and deep; now the footless
Now the lightning shows each littlest leaf-rib clear--
But thy throat is shut and dried, and thy heart against
Hammers: Fear, O Little Hunter--this is Fear!
The People of the Eastern Ice, they are melting like the snow--
They beg for coffee and sugar; they go where the white men go.
The People of the Western Ice, they learn to steal and fight;
"They sell their furs to the trading-post: they sell their souls
to the white.
The People of the Southern Ice, they trade with the whaler's
Their women have many ribbons, but their tents are torn and few.
But the People of the Elder Ice, beyond the white man's ken--
Their spears are made of the narwhal-horn, and they are the
last of the Men!
"He has opened his eyes. Look!"
"Put him in the skin again. He will be a strong dog. On the
fourth month we will name him."
"For whom?" said Amoraq.
Kadlu's eye rolled round the skin-lined snow-house till it
fell on fourteen-year-old Kotuko sitting on the sleeping-bench,
making a button out of walrus ivory. "Name him for me,"
said Kotuko, with a grin. "I shall need him one day."
Kadlu grinned back till his eyes were almost buried in the fat
of his flat cheeks, and nodded to Amoraq, while the puppy's
fierce mother whined to see her baby wriggling far out of reach
in the little sealskin pouch hung above the warmth of the
blubber-lamp. Kotuko went on with his carving, and Kadlu threw
a rolled bundle of leather dog-harnesses into a tiny little
room that opened from one side of the house, slipped off his
heavy deerskin hunting-suit, put it into a whalebone-net that
hung above another lamp, and dropped down on the sleeping-bench
to whittle at a piece of frozen seal-meat till Amoraq, his wife,
should bring the regular dinner of boiled meat and blood-soup.
He had been out since early dawn at the seal-holes, eight miles
away, and had come home with three big seal. Half-way down the
long, low snow passage or tunnel that led to the inner door
of the house you could hear snappings and yelpings, as the
dogs of his sleigh-team, released from the day's work, scuffled
for warm places.
When the yelpings grew too loud Kotuko lazily rolled off the
sleeping-bench, and picked up a whip with an eighteen-inch
handle of springy whalebone, and twenty-five feet of heavy,
plaited thong. He dived into the passage, where it sounded as
though all the dogs were eating him alive; but that was no more
than their regular grace before meals. When he crawled out at
the far end, half a dozen furry heads followed him with their
eyes as he went to a sort of gallows of whale-jawbones, from
which the dog's meat was hung; split off the frozen stuff in big
lumps with a broad-headed spear; and stood, his whip in one hand
and the meat in the other. Each beast was called by name,
the weakest first, and woe betide any dog that moved out of his
turn; for the tapering lash would shoot out like thonged
lightning, and flick away an inch or so of hair and hide.
Each beast growled, snapped, choked once over his portion,
and hurried back to the protection of the passage, while the boy
stood upon the snow under the blazing Northern Lights and dealt
out justice. The last to be served was the big black leader of
the team, who kept order when the dogs were harnessed; and to
him Kotuko gave a double allowance of meat as well as an extra
crack of the whip.
"Ah!" said Kotuko, coiling up the lash," I have a little
one over the lamp that will make a great many howlings. SARPOK!
He crawled back over the huddled dogs, dusted the dry snow from
his furs with the whalebone beater that Amoraq kept by the door,
tapped the skin-lined roof of the house to shake off any icicles
that might have fallen from the dome of snow above, and curled
up on the bench. The dogs in the passage snored and whined in
their sleep, the boy-baby in Amoraq's deep fur hood kicked and
choked and gurgled, and the mother of the newly-named puppy lay
at Kotuko's side, her eyes fixed on the bundle of sealskin, warm
and safe above the broad yellow flame of the lamp.
And all this happened far away to the north, beyond Labrador,
beyond Hudson's Strait, where the great tides heave the ice
about, north of Melville Peninsula--north even of the narrow
Fury and Hecla Straits--on the north shore of Baffin Land,
where Bylot's Island stands above the ice of Lancaster Sound
like a pudding-bowl wrong side up. North of Lancaster Sound
there is little we know anything about, except North Devon and
Ellesmere Land; but even there live a few scattered people,
next door, as it were, to the very Pole.
Kadlu was an Inuit,--what you call an Esquimau,--and his tribe,
some thirty persons all told, belonged to the Tununirmiut--"the
country lying at the back of something." In the maps that
desolate coast is written Navy Board Inlet, but the Inuit name
is best, because the country lies at the very back of everything
in the world. For nine months of the year there is only ice and
snow, and gale after gale, with a cold that no one can realise
who has never seen the thermometer even at zero. For six months
of those nine it is dark; and that is what makes it so horrible.
In the three months of the summer it only freezes every other
day and every night, and then the snow begins to weep off on the
southerly slopes, and a few ground-willows put out their woolly
buds, a tiny stonecrop or so makes believe to blossom, beaches
of fine gravel and rounded stones run down to the open sea,
and polished boulders and streaked rocks lift up above the
granulated snow. But all that is gone in a few weeks, and the
wild winter locks down again on the land; while at sea the ice
tears up and down the offing, jamming and ramming, and splitting
and hitting, and pounding and grounding, till it all freezes
together, ten feet thick, from the land outward to deep water.
In the winter Kadlu would follow the seal to the edge of this
land-ice, and spear them as they came up to breathe at their
blow-holes. The seal must have open water to live and catch fish
in, and in the deep of winter the ice would sometimes run eighty
miles without a break from the nearest shore. In the spring he
and his people retreated from the floes to the rocky mainland,
where they put up tents of skins, and snared the sea-birds, or
speared the young seal basking on the beaches. Later, they would
go south into Baffin Land after the reindeer, and to get their
year's store of salmon from the hundreds of streams and lakes of
the interior; coming back north in September or October for the
musk-ox hunting and the regular winter sealery. This travelling
was done with dog-sleighs, twenty and thirty miles a day, or
sometimes down the coast in big skin "woman-boats," when the
dogs and the babies lay among the feet of the rowers, and the
women sang songs as they glided from cape to cape over the
glassy, cold waters. All the luxuries that the Tununirmiut knew
came from the south--driftwood for sleigh-runners, rod-iron for
harpoon-tips, steel knives, tin kettles that cooked food much
better than the old soap-stone affairs, flint and steel, and
even matches, as well as coloured ribbons for the women's hair,
little cheap mirrors, and red cloth for the edging of deerskin
dress-jackets. Kadlu traded the rich, creamy, twisted narwhal
horn and musk-ox teeth (these are just as valuable as pearls) to
the Southern Inuit, and they, in turn, traded with the whalers
and the missionary-posts of Exeter and Cumberland Sounds; and so
the chain went on, till a kettle picked up by a ship's cook in
the Bhendy Bazaar might end its days over a blubber-lamp
somewhere on the cool side of the Arctic Circle.
Kadlu, being a good hunter, was rich in iron harpoons, snow-
knives, bird-darts, and all the other things that make life easy
up there in the great cold; and he was the head of his tribe,
or, as they say, "the man who knows all about it by practice."
This did not give him any authority, except now and then he
could advise his friends to change their hunting-grounds;
but Kotuko used it to domineer a little, in the lazy, fat Inuit
fashion, over the other boys, when they came out at night to
play ball in the moonlight, or to sing the Child's Song to the
But at fourteen an Inuit feels himself a man, and Kotuko was
tired of making snares for wild-fowl and kit-foxes, and most
tired of all of helping the women to chew seal- and deer-skins
(that supples them as nothing else can) the long day through,
while the men were out hunting. He wanted to go into the quaggi,
the Singing-House, when the hunters gathered there for their
mysteries, and the angekok, the sorcerer, frightened them into
the most delightful fits after the lamps were put out, and you
could hear the Spirit of the Reindeer stamping on the roof;
and when a spear was thrust out into the open black night it
came back covered with hot blood. He wanted to throw his big
boots into the net with the tired air of the head of a family,
and to gamble with the hunters when they dropped in of an
evening and played a sort of home-made roulette with a tin pot
and a nail. There were hundreds of things that he wanted to do,
but the grown men laughed at him and said, "Wait till you have
been in the buckle, Kotuko. Hunting is not ALL catching."
Now that his father had named a puppy for him, things looked
brighter. An Inuit does not waste a good dog on his son till the
boy knows something of dog-driving; and Kotuko was more than
sure that he knew more than everything.
If the puppy had not had an iron constitution he would have died
from over-stuffing and over-handling. Kotuko made him a tiny
harness with a trace to it, and hauled him all over the house-
floor, shouting: "Aua! Ja aua!" (Go to the right). Choiachoi! Ja
choiachoi!" (Go to the left). "Ohaha!" (Stop). The puppy did not
like it at all, but being fished for in this way was pure
happiness beside being put to the sleigh for the first time.
He just sat down on the snow, and played with the seal-hide
trace that ran from his harness to the pitu, the big thong in
the bows of the sleigh. Then the team started, and the puppy
found the heavy ten-foot sleigh running up his back, and
dragging him along the snow, while Kotuko laughed till the tears
ran down his face. There followed days and days of the cruel
whip that hisses like the wind over ice, and his companions all
bit him because he did not know his work, and the harness chafed
him, and he was dot allowed to sleep with Kotuko any more,
but had to take the coldest place in the passage. It was a sad
time for the puppy.
The boy learned, too, as fast as the dog; though a dog-sleigh is
a heart-breaking thing to manage. Each beast is harnessed,
the weakest nearest to the driver, by his own separate trace,
which runs under his left fore-leg to the main thong, where it
is fastened by a sort of button and loop which can be slipped by
a turn of the wrist, thus freeing one dog at a time. This is
very necessary, because young dogs often get the trace between
their hind legs, where it cuts to the bone. And they one and all
WILL go visiting their friends as they run, jumping in and out
among the traces. Then they fight, and the result is more mixed
than a wet fishing-line next morning. A great deal of trouble
can be avoided by scientific use of the whip. Every Inuit boy
prides himself as being a master of the long lash; but it is
easy to flick at a mark on the ground, and difficult to lean
forward and catch a shirking dog just behind the shoulders when
the sleigh is going at full speed. If you call one dog's name
for "visiting," and accidentally lash another, the two will
fight it out at once, and stop all the others. Again, if you
travel with a companion and begin to talk, or by yourself and
sing, the dogs will halt, turn round, and sit down to hear what
you have to say. Kotuko was run away from once or twice through
forgetting to block the sleigh when he stopped; and he broke
many lashings, and ruined a few thongs before he could be
trusted with a full team of eight and the light sleigh. Then he
felt himself a person of consequence, and on smooth, black ice,
with a bold heart and a quick elbow, he smoked along over the
levels as fast as a pack in full cry. He would go ten miles to
the seal-holes, and when he was on the hunting~grounds he would
twitch a trace loose from the pitu, and free the big black
leader, who was the cleverest dog in the team. As soon as the
dog had scented a breathing-hole, Kotuko would reverse the
sleigh, driving a couple of sawed-off antlers, that stuck up
like perambulator-handles from the back-rest, deep into the
snow, so that the team could not get away. Then he would crawl
forward inch by inch, and wait till the seal came up to breathe.
Then he would stab down swiftly with his spear and running-line,
and presently would haul his seal up to the lip of the ice,
while the black leader came up and helped to pull the carcass
across the ice to the sleigh. That was the time when the
harnessed dogs yelled and foamed with excitement, and Kotuko
laid the long lash like a red-hot bar across all their faces,
till the carcass froze stiff. Going home was the heavy work.
The loaded sleigh had to be humoured among the rough ice,
and the dogs sat down and looked hungrily at the seal instead
of pulling. At last they would strike the well-worn sleigh-road
to the village, and toodle-kiyi along the ringing ice, heads
down and tails up, while Kotuko struck up the "An-gutivaun
tai-na tau-na-ne taina" (The Song of the Returning Hunter),
and voices hailed him from house to house under all that dim,
When Kotuko the dog came to his full growth he enjoyed himself
too. He fought his way up the team steadily, fight after fight,
till one fine evening, over their food, he tackled the big,
black leader (Kotuko the boy saw fair play), and made second dog
of him, as they say. So he was promoted to the long thong of the
leading dog, running five feet in advance of all the others:
it was his bounden duty to stop all fighting, in harness or out
of it, and he wore a collar of copper wire, very thick and
heavy. On special occasions he was fed with cooked food inside
the house, and sometimes was allowed to sleep on the bench with
Kotuko. He was a good seal-dog, and would keep a musk-ox at bay
by running round him and snapping at his heels. He would even--
and this for a sleigh-dog is the last proof of bravery--he would
even stand up to the gaunt Arctic wolf, whom all dogs of the
North, as a rule, fear beyond anything that walks the snow.
He and his master--they did not count the team of ordinary dogs
as company--hunted together, day after day and night after
night, fur-wrapped boy and savage, long-haired, narrow-eyed,
white-fanged, yellow brute. All an Inuit has to do is to get
food and skins for himself and his family. The women-folk make
the skins into clothing, and occasionally help in trapping small
game; but the bulk of the food--and they eat enormously--must be
found by the men. If the supply fails there is no one up there
to buy or beg or borrow from. The people must die.
An Inuit does not think of these chances till he is forced to.
Kadlu, Kotuko, Amoraq, and the boy-baby who kicked about in
Amoraq's fur hood and chewed pieces of blubber all day, were as
happy together as any family in the world. They came of a very
gentle race--an Inuit seldom loses his temper, and almost never
strikes a child--who did not know exactly what telling a real
lie meant, still less how to steal. They were content to spear
their living out of the heart of the bitter, hopeless cold;
to smile oily smiles, and tell queer ghost and fairy tales
of evenings, and eat till they could eat no more, and sing
the endless woman's song: "Amna aya, aya amna, ah! ah!" through
the long lamp-lighted days as they mended their clothes and
But one terrible winter everything betrayed them.
The Tununirmiut returned from the yearly salmon-fishing,
and made their houses on the early ice to the north of Bylot's
Island, ready to go after the seal as soon as the sea froze.
But it was an early and savage autumn. All through September
there were continuous gales that broke up the smooth seal-ice
when it was only four or five feet thick, and forced it inland,
and piled a great barrier, some twenty miles broad, of lumped
and ragged and needly ice, over which it was impossible to draw
the dog-sleighs. The edge of the floe off which the seal were
used to fish in winter lay perhaps twenty miles beyond this
barrier, and out of reach of the Tununirmiut. Even so, they
might have managed to scrape through the winter on their stock
of frozen salmon and stored blubber, and what the traps gave
them, but in December one of their hunters came across a tupik
(a skin-tent) of three women and a girl nearly dead, whose men
had come down from the far North and been crushed in their
little skin hunting-boats while they were out after the long-
horned narwhal. Kadlu, of course, could only distribute the
women among the huts of the winter village, for no Inuit dare
refuse a meal to a stranger. He never knows when his own turn
may come to beg. Amoraq took the girl, who was about fourteen,
into her own house as a sort of servant. From the cut of her
sharp-pointed hood, and the long diamond pattern of her white
deer-skin leggings, they supposed she came from Ellesmere Land.
She had never seen tin cooking-pots or wooden-shod sleighs
before; but Kotuko the boy and Kotuko the dog were rather
fond of her.
Then all the foxes went south, and even the wolverine, that
growling, blunt-headed little thief of the snow, did not take
the trouble to follow the line of empty traps that Kotuko set.
The tribe lost a couple of their best hunters, who were badly
crippled in a fight with a musk-ox, and this threw more work on
the others. Kotuko went out, day after day, with a light
hunting-sleigh and six or seven of the strongest dogs, looking
till his eyes ached for some patch of clear ice where a seal
might perhaps have scratched a breathing-hole. Kotuko the dog
ranged far and wide, and in the dead stillness of the ice-fields
Kotuko the boy could hear his half-choked whine of excitement,
above a seal-hole three miles away, as plainly as though he were
at his elbow. When the dog found a hole the boy would build
himself a little, low snow wall to keep off the worst of the
bitter wind, and there he would wait ten, twelve, twenty hours
for the seal to come up to breathe, his eyes glued to the tiny
mark he had made above the hole to guide the downward thrust of
his harpoon, a little seal-skin mat under his feet, and his legs
tied together in the tutareang (the buckle that the old hunters
had talked about). This helps to keep a man's legs from
twitching as he waits and waits and waits for the quick-eared
seal to rise. Though there is no excitement in it, you can
easily believe that the sitting still in the buckle with the
thermometer perhaps forty degrees below zero is the hardest work
an Inuit knows. When a seal was caught, Kotuko the dog would
bound forward, his trace trailing behind him, and help to pull
the body to the sleigh, where the tired and hungry dogs lay
sullenly under the lee of the broken ice.
A seal did not go very far, for each mouth in the little village
had a right to be filled, and neither bone, hide, nor sinew was
wasted. The dogs' meat was taken for human use, and Amoraq fed
the team with pieces of old summer skin-tents raked out from
under the sleeping-bench, and they howled and howled again, and
waked to howl hungrily. One could tell by the soap-stone lamps
in the huts that famine was near. In good seasons, when blubber
was plentiful, the light in the boat-shaped lamps would be two
feet high--cheerful, oily, and yellow. Now it was a bare six
inches: Amoraq carefully pricked down the moss wick, when an
unwatched flame brightened for a moment, and the eyes of all the
family followed her hand. The horror of famine up there in the
great cold is not so much dying, as dying in the dark. All the
Inuit dread the dark that presses on them without a break for
six months in each year; and when the lamps are low in the
houses the minds of people begin to be shaken and confused.
But worse was to come.
The underfed dogs snapped and growled in the passages,
glaring at the cold stars, and snuffing into the bitter wind,
night after night. When they stopped howling the silence fell
down again as solid and heavy as a snowdrift against a door,
and men could hear the beating of their blood in the thin
passages of the ear, and the thumping of their own hearts,
that sounded as loud as the noise of sorcerers' drums beaten
across the snow. One night Kotuko the dog, who had been
unusually sullen in harness, leaped up and pushed his head
against Kotuko's knee. Kotuko patted him, but the dog still
pushed blindly forward, fawning. Then Kadlu waked, and gripped
the heavy wolf-like head, and stared into the glassy eyes.
The dog whimpered and shivered between Kadlu's knees. The hair
rose about his neck, and he growled as though a stranger were at
the door; then he barked joyously, and rolled on the ground, and
bit at Kotuko's boot like a puppy.
"What is it?" said Kotuko; for he was beginning to be afraid.
"The sickness," Kadlu answered. "It is the dog sickness." Kotuko
the dog lifted his nose and howled and howled again.
"I have not seen this before. What will he do?" said Kotuko.
Kadlu shrugged one shoulder a little, and crossed the hut for
his short stabbing-harpoon. The big dog looked at him, howled
again, and slunk away down the passage, while the other dogs
drew aside right and left to give him ample room. When he was
out on the snow he barked furiously, as though on the trail of
a musk-ox, and, barking and leaping and frisking, passed out of
sight. His trouble was not hydrophobia, but simple, plain
madness. The cold and the hunger, and, above all, the dark,
had turned his head; and when the terrible dog-sickness once
shows itself in a team, it spreads like wild-fire. Next hunting-
day another dog sickened, and was killed then and there by
Kotuko as he bit and struggled among the traces. Then the black
second dog, who had been the leader in the old days, suddenly
gave tongue on an imaginary reindeer-track, and when they
slipped him from the pitu he flew at the throat of an ice-cliff,
and ran away as his leader had done, his harness on his back.
After that no one would take the dogs out again. They needed
them for something else, and the dogs knew it; and though they
were tied down and fed by hand, their eyes were full of despair
and fear. To make things worse, the old women began to tell
ghost-tales, and to say that they had met the spirits of the
dead hunters lost that autumn, who prophesied all sorts of
Kotuko grieved more for the loss of his dog than anything else;
for though an Inuit eats enormously he also knows how to starve.
But the hunger, the darkness, the cold, and the exposure told on
his strength, and he began to hear voices inside his head, and
to see people who were not there, out of the tail of his eye.
One night--he had unbuckled himself after ten hours' waiting
above a "blind" seal-hole, and was staggering back to the
village faint and dizzy--he halted to lean his back against
a boulder which happened to be supported like a rocking-stone
on a single jutting point of ice. His weight disturbed the
balance of the thing, it rolled over ponderously, and as Kotuko
sprang aside to avoid it, slid after him, squeaking and hissing
on the ice-slope.
That was enough for Kotuko. He had been brought up to believe
that every rock and boulder had its owner (its inua), who was
generally a one-eyed kind of a Woman-Thing called a tornaq,
and that when a tornaq meant to help a man she rolled after him
inside her stone house, and asked him whether he would take her
for a guardian spirit. (In summer thaws the ice-propped rocks
and boulders roll and slip all over the face of the land, so you
can easily see how the idea of live stones arose.) Kotuko heard
the blood beating in his ears as he had heard it all day, and he
thought that was the tornaq of the stone speaking to him.
Before he reached home he was quite certain that he had held a
long conversation with her, and as all his people believed that
this was quite possible, no one contradicted him.
"She said to me, 'I jump down, I jump down from my place on the
snow,'" cried Kotuko, with hollow eyes, leaning forward in the
half-lighted hut. "She said, 'I will be a guide.' She said,
'I will guide you to the good seal-holes.' To-morrow I go out,
and the tornaq will guide me."
Then the angekok, the village sorcerer, came in, and Kotuko told
him the tale a second time. It lost nothing in the telling.
"Follow the tornait [the spirits of the stones], and they will
bring us food again," said the angekok.
Now the girl from the North had been lying near the lamp,
eating very little and saying less for days past; but when
Amoraq and Kadlu next morning packed and lashed a little hand-
sleigh for Kotuko, and loaded it with his hunting-gear and as
much blubber and frozen seal-meat as they could spare, she took
the pulling-rope, and stepped out boldly at the boy's side.
"Your house is my house," she said, as the little
bone-shod sleigh squeaked and bumped behind them in
the awful Arctic night.
"My house is your house," said Kotuko; "but I think that we
shall both go to Sedna together."
Now Sedna is the Mistress of the Underworld, and the Inuit
believe that every one who dies must spend a year in her
horrible country before going to Quadliparmiut, the Happy
Place, where it never freezes and the fat reindeer trot up
when you call.
Through the village people were shouting: "The tornait have
spoken to Kotuko. They will show him open ice. He will bring
us the seal again!" Their voices were soon swallowed up by the
cold, empty dark, and Kotuko and the girl shouldered close
together as they strained on the pulling-rope or humoured the
sleigh through the ice in the direction of the Polar Sea.
Kotuko insisted that the tornaq of the stone had told him to go
north, and north they went under Tuktuqdjung the Reindeer--those
stars that we call the Great Bear.
No European could have made five miles a day over the ice-
rubbish and the sharp-edged drifts; but those two knew exactly
the turn of the wrist that coaxes a sleigh round a hummock,
the jerk that nearly lifts it out of an ice-crack, and the exact
strength that goes to the few quiet strokes of the spear-head
that make a path possible when everything looks hopeless.
The girl said nothing, but bowed her head, and the long
wolverine-fur fringe of her ermine hood blew across her broad,
dark face. The sky above them was an intense velvety black,
changing to bands of Indian red on the horizon, where the great
stars burned like street-lamps. From time to time a greenish
wave of the Northern Lights would roll across the hollow of the
high heavens, flick like a flag, and disappear; or a meteor
would crackle from darkness to darkness, trailing a shower of
sparks behind. Then they could see the ridged and furrowed
surface of the floe tipped and laced with strange colours--red,
copper, and bluish; but in the ordinary starlight everything
turned to one frost-bitten gray. The floe, as you will remember,
had been battered and tormented by the autumn gales till it was
one frozen earthquake. There were gullies and ravines, and holes
like gravel-pits, cut in ice; lumps and scattered pieces frozen
down to the original floor of the floe; blotches of old black
ice that had been thrust under the floe in some gale and heaved
up again; roundish boulders of ice; saw-like edges of ice carved
by the snow that flies before the wind; and sunken pits where
thirty or forty acres lay below the level of the rest of the
field. From a little distance you might have taken the lumps
for seal or walrus, overturned sleighs or men on a hunting
expedition, or even the great Ten-legged White Spirit-Bear
himself; but in spite of these fantastic shapes, all on the
very edge of starting into life, there was neither sound nor
the least faint echo of sound. And through this silence and
through this waste, where the sudden lights flapped and went
out again, the sleigh and the two that pulled it crawled like
things in a nightmare--a nightmare of the end of the world at
the end of the world.
When they were tired Kotuko would make what the hunters call a
"half-house," a very small snow hut, into which they would
huddle with the travelling-lamp, and try to thaw out the frozen
seal-meat. When they had slept, the march began again--thirty
miles a day to get ten miles northward. The girl was always very
silent, but Kotuko muttered to himself and broke out into songs
he had learned in the Singing-House--summer songs, and reindeer
and salmon songs--all horribly out of place at that season.
He would declare that he heard the tornaq growling to him, and
would run wildly up a hummock, tossing his arms and speaking in
loud, threatening tones. To tell the truth, Kotuko was very
nearly crazy for the time being; but the girl was sure that he
was being guided by his guardian spirit, and that everything
would come right. She was not surprised, therefore, when at the
end of the fourth march Kotuko, whose eyes were burning like
fire-balls in his head, told her that his tornaq was following
them across the snow in the shape of a two-headed dog. The girl
looked where Kotuko pointed, and something seemed to slip into
a ravine. It was certainly not human, but everybody knew that
the tornait preferred to appear in the shape of bear and seal,
and such like.
It might have been the Ten-legged White Spirit-Bear himself,
or it might have been anything, for Kotuko and the girl were
so starved that their eyes were untrustworthy. They had trapped
nothing, and seen no trace of game since they had left the
village; their food would not hold out for another week,
and there was a gale coming. A Polar storm can blow for ten days
without a break, and all that while it is certain death to be
abroad. Kotuko laid up a snow-house large enough to take in the
hand-sleigh (never be separated from your meat), and while he
was shaping the last irregular block of ice that makes the
key-stone of the roof, he saw a Thing looking at him from a
little cliff of ice half a mile away. The air was hazy, and the
Thing seemed to be forty feet long and ten feet high, with
twenty feet of tail and a shape that quivered all along the
outlines. The girl saw it too, but instead of crying aloud with
terror, said quietly, "That is Quiquern. What comes after?"
"He will speak to me," said Kotuko; but the snow-knife trembled
in his hand as he spoke, because however much a man may believe
that he is a friend of strange and ugly spirits, he seldom likes
to be taken quite at his word. Quiquern, too, is the phantom of
a gigantic toothless dog without any hair, who is supposed to
live in the far North, and to wander about the country just
before things are going to happen. They may be pleasant or
unpleasant things, but not even the sorcerers care to speak
about Quiquern. He makes the dogs go mad. Like the Spirit-Bear,
he has several extra pairs of legs,--six or eight,--and this
Thing jumping up and down in the haze had more legs than any
real dog needed. Kotuko and the girl huddled into their hut
quickly. Of course if Quiquern had wanted them, he could have
torn it to pieces above their heads, but the sense of a foot-
thick snow-wall between themselves and the wicked dark was great
comfort. The gale broke with a shriek of wind like the shriek of
a train, and for three days and three nights it held, never
varying one point, and never lulling even for a minute. They fed
the stone lamp between their knees, and nibbled at the half-warm
seal-meat, and watched the black soot gather on the roof for
seventy-two long hours. The girl counted up the food in the
sleigh; there was not more than two days' supply, and Kotuko
looked over the iron heads and the deer-sinew fastenings of
his harpoon and his seal-lance and his bird-dart. There was
nothing else to do.
"We shall go to Sedna soon--very soon," the girl whispered.
"In three days we shall lie down and go. Will your tornaq do
nothing? Sing her an angekok's song to make her come here."
He began to sing in the high-pitched howl of the magic songs,
and the gale went down slowly. In the middle of his song the
girl started, laid her mittened hand and then her head to the
ice floor of the hut. Kotuko followed her example, and the two
kneeled, staring into each other's eyes, and listening with
every nerve. He ripped a thin sliver of whalebone from the
rim of a bird-snare that lay on the sleigh, and, after
straightening, set it upright in a little hole in the ice,
firming it down with his mitten. It was almost as delicately
adjusted as a compass-needle, and now instead of listening they
watched. The thin rod quivered a little--the least little jar
in the world; then it vibrated steadily for a few seconds,
came to rest, and vibrated again, this time nodding to another
point of the compass.
"Too soon!" said Kotuko. "Some big floe has broken far away
The girl pointed at the rod, and shook her head. "It is the big
breaking," she said. "Listen to the ground-ice. It knocks."
When they kneeled this time they heard the most curious muffled
grunts and knockings, apparently under their feet. Sometimes it
sounded as though a blind puppy were squeaking above the lamp;
then as if a stone were being ground on hard ice; and again,
like muffled blows on a drum; but all dragged out and made
small, as though they travelled through a little horn a weary
"We shall not go to Sedna lying down," said Kotuko. "It is the
breaking. The tornaq has cheated us. We shall die."
All this may sound absurd enough, but the two were face to face
with a very real danger. The three days' gale had driven the
deep water of Baffin's Bay southerly, and piled it on to the
edge of the far-reaching land-ice that stretches from Bylot's
Island to the west. Also, the strong current which sets east out
of Lancaster Sound carried with it mile upon mile of what they
call pack-ice--rough ice that has not frozen into fields;
and this pack was bombarding the floe at the same time that
the swell and heave of the storm-worked sea was weakening and
undermining it. What Kotuko and the girl had been listening to
were the faint echoes of that fight thirty or forty miles away,
and the little tell-tale rod quivered to the shock of it.
Now, as the Inuit say, when the ice once wakes after its
long winter sleep, there is no knowing what may happen,
for solid floe-ice changes shape almost as quickly as a cloud.
The gale was evidently a spring gale sent out of time, and
anything was possible.
Yet the two were happier in their minds than before. If the floe
broke up there would be no more waiting and suffering. Spirits,
goblins, and witch-people were moving about on the racking ice,
and they might find themselves stepping into Sedna's country
side by side with all sorts of wild Things, the flush of
excitement still on them. When they left the hut after the gale,
the noise on the horizon was steadily growing, and the tough ice
moaned and buzzed all round them.
"It is still waiting," said Kotuko.
On the top of a hummock sat or crouched the eight-legged Thing
that they had seen three days before--and it howled horribly.
"Let us follow," said the girl. "It may know some way that does
not lead to Sedna"; but she reeled from weakness as she took the
pulling-rope. The Thing moved off slowly and clumsily across the
ridges, heading always toward the westward and the land, and
they followed, while the growling thunder at the edge of the
floe rolled nearer and nearer. The floe's lip was split and
cracked in every direction for three or four miles inland,
and great pans of ten-foot-thick ice, from a few yards to twenty
acres square, were jolting and ducking and surging into one
another, and into the yet unbroken floe, as the heavy swell took
and shook and spouted between them. This battering-ram ice was,
so to speak, the first army that the sea was flinging against
the floe. The incessant crash and jar of these cakes almost
drowned the ripping sound of sheets of pack-ice driven bodily
under the floe as cards are hastily pushed under a tablecloth.
Where the water was shallow these sheets would be piled one atop
of the other till the bottommost touched mud fifty feet down,
and the discoloured sea banked behind the muddy ice till the
increasing pressure drove all forward again. In addition to the
floe and the pack-ice, the gale and the currents were bringing
down true bergs, sailing mountains of ice, snapped off from the
Greenland side of the water or the north shore of Melville Bay.
They pounded in solemnly, the waves breaking white round them,
and advanced on the floe like an old-time fleet under full sail.
A berg that seemed ready to carry the world before it would
ground helplessly in deep water, reel over, and wallow in a
lather of foam and mud and flying frozen spray, while a much
smaller and lower one would rip and ride into the flat floe,
flinging tons of ice on either side, and cutting a track half a
mile long before it was stopped. Some fell like swords, shearing
a raw-edged canal; and others splintered into a shower of
blocks, weighing scores of tons apiece, that whirled and skirted
among the hummocks. Others, again, rose up bodily out of the
water when they shoaled, twisted as though in pain, and fell
solidly on their sides, while the sea threshed over their
shoulders. This trampling and crowding and bending and buckling
and arching of the ice into every possible shape was going on as
far as the eye could reach all along the north line of the floe.
>From where Kotuko and the girl were, the confusion looked no
more than an uneasy, rippling, crawling movement under the
horizon; but it came toward them each moment, and they could
hear, far away to landward a heavy booming, as it might have
been the boom of artillery through a fog. That showed that the
floe was being jammed home against the iron cliffs of Bylot's
Island, the land to the southward behind them.
"This has never been before," said Kotuko, staring stupidly.
"This is not the time. How can the floe break NOW?"
"Follow THAT! the girl cried, pointing to the Thing half
limping, half running distractedly before them. They followed,
tugging at the hand- sleigh, while nearer and nearer came the
roaring march of the ice. At last the fields round them cracked
and starred in every direction, and the cracks opened and
snapped like the teeth of wolves. But where the Thing rested,
on a mound of old and scattered ice-blocks some fifty feet high,
there was no motion. Kotuko leaped forward wildly, dragging the
girl after him, and crawled to the bottom of the mound.
The talking of the ice grew louder and louder round them,
but the mound stayed fast, and, as the girl looked at him,
he threw his right elbow upward and outward, making the Inuit
sign for land in the shape of an island. And land it was that
the eight-legged, limping Thing had led them to--some granite-
tipped, sand-beached islet off the coast, shod and sheathed
and masked with ice so that no man could have told it from the
floe, but at the bottom solid earth, and not shifting ice!
The smashing and rebound of the floes as they grounded and
splintered marked the borders of it, and a friendly shoal ran
out to the northward, and turned aside the rush of the heaviest
ice, exactly as a ploughshare turns over loam. There was danger,
of course, that some heavily squeezed ice-field might shoot up
the beach, and plane off the top of the islet bodily; but that
did not trouble Kotuko and the girl when they made their snow-
house and began to eat, and heard the ice hammer and skid along
the beach. The Thing had disappeared, and Kotuko was talking
excitedly about his power over spirits as he crouched round the
lamp. In the middle of his wild sayings the girl began to laugh,
and rock herself backward and forward.
Behind her shoulder, crawling into the hut crawl by crawl,
there were two heads, one yellow and one black, that belonged to
two of the most sorrowful and ashamed dogs that ever you saw.
Kotuko the dog was one, and the black leader was the other.
Both were now fat, well-looking, and quite restored to their
proper minds, but coupled to each other in an extraordinary
fashion. When the black leader ran off, you remember,
his harness was still on him. He must have met Kotuko the dog,
and played or fought with him, for his shoulder-loop had caught
in the plaited copper wire of Kotuko's collar, and had drawn
tight, so that neither could get at the trace to gnaw it apart,
but each was fastened sidelong to his neighbour's neck.
That, with the freedom of hunting on their own account,
must have helped to cure their madness. They were very sober.
The girl pushed the two shamefaced creatures towards Kotuko,
and, sobbing with laughter, cried, "That is Quiquern, who led
us to safe ground. Look at his eight legs and double head!"
Kotuko cut them free, and they fell into his arms, yellow and
black together, trying to explain how they had got their senses
back again. Kotuko ran a hand down their ribs, which were round
and well clothed. "They have found food," he said, with a grin.
"I do not think we shall go to Sedna so soon. My tornaq sent
these. The sickness has left them."
As soon as they had greeted Kotuko, these two, who had
been forced to sleep and eat and hunt together for the past
few weeks, flew at each other's throat, and there was a
beautiful battle in the snow-house. "Empty dogs do not fight,"
Kotuko said. "They have found the seal. Let us sleep. We shall
When they waked there was open water on the north beach of the
island, and all the loosened ice had been driven landward.
The first sound of the surf is one of the most delightful that
the Inuit can hear, for it means that spring is on the road.
Kotuko and the girl took hold of hands and smiled, for the
clear, full roar of the surge among the ice reminded them of
salmon and reindeer time and the smell of blossoming ground-
willows. Even as they looked, the sea began to skim over between
the floating cakes of ice, so intense was the cold; but on the
horizon there was a vast red glare, and that was the light of
the sunken sun. It was more like hearing him yawn in his sleep
than seeing him rise, and the glare lasted for only a few
minutes, but it marked the turn of the year. Nothing, they felt,
could alter that.
Kotuko found the dogs fighting over a fresh-killed seal who was
following the fish that a gale always disturbs. He was the first
of some twenty or thirty seal that landed on the island in the
course of the day, and till the sea froze hard there were
hundreds of keen black heads rejoicing in the shallow free water
and floating about with the floating ice.
It was good to eat seal-liver again; to fill the lamps
recklessly with blubber, and watch the flame blaze three feet in
the air; but as soon as the new sea-ice bore, Kotuko and the
girl loaded the hand-sleigh, and made the two dogs pull as they
had never pulled in their lives, for they feared what might have
happened in their village. The weather was as pitiless as usual;
but it is easier to draw a sleigh loaded with good food than to
hunt starving. They left five-and-twenty seal carcasses buried
in the ice of the beach, all ready for use, and hurried back to
their people. The dogs showed them the way as soon as Kotuko
told them what was expected, and though there was no sign of a
landmark, in two days they were giving tongue outside Kadlu's
house. Only three dogs answered them; the others had been eaten,
and the houses were all dark. But when Kotuko shouted, "Ojo!"
(boiled meat), weak voices replied, and when he called the
muster of the village name by name, very distinctly, there were
no gaps in it.
An hour later the lamps blazed in Kadlu's house; snow-water was
heating; the pots were beginning to simmer, and the snow was
dripping from the roof, as Amoraq made ready a meal for all the
village, and the boy-baby in the hood chewed at a strip of rich
nutty blubber, and the hunters slowly and methodically filled
themselves to the very brim with seal-meat. Kotuko and the
girl told their tale. The two dogs sat between them, and
whenever their names came in, they cocked an ear apiece and
looked most thoroughly ashamed of themselves. A dog who has
once gone mad and recovered, the Inuit say, is safe against
all further attacks.
"So the tornaq did not forget us," said Kotuko. The storm blew,
the ice broke, and the seal swam in behind the fish that were
frightened by the storm. Now the new seal-holes are not two days
distant. Let the good hunters go to-morrow and bring back the
seal I have speared--twenty-five seal buried in the ice. When we
have eaten those we will all follow the seal on the floe."
"What do YOU do?" said the sorcerer in the same sort of voice as
he used to Kadlu, richest of the Tununirmiut.
Kadlu looked at the girl from the North, and said quietly,
"WE build a house." He pointed to the north-west side of Kadlu's
house, for that is the side on which the married son or daughter
The girl turned her hands palm upward, with a little despairing
shake of her head. She was a foreigner, picked up starving,
and could bring nothing to the housekeeping.
Amoraq jumped from the bench where she sat, and began to sweep
things into the girl's lap--stone lamps, iron skin-scrapers,
tin kettles, deer- skins embroidered with musk-ox teeth, and
real canvas-needles such as sailors use--the finest dowry that
has ever been given on the far edge of the Arctic Circle, and
the girl from the North bowed her head down to the very floor.
"Also these!" said Kotuko, laughing and signing to the dogs,
who thrust their cold muzzles into the girl's face.
"Ah," said the angekok, with an important cough, as though he
had been thinking it all over. "As soon as Kotuko left the
village I went to the Singing-House and sang magic. I sang all
the long nights, and called upon the Spirit of the Reindeer.
MY singing made the gale blow that broke the ice and drew the
two dogs toward Kotuko when the ice would have crushed his
bones. MY song drew the seal in behind the broken ice.
My body lay still in the quaggi, but my spirit ran about on the
ice, and guided Kotuko and the dogs in all the things they did.
I did it."
Everybody was full and sleepy, so no one contradicted; and the
angekok, by virtue of his office, helped himself to yet another
lump of boiled meat, and lay down to sleep with the others in
the warm, well-lighted, oil-smelling home.
Now Kotuko, who drew very well in the Inuit fashion, scratched
pictures of all these adventures on a long, flat piece of ivory
with a hole at one end. When he and the girl went north to
Ellesmere Land in the year of the Wonderful Open Winter, he left
the picture-story with Kadlu, who lost it in the shingle when
his dog-sleigh broke down one summer on the beach of Lake
Netilling at Nikosiring, and there a Lake Inuit found it next
spring and sold it to a man at Imigen who was interpreter on a
Cumberland Sound whaler, and he sold it to Hans Olsen, who was
afterward a quartermaster on board a big steamer that took
tourists to the North Cape in Norway. When the tourist season
was over, the steamer ran between London and Australia, stopping
at Ceylon, and there Olsen sold the ivory to a Cingalese
jeweller for two imitation sapphires. I found it under some
rubbish in a house at Colombo, and have translated it from one
end to the other.
[This is a very free translation of the Song of the Returning
Hunter, as the men used to sing it after seal-spearing.
The Inuit always repeat things over and over again.]
Our gloves are stiff with the frozen blood,
Our furs with the drifted snow,
As we come in with the seal--the seal!
In from the edge of the floe.
Au jana! Aua! Oha! Haq!
And the yelping dog-teams go,
And the long whips crack, and the men come back,
Back from the edge of the floe !
We tracked our seal to his secret place,
We heard him scratch below,
We made our mark, and we watched beside,
Out on the edge of the floe.
We raised our lance when he rose to breathe,
We drove it downward--so!
And we played him thus, and we killed him thus,
Out on the edge of the floe.
Our gloves are glued with the frozen blood,
Our eyes with the drifting snow;
But we come back to our wives again,
Back from the edge of the floe!
Au jana! Aua! Oha! Haq!
And the loaded dog-teams go,
And the wives can hear their men come back.
Back from the edge of the floe!
For our white and our excellent nights---for the nights of
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
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
"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
"We shall need those jaws," said he. "Were there cubs with
"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
"It is death!" Won-tolla cried, half rising. What can such a
hairless one do against the Red Dog? Even the Striped One,
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"It is only a little after moonset," said Mowgli. I do not
"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
"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."
"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?"
"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
"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,
"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,"
"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
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
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.