Rudyard Kipling: “Kaa’s Hunting”:
“Kaa’s Hunting” is an 1893 short story by Rudyard Kipling featuring Mowgli. Chronologically the story falls between the first and second halves of Mowgli’s Brothers, and is the second story in The Jungle Book (1894) where it is accompanied by the poem “Road Song of the Bandar-log”.
“One of the beauties of Jungle Law is that punishment settles
all scores. There is no nagging afterward”.- (Ibd. Kipling”: Kaa’s Hunting”).-
Bagheera the panther, who disapproves of Baloo’s use of corporal punishment, persuades Mowgli to return and recite his lessons. These include the “Master Words” for various species that identify the speaker as a friend. Bagheera is impressed with Mowgli’s progress, but they are both horrified when the man-cub then reveals that he has been seeing the Bandar-log (Monkey-People) who have promised to make him their leader. Baloo and Bagheera insist that the Bandar-log are a boastful and ignorant race who have no leader and no laws, which is why they are shunned by the rest of the jungle. Mowgli is suitably chastened, but soon afterward he is abducted by the Bandar-log who take him on a terrifying but exhilarating rush through the treetops. Seeing the Kite flying above, Mowgli gives the kites’ Master Word and tells Chil to find Baloo and Bagheera. The bear and the panther are attempting to follow at ground level but cannot keep up. Realising that the monkeys’ only fear is Kaa the python the two set off to find him. Bagheera cunningly goads the python into helping them by repeating (or inventing) some of the Bandar-log’s insults against him. At this point Chil finds them and tells them Mowgli has been taken to the Cold Lairs, an abandoned human city, and they set off to rescue him. In the Cold Lairs Mowgli soon realises that Bagheera was right. The monkeys can never keep their mind on any one thing and only captured him as an amusing novelty. They soon become bored with him but refuse to let him go. When Kaa and Bagheera arrive the monkeys throw Mowgli into an abandoned summer house that has been taken over by cobras. Mowgli hastily uses the snakes’ Master Word to prevent them from striking. When the bear and panther arrive, a furious battle ensues. Baloo and Bagheera are by far the more powerful fighters, but they are vastly outnumbered. Kaa is delayed by a large section of city walls but gets through, breaks down the wall of the summer house and frees Mowgli, who thanks him courteously. Then he scatters the crowd of monkeys fighting Baloo and Bagheera and performs his “hunger dance”, hypnotising the Bandar-log so they cannot run away. Baloo and Bagheera are also hypnotised, but Mowgli, being human, is immune and snaps them out of their trances. Baloo is all for letting the matter rest, but Bagheera is insistent that Mowgli must be punished for all the trouble he has caused. Ironically it is now Bagheera who advocates corporal punishment and Baloo who opposes it. But after half a dozen “love-taps” from Bagheera the score is settled and the three of them go home.
“A man’s cub is a man’s cub, and he must learn all the Law of the Jungle… But think how small he is, said the Black Panther, who would have spoiled Mowgli if he had had his own way”.
“They never go far, he said with a chuckle… They never do what they set out to do”.
“They fear me alone. They have good reason”.
“Even ssso! Down hoods all!” said half a dozen low voices (every ruin in India becomes sooner or later a dwelling place of snakes, and the old summerhouse was alive with cobras). Stand
still, Little Brother, for thy feet may do us harm”.
“Master Words for which people?… The jungle has many tongues. I know them all”.
“They have no law. They are outcasts. They have no speech of their own, but use the stolen words which they overhear when they listen, and peep, and wait up above in the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter and all is forgotten. We of the jungle have no dealings with them”.
“If you can imagine a lance, or a battering ram, or a hammer weighing nearly half a ton driven by a cool, quiet mind living in the handle of it, you can roughly imagine what Kaa was like when he fought”.
“They never meant to do any more-the Bandar-log never mean anything at all; but one of them invented what seemed to him a brilliant idea, and he told all the others that Mowgli would be a useful person to keep in the tribe, because he could weave sticks together for protection from the wind; so, if they caught him, they could make him teach them”.
“They shall carry thee far through the jungle, manling. But now go hence quickly with thy friends. Go and sleep, for the moon sets, and what follows it is not well that thou shouldst see”.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865/1936) .-
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