jungle book chapter 2


The Monkey-People

Baloo, the old brown bear, loved teaching Mowgli. He taught him how to speak to the different Jungle-People, and he taught him the important Master-Words. But Mowgli sometimes got bored with all the lessons. One day, when he was not listening, Baloo hit him, very softly, on the head, and Mowgli ran away angrily.

Bagheera, the black panther, was not happy about this. ‘Remember how small he is,’ he said to Baloo. ‘How can his little head hold all your long words?’

‘These words will keep him safe from the birds, from the Snake-People, and all the animals that hunt,’ said Baloo. ‘It is true that he is only small. But no one will hurt him, if he remembers all the Master-Words. Come, Mowgli!’ he called into the trees. ‘Come and say the words again.’

Mowgli climbed down from a tree and came to sit next to them. ‘I will say the words to Bagheera, not you, fat old Baloo!’ he said crossly.

‘Very well,’ said Baloo sadly. ‘Say the words for the Hunting-People.’

‘We are of one blood, you and I,’ said Mowgli.

‘Good. Now for the birds.’

Mowgli said the same words but with the sound of a bird.

‘Now for the Snake-People,’ said Baloo.

Mowgli then made the long ‘ssss’ sound, which was like no other noise, only the noise of a snake.

‘Good,’ said Baloo gently. ‘One day you will thank me for my lessons. Now you will be safe in the jungle, because no snake, no bird, no animal will hurt you. You do not need to be afraid of anyone.’

‘And I shall have my people and go with them high up in the trees,’ shouted Mowgli.

‘What did you say, Mowgli?’ asked Baloo, surprised. ‘Have you been with the Bandar-log, the Monkey-People?’ Mowgli could hear that Baloo was angry, and he saw too that Bagheera’s green eyes were cold and hard.

‘When Baloo hurt my head,’ said Mowgli, ‘I went away, and the grey monkeys came down from the trees and talked to me. They were kind to me and gave me nice things to eat. Then they took me up into the trees. They said that I was their brother, and they wanted me to be their leader one day. Why have you never told me about the Monkey-People? Bad old Baloo! They play all day and don’t do lessons, and I will play with them again.’

‘Listen, man-cub,’ said Baloo angrily. ‘I have taught you the Law for all the Jungle-People, but not for the Monkey-People. They have no law. Their ways are not our ways. They are noisy and dirty, and they think that they are a great people, but then they forget everything. The rest of the Jungle-People do not talk to them, or even think about them. Remember what I tell you.’ Mowgli listened, and was sorry. But all this time the Bandar-log were above them in the trees, listening and watching. They followed Mowgli and his friends through the jungle until it was time for the midday rest. Mowgli lay between his friends and went to sleep, saying, ‘I will never talk to or play with the Monkey- People again.’

When he woke up, he was high in a tree and there were hands holding his legs and arms — hard, strong, little hands. Down below Baloo was shouting angrily, and Bagheera was trying to climb up the tree, but he was too heavy for the thin branches. The monkeys, shouting and laughing, carried Mowgli between them and began their journey along the monkey roads, which are high in the trees.

It was a wild, exciting journey. The monkeys jumped from tree-top to tree-top, crashing through the leaves and branches. At first Mowgli was afraid of falling, but then he began to think. He must tell Baloo and Bagheera where he was. High up in the blue sky he saw Chil the kite. The big bird saw that the monkeys were carrying a man-cub. He flew down to look, and was surprised to hear the bird-call of the kites: ‘We are of one blood, you and I!’

‘Who are you?’ called Chil.

‘Mowgli, the man-cub!’ came the reply. ‘Watch where they take me, and tell Baloo and Bagheera.’

‘I will,’ called Chil, and he flew high above the trees and watched with his far-seeing eyes.

Monkeys can travel fast when they want to, and by now Baloo and Bagheera were a long way behind.

‘We cannot follow the Bandar-log through the trees,’ said Baloo, ‘and we will never catch them. But they are afraid of Kaa, the big python. He can climb as easily as the monkeys, and he eats them. Perhaps he will help us.’ And so Baloo and Bagheera went to look for Kaa the python.

They found him, lying in the sun — ten metres of brown-and-yellow snake, beautiful and dangerous.

‘What news?’ called Kaa when he saw them.

‘We are looking for food,’ said Baloo. He knew that you must not hurry Kaa. He is too big.

‘Let me come with you,’ said Kaa hungrily. ‘I have not eaten for days.’

‘We are following the Bandar-log,’ said Baloo. ‘Those noisy, dirty thieves have stolen our man-cub. And we love our man-cub very much, Kaa!’

‘The Bandar-log,’ said Bagheera cleverly, ‘are very much afraid of you, Kaa. But they say bad things about you, and call you «old yellow fish», I hear.’

‘Tss! Tss!’ said Kaa. ‘I will teach them not to call me bad names. Where did they take your man-cub? They will be tired of him quickly, and that is bad for him.’

‘Up! Up! Look up, Baloo!’

Baloo looked up and saw Chil the kite, high in the sky. ‘What is it?’ called Baloo.

‘I have seen Mowgli the man-cub with the Bandarlog. He knew the Master-Word. They have taken him to the monkey-city, the Lost City.’

Baloo and Bagheera knew of the monkey-city. Men lived there once, but they left hundreds of years ago. Nobody went there now, only the Bandar-log.

‘We must leave at once,’ said Bagheera. ‘It is a long way.’

‘I will come as fast as I can,’ said Baloo, ‘but you and Kaa can go faster. I will follow you.’

The Lost City was very old. There were many beautiful buildings, but the walls were broken and full of holes, and there were tall trees in houses that were now open to the sky. The Monkey-People called the place their city, and ran around everywhere, in and out of the empty houses, up and down the fruit trees in the old gardens.

Now Mowgli was in their city, and the Monkey-People were very pleased with themselves. ‘This boy can help us,’ they said. ‘He can teach us how to make things, because men are clever with their hands.’ But monkeys make many plans, and always forget them five minutes later.

When Mowgli arrived in the city, he was tired and hungry. ‘Bring me food,’ he said, and twenty or thirty monkeys ran to bring him fruit. But they started fighting and forgot to take any fruit back to Mowgli.

Mowgli knew that he was in a bad place. ‘Baloo was right,’ he thought. ‘The Bandar-log have no Law and their ways are not our ways. I must try to get away. Baloo will surely be angry with me, but that is better than life with the Bandar-log.’

But when Mowgli went to the walls of the city, the monkeys pulled him back. ‘You are very happy here with us. We are great. We are wonderful. We all say so, and so it is true,’ they shouted.

‘Don’t they ever sleep?’ thought Mowgli. He looked up at the sky. ‘There’s a cloud coming over the moon. Perhaps I can run away when it’s dark. But I am tired.’


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