jungle book chapter 3


Kaa’s hunting

Bagheera and Kaa were also watching that cloud. They were now outside the city walls, but they knew they had to be careful. There were only two of them, and there were hundreds of monkeys.

‘They are over there by that house, talking about the boy,’ said Bagheera. ‘When the cloud hides the moon, I will attack them.’

‘I will go to the higher ground at the west wall,’ Kaa said, ‘and come down the hill very fast. Good hunting!’

The black panther ran quickly to the crowds of monkeys and started hitting, right and left, as hard as he could. The monkeys screamed angrily, but then one of them shouted, ‘There is only one here! Kill him! Kill!’ And a crowd of monkeys jumped on Bagheera, biting and pulling. Another group pulled Mowgli up a wall and pushed him over. He fell down into a dark room which had no doors or windows, and he could not get out. ‘Stay there,’ shouted the monkeys, ‘until we have killed your friend. And then we will play with you, if the snakes leave you alive.’

Mowgli heard hissing sounds in the darkness around him. ‘We are of one blood, you and I,’ he said, quickly giving the Snakes’ Call.

‘Sssss,’ the snakes replied. ‘We will not bite you, but stand still, Little Brother, because your feet can hurt us.’

Mowgli stood very still and listened to the fight around Bagheera. For the first time ever, the big panther was fighting for his life. Then Mowgli remembered something. There was a big tank of water near one of the buildings.

‘Go to the tank, Bagheera! Get to the water!’ Bagheera heard and he knew that Mowgli was safe. Suddenly he felt stronger and he pulled himself slowly to-the tank, fighting against the crowds of monkeys.

Then Baloo came running in from the jungle, shouting, ‘Bagheera, I am here!’ At once the monkeys jumped on him, and the bear started to hit them with his great strong arms. Mowgli heard a splash when Bagheera jumped into the tank. The monkeys were afraid of water and could not follow him there. But they stood all around the sides, ready to jump on him if he tried to get out and help Baloo.

And where was Kaa all this time? It was a hard climb up to the west wall, and Kaa moved carefully over the stones. Now he came down the hill very quickly, hungry and wanting to kill. Kaa was ten metres long, heavy and strong. He went silently into the crowd of monkeys around Baloo, and he did not need to hit twice.

When they are very young, monkeys are told about Kaa, the silent thief who can kill the strongest monkey.

All monkeys are afraid of Kaa. Now they ran, with shouts of ‘It’s Kaa! Run! Run!’

Then Kaa opened his mouth for the first time and spoke one long hissing word. The monkeys were suddenly silent and still, and nothing moved in the city.

Bagheera pulled himself out of the tank. ‘Get the man- cub out and let us go,’ he said. ‘I can’t fight any more. And the monkeys will attack us again.’

‘They will not move until I tell them to move,’ said Kaa. ‘We must thank you, Kaa. We could not do it without you,’ said Baloo.

‘I am happy to help. Where is the man-cub?’ said Kaa. ‘Here! In this room, but I cannot get out.’

‘Take him away,’ called the snakes around Mowgli. ‘He dances around too much and he will stand on us.’

‘Stand back, man-cub,’ said Kaa. ‘I will break the wall.’ With two metres of his heavy body off the ground, Kaa hit the wall very hard, five or six times. A hole opened, and Mowgli jumped quickly through it. He ran and put his arms around Baloo and Bagheera.

‘Are you hurt?’ asked Baloo.

‘Not much,’ said Mowgli, ‘but the Bandar-log have hurt you badly, my friends.’

‘It is nothing,’ said Baloo. ‘But you must thank Kaa. He has done much for you tonight.’

Mowgli turned and saw the head of the great python. ‘So this is the man-cub,’ said Kaa. ‘He is like the Bandar-log, but not the same. Be careful, man-cub, that I do not make a mistake when I am hunting monkeys.’

‘We are of one blood, you and I,’ Mowgli answered. ‘You have given me my life tonight. When I kill, it will be for you if you are hungry.’

‘Well spoken,’ said Baloo.

‘You are brave, young man,’ said Kaa, ‘and you speak well. Now go with your friends. The moon is going down. You must not see what will happen here next.’ Kaa went softly out in front of the lines of sitting monkeys and began to dance. His head moved from right to left, and his long body turned this way and that way, making circles that changed every second. Slowly, never hurrying, Kaa danced in front of the monkeys.

Baloo and Bagheera stood and could not move. Mowgli watched, and did not understand.

‘Bandar-log,’ said the deep voice of Kaa at last. ‘Can you move?’

‘Without a word from you, Kaa, we cannot move.’

‘Come nearer to me,’ said Kaa.

The lines of monkeys came nearer, and Baloo and Bagheera walked forward, too.

‘Nearer,’ hissed Kaa, and they all moved forward again. Mowgli put his hands on Baloo and Bagheera to get them away, and the two animals woke up.

‘Keep your hand on me, Mowgli,’ whispered Bagheera, ‘or I will go back to Kaa, and walk into his mouth.’

‘It’s only old Kaa dancing,’ said Mowgli. ‘Let us go.’ And the three of them went away into the jungle.

‘A python’s dance is dangerous to watch,’ said Baloo, ‘even for us. Kaa will have good hunting tonight.’

‘And now, Mowgli,’ said Bagheera angrily. ‘Baloo and I have fought hard for you. The monkeys have bitten us and pulled us and hit us. And all this, man-cub, was because you played with the Bandar-log.’

‘It is true,’ said Mowgli sadly. ‘I am a bad man-cub.’

‘The Law of the Jungle says we must punish you,’ said Bagheera. Baloo was happy that Mowgli was safe and with them again, but he could not speak against the Law.

‘It is right to punish me,’ said Mowgli. ‘I did wrong.’ Bagheera hit him, very softly for a panther, but very heavily for a little boy. Mowgli did not cry.

‘Now,’ said Bagheera, ‘jump on my back, Little Brother, and we will go home.’

One of the good things about Jungle Law is that, after you are punished, the matter is finished.


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