They drove the buffaloes round in a big circle uphill. It took a long time because they did not want Shere Khan to hear them. At last Mowgli was ready. He stopped and shouted down the ravine.
‘Shere Khan! It is I, Mowgli. It is time for our meeting!’ Mowgli rode on the back of Rama, the biggest of the buffaloes, and Akela chased the herd from behind. The buffaloes began to run down the ravine, faster and faster, and the ground shook under their heavy feet.
Shere Khan heard the noise and woke up. He knew what it was, and he began to run down the ravine. No tiger can hope to stand against a herd of buffaloes when they are moving fast. He looked for a way to escape, but the ravine was narrow, with high rocky walls. He had to go on, heavy with his dinner and his drink. Then he saw the cows at the bottom of the ravine, and turned. But it was too late. He fell under the feet of the buffaloes, and they ran over him like a river running down a mountain.
The buffaloes did not stop until they crashed into the herd of cows. Mowgli jumped off Rama’s back and shouted to Akela and Grey Brother.
‘It is done! Shere Khan is dead! He died the death of a dog, not a fighting tiger.’
Mowgli took his knife and started to cut the coat from Shere Khan’s body. It was hard work. After an hour Mowgli was still working when suddenly he felt a hand on his back. It was Buldeo, the village hunter.
‘Go and look after your buffaloes,’ he cried angrily. ‘I will take this tiger’s coat. I can sell it for a hundred rupees, and you can have one rupee for yourself.’
‘No,’ said Mowgli. ‘I need this coat.’
‘Listen, boy!’ shouted Buldeo. ‘I am the village hunter, and I will take the coat, and keep all the money.’
Then Mowgli spoke to Akela in the wolf-language, and suddenly Buldeo was lying on his back on the ground with a big grey wolf standing over him.
‘Buldeo,’ said Mowgli, ‘for a long time this tiger has wanted to kill me. But I have killed him.’
Buldeo was very afraid. Who was this boy, who could talk to wolves and kill tigers? ‘Great King,’ he said to Mowgli, ‘I am an old man. I thought you were just a herd-boy. Let me go now, and I will go away.’
‘Go, and peace go with you,’ replied Mowgli, and he went on with his work.
It was nearly dark when at last he and the wolves pulled the great coat away from the tiger’s body.
‘Now we must hide this and take the cows and the buffaloes back to the village,’ said Mowgli.
But when Mowgli came near the village, there was a crowd of people waiting for him at the gate. ‘Go away, wolf-child!’ they shouted. ‘Go away, or we will kill you!’ Mowgli did not understand. Shere Khan — the tiger who killed cows and stole children — was dead, but people were angry with him. He turned away and looked up at the stars in the sky. ‘No more sleeping in houses for me, Akela. Let us get Shere Khan’s coat and go away.’ The moon climbed high in the sky, and the frightened villagers watched while Mowgli began to run across the fields, with the two grey wolves running at his side.
The moon was going down when Mowgli and the two wolves came to Mother Wolf’s cave. ‘The men do not want me, Mother,’ called Mowgli. ‘I have come home, and I have brought the coat of Shere Khan.’
Mother Wolf came out of the cave, very happy to see Mowgli again, and to know that Shere Khan was dead.
From the jungle came the deep voice of Bagheera. ‘Little Brother, we are pleased to see you.’
Then Mowgli took the coat of Shere Khan and put it on the great rock at the wolves’ meeting place. Akela lay on it and called, ‘Look well, O Wolves!’ And the Wolf- Pack came and looked, and saw that Shere Khan was dead.
‘Now,’ said Mowgli, ‘I do not belong to the Wolf- Pack, or to the Man-Pack. I will hunt alone in the jungle.’
‘And we will hunt with you,’ said Grey Brother and the rest of Mother Wolf’s cubs.
And Mowgli went away into the jungle and lived and hunted with his brothers, the wolves.