Ever since Akela had been deposed, the Pack had been without a leader, hunting
and fighting at their own pleasure. But they answered the call from habit; and some
of them were lame from the traps they had fallen into, and some limped from shot
wounds, and some were mangy from eating bad food, and many were missing. But they
came to the Council Rock, all that were left of them, and saw Shere Khan's striped
hide on the rock, and the huge claws dangling at the end of the empty dangling feet.
It was then that Mowgli made up a song that came up into his throat all by itself,
and he shouted it aloud, leaping up and down on the rattling skin, and beating time
with his heels till he had no more breath left, while Gray Brother and Akela howled
between the verses.
''Look well, O Wolves. Have I kept my word?'' said Mowgli. And the wolves bayed
''Yes,'' and one tattered wolf howled:
''Lead us again, O Akela. Lead us again, O Man-cub, for we be sick of this lawlessness,
and we would be the Free People once more.''
''Nay,'' purred Bagheera, ''that may not be. When ye are full-fed, the madness
may come upon you again. Not for nothing are ye called the Free People. Ye fought
for freedom, and it is yours. Eat it, O Wolves.''
''Man-Pack and Wolf-Pack have cast me out,'' said Mowgli. ''Now I will hunt alone
in the jungle.''
''And we will hunt with thee,'' said the four cubs.
So Mowgli went away and hunted with the four cubs in the jungle from that day
on. But he was not always alone, because, years afterward, he became a man and married.
But that is a story for grown-ups.
THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE DANCED ON SHERE KHAN'S
I, Mowgli, am singing. Let the jungle
listen to the things I have done.
Shere Khan said he would kill-would kill! At the gates in the
twilight he would kill Mowgli, the Frog!
He ate and he drank. Drink deep, Shere Khan, for when wilt thou
drink again? Sleep and dream of the kill.
I am alone on the grazing-grounds. Gray Brother, come to me!
Come to me, Lone Wolf, for there is big game afoot!
Bring up the great bull buffaloes, the blue-skinned herd bulls
with the angry eyes. Drive them to and fro as I order.
Sleepest thou still, Shere Khan? Wake, oh, wake! Here come I,
and the bulls are behind.
Rama, the King of the Buffaloes, stamped with his foot. Waters of
the Waingunga, whither went Shere Khan?
He is not Ikki to dig holes, nor Mao, the Peacock, that he should
fly. He is not Mang the Bat, to hang in the branches. Little
bamboos that creak together, tell me where he ran?
Ow! He is there. Ahoo! He is there. Under the feet of Rama
lies the Lame One! Up, Shere Khan!
Up and kill! Here is meat; break the necks of the bulls!
Hsh! He is asleep. We will not wake him, for his strength is
very great. The kites have come down to see it. The black
ants have come up to know it. There is a great assembly in his
Alala! I have no cloth to wrap me. The kites will see that I am
naked. I am ashamed to meet all these people.
Lend me thy coat, Shere Khan. Lend me thy gay striped coat that I
may go to the Council Rock.
By the Bull that bought me I made a promise-a little promise.
Only thy coat is lacking before I keep my word.
With the knife, with the knife that men use, with the knife of the
hunter, I will stoop down for my gift.
Waters of the Waingunga, Shere Khan gives me his coat for the love
that he bears me. Pull, Gray Brother! Pull, Akela! Heavy is
the hide of Shere Khan.
The Man Pack are angry. They throw stones and talk child's talk.
My mouth is bleeding. Let me run away.
Through the night, through the hot night, run swiftly with me, my
brothers. We will leave the lights of the village and go to
the low moon.
Waters of the Waingunga, the Man-Pack have cast me out. I did
them no harm, but they were afraid of me. Why?
Wolf Pack, ye have cast me out too. The jungle is shut to me and
the village gates are shut. Why?
As Mang flies between the beasts and birds, so fly I between the
village and the jungle. Why?
I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is very heavy. My
mouth is cut and wounded with the stones from the village, but
my heart is very light, because I have come back to the jungle.
These two things fight together in me as the snakes fight in the
spring. The water comes out of my eyes; yet I laugh while it
I am two Mowglis, but the hide of Shere Khan is under my feet.
All the jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan. Look-look
well, O Wolves!
Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do not understand.
The White Seal
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!
All these things happened several years ago at a place called Novastoshnah, or
North East Point, on the Island of St. Paul, away and away in the Bering Sea. Limmershin,
the Winter Wren, told me the tale when he was blown on to the rigging of a steamer
going to Japan, and I took him down into my cabin and warmed and fed him for a couple
of days till he was fit to fly back to St. Paul's again. Limmershin is a very quaint
little bird, but he knows how to tell the truth.
Nobody comes to Novastoshnah except on business, and the only people who have
regular business there are the seals. They come in the summer months by hundreds
and hundreds of thousands out of the cold gray sea. For Novastoshnah Beach has the
finest accommodation for seals of any place in all the world.
Sea Catch knew that, and every spring would swim from whatever place he happened
to be in-would swim like a torpedo-boat straight for Novastoshnah and spend a month
fighting with his companions for a good place on the rocks, as close to the sea
as possible. Sea Catch was fifteen years old, a huge gray fur seal with almost a
mane on his shoulders, and long, wicked dog teeth. When he heaved himself up on
his front flippers he stood more than four feet clear of the ground, and his weight,
if anyone had been bold enough to weigh him, was nearly seven hundred pounds. He
was scarred all over with the marks of savage fights, but he was always ready for
just one fight more. He would put his head on one side, as though he were afraid
to look his enemy in the face; then he would shoot it out like lightning, and when
the big teeth were firmly fixed on the other seal's neck, the other seal might get
away if he could, but Sea Catch would not help him.
Yet Sea Catch never chased a beaten seal, for that was against the Rules of the
Beach. He only wanted room by the sea for his nursery. But as there were forty or
fifty thousand other seals hunting for the same thing each spring, the whistling,
bellowing, roaring, and blowing on the beach was something frightful.
From a little hill called Hutchinson's Hill, you could look over three and a
half miles of ground covered with fighting seals; and the surf was dotted all over
with the heads of seals hurrying to land and begin their share of the fighting.
They fought in the breakers, they fought in the sand, and they fought on the smooth-worn
basalt rocks of the nurseries, for they were just as stupid and unaccommodating
as men. Their wives never came to the island until late in May or early in June,
for they did not care to be torn to pieces; and the young two-, three-, and four-year-old
seals who had not begun housekeeping went inland about half a mile through the ranks
of the fighters and played about on the sand dunes in droves and legions, and rubbed
off every single green thing that grew. They were called the holluschickie-the bachelors-and
there were perhaps two or three hundred thousand of them at Novastoshnah alone.
Sea Catch had just finished his forty-fifth fight one spring when Matkah, his
soft, sleek, gentle-eyed wife, came up out of the sea, and he caught her by the
scruff of the neck and dumped her down on his reservation, saying gruffly: ''Late
as usual. Where have you been?''
It was not the fashion for Sea Catch to eat anything during the four months he
stayed on the beaches, and so his temper was generally bad. Matkah knew better than
to answer back. She looked round and cooed: ''How thoughtful of you. You've taken
the old place again.''
''I should think I had,'' said Sea Catch. ''Look at me!''
He was scratched and bleeding in twenty places; one eye was almost out, and his
sides were torn to ribbons.
''Oh, you men, you men!'' Matkah said, fanning herself with her hind flipper.
''Why can't you be sensible and settle your places quietly? You look as though you
had been fighting with the Killer Whale.''
''I haven't been doing anything but fight since the middle of May. The beach
is disgracefully crowded this season. I've met at least a hundred seals from Lukannon
Beach, house hunting. Why can't people stay where they belong?''
''I've often thought we should be much happier if we hauled out at Otter Island
instead of this crowded place,'' said Matkah.
''Bah! Only the holluschickie go to Otter Island. If we went there they would
say we were afraid. We must preserve appearances, my dear.''
Sea Catch sunk his head proudly between his fat shoulders and pretended to go
to sleep for a few minutes, but all the time he was keeping a sharp lookout for
a fight. Now that all the seals and their wives were on the land, you could hear
their clamor miles out to sea above the loudest gales. At the lowest counting there
were over a million seals on the beach-old seals, mother seals, tiny babies, and
holluschickie, fighting, scuffling, bleating, crawling, and playing together-going
down to the sea and coming up from it in gangs and regiments, lying over every foot
of ground as far as the eye could reach, and skirmishing about in brigades through
the fog. It is nearly always foggy at Novastoshnah, except when the sun comes out
and makes everything look all pearly and rainbow-colored for a little while.
Kotick, Matkah's baby, was born in the middle of that confusion, and he was all
head and shoulders, with pale, watery blue eyes, as tiny seals must be, but there
was something about his coat that made his mother look at him very closely.
''Sea Catch,'' she said, at last, ''our baby's going to be white!''
''Empty clam-shells and dry seaweed!'' snorted Sea Catch. ''There never has been
such a thing in the world as a white seal.''
''I can't help that,'' said Matkah; ''there's going to be now.'' And she sang
the low, crooning seal song that all the mother seals sing to their babies:
You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old,
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
But splash and grow strong,
And you can't be wrong.
Child of the Open Sea!
Of course the little fellow did not understand the words at first. He paddled and
scrambled about by his mother's side, and learned to scuffle out of the way when
his father was fighting with another seal, and the two rolled and roared up and
down the slippery rocks. Matkah used to go to sea to get things to eat, and the
baby was fed only once in two days, but then he ate all he could and throve upon
The first thing he did was to crawl inland, and there he met tens of thousands
of babies of his own age, and they played together like puppies, went to sleep on
the clean sand, and played again. The old people in the nurseries took no notice
of them, and the holluschickie kept to their own grounds, and the babies had a beautiful
When Matkah came back from her deep-sea fishing she would go straight to their
playground and call as a sheep calls for a lamb, and wait until she heard Kotick
bleat. Then she would take the straightest of straight lines in his direction, striking
out with her fore flippers and knocking the youngsters head over heels right and
left. There were always a few hundred mothers hunting for their children through
the playgrounds, and the babies were kept lively. But, as Matkah told Kotick, ''So
long as you don't lie in muddy water and get mange, or rub the hard sand into a
cut or scratch, and so long as you never go swimming when there is a heavy sea,
nothing will hurt you here.''
Little seals can no more swim than little children, but they are unhappy till
they learn. The first time that Kotick went down to the sea a wave carried him out
beyond his depth, and his big head sank and his little hind flippers flew up exactly
as his mother had told him in the song, and if the next wave had not thrown him
back again he would have drowned.
After that, he learned to lie in a beach pool and let the wash of the waves just
cover him and lift him up while he paddled, but he always kept his eye open for
big waves that might hurt. He was two weeks learning to use his flippers; and all
that while he floundered in and out of the water, and coughed and grunted and crawled
up the beach and took catnaps on the sand, and went back again, until at last he
found that he truly belonged to the water.
Then you can imagine the times that he had with his companions, ducking under
the rollers; or coming in on top of a comber and landing with a swash and a splutter
as the big wave went whirling far up the beach; or standing up on his tail and scratching
his head as the old people did; or playing ''I'm the King of the Castle'' on slippery,
weedy rocks that just stuck out of the wash. Now and then he would see a thin fin,
like a big shark's fin, drifting along close to shore, and he knew that that was
the Killer Whale, the Grampus, who eats young seals when he can get them; and Kotick
would head for the beach like an arrow, and the fin would jig off slowly, as if
it were looking for nothing at all.