OW we must go back to the last tale
but one. When Mowgli left the wolf's cave after the fight with the Pack at the Council Rock, he went down to the plowed lands where the villagers lived, but he would not stop there because it was too near to the jungle
, and he knew that he had made at least one bad enemy at the Council. So he hurried on, keeping to the rough road that ran down the valley
, and followed it at a steady
jog-trot for nearly twenty miles, till
he came to a country that he did not know. The valley
opened out into a great plain
dotted over with rocks and cut up by ravines. At one end stood a little village
, and at the other the thick jungle
came down in a sweep to the grazing-grounds, and stopped there as though it had been cut off with a hoe
. All over the plain
and buffaloes were grazing, and when the little boys in charge of the herds saw Mowgli they shouted and ran away, and the yellow pariah
dogs that hang about every Indian village
barked. Mowgli walked on, for he was feeling hungry, and when he came to the village
gate he saw the big thorn-bush that was drawn up before the gate at twilight
, pushed to one side.
"Umph!" he said, for he had come across more than one such barricade
in his night rambles after things to eat. "So men are afraid of the People of the Jungle here also." He sat down by the gate, and when a man came out he stood up, opened his mouth, and pointed down it to show that he wanted food. The man stared, and ran back up the one street of the village
shouting for the priest
, who was a big, fat man dressed in white, with a red and yellow mark on his forehead. The priest
came to the gate, and with him at least a hundred people, who stared and talked and shouted and pointed at Mowgli.
"They have no manners, these Men Folk," said Mowgli to himself. "Only the gray ape
as they do." So he threw back his long hair and frowned at the crowd
"What is there to be afraid of?" said the priest
. "Look at the marks on his arms and legs. They are the bites of wolves. He is but a wolf-child run away from the jungle
Of course, in playing together, the cubs had often nipped Mowgli harder than they intended, and there were white scars all over his arms and legs. But he would have been the last person in the world to call these bites; for he knew what real biting meant.
"Arré! Arré!" said two or three women together. "To be bitten by wolves, poor child! He is a handsome
boy. He has eyes like red fire. By my honor
, Messua, he is not unlike thy boy that was taken by the tiger."
"Let me look," said a woman with heavy copper rings on her wrists and ankles, and she peered at Mowgli under the palm
of her hand. "Indeed he is not. He is thinner, but he has the very look of my boy."
was a clever
man, and he knew that Messua was wife to the richest villager in the place. So he looked up at the sky for a minute
, and said solemnly
: "What the jungle
has taken the jungle
has restored. Take the boy into thy house, my sister, and forget
not to honor
who sees so far into the lives of men."
"By the Bull that bought me," said Mowgli to himself, "but all this talking is like another looking-over by the Pack! Well, if I am a man, a man I must become."
parted as the woman beckoned Mowgli to her hut
, where there was a red lacquered bedstead, a great earthen grain-chest with curious
raised patterns on it, half a dozen copper cooking-pots, an image
of a Hindu god in a little alcove
, and on the wall a real looking-glass, such as they sell at the country fairs.
She gave him a long drink of milk and some bread, and then she laid her hand on his head and looked into his eyes; for she thought
perhaps that he might
be her real son come back from the jungle
where the tiger had taken him. So she said: "Nathoo, O Nathoo!" Mowgli did not show that he knew the name. "Dost thou not remember
the day when I gave thee thy new shoes?" She touched his foot, and it was almost as hard as horn. "No," she said, sorrowfully; "those feet have never worn shoes, but thou art very like my Nathoo, and thou shalt be my son."
Mowgli was uneasy
, because he had never been under a roof before; but as he looked at the thatch
, he saw that he could tear it out any time if he wanted to get away, and that the window had no fastenings. "What is the good of a man," he said to himself at last, "if he does not understand
man's talk? Now I am as silly and dumb as a man would be with us in the jungle
. I must learn their talk."
It was not for fun that he had learned
while he was with the wolves to imitate
of bucks in the jungle
and the grunt
of the little wild pig. So as soon as Messua pronounced a word Mowgli would imitate
it almost perfectly, and before dark he had learned
the names of many things in the hut
There was a difficulty
at bedtime, because Mowgli would not sleep under anything that looked so like a panther-trap as that hut
, and when they shut the door he went through
the window. "Give him his will," said Messua's husband
. "Remember he can never till
now have slept on a bed. If he is indeed sent in the place of our son he will not run away."
So Mowgli stretched himself in some long, clean grass at the edge
of the field, but before he had closed his eyes a soft gray nose poked him under the chin.
"Phew!" said Gray Brother (he was the eldest of Mother Wolf's cubs). "This is a poor reward
for following thee twenty miles. Thou smellest of wood-smoke and cattle
-altogether like a man already. Wake, Little Brother; I bring news."