The Jungle Book

Big Toomai had come up hotfoot from the camp in the plains to search for his son and his elephant, and now that he had found them he looked at them as though he were afraid of them both. And there was a feast by the blazing campfires in front of the lines of picketed elephants, and Little Toomai was the hero of it all. And the big brown elephant catchers, the trackers and drivers and ropers, and the men who know all the secrets of breaking the wildest elephants, passed him from one to the other, and they marked his forehead with blood from the breast of a newly killed jungle-cock, to show that he was a forester, initiated and free of all the jungles.

And at last, when the flames died down, and the red light of the logs made the elephants look as though they had been dipped in blood too, Machua Appa, the head of all the drivers of all the Keddahs—Machua Appa, Petersen Sahib’s other self, who had never seen a made road in forty years: Machua Appa, who was so great that he had no other name than Machua Appa,—leaped to his feet, with Little Toomai held high in the air above his head, and shouted: “Listen, my brothers. Listen, too, you my lords in the lines there, for I, Machua Appa, am speaking! This little one shall no more be called Little Toomai, but Toomai of the Elephants, as his great-grandfather was called before him. What never man has seen he has seen through the long night, and the favor of the elephant-folk and of the Gods of the Jungles is with him. He shall become a great tracker. He shall become greater than I, even I, Machua Appa! He shall follow the new trail, and the stale trail, and the mixed trail, with a clear eye! He shall take no harm in the Keddah when he runs under their bellies to rope the wild tuskers; and if he slips before the feet of the charging bull elephant, the bull elephant shall know who he is and shall not crush him. Aihai! my lords in the chains,”—he whirled up the line of pickets—”here is the little one that has seen your dances in your hidden places,—the sight that never man saw! Give him honor, my lords! Salaam karo, my children. Make your salute to Toomai of the Elephants! Gunga Pershad, ahaa! Hira Guj, Birchi Guj, Kuttar Guj, ahaa! Pudmini,—thou hast seen him at the dance, and thou too, Kala Nag, my pearl among elephants!—ahaa! Together! To Toomai of the Elephants. Barrao!”

And at that last wild yell the whole line flung up their trunks till the tips touched their foreheads, and broke out into the full salute—the crashing trumpet-peal that only the Viceroy of India hears, the Salaamut of the Keddah.

But it was all for the sake of Little Toomai, who had seen what never man had seen before—the dance of the elephants at night and alone in the heart of the Garo hills!

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Shiv and the Grasshopper (The song that Toomai’s mother sang to the baby)

Shiv, who poured the harvest and made the winds to blow, Sitting at the doorways of a day of long ago, Gave to each his portion, food and toil and fate, From the King upon the guddee to the Beggar at the gate. All things made he—Shiva the Preserver. Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all,— Thorn for the camel, fodder for the kine, And mother’s heart for sleepy head, O little son of mine!

Wheat he gave to rich folk, millet to the poor, Broken scraps for holy men that beg from door to door; Battle to the tiger, carrion to the kite, And rags and bones to wicked wolves without the wall at night. Naught he found too lofty, none he saw too low— Parbati beside him watched them come and go; Thought to cheat her husband, turning Shiv to jest— Stole the little grasshopper and hid it in her breast. So she tricked him, Shiva the Preserver. Mahadeo! Mahadeo! Turn and see. Tall are the camels, heavy are the kine, But this was Least of Little Things, O little son of mine!

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