The Jungle Book “Tiger! Tiger!,” The White Seal, and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”
by Rudyard Kipling

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“Tiger! Tiger!,” The White Seal, and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”

“Tiger! Tiger!”

After the interlude of “Kaa’s Hunting,” the author returns to the end of the first tale, when Mowgli leaves the wolves and goes down to the village. When he reaches the village, one of the people remarks that he looks like the boy whom Shere Khan took from a woman named Messua. The village priest confirms this, and Messua takes Mowgli into her home. Although she is not sure that he is her son, Messua accepts Mowgli as a replacement for him. On his first night in the village, Gray Brother, the eldest of Mother Wolf’s cubs, comes to visit Mowgli. He tells Mowgli that Shere Khan has gone away to regrow his coat, which was burned in the fire Mowgli started. However, he has sworn to kill Mowgli when he returns. Gray Brother asks Mowgli never to forget the wolves and promises to bring him news of the Wolf Pack.

For the next few months, Mowgli devotes himself to learning the ways of men. One day, when he is herding cattle, he sees Gray Brother again. The wolf tells him that Shere Khan intends to wait for him at the village gate that evening. Until then, the tiger is sleeping in a ravine. With the help of Gray Brother and Akela, Mowgli drives the cattle he is herding into the ravine, and Shere Khan is caught in the stampede. The tiger quickly dies, and Mowgli removes his skin as a trophy. As he is doing so, one of the village hunters, Buldeo, arrives in the ravine and attempts to reprimand Mowgli for allowing the cattle to stampede. He also claims the tiger skin, but Mowgli asks Akela to silence Buldeo, who is soon cowed when the old wolf knocks him down and stands over him.

Buldeo is terrified by the fact that the wolf obeys Mowgli’s commands and thinks the boy must be a sorcerer or a demon. Mowgli lets him go but, when he returns to the village, he finds that Buldeo’s story has turned the villagers against him. They send him away, shooting and throwing stones, though Messua runs to him and says that, even if he is not her son, he has avenged her son’s death by killing the tiger. Mowgli sends Messua back to the village. For her sake, he takes no reprisals against the villagers.

Mowgli returns to the Council Rock with the skin of Shere Khan, as he promised and as Mother Wolf prophesied. The wolves ask both Akela and Mowgli to lead them, but Mowgli says that he has been cast out by both men and wolves and will hunt alone in the jungle. The author notes that Mowgli did not remain alone, for when he was a man, he married, but that is another story.

The White Seal

Every spring, hundreds of thousands of seals fight for a place on Novastoshnah Beach. One of the largest and toughest of all is a huge grey fur seal called Sea Catch, who always secures one of the best places, near the sea. One year, Sea Catch’s wife, Matkah, gives birth to a white seal, though his father claims that such a thing has never happened in the world before. They call the baby seal Kotick, and he grows up on the beach, learning to swim and catch fish, until it is time for the seals to cross the Pacific Ocean. Kotick spends six months in the ocean without ever touching land, but when spring comes, he yearns for Novastoshnah Beach. When he returns, he is one of the holluschickie, or young bachelor seals. By this time, Kotick has grown a coat of white fur, which intrigues the other holluschickie and attracts the attention of the seal-hunters on the island, who think that a white seal is an unlucky omen.

The seal-hunters select a group of a hundred holluschickie and drive them toward the killing grounds, where seals are slaughtered for their fur. Kotick follows out of curiosity and is horrified to see the other young seals clubbed and skinned. He tells a sea lion what has happened, but the sea lion is not surprised and says that seals will always be hunted if they come to an island inhabited by men. When Kotick asks if there are any uninhabited islands, the sea lion says that Sea Vitch, the walrus, may know of such a place.

Sea Vitch says that...

(The entire section is 1,305 words.)