Three Quotations

(July 13th to 19th )


1. The Englishman walked into a stately palace of many rooms, where the sunlight streamed in through wall and roof, and up crazy stone stairways, held together, it seemed, by the marauding trees. In one bastion, a wind-sown peepul had wrenched a thick slab clear of the wall, but held it tight pressed in a crook of a branch, as a man holds down a fallen enemy under his elbow, shoulder, and forearm. In another place, a strange uncanny wind sprung from nowhere, was singing all alone among the pillars of what may have been a Hall of Audience. This is from Chapter XI of Letters of Marque

The young Kipling is vagabonding his way through Rajputana in the last weeks of 1888 and early 1889, writing despatches for the Pioneer of Allahabad. He has reached the great ruined city of Chitor, the scene of siege and fearful massacre in days gone by. The sight of the spectacular ruins stayed with him, and he drew on them for The Naulahka published three years later, and the Jungle Books written in Vermont in 1892/3.


2. A great roofless palace crowned the hill, and the marble of the courtyards and the fountains was split, and stained with red and green, and the very cobble-stones in the courtyard where the king’s elephants used to live had been thrust up and apart by grasses and young trees. From the palace you could see the rows and rows of roofless houses that made up the city looking like empty honeycombs filled with blackness;

This is from "Kaa's Hunting" in The Jungle Book

Little Mowgli has been captured by the bandar-log, the monkey people, who have carried him off across the tree-tops to the ruined city, Cold Lairs. As he swoops through the forest he manages to get a message to the kites, who pass it on to Baloo and Bagheera. They seek the aid of Kaa, the great python, who detests the monkeys. The three fight their way into the city to rescue Mowgli, and Kaa wreaks a terrible revenge on the bandar-log.


3. They crawled a long distance down a sloping passage that turned and twisted several times, and at last came to where the root of some great tree, growing thirty feet overhead, had forced out a solid stone in the wall. They crept through the gap, and found themselves in a large vault, whose domed roof had been also broken away by tree-roots so that a few streaks of light dropped down into the darkness. This is from "The King's Ankus" in The Second Jungle Book. Kaa has taken Mowgli to the ruined city of Cold Lairs, deep in the jungle, to show him a great treasure that men would kill for. He is not interested in gold and silver, but carries away a jewelled ankus an elephant goad. Soon, hunting with Bagheera, he tires of its weight, and throws it away. Later they find that six men have been killed for the precious object. Mowgli takes it back to Cold Lairs, to get rid of it.