Three Quotations

(March 21st to 30th)


1. The twelve Government elephants rocked at their pickets outside the big mud-walled stables (one arch, as wide as a bridge-arch, to each restless beast), and the mahouts were preparing the evening meal. Now and again some impatient youngster would smell the cooking flour-cakes, and squeal; and the naked little children of the elephant-lines would strut down the row, shouting or commanding silence The sunset was dying, and the elephants heaved and swayed dead black against the one sheet of rose-red low down in the dusty gray sky. This is from "My Lord the Elephant", in Many Inventions. Outside the elephant-lines, Mulvaney tells a tale of how he once befriended a runaway elephant at peril of his life, by subduing with his rifle-butt and saving it from punishment.

The elephant never forgot him, and when later, on the march with an army corps through the Tangi Pass, it came to a bridge it distrusted, it blocked the whole column, and wouldn't cross without Mulvaney on its back.



2. . The huge limbs moved as steadily as pistons, eight feet to each stride, and the wrinkled skin of the elbow-points rustled. The undergrowth on either side of him ripped with a noise like torn canvas, and the saplings that he heaved away right and left with his shoulders sprang back again and banged him on the flank, and great trails of creepers, all matted together, hung from his tusks as he threw his head from side to side and ploughed out his pathway. This is from "Toomai of the Elephants" in The Jungle Book.

After the elephant hunters have finished their drives for the season, hundreds of wild elephants, and a few working animals from captivity, are gathering secretly by night, deep in the jungle, to dance together, tramping up and down with a noise like war-drums. Little Toomai is on the back of his father's elephant; he is the only one, ever, to see the elephants dance.



3. ...Hathi had been plucking off the roofs of the huts as you pluck water-lilies, and a rebounding beam had pricked him. He needed only this to unchain his full strength, for of all things in the Jungle, the wild elephant enraged is the most wantonly destructive. He kicked backward at a mud wall that crumbled at the stroke, and, crumbling, melted to yellow mud under the torrents of rain. Then he wheeled and squealed, and tore through the narrow streets, leaning against the huts right and left, shivering the crazy doors and crumpling up the eaves... This is from "Letting in the Jungle" in The Second Jungle Book.

After using the village cattle to slay his enemy, the tiger Shere Khan, Mowgli has been driven out by the villagers, who then planned to torture and kill his mother Messua and her husband, as witches.

Mowgli has rescued Messua, and is now having his revenge by 'letting in the jungle' on the village, and destroying it. The final destruction is the work of the lords of the Jungle, the elephants.